Vol. 30, No. 1
Clockwise from top left: Doctor Who Tumbling Tardis Tower, from Underground Toys; Gyrobot, from Thames & Kosmos; Sound & Play Busy Table, from Alex Toys; My Little Pony Fash ’Ems, from Tech 4 Kids; X6 Zoom Rocket, from Zing Toys; Lite-Brite, from The Bridge Direct’s Basic Fun division; PlanToys Electro Bus, from PlanToys; Zoomer Zuppies Roxy, from Spin Master
State of the Toy Industry: 2014
I have been writing the State of the Industry commentary in this space for several years, and for the first time in more than a couple of years, I think we can look back on the year that just ended and say “Hmm, maybe that was better than expected—or at least not as bad as I feared.” For the toy industry, last year was by no means a banner year, but I think when all the marbles are counted, 2013 will be a year where the traditional toy industry showed some growth—although it was modest—rather than a decline. continued on page 44 by Sean McGowan
State of the Industry Q&A Page 50
table of contents February 2014
Published by Adventure Publishing Group, Inc.® Volume 30, Number 1 www.toybook.com
State of the Industry 2014
How Will the U.S. Toy Space Change? State of the Industry Q&A The Evolution of Toys Printing Toys Eight Characteristics of Lasting Toy Companies
Industry Update Page 34
Stat Shot Page 36
International CES 2014
TIA Perspectives Page 42
International: The World of Licenses
Page 58 Page 59 Page 60
Why Children Play the Way They Do: Part 2
TIA Happenings The Big Toy Book Blogger Bash 2014
TOY FAIR 201 4 CATEGORY GUIDE
What’s New Games & Puzzles Dolls & Plush Activities & Construction Tablets & Appcessories Vehicles & Action Figures Infant & Preschool
page 62 page 106 page 132 page 156 page 172 page 214 page 228
International: A Profile of Hape Page 252
The Halloween Insider
Specialty Toys & Gifts: Page 181
Editor’s V Toy Fair 2014 A’s Insights iewpoint Page S8 ASTR
Flashback: February 1994
Narrow Your Focu News for Toy Expand Your Reacs, Page S3 Bartering Gr h Business owth Page S7
P UBLISHER Jonathan Samet firstname.lastname@example.org E DITOR IN C HIEF Jackie Breyer email@example.com S ENIOR E DITOR Marissa DiBartolo firstname.lastname@example.org A SSOSCIATE E DITORS Phil Guie email@example.com Ali Mierzejewski firstname.lastname@example.org A SSISTANT E DITOR Christine Duhaime email@example.com E DITORIAL A SSISTANT Kara Faulk firstname.lastname@example.org E DITORIAL I NTERN Magdalene Michalik P RODUCTION D IRECTOR Anthony K. Guardiola email@example.com C ONTROLLER /O FFICE M ANAGER Lori Rubin firstname.lastname@example.org U.S. Corporate Headquarters Laurie Schacht, President email@example.com
Adventure Publishing Group, Inc.® 307 Seventh Ave., #1601 New York, NY 10001 Phone: (212) 575-4510 Fax: (212) 575-4521
Member, International Toy Magazine Association
the T IMES they are A-C HANGIN ’
Jonathan Samet publisher
n the December 21 episode of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update segment, Seth Meyers delivered the following:
“Toys ‘R’ Us announced this week that its stores will remain open for 87 straight hours leading up to Christmas. Not to be outdone, the Internet announced that it will be open all the time, always, forever.” This was meant to be a joke to make us all laugh (and it was funny), but at the same time it needs to be taken seriously, as the Internet has certainly changed the way we conduct our lives. One key difference is that the time of day consumers can make purchases is no longer limited by “store hours.” With a simple click of the “enter” button, toys and other products can show up at our door—or go directly to the gift recipient—in as little as 48 hours, without having to leave the comfort of the couch or desk. Therefore, no matter what part of the toy industry you participate in, you have to take this change seriously. We all have to continue to evaluate how to best reach and win over the end user 24 hours a day, 365 days a year—or as Seth Meyers put it, all the time, always, forever! I remember talking to many manufacturers, even within the last nine years since I became publisher here, who said that Internet sales were just a tiny fraction of their business and was of no concern. To quote Bob Dylan: “the times they are achangin’,” and to survive and succeed, we all better be achangin’ with them. Which takes me to my next topic for discussion—though it is one that has been addressed numerous times (including within this very column) over the last few years. The New York Times ran an article on December 23 titled “Babes in a
18 • THE TOY BOOK
Digital Toyland: Even 3-Year-Olds Get Gadgets.” The article discusses how the passion for playing with traditional toys and games seems to be diminishing at an earlier and earlier age. The topic of age compression and increased demand for tech toys is nothing new, but this article references a recent survey of 1,000 parents with children between the ages of 2 and 10, and a particular claim caught my attention: “About two-thirds of those [parents surveyed], planned to give a tablet or smart-phone.” From the referenced study, the claim of 66 percent was not as startling as the fact that the sample size began with parents of kids as young as 2 years old! Kids under age 5 possibly receiving tablets or smartphones? The times, they really are a-changin’. So where do the above two topics leave you if you are in the business of either manufacturing traditional toys and games or owning a brick-and-mortar retail store? If you are saying to yourself, “it is time to fold up the tents,” that could be one option. The other is to continually adapt to the everchanging marketplace and deliver a product or service your end user will demand. If you face obstacles, analyze and react to them, rather than resist or complain. As much as the Internet, technology, and tablets and smartphones are changing our lives, it is important to remember that one of the single hottest products on the market last year was a simple plastic loom that kids wrapped rubber bands around to make colorful bracelets. There is probably no happier sight than walking into a store with the child in your life, buying him or her a product off the shelf, and seeing the instant smile and excitement on his or her face. So, as much as the times are a-changin’, in other ways, many of the great things in life stay the same. ■
The name Dungeons & Dragons conjures up images of fantasy worlds and medieval adventures, but the role-playing game has its roots in European military strategy games played as far back as 1780. Prussian wargame enthusiast Georg Leopold von Reiswitz invented his own version of a military simulation game around 1810. His son, Georg Heinrich Rudolf Johann von Reiswitz, made changes that would prove integral to the development of future tabletop games, especially Dungeons & Dragons. The Reiswitz’ game introduced the idea of probability, which, in turn, paved the way for the use of dice. It was also the first game to utilize a “game master,” the progenitor of Dungeons & Dragons’ Dungeon Master. This player would spell out the military scenario and guide the other participants along. Dungeons & Dragons turns 40 this year and, to mark the occasion, Wizards of the Coast will release a new rule system, following nearly two years of open playtesting and player input. This summer will also see the release of a new storyline, Tyranny of Dragons, featuring the armies of Tiamat, an evil five-headed queen of the dragons. SOURCE: PETERSON, JON. PLAYING AT THE WORLD. UNREASON PRESS, 2012
Tiamat from Tyranny of Dragons
34 • THE TOY BOOK
ALEX TOYS, POOF-SLINKY, AND ZOOB COME TOGETHER UNDER NEW ALEX BRANDS Alex Toys, Poof-Slinky, and Zoob have formed Alex Brands, a family of brands that will include several iconic names in the toy industry, including Alex Toys, Slinky, Scientific Explorer, and Ideal. Alex Brands’ collective portfolio will encompass more than 2,000 products spanning the categories of games, science kits, preschool and infant toys, construction sets, craft activity kits, and more. Fred Keller will head Alex Brands as president, steering it out of Canton, Mich., and Northvale, N.J. At this year’s American International Toy Fair in New York City, the new company will introduce more than 150 new items across all of its brands.
NPD REPORTS SLIGHT DECLINE IN U.S. TOY INDUSTRY RETAIL SALES According to retail sales data from The NPD Group, U.S. retail dollar sales of toys last year experienced a 1 percent decline compared to the prior year. Retail sales appear to have been impacted by a shorter holiday shopping season. While the weeks of Black Friday and Cyber Monday saw year-overyear sales increases of 4 percent and 24 percent, respectively, the remaining weeks experienced softer sales versus the prior year. Fourth quarter sales from October to December were down 1 percent. By category, youth electronics and arts and crafts experienced the most significant increases at 18 percent and 8 percent, respectively, while building sets and plush saw respective revenue increases of 1 percent and 2 percent. Action figures and infant/preschool toys experienced the largest dollar sales declines when compared to last year at 6 percent and 4 percent, respectively. Licensed toys, which experienced an increase of 3 percent last year, represented 31 percent of total industry sales, comparable to the previous year.
TIA AND OTHER INDUSTRY ASSOCIATIONS JOIN FORCES COMPLIANCE INITIATIVE
Seven of the world’s largest toy industry associations will collaborate with Source Intelligence, a provider of conflict minerals compliance programs, and Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP. Their shared goal is to launch the first cross-industry training and resource center addressing the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Conflict Minerals compliance regulation. Source Intelligence has developed the Conflict Minerals Resource Center (CMRC) to support more than 15,000 member companies that generate more than $3 trillion (USD) in GDP and hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs. The Toy Industry Association (TIA) is among the seven associations that worked with Source Intelligence and Schulte Roth & Zabel to align training and resource center priorities to provide member companies with easy-to-use information to comply with the SEC regulation. The CMRC can be accessed online at a site hosted by Source Intelligence and Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP.
DISCOVERY KIDS PARTNERS WITH CYPHER, TEK NEK FOR NEW LINES OF ADVENTURE PRODUCTS Discovery Kids has partnered with Cypher Entertainment and Tek Nek Toys to develop new lines of children’s products. Cypher Entertainment will debut a line of 3-D Jurassic Action toys, which will utilize augmented reality technology to trigger an interactive dinosaur using any smartphone. The kits include the Dino Excavation Kit and Interactive Dinosaur Kit, and come with digging tools and protective glasses. Tek Nek Toys will introduce a new line of outdoor adventure and role-play products that include a ride-on vehicle, a bug vacuum, a light-up viewing scope, and a big pocket vest. The line will also come with an electronic talking puzzle map of the U.S. and a number of play sets designed to let kids step into the roles of firefighters, police officers, soldiers, and handymen. The products will be available across retail this year.
THE LEGO GROUP, FCP LAUNCH THE SIMPSONS-BRANDED LEGO SET The Lego Group has partnered with Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products (FCP) to produce a construction set and Lego minifigures inspired by the TV series The Simpsons. The construction set will recreate The Simpsons’ family house, including the characters Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie, and Ned Flanders. It is set to launch this month in Lego stores and the Lego Shop at Home catalog and website. A separate line of 16 Lego The Simpsons minifigures will launch at mass toy retailers in May. Fox will also air a special episode of The Simpsons in May coinciding with the new products. The episode will feature the cast in Lego form.
WOMEN IN TOYS HONORS GUND’S RITA RAIFFE Women in Toys will present its 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award to Rita Raiffe, who has served as the design director of Gund for more than 20 years. Raiffe will accept the award at the 10th Annual Wonder Women in Toys, Licensing, and Entertainment Awards Dinner on February 17 in New York City. The presentation coincides with the 111th American International Toy Fair. The daughter of Jacob Swedlin, who purchased the company from founder Adolph Gund, Raiffe studied design at Traphagan School, Parsons School of Design, and New York School of Interior Design. She joined the company full-time in 1972, and over the years insisted on new innovations, including huggable designs, softer textiles, and the under-stuffing method.
Get the latest toy industry news delivered straight to your inbox each week for free! Subscribe to The Toy Book’s Toy Report. Send an email request to firstname.lastname@example.org, and add that address to your address book to ensure delivery. For up-to-the-minute news, follow The Toy Book on Twitter: twitter.com/ToyBook, and like The Toy Book on Facebook: facebook.com/TheToy-
SPIN MASTER’S AIR HOGS OFFERS CUSTOM 3-D PRINTED ARMOR PIECE With the growing popularity of 3-D printing, Spin Master offers a custom part for its Air Hogs Heli Cage Armored Edition, a helicopter featuring removable plastic armor. Samples of the part were built using a MakerBot 3-D printer, which creates real 3-D objects by laying down drops upon drops of plastic material and building them from the bottom up. The custom part was also flighttested by engineers and tweaked for weight balance. Spin Master now provides an open source 3-D file of the armor part online at www.airhogs.com/blog. Makers can download it for free and print it using a 3-D printer. For those who do not have direct access to a 3-D printer, Air Hogs recommends Sculpteo, which will print from the 3-D file and ship the part to customers. For the very techically inclined, the 3-D file can be fully manipulated to create a truly customizable piece.
Air Hogs Heli Cage Armored Edition
THE TOY BOOK • 35
S TAT S HOT Dollar Sales, U.S. TOY INDUSTRY Supercategories Categories
Action Figures & Role Play
Arts & Crafts Dolls
Games & Puzzles
Infant & Preschool Toys Youth Electronics
Outdoor & Sports Toys Plush
All Other Toys
$1.0 billion $2.7 billion $1.8 billion $3.8 billion $0.4 billion $4.3 billion $1.3 billion $1.6 billion $1.7 billion
*Consumer is a sample projected to 100 percent.
Source: The NPD Group/Consumer Tracking Service
Top 20 Toy Licenses Within Total Toys BARBIE
JAKE AND THE NEVERLAND PIRATES
CARS: THE MOVIE
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
SOFIA THE FIRST
DISNEY (ALL OTHERS) DISNEY PRINCESS
DORA THE EXPLORER HELLO KITTY
MICKEY & FRIENDS SESAME STREET SPIDER-MAN
THOMAS AND FRIENDS WWE
*Ranked on dollars, sorted alphabetically **52 weeks starting January 26, 2013 through week ending January 4, 2014
36 â&#x20AC;¢ THE TOY BOOK
Source: The NPD Group/Retail Tracking Service
european market UPDATE German Toy Market Is on the Rise
oy sales in Germany have increased by 1.5 percent in value throughout 2013 compared with 2012. The German toy market is now valued at 2.7 billion euros and remains the third largest market in Europe. The number of units sold totaled 234 million, a decline of 4 percent, while average prices increased from 10.97 euros in 2012 to 11.60 euros in 2013. German results are in line with expectations and the country is ahead of Europe’s performance. The five largest toy markets in Europe recorded flat sales overall in 2013, and Germany’s performance compared to the U.K. (-1 percent) or Italy (-3 percent) highlights a solid economy and reflects a recovery in consumer confidence noted all throughout 2013. After a very strong start of the year with sales year-todate to August up 4 percent versus the same period in 2012, the last four months of the year were flat versus one year ago.
TOP 10 SELLING TOYS 2013 RANK
Furby Hot & Cool, from Hasbro
Technic Mobile Heavy Duty Crane, from Lego
Storio Hardware, from VTech
Advent Calendars, from Playmobil
Kidizoom Digital Camera, from VTech
Tiptoi Starter Set Stift & Book, from Ravensburger Star Wars 2013, from Lego
Technic 4x4 Offroader, from Lego Filly Horses, from Simba
Star Wars Republic Gunship, from Lego
Source: The NPD Group/Retail Tracking Service
TOP 10 SELLING TOYS 2013
Hasbro’s Furby: The Best-Selling Toy of the Year Of the 11 super categories tracked by The NPD Group, the fastest growing in 2013 were youth electronics (up 18 percent), outdoor and sports (up 10 percent), plush (up 9 percent), and building sets (up 4 percent). It was the success of Furby, the best-selling toy for the year in Germany as well as in Europe, that fueled the success of youth electronics throughout 2013. Electronic toys also showed particular strength in the preschool electronic learning sector, which recorded a 22 percent increase over 2012. Outdoor toys enjoyed success largely due to sales of sports equipment, skates, and water and sand toys. The strength of this category is indicative of the value parents attach to active play. The rise in plush sales reflects the success of the Sorgenfresser line, Ty plush, and Filly. ■ —Frédérique Tutt, global industry analyst, NPD Eurotoys
Furby Boom, from Hasbro
Innotab, from VTech
LeapPad Explorer Tablet, from LeapFrog Minifigure Series, from Lego
Teksta Robotic Puppy, from Character Options Moshi Monsters Moshlings Blister Packs,
from Vivid Imaginations
Leapster Explorer Games, from LeapFrog TMNT Basic Figures, from Flair Preziosi Innotab Software, from VTech
First Steps Babywalker, from VTech
Source: The NPD Group/Retail Tracking Service
THE TOY BOOK • 37
Toy Industry Association
TIA to Present
New Global Market Research at Toy Fair 2014
by Ashlee Neuman, communications specialist/content developer, Toy Industry Association
ew global market research from the Toy Industry Association (TIA) reveals areas of opportunity for U.S. manufacturers looking to export into the growing Chinese and Brazilian toy markets. From underrepresented toy categories to strategies for reducing high import taxes and more, the findings will be presented during educational sessions at this year’s American International Toy Fair. “The Chinese and Brazilian toy markets are the third and seventh largest in the world, respectively, and have each experienced significant growth in recent years,” says Anne McConnell, TIA’s director of market research and data strategy. “This important body of research will provide companies with quantitative intelligence on opportunities as well as potential challenges they may face as they prepare to enter these increasingly important markets.” After completing studies on behalf of TIA, research firm Altios International found that the arts and crafts category in Brazil is underdeveloped with limited offerings, and could be a niche for manufacturers to explore more deeply. U.S. toymakers should also note that licensing is a powerful sales driver in Brazil, helping to raise the popularity of toy categories such as board games, many of which are based on
38 • THE TOY BOOK
TV series. In fact, among Brazilian children ages 3 to 14, games are one of their top three favorite playthings, according to Kidz Global, an international market research consultancy that developed a second set of data for TIA. But video games and tablets outstrip other categories as the most popular, with 55 percent of kids saying those are their toys of choice when playing at home. This is not surprising, perhaps, as the research report states that Brazilian consumers have a penchant for innovative, tech-based products. The full report also includes data on popular playthings for infants ages 0 to 2. continued on page 295
Source: KIDS GLOBAL
by Laurie Schacht, Toy Insider Mom, founder, Blogger Bash
or the past four years, The Big Toy Book’s Sweet Suite event has been the go-to event for bloggers looking to connect with the top toy companies. During Sweet Suite, each toy company gets a designated play area where they can share their latest products with the top bloggers nationwide. The bloggers get to directly interact with company rep-
resentatives face-to-face, while also getting hands-on experience with amazing new products in advance of the holiday season. With hundreds of bloggers attending the event and a growing wait list year after year, we will expand this year’s Sweet Suite into a two-day conference called Blogger Bash. Parent bloggers have become some of the most influential voices when it comes to promoting toy brands and new products. Over the last five to seven years, we’ve seen influential leaders emerge in this space, garnering thousands of followers and creating complete online communities. These women (and often men) are far beyond the basics of blogging, and Blogger Bash will provide them with the next tier of their professional development. With events, parties, round table forums, speed dating sessions with brand representatives, and, of course, lots of swag to enjoy and review, Blogger Bash will give bloggers everything they need to establish new connections with leading manufacturers. Held in New York City on July 16 and 17, this event will draw hundreds of bloggers nationwide. The conference will kickoff on Thursday evening with Sweet Suite, where bloggers will play with new toys, indulge in sweet treats, and leave with tons of swag. From a brand standpoint, why is Blogger Bash for you? Because social media matters, and these bloggers have a lot of influence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and more. The power lies with the consumers—and that’s exactly what these bloggers are. Sweet Suite generates millions of impressions annually, and bloggers talk about all of the great things they saw well into the holiday season—prime time for manufacturers. If you’re interested in learning more about Sweet Suite ’14 and the upcoming Blogger Bash, please contact me at email@example.com or (212) 575-4510.
40 • THE TOY BOOK
Toy Industry Association
Pop Culture Trends and Their Influence in the Toy Aisle by Kristin Morency Goldman, communications specialist, Toy Industry Association
nyone who has been to the American International these seminars were open to members of the media only). Toy Fair will agree that opening day at the Jacob. K. The following is an overview of TIA’s trend tracking activiJavits Center is a lot like Christmas morning. With ties—and a couple of early predictions for the toy aisle: 150,000 amazing new toys, games, and youth entertainment products filling aisle after aisle of exhibit space, the oppor- Full STEAM Ahead tunities for discovery and play are nearly endless. The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) For the Toy Industry Association’s (TIA) trends team, Toy concept has been refreshed by some educators, who have Fair is the pinnacle of several months of tracking emerging re-named the popular acronym to include the Arts—transtrends—both within the toy world and across many indus- forming STEM into STEAM, a well-rounded mix of subjects. tries that influence the youth marketplace. While the team Both STEM and STEAM are garnering significant media athas been busily scouting and analyzing product developtention these days, thanks to a new Hollyments all year long, many of the brand new wood-funded education campaign that teaches middle and high school stutoys launched at Toy Fair help to solidify dents about the important role that sciand exemplify the hottest toy trends of ence, technology, and engineering play the coming year. in bringing science-fiction and horror TIA’s toy experts will unveil the movies to life. must-see trends of 2014 at the annual “Toy companies are also getting high Toy Trends Tea on the second day of praise from childhood experts and jourToy Fair (February 17), providing nalists for doing their part to get kids— participants with an inside look at especially girls—on board with STEAM the key product types that will concepts,” says Adrienne Appell, TIA’s drive toy sales through the 2014 leading trend specialist. “We are holiday season. Due to overwhelming noticing a major trend in building, demand, this year’s session will be open GoldieBlox’s line of toys and storybooks teaches STEM concepts to young girls. engineering, and science toys that to all show attendees (in prior years,
42 • THE TOY BOOK
also include storytelling or other artistic components to get more kids excited about learning than ever before.” Appell adds that the next generation of tech toys, including tablets, apps, and toys with an augmented reality twist, will also take learning through play to the next level. “Experts in the field of children’s technology are reporting that the next wave of successful digital playthings will take their cue from the open-ended structure of many traditional toys and offer extraordinary play value,” says Appell. “These ‘free play’ tech toys enable kids to improve critical thinking skills, exercise their imaginations, and personalize virtual worlds.”
The TIA predicts there will be a trend for evergreen, low-tech toys, such as board games.
looking for the real deal when it comes to jewelry, nail art, doll accessories, and crafts, so anything that is on the cutting edge in the adult world will be a big winner in the toy aisle,” says Appell. “Additionally, do-it-yourself playthings that encourage self-expression, personalization, and individuality will draw the attention of young fashionistas who want to stand out from the crowd.”
Movie Madness Another blockbuster year is on the horizon for toys with movie tie-ins, with some predicting that 2014 will be one of the hottest years in recent history for movie-licensed toys. The LEGO Movie, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Muppets Most Wanted, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and many more anticipated releases are expected to bring a surge of engaging toys to market. “Playthings based on blockbusters allow kids to relive their favorite movie moments, imagine future storylines, and emulate superheroes long after they’ve left the theater,” says Appell. “We know that 2014 will be an exciting one for movie fans of all ages and look forward to seeing what the toy industry has in store in terms of limited-edition collectibles, play sets, role-play items, and more.”
Fashion Forward from Head to Toe New York Fall Fashion Week gave TIA an early look at the hottest styles for spring 2014—and some insight into how catwalk trends will likely impact toys for tweens and teens, including fashion dolls, accessories, and arts and crafts. Fashion Week designers showcased pretty pastels and vivid splashes of blue, bold floral and art-inspired prints, and classic blue jeans, as well as the nail art trend, which has scaled new heights and continues to grow. Similarly, fall 2014 trends spotted at New York Fashion Week this February will likely influence the toy sector going into 2015. “Fashion-forward kids with an eye for what’s ‘in’ will be
Back-to-Basics and Ragin’ Retro The back-to-basics theme is thriving across several industries, as consumers are increasingly drawn to products that remind them of a simpler time. Texworld USA, a trade show for fabric apparel buyers that took place in January, showcased classic, vintage, and retro fabric swatches of every era from the 1920s to today; New York Comic Con in October featured hoards of tech-free branded collectibles, including trading cards, dog tags, and action figures. Likewise, traditional toys and old-school games continue to do well post-recession. “Not only are they less costly than some of the high-tech products currently on the market, but classic toys allow families to take a break from their smartphones and reconnect over a board game, a puzzle, or even basic building blocks,” says Appell. “These evergreen toys also foster creativity, build social skills, and help bridge the generation gap between kids, parents, and grandparents.” ■ Stay tuned for the complete roster of 2014 toy trends to be unveiled at TIA’s annual Toy Trends Tea on Monday, February 17 at 4 p.m. in E Hall at the Jacob Javits Center. Open to all Toy Fair attendees, this session will showcase examples from the show floor to illustrate the hottest trends across various product categories. For more information, visit www.ToyFairNY.com. For year-round trend reports, visit www.toyassociation.org/trends and www.ToyInfo.org.
THE TOY BOOK •
State of the Industry Sean McGowan
continued from cover Why is this a surprise? Because it seems in 2012 and earlier years, December was marked more by negative surprise than by positive. The mere fact that 2013 didn’t see a rash of year-end order cancellations was, in its own way, a positive simply by not being a negative. Adding to the surprise was the fact that the shortened period between Thanksgiving and Christmas was expected to result in bad news for retailers in general. However, through the joint miracles of omnichannel, guaranteed last-minute delivery (often free, but, alas, often not on time) and ubiquitous connectivity with mobile devices, the so-called shortened holiday season was, for some retailers, actually lengthened in terms of available shopping time. And let us not forget that Black Friday has now morphed into Grey Thursday, and many companies started their Black Friday sales days ahead of Thanksgiving, so the holiday shopping season wasn’t really shortened after all. (It remains to be seen whether adding extensive payroll on Thanksgiving only to shift sales from Friday to Thursday was a profitable trade, but I suspect Grey Thursday will be with us for a while.) Another factor that probably helped make the year “OK” is the fact that there was so much emphasis in late 2012 and early 2013 on reducing retail inventories. This effort, coupled with retail sales that were up modestly pretty
44 • THE TOY BOOK
much all year meant that by the time the holiday season arrived, there was less need to cut orders. Another surprise from last year? For all the talk about tablets, tech toys, and the renewed threat from new video game consoles, the hottest toy item of the year was a loom for making bracelets out of tiny rubber bands. Go figure. But maybe this isn’t so surprising after all. Surely the traditional toy industry has lost some sales to tablets and smartphones, but kids still like basic toys. As I pointed out last year, Lego makes basic plastic building blocks—a play pattern that could hardly be lower tech—and the period of strongest growth in Lego’s history has been the years that followed the introduction of the iPhone. Now, we all can see that Lego’s growth has slowed, but I doubt that has anything to do with loss of share to tech toys or tablets. As a segue into the prediction portion of this discussion, let’s mention a trend that didn’t start last year, but certainly became much more pronounced, which was the importance of emerging markets. We have been hearing for years about how the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) countries were going to be a major source of growth for U.S. toy makers, and while this didn’t start in 2013, last year was the first year when the numbers finally got big enough to move the needle. Brazil and Russia, in particular, are now so impor-
tant to the overall sales of the two industry giants that they have a meaningful impact on the total revenues of both companies. This is likely to become much more pronounced in coming years, as India and China see growth at levels several times that of the domestic and Western European markets. An observation I made last year was that the sluggishness of the toy industry in recent years could not be blamed on the console video game business, since that industry had been in a free fall for more than two years, leading up to the September release of Grand Theft Auto V. The November launches of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were very strong. Sony announced global sales of 4.2 million units through December 28, and Microsoft said it sold more than 3 million units. This strong launch initiates what I believe will be a sustained period of significant improvement in video game sales. But let’s be honest, how much impact could the sale of 7 million consoles scooped up by 20-somethings to play a handful of M-rated video games have on sales of Turtles, Barbies, Ponies, and Legos? Not much—yet. I continue to believe that because of growing competition from alternative game devices (phones, tablets, and cheaper PCs), this console generation will peak lower than the last one, but not before it sucks many billions of dollars out of the entertainment budgets of
families worldwide. I would argue that while most of those consumer dollars would not otherwise have been spent on toys, some of them would have been, especially as this generation matures, prices come down a bit, and the library of family-friendly games grows. In other words, video games didn’t matter much to overall toy sales last year, but the same is unlikely to be true in 2014. We track the prices of several commodities that are either important inputs to toy manufacturers or have an impact on overall consumer sentiment, including resin, zinc, steel, cotton, paper, memory chips, and gasoline. Assuming current prices hold, most of these commodities will be pretty close to the average levels seen in 2013, so, barring a sudden spike (always a possibility), a modest price increase should cover cost increases. One input cost I don’t have good data on is labor, but anecdotally I hear it’s rising rapidly in China and is likely to continue to do so for a host of reasons. Now, let’s talk about the gorilla in the room—Toys “R” Us. It was at Toy Fair last year that Jerry Storch announced he was stepping down as CEO, but remaining on as chairman of the board. Since then, the company named Antonio Urcelay as CEO (first on an interim basis, and then permanently, although Urcelay will continue to be based in Spain). Total sales were down 3.4 percent in the October quarter, the
ninth consecutive quarterly sales decline. Same-store sales for the holiday season fell 4.7 percent in the U.S., and 3 percent outside the U.S. Gross profit margins, which rose year-over-year in every quarter of 2012, showed a decline in each of the first three quarters of 2013. Total debt of nearly $5.7 billion is barely lower than it stood right after the buyout more than eight years ago, although it has been restructured in a way that leaves no material repayments due for several years. Toys “R” Us is the largest specialty retailer of toys, but not all that the chain sells is traditional toys. In fact, the weakest categories in recent years have been video games (which it classifies as “entertainment”) and juvenile products. The two categories that represent traditional toys are what Toys “R” Us calls “core toys” and “learning,” and these categories combined have done significantly better than the company’s total sales, posting flat to higher sales on an annual basis from 2009 through 2012, and most of the quarters in that period. But even these categories are down about 2 percent worldwide in the first three quarters of 2013. Vornado, which owns about a third of Toys “R” Us, recently said it may be required to write its investment down to zero. This may be largely the result of an accounting treatment, but it’s certainly not what the company had in mind in 2005.
An industry that barely grows in pace with inflation cannot afford to have one of its largest customers, which accounts for a double-digit percentage of most companies’ sales, be the source of continual concern. My prediction for 2014 is that Toys “R” Us will continue to cut costs, and may benefit from a rise in births as well as a long-overdue uptick in video game sales. But the fundamental challenges posed by traditional brick-and-mortar rivals, as well as the burgeoning market share of Amazon and other online rivals, will not fall away any time soon. It is probably in the near-term interests of many toy industry players that Toys “R” Us continues to be healthy enough to support the category year-round through promotion, displays, and test marketing. But it’s also critical that the company reinvent itself enough to survive. Storch and his team pulled many levers to grow sales and profits, and many of them worked, at least for a time. The company will need even more creative solutions in the future. ■
Sean McGowan is a managing director in the equity research department of Needham & Co., a New York-based investment bank. He has been covering toy stocks since 1986, and has also covered video games, juvenile products, sporting goods, and consumer electronics.
THE TOY BOOK • 45
State of the Industry
How Will the U.S. Toy Space Change This Year? A look at current trends and a peek at the future
by Lutz Muller
e all know that the toy market is going to change this coming year. The only question is, which direction is this change going to take? Pessimists point to the decline in toy sales over the past 10 years, the impact of smartphones and tablets, the impoverishment of the middle class, and the declining toy space at retail. They predict that all of this is going to spell doom for our industry.
The Glass Half Full All of this is very true, but there is another way to look at the picture. Yes, the toy market has been either flat or declining since 2003. However, this is measured in dollars, and the picture is quite different if you consider the market in units. In unit terms, it is estimated that the U.S. toy market grew somewhere between half a percent and one percent every year over the last 10 yearsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; pretty much in line with population growth. The difference between the two trends is due to the migration of manufacturing to the Far East, where production costs were (and still are) much lower than in the U.S. This resulted in lower retail prices, hence, eroding toy dollar sales. However, this is about to end. My friends in China tell me that their production costs last year rose by about 10 percent, and this is going to be passed on to the consumer in the form of price increases. This, in turn, will result in increasing overall sales over the next decade. The question that is often asked is whether a yearly price increase in the 5 to 10 percent range could, in fact, stop sales growth. This is somewhat unlikely for one simple reason: Half of the toys sold this year did not exist last year. Increases will be
46 â&#x20AC;˘ THE TOY BOOK
loaded into those items where there is no way to compare prices. Advertising and promotions will do the rest. Also, the statistical data underpinning toy market estimates do not take into account a major factor: Skylanders and Disney Infinity. The NPD Group, which puts out these market statistics, considers these two products video games, not toys. However, the majority of the sales dollars spent on both ranges is now on the physical toys and not on the game or the console. Had these two product ranges been included in the toy category, there would have been an uptick in 2012, when Skylanders was first released, and again last year.
Smartphones in the Toy Space The impact of smartphones and tablets on the toy market is real, but difficult to measure. Since spending is a zero-sum game, there is no question that the acquisition of a $200 smartphone
Interest Over Time Toys iPad iPhone
State of the Industry
U.S. Toy Space: Walmart and Target In running feet, same week each year
Dec. 29, 2007
4,000 3,500 3,000 2,500
Dec. 31, 2008 Jan. 1, 2011
Jan. 6, 2010
1,500 Dec. 12, 2010
Jan. 1, 2011
0 Walmart regular toy space
Target regular toy space
will take money away from other discretionary purchases, such as toys, movies, outings, and other things people can do without. How consumer interest levels were impacted by the advent of the iPhone and the iPad is best illustrated by the chart on page 46. There is one area where smartphones and tablets are going head-to-head with toys: board games. It is estimated that the board game category has lost about 1.5 percent of sales each year to video games over the past couple of years, and this trend is likely to continue. Yes, toy space is shrinking. Chart 1, above, shows the toy space Walmart and Target devoted to toys during the same week in the past seven years. What this chart does not show is Toys “R” Us’ overall toy shelf space because of the transformation of their regular stores into side-by-side stores, which devote much more space to the Babies “R” Us section at the expense of toys. The toy space goes from 60 percent of the regular store to 40 percent for the side-by-side model. The leading retailers do not cut toy space because they do not like toys; They do it because they sell less of them through their brick-and-mortar stores due to a shift to online transactions. In addition, toy stores are being hammered by
48 • THE TOY BOOK
Jan. 11, 2012
competition such as Amazon and dollar stores. Chart 2, on page 49, shows the latest market share estimate for U.S. toy retailers.
Looking to the Future While the outlook today is probably better than it has been over the past few years, this does not mean that there will not be fundamental changes. There is the move from brick-andmortar store sales to the Internet, as best demonstrated by Amazon’s sharp increase in market share. This will have a major impact on both the retailers themselves, as well as the major companies making the toys. You will need less brickand-mortar space over time, and this, in turn, will lead to further reductions in the space allocated to toys. More importantly, as toy sales move from the shelves to online, the promotional and advertising strategies of the toy companies will have to change. The impact of a toy box on the shelf will be replaced by an image on the screen. The toy company will no longer be face-to-face with the consumer, but rather will talk to him or her via an intermediary—the Internet. Another major change that will undoubtedly gain steam
Toy Retailer Market Shares: U.S. On Dec. 31 of each year, in percent of U.S. dollar totals
$35 $30 $25
next year is the move to hybrids, combining physical toys and video games—the Skylanders and the Infinitys of this world. There will be more of them, and it is only a matter of time until we see such hybrids in the doll and board game categories. Just like Skylanders has already begun to disrupt the action figure category, and Infinity the preschool space, these new entrants will profoundly upset the existing order.
The Future of Licensed Toys Toy licensing is another area where we will likely see changes. Today, 30 percent of all toy dollar sales are in licensed products, and 25 percent in units, and this is driven mainly by movies and TV series. The problem with this is that the young audience for both movies and TV is declining. In addition, the leverage blockbuster movies exert over toy sales appears to be declining—particularly for movies with several sequels. There is also the dawning recognition that licenses basically mean that you let another party—the one that owns the license—control a part of your business. Licenses can be granted and licenses can be taken away, which means that the licensees do not build a long-term asset for their business.
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Licenses will not go away, but will slowly diminish as a percentage of the total toy space—a trend that is expected to become apparent this year. In parallel, the leading toy manufacturers will probably put more muscle behind the building of their own brands—Mattel’s Monster High and Ever After High are cases in point. While these developments are significant, they do not herald a basic change in the ongoing love affair between the American public and toys. Parents will continue to look for the best toys they can afford to give to their kids for their birthday, Christmas, or other holidays. In summary, the odds are that we shall see solid growth in the U.S. toy market this year. ■
Lutz Muller has been active in the global toy and video game market since 1984. He has lived and worked in Europe, Asia, Latin America, Australia, and the U.S. His insights are based on his daily contact with toy buyers at big-box stores in the U.S. and Europe, his proprietary retailer panel in the U.S., and his third-party manufacturing contacts in China.
THE TOY BOOK • 49
State of the Industry John Alteio Director of Toys & Games, Amazon
Geoff Walker EVP, Fisher-Price Global Brands
Which product categories drove sales during holiday 2013? Overall, toys and electronics are always among our best sellers throughout the holiday season. There were also several strong toy trends during the holidays, including hot licenses such as Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins, Despicable Me, and Monster High dolls. Customers were also interested in classic toys from Melissa & Doug, crafting toys from American Girl Crafts, and engineering toys from littleBits and GoldieBlox.
How do you utilize consumer feedback in product development? Research has always been at the heart of product development at Mattel. We listen to parents and kids every day of the year, all over the world, and use their input to make important business decisions. On our Fisher-Price campus alone, about 3,500 children and 1,500 parents annually participate in on-site testing, Mom panels, and in-home testing. We also utilize data from our customer service center based in East Aurora to help make better product and packaging decisions. Our customer service center is staffed with almost 150 year-round and seasonal agents who are on the front lines with our customers every day. We utilize the data this team collects to help us better understand the challenges consumers are facing with our products and packaging. This feedback is shared with the design teams, allowing us to continue to improve the consumer experience upon future iterations of our products.
Does packaging design have an effect on online product sales? What would you like to see manufacturers do differently? We want to deliver the best out-of-box experience for customers. Through our packaging feedback program, customers can tell us their packaging frustrations. We listen and then work hard to make improvements. We launched the Frustration-Free Packaging program in 2008 with four manufacturers—including Fisher-Price and Mattel—and now have more than 2,000 globally. In part, the momentum for Frustration-Free Packaging is in direct response to us channeling the customer voice back to the manufacturer. Companies that have been participating in the Frustration-Free Packaging program are expanding their offering and new companies are getting on board based on the customer feedback and other benefits of FrustrationFree Packaging. Frustration-Free Packaging is easy to open and comes without excess packaging materials, such as hard plastic clamshell casings, plastic bindings, and wire twist ties. It’s designed to be opened without the use of a box cutter or a knife and will protect a product just as well as traditional packaging. Products with Frustration-Free Packaging are fully recyclable and can frequently be shipped without an additional shipping box.
50 • THE TOY BOOK
Are you looking beyond traditional TV and movie properties for licensing opportunities? Selecting new licensed properties has always been about identifying the right opportunities that lend to great toy play. We certainly do look beyond traditional TV to interesting content that resonates with our core consumer, whether that be on TV, Netflix, the App Store, or even looking within our own portfolio to further build out franchises. This year we were particularly excited by the performance of Octonauts and are thrilled to be working with Nickelodeon on the new launch of Dora and Friends. Our goal from a licensing standpoint is to keep the pipeline full of interesting and innovative properties that are resonating with kids today.
Carter Keithley President, Toy Industry Association
John Frascotti Global Chief Marketing Officer, Hasbro
What is the biggest challenge facing the toy industry today and how is TIA addressing it? Toy companies of all shapes and sizes and across all product categories are actually facing two common challenges. The first addresses creativity: How do toymakers “deliver the unexpected” that will capture the attention of today’s kids, especially in an age where kids are preoccupied with their phones, tablets, and other tech devices? Building a solid knowledge of new and emerging trends is one of the most crucial aspects to creating innovative and meaningful products for kids. TIA has been reporting on the latest innovations in parallel industries, such as food, fashion, and music, as a way to help spark new ideas for toy companies and retailers. The second issue is the rapid globalization of the marketplace. In recent years, U.S. toy sales have been relatively flat, but there has been rapid growth in other countries. To address this challenge, TIA has developed a year-round schedule of live events, webinars, and research reports that provide our members with the information they need to grow their businesses. Our learning sessions at Toy Fair, for example, span licensing, digital media, marketing, specialty retail, safety, global export opportunities, and much more. We have been working hard to transform Toy Fair as the “Center of Gravity” for the global toy marketplace. This year, we have attracted more international exhibitors, more international retail outlets (and more of their buyers), and more licensors and marketing executives than ever before. In essence, TIA is supporting our members with the trend information they need to create magical new toys and games that will resonate with kids around the world, we are opening doors to brand new marketplaces for our exhibitors, and we are providing the business intelligence that will help them decide where and how best to expand.
How do you utilize consumer feedback in product development? We spend a great deal of time and resources getting input from our consumers and we use these insights to inform our decisions in many aspects of our business. Consumer insights truly are a driving force in our product development and marketing processes. We talk to parents and kids around the world on a daily basis to understand their lives, their preferences, and how technology is affecting them, and we focus on creating play experiences that best meet their individual needs and the needs of their families.
What measures have you taken to keep pace with consumer technology expectations? The first step is to ensure that we understand what our consumers expect, which is changing every day due to the rapid pace of technology innovation in our society. Taking these expectations into consideration, our focus is to offer kids and families new and innovative experiences with our brands that they can enjoy anytime, anywhere. We want our brands to be available to consumers everywhere and in every format that they expect to find them, as we know that today’s consumers have many different occasions where they want to play. With our gaming brands, for example, we understand that gamers want to be able to play across platforms. With our Magic the Gathering brand, we provide our gamers with a variety of digital and analog platforms on which to play. We’ve also worked in partnership with the best digital gaming companies in the world, including EA, Activision, Ubisoft, Gameloft, and DeNA, to ensure that consumers can play many of our most popular gaming brands on a multitude of platforms. 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.
THE TOY BOOK • 51
State of the Industry Sharon DiMinico Founder and CEO, Learning Express
Ben Gadbois Global President and COO, Spin Master Ltd.
How are you utilizing social media components such as YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest? We often find that customers enjoy seeing our toys out of the box and in action. YouTube is a great way for us to teach our customers more about the products we offer and help them explore new ways to play. With social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, we can create an engaging relationship with our customers through direct interaction. These platforms are extremely useful in keeping our customers well-informed about our new products, promotions, in-store events, and other initiatives. Pinterest has allowed us to become a valuable resource for our customers. Through Pinterest we can provide our customers with useful content and information relating to not only our products and services, but also parenting and child development.
What trends are you anticipating leading into 2014, and how are you altering your product development in response? We can see how tech ties in to games (such as Skylanders and Disney Infinity), so expect to see us take this trend seriously. Activities are also showing a resurgence with, for example, the success of Rainbow Loom, and our own success with a test launch of our Sew Cool line. New adaptations to old toys that focus on tried and true play patterns will continue to be reflected in consumer offerings. Construction toys continue to be hot sellers. Our recent acquisition of Meccano and the newly launched Tenkai Knights by Ionix will continue to shapeshift the construction aisle, allowing builders to experience classic construction play in a brand new way. Interactive toys that allow realistic and free play choices will remain popular. Additionally, tablets, spy games, and robotics will continue to develop. Spin Master will continue to build immersive digital extensions to many of our toy lines through the creation of entertainment properties, companion applications, games, and digital experiences that are suited for changing consumer play patterns. Our Spy Gear line is the best it has ever been, complete with high-tech surveillance gear disguised as pens, smartphones, and sunglasses.Our Spin Master Robotics line will also continue with progressive technologies.
Does packaging design drive sales in your stores? What would you like to see manufacturers do differently? The best toy in the world will sit on the shelf if the package design is not good. Conversely, a mediocre toy will sell really well if the package is attractive. Manufacturers need to appreciate the importance of white space on a package. Product exclusives continue to be a major trend. Will you rely on manufacturers to provide these offerings, source yourself, or a combination of both? We’re really not equipped to source exclusives ourselves. Instead, we present our ideas to manufacturers, and they in turn will source the materials and manufacture it for us for a limited amount of time—usually one year.
52 • THE TOY BOOK
Is enough emphasis being placed on creating new kids’ entertainment properties that can translate into successful toy lines? Our goal is to create great brands for kids. In many cases, we start with entertainment. For example, with Paw Patrol, we look for characters and stories that make an emotional connection to kids’ lives. We ask ourselves, “What aspirational qualities are kids of today looking for? And how can we build a meaningful relationship with kids through content and stories?” Rather than create a show that features a toy line, we look to put the emphasis on building characters and content that demonstrates play patterns. How can the content we create enhance the toy play and vice versa?
State of the Industry D. Hugo Malan, SVP and President, Fitness, Sporting Goods, and Toys, Sears Holdings How have you updated your merchandising to accommodate the proliferation of tablets and tech toys? We continually update our assortment and merchandising in accordance with the latest preferences of our members. As the cost of tablets continue to fall, there has been some migration of toy tablet spending to the electronics aisle, but weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re confident that continued innovation from our partners in the electronic learning space (e.g., LeapFrog, VTech) will sustain the vibrancy in this category. Do you see social selling/consumer reviews driving demand for particular products? Yes. Our Shop Your Way member-based shopping program and community hosts thousands of customer product reviews. Members can browse, review, shop and purchase items; create custom wish lists to share with friends and family; and seek advice from friends and their social network. Many members seek advice on the items they wish to purchase through our community and make purchasing decisions based on the feedback they see and receive. Does packaging design drive sales in your stores? What would you like to see manufacturers do differently? Toys are very visual and hands-on, so yes the packaging matters. Toys that allow customers to test, touch, and/or see easily tend to make their way off the shelves more so than toys with less visual packaging. For retailers, packaging can hinder where an item is placed on shelves. The more a manufacturer is able to cater to how the toy will look visually on a shelf or hanging up, the better off everyone will be.
54 â&#x20AC;˘ THE TOY BOOK
Marc Bertrand CEO, Mega Brands The industry has seen a surge in tech toys and youth electronics. In what new ways are you incorporating technology into your product development? Innovation is a key element of our product offering, and technology definitely has a part in that. Product features such as lights and sounds are incorporated into several of our products to provide enhanced play patterns to our toys. These include the Mega Bloks First Builders Billy Beats Dancing Piano, the Mega Bloks Barbie Super Star Stage, and the Mega Bloks Halo UNSC Night Ops Gausshog. We are also focused on providing engaging digital experiences to our consumers. In 2011, we introduced QR codes on our packaging so consumers can discover more product features on their smartphones while they shop in store. The following year, digital playbooks with step-by-step building instructions were introduced. We also introduced our Mega Bloks First Builders app, developed for preschoolers to discover simple building games with their parents. Last year we introduced new websites for parents and collectors, and you can expect even more this year, including online games for kids and mobile apps for collectors. Are you looking beyond traditional TV and movie properties for licensing opportunities? Mega Bloks has a strong licensed portfolio that features properties across multiple platforms. We are renowned for the translation of iconic video game franchises into highly detailed and collectible construction sets. These properties include Microsoft Halo, since 2009, as well as Activision Skylanders and Call of Duty, which launched in 2013. We also have a partnership with Mattel for Hot Wheels and Barbie, some of the top brands in the world. Other partners include iconic, family-friendly, and global brands such as John Deere and Caterpillar. This fall, we will be introducing two new construction lines based on Jeep and NYPD, which will feature vehicles, fun play sets, and collectible micro-action figures for kids to build, play, and collect.
State of the Industry Kathleen McHugh President, ASTRA
Jay Foreman President and CEO, The Bridge Direct
How did the specialty toy industry fare in 2013? What is your outlook for 2014? The numbers from independent specialty retailers are not yet in as we go to print, but in general there is an optimistic feeling among ASTRA members. Anecdotally, the buzz is that 2013 was a better year and ASTRA retailers saw some of that 4.2 percent increase in overall retail sales in 2013. The positive signs in the economy for 2014 are encouraging, and I would expect to see our members focus on their sustainable competitive advantage, which is that they offer customers top-quality products and excellent customer service.
The industry has seen a surge in tech toys and youth electronics. In what new ways are you incorporating technology into your product development? We’re not doing it in too many ways. This story is written every few years and maybe with the exception of Furby, high tech in traditional toys doesn’t work. However, we are still marketing Simon, Lite-Brite, and View Master, which were all low-tech toys that have been in the market for years. Even interactivity in dolls and feature plush is no big deal. Give the child a basic sound chip and/or lights and mom a great value, and you’ve got a happy consumer. Tech will come and go—think Intel or Microsoft, Barney, Iz, or Dream Play. Kids and parents want to see play separated from a traditional toy and an iPad, in my humble opinion. I’m just old school—I still have a BlackBerry!
What trends in the toy industry are affecting specialty retailers in a positive way? While competition from online retailers continues to grow, consumers have not reduced brick-and-mortar stores to involuntary showrooms. Certainly, some customers pull out their smartphones in ASTRA stores and make their purchases online to get the lowest possible price, but the problem is not as extreme as we feared it would be. I think this speaks to the service specialty stores provide and the relationships retailers build with many of their customers, which generates loyalty. Our retailers are getting smarter about how to make their stores into destinations so customers keep coming back. What are the biggest challenges for specialty retailers and how can they be addressed? Owning a small business is tough work. Sometimes the biggest challenge is sustaining your energy and passion. In fact, we will feature a closing keynote at our Marketplace & Academy in June that focuses on this issue so we can send retailers home with strategies to enjoy their businesses rather than be slave to them. Another big challenge is that we still have not achieved sales tax fairness. It’s hard to compete if you have to impose this cost on customers while your online rivals do not. We are participating in efforts to bring the fairness message to Washington.
56 • THE TOY BOOK
Is enough emphasis being placed on creating new kids’ entertainment properties that can translate into successful toy lines? There is never enough, but in the end the consumer and the child only has so much bandwidth to go deep. If Doc [McStuffins] and TMNT are sucking up the oxygen, you have to just get ready when they exhale a bit to come in with something new. We can’t see enough great concepts, but there are only so many that can break through. What measures have you taken to keep pace with consumer technology expectations? To me, it’s social media outreach. We just want to make sure consumers can get information about our products quickly and easily, from where to buy them to what they do. Remember, a child doesn’t understand the technology in an iPad—they just know it’s easy to use. That’s the secret. Making things that are easy to use, easy to find, and easy to buy.
Tony Norman, President, CEO, and
Eric Levin, Division Head,
Co-Founder, Innovation First International
Techno Source, a division of LF Products (a Li & Fung company)
The industry has seen a surge in tech toys and youth electronics. In what new ways are you incorporating technology into your product development? At our core, we are a robotics company that more recently entered into the toy industry with the launch of Hexbug. Our products are loaded with complex robotics mechanisms, electronics, and technology that we continue to evolve year over year. We understand how visceral of a learning and play experience it can be for children to build and drive their own robots, so this year we’ve taken our line of educational robotics kits and re-engineered it for the consumer toy market. We are also continuing development on our line of water-born Hexbug Aquabots, adding in new features such as lights and expanded interactive habitats. What measures have you taken to keep pace with consumer technology expectations? We are responsible for the world’s largest and fastest growing global robotics competition for students in elementary school through university level. This exposure puts us on the bleeding edge of consumer technology. We continually pull new technologies and innovations out of the world of robotics and find ways to incorporate them into our consumer toy products. We also recruit some of the top performing high school and college robotics students for our internship program. During their internship, students have a chance to work one-on-one with our engineers and provide us with their invaluable input, while they have a once-ina-lifetime chance to be a part of the product development process. Are you looking beyond traditional TV and movie properties for licensing opportunities? Last year was a brand building year for us with the European and North American McDonald’s Happy Meals partnership. Looking forward, we are really open to exploring a wide array of licensing partnerships, ranging from a major movie property to sports licensing, as well apparel and apparel accessories.
Are you looking beyond traditional TV and movie properties for licensing opportunities? We have really stayed out of the movie licensing business for several years now. The shelf life is just too short, and unless you are the master licensee, there is too little shelf space. We are always looking for licenses that can be compelling, but are strong enough to hold their own in crowded categories. The NFL was a good example of this. Our NFL game was a huge success for us in 2013. The brand deserved shelf space and broke through the clutter in a crowded category. What trends are you anticipating leading into 2014, and how are you altering your product development in response? We continue to see a bifurcation of the business. Success is happening with very traditional toys and with technology. There is some overlap, but it seems to be more the exception than the rule. We try to avoid products that fall in between these two success points. Is enough emphasis being placed on creating new kids’ entertainment properties that can translate into successful toy lines? I think there is no shortage of great entertainment properties. The hard part is turning them into successful consumer product lines. I am very impressed by the work companies like Lego and Mattel are doing to create brands that are designed to drive and sustain toy lines. This is some of the best work happening in our industry. What measures have you taken to keep pace with consumer technology expectations? I think the biggest change is the need for social media management. We now devote as much resources to managing social media as we do to managing traditional media.
THE TOY BOOK • 57
State of the Industry The Evolution of Toys The View from the Brink of Toys 4.0
by Bruce D. Lund, founder, Lund and Co. Invention LLC
widespread conversation about what has been coined The Substance of Toys 1.0 to 4.0: “Industry 4.0” is going on worldwide—particularly in Germany, where industrial manufacturing is a key 1.0: Cornhusks 3.0: Plastic part of the economy. The handcrafted production of the 18th century was Industry 1.0, which gave way to the Industrial 2.0: Wood, metal 4.0: ??? Revolution, or Industry 2.0, where steam and water power replaced tasks formerly done by hand. This led to our modern and familiar world of mass production powered by electricity, the question is, what will be the new form and function of toys? characterized as Industry 3.0. Economists and sciMajor changes in the industry have occurred, and entists envision that we are now at the advent we may be safe in concluding that major, industryof Industry 4.0, and we are—with the help of a wide change will come yet again in toys and games. “think tank” employed for just this purpose— Certainly, tablet- and smartphone-based play, as attempting to define the look and content of Inwell as app-based toys and games, may be one form of dustry 4.0. Toys 4.0. Likewise, we may be on the cusp of Toys 4.0 I don’t have the answers any more than Gerand the future of toys and play. Looking back many has defined what Industry 4.0 will look like. on the history of play, Toys 1.0 might be deBut they are right, I believe, in trying to be at the fined as folk toys—those handmade, carved leading edge of defining it—and thereby being in dolls made out of cornhusks. Toys 2.0 would the position of inventing it—rather than trying be pre-World War II toys, made out of wood, to catch up to the leaders from the trailing edge metal, or lithographed tin, and largely handof change. crafted or made in Japan and Europe. Toys 3.0 coJust as plastic supplanted printed tin incides with the dawn of the plastic era of toys plate metal, steel, and wood, Toys 4.0 post-WWII, often powered by clockwork could be defined by a new material as and wind-up motors. This is our modern well. There could also be a new moera of toys and games, characterized as tive power, similar to how electric motors and lights replaced springmanufactured in China, dominated by wound toys, or some new technology multi-national toy companies, electrically that allows for new play patterns, much as powered by batteries, and largely controlled by microprocessors. Above: Plastic wind-up toy robot continued on page 248 We may be at the threshold of Toys 4.0, but Below: Antique Dutch tin toy
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State of the Industry
Printing Toys As 3-D printers gain traction in households across the country, toy manufacturers must find a way to protect their intellectual property. by Howard N. Aronson
rom wooden blocks and erector sets to Lincoln Logs and model airplanes, kids love building toys. But now, kids are not only building with toys— they’re printing the toys with which to build. The kid next door may be infringing your intellectual property (IP) by printing your copyrighted toy product on a 3-D printer, or he or she could be using your copyrighted design under license. Toy companies will have to decide how to protect their IP rights before 3-D printers become ubiquitous. Recently coming into widespread use, 3-D printers now print human and animal body parts (bioprinting), replacement mechanical parts, guns, and toys. A 3-D printer will soon orbit the Earth, making parts for the Interna tional Space Station. Large, commercial 3-D printers often produce prototypes. Mattel, for example, which used to sculpt its prototypes from wax, now uses dozens of printers to manufacture parts not only for prototypes, but also for Barbie and other dolls, according to The Wall Street Journal. One toy designer estimates that the transition to 3-D rapid
“Kids are not only building with toys— they’re printing the toys with which to build.”
prototyping has cut development time from a year to just three months. Disney researchers, according to a BBC report, say that creating toys on 3-D printers has allowed them to create a prototype in minutes, instead of the amount of time it takes for a factory to be retooled. The 3D printers have another huge advantage: They provide a level of accuracy that would be too costly and complicated using traditional manufacturing techniques.
Let There Be Lights The BBC explains how Disney explores the use of 3D printers to build new kinds of light features into its toys, including light pipes and tubes of enclosed air that glow. Another Disney design uses hollow tubes at a toy’s center. When illuminated, the toy’s “heart” appears to be beating. Disney also created a glow-eyed bug figure item, chess pieces that display their position on the board, and plastic blocks in which light is used to make the blocks appear to explode inside. 3-D printers can also make entire toys. A Disney research paper predicted “a future world where interactive devices can be printed rather than assembled [where] … a device with active components is created as a single object, rather than a case enclosing circuit boards and individual assembled parts.” One toy designer has a hybrid manufacturing model for a building set: injection molding for the core chassis parts, and on-demand 3-D printing for accessories. continued on page 246
THE TOY BOOK • 59
State of the Industry EIGHT
That Stand the Test of Time by Steve Reece, brand marketing and product development consultant
here is a surprising number of companies in the toy industry that have been in existence for an entire generation or longer. These companies have certain critical factors in common, and we can usually observe that the companies that donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t stand the test of time have failed to follow one or more critical principles, which their more longstanding counterparts have adhered to. These eight key factors are as follows:
Longevity of Key Management
A ship on a long journey will make more direct and successful progress if it retains the same skipper throughout its course. This industry works on extended timescales. We primarily sell in two windows per year, with a bias toward one of those windows, and it takes multiple cycles to make significant progress. Therefore, it takes years to get anywhere in this industry. Consistent management, ethos, and approach are key criteria for success. Take a look at the three largest toy companies: Mattel, Hasbro, and Lego. All of these companies began as family businesses and built up slowly, product by product, over an extended period of time for a three- to five-year payback.
2. Clear Positioning in the Market
As humans, we like to put things in boxes and affix easy labels to aid our own understanding. Having a clear positioning allows buyers, suppliers, and partners to know what you stand
60 â&#x20AC;˘ THE TOY BOOK
for, what to bring you, and what to expect from you. Clear positioning also allows companies to assemble expert knowledge, strong carry-forward product lines, and easier relistings with buyers who know you will be back to see them next year, and thus have a vested interest in supporting your business should your products not sell through.
Commitment to Brand Building
Again, if we look at the three big toy companies globally, we can see that Mattel reports that its own brands account for a huge 75 percent of total toy sales. Hasbroâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s corporate strategy throughout the noughties was core brand focus, and Lego is in effect both a company and a powerful brand at the same time. Brands deliver more long-term security than nearly anything else because known performers get re-listed by retail, original toy brands are of a higher margin since there are no third party licensor or distributor percentages, and brand extensions are a much easier and less risky way to launch new product lines. Brands also have huge value within themselves as intellectual properties and can drive additional revenue through licensing to other companies in different product categories.
4. Retaining Key Staff Members While Being Open to New Ideas
There are two parts to this factor: retaining key staff over
the long haul, while still maintaining an openness to fresh ideas and ways of doing things. The human capital, which is needlessly and sometimes thoughtlessly lost by many toy companies for petty reasons or for reasons of neglect, is a huge asset that often disappears. Speaking as someone who has made massive, glaring errors, I’m reminded of the Thomas J. Watson (founder of IBM) quote: “Recently, I was asked if I was going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost the company $600,000. No, I replied, I just spent $600,000 training him. Why would I want somebody to hire his experience?” The reality is that those staff members who have been in situ the longest inevitably hold the most knowledge—and in this business, knowledge often means money saved or money earned. For example, it is important to know the most reliable, cost-effective factories; which QA tests to do; and how to deliver the shipment on time. That said, underperforming staff don’t remain in situ for that length of time in the most long-lasting companies. Experience and tenure are also no excuses for being closed off to new approaches or ways of doing things. The companies that get the right balance on this factor tend to be the ones with the most longevity.
a given that bad relationships with customers won’t deliver success in the short-term—never mind the long-term.
7. Reliable Supply Chain
We’ve all nickel-and-dimed our way to shaving a few cents off our manufacturing costs. It would be crazy not to, especially as the biggest expenditure toy companies have is manufacturing cost. However, a few less cents pales in comparison to the carnage that unreliable supply and/or suppliers can have on a business. The companies with the most longevity in this business tend to be those that focus on reliability—or risk reduction from their supply chain—at the same time as seeking competitive pricing.
8. Eggs in Baskets
Why would you ever allow one customer, one supplier, one staff member, one product, or one brand to have the ability to terminally injure your business if you lost it/them? Oneperson departments are all well and good until that one person leaves. Smash hit products are all well and good until the hangover sets in when the hero fades away. Huge numbers from one retailer may be a great bonus, but it should be treated as the icing on the cake—not the basis on which overhead is fixed or expectations are set. In this business, consumers and retail buyers both move on, and products and brands move in cycles. I can think of three or four toy companies that have completely disappeared during the last few years, and they went away almost entirely because they relied on one person or entity too much. A fundamental factor in companies with longevity is the ability to survive—or even thrive—regardless of the loss of any one basket full of eggs. ■
Retailers are a hard-nosed bunch on the whole—and rightly so, because retail is a cutthroat business. The strong and very demanding are more likely to survive in this game. Strong relationships depend on the performance of the products you ship as much as any other factor, but customer service and maintaining maximum supply at key times are also important. Interpersonal relationships can also play a critical role with some buyers more than others, but nevertheless, it’s
Steve Reece runs a toy and game industry consultancy offering product and concept representation in Europe and beyond, The strategic consultancy offers reliable and cost-saving sourcing services and consumer insight. For more details visit www.stevenreece.com.
5. Excellent and Enduring Product Pipeline
This is a product- and feature-driven business and innovation is key—but it doesn’t necessarily need to be your company’s innovation. There are hundreds of long-established, successful companies bringing proven products to their market from other companies’ R&D investment.
Enduring Customer Relationships and an Effective Sales Team
THE TOY BOOK • 61
What’s New Tomy Shows Old-School Wheels
Zing Toys Allows Kids to Fly High
ohn Deere Steel Stake Wagon, from Tomy, has been redesigned for this year. The classic wagon features rugged steel construction, a new StableSteer front axle for easy maneuverability, and smooth-ride pneumatic tires. The wagon is designed for kids ages 2 and up. Tomy will introduce Pokémon X and Pokémon Y 8-inch Plush Characters, including Pikachu, Chespin, Fennekin, and Froakie. These soft plush figures are designed for kids ages 3 and up.
he Zano Bow, from Zing Toys, is a new bow and arrow combo that is about one-third the size of the Z-Curve Bow, but still uses the patented Zing launch-system technology to wield a power-packed punch. Combined with new mini Zartz arrows and a wall target, the Zano Bow provides kids ages 4 and up with a complete indoor archery set that is safe and parent-approved. The bow can launch arrows more than 30 feet. Zing will also introduce its first auto-rotating, multi-launching X6 Zoom Rocket. The multirocket launch tower has six soft-foam rockets loaded in a rapid fire, air-powered, auto-rotation system. The rockets zoom into flight more than 100 feet in the air. Zing delivers the aerodynamics and kids ages 8 and up deliver the power. The harder kids stomp, the higher the rockets fly. Sky Gliderz are the newest in high-flying fun from Zing. The soft foam stealth planes loop and glide more than 120 feet. Using the same Rip-Zip bungee launcher that the Sky Ripperz handheld rockets use, kids ages 8 and up can lock and load their Sky Gliderz and send them booming at high speeds with whistle-screaming action. Hook the planes on the bungee loop, pull back, flick the wrist, and watch them ascend into the sky. Sky Gliderz allow kids to perform stunts and loop-deloops at different launch angles.
Sleepovers Get Glam with Alex Toys
lex Toys will debut multiple new kits from its Ultimate Kits line. Little fashionistas ages 6 and up can throw a mani-pedi party with their friends with the 427 nail essentials included in the Nail Glam Salon. Using the vibrant polish, glitter, gems, rainbow strips, and mini stickers, girls can create nail designs by sticking on and filing the 72 nail appliques—no drying time or smudging. With the Hair Chalk Station, girls ages 7 and up can color their hair with 12 bright colors, including glittery metallics. The colors can be applied to any color hair and wash out easily with shampoo. Girls can even add strands of shimmering beads for extra glam. The Tattoo Glitter Party lets girls ages 8 and up create sparkling body art with 10 reusable stencils and six colors of glitter. They can mix and match their favorite jewelry with the 135 press-on jewelry tattoo chains and charms. Perforated tattoo sheets make the process easy, with no scissors required.
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X6 Zoom Rocket
What’s New Spin Master Has Spy Power, Robotic Pals
he Spy Gear line, from Spin Master, gives kids the gear they need to accomplish everyday missions. The Spy Phone Cam is a spy cam disguised as a smartphone. Kids can take photos and review them directly on the screen, or use the removable camera to catch suspects from afar using the camera’s motion capture mode. The camera stores up to 80 images. Kids can protect their room with the Door Alarm that Zoomer Zuppies Roxy only they can unlock. If someone opens a door, the magnetic connection is broken and the alarm will sound to warn kids of an intruder. The alarm will also blink and beep to let kids know how many times their privacy was breached when they were not around. All of the Spy Gear products are set to launch this spring and are designed for kids ages 6 and up. Spin Master has expanded the Zoomer line of robotic pets this year. Zoomer+ is one year older, knows twice as many tricks, and is available in Beagle and German Shepherd breeds. Zoomer Zuppies give kids a teacup-sized Zoomer that matches their personalities. Each of the seven puppies has its own name and style. They have the same iconic LED eyes as the original Zoomer, and feature interactive moods, touch sensors, a music player, mini games, and poseable legs. Designed for kids ages 5 and up, Zoomer Zuppies fit easily into purses and bags. Dino runs around balancing on two feet while chomping and whipping his tail. Kids can play with him in autonomous mode via the sensors on his nose, or pick up the control pod to send him on attack and put him in guard mode. Although Dino appears aggressive initially, he has a softer side and protects his friends—he even busts out some dance moves. He shows kids different moods through his color-changing eyes.
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PlaSmart’s Cars Are a Little Wonky
onky Wheels, from PlaSmart, takes the fun of toy cars to a whole new level. Kids ages 3 and up can start moving Wonky Wheels with their finger and watch as they wobble, rotate, and create a one-of-a-kind experience every time. Wonky Wheels help enhance motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Moose Toys Gets Gross
oose Toys will expand The Trash Pack with The Trash Pack Series 6, featuring more than 100 new Trashies, as well as limitededition Metallic Trash. Series 6 comes packaged in bright purple eggs and will be available in both 5- and 12-pack collections that contain rotten eggs, extralarge rotten eggs, series characters, and a collector’s guide for all the new Trashies. These new products are suitable for kids ages 5 and up. The Ugglys, Moose Toys’ farting and burping electronic pets, will return to Toys “R” Us in the spring. More styles of The Ugglys will be available in the fall.
What’s New Berg Teaches Kids to Pedal with the Buzzy
he Buzzy, from Berg, is a four-wheel pedal kart designed to teach kids ages 2 to 5 how to pedal. The Buzzy is more stable than a tricycle and its size and EVA tires allow it to be pedaled indoors and outdoors. The pedals go forward and in reverse and the kart has adjustable handlebars and three-position seating. The frame is made from powder-coated tubular steel, so it is durable for long-lasting play.
Wicked Cool Debuts Disney Wood Program, Ride-On Storage, and Novelties
icked Cool Toys has teamed up with Disney Consumer Products for its Disney Wood Program, a new licensed platform under Wicked Cool’s Goodtoy brand. Wicked Cool Toys will bring Disney brands to life through premium wood offerings and deliver premium quality, furniture-like toys that are durable and eco-friendly. Goodtoy’s Disney Wood Program includes a Disney Princess Vanity, Disney Princess Royal Kitchen, Disney Princess Royal Tea Set, Disney Princess Royal Cookware, and Minnie’s Bow-Tique. Vrüm Ride-On Storage is a new, licensed, three-in-one ride-on travel storage line for kids to pack, ride, and play. The Vrüm line will feature brands including Disney Princess, Dora, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman, Spider-Man, SpongeBob and more. Each ride-on luggage character has a dual-purpose pull/carrying strap and a handlebar for comfort and support, and is safe to ride. Wicked Cool Toys will expand its WWE portfolio with collectibles, novelties, 31-inch fully articulated figures, role play, and electronic products this fall. Wicked Cool’s WWE Superstars toy line, available this spring, will include Superstar Bands, ThumbPERS, key chains, microphones, Superstar Banks, and bobble head figures. Wicked Cool will also debut the 22- by 22-inch Real Scale Collector Ring. Wicked Cool will also offer a line of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles novelties, including Turtle Bands, Turtle Trick Boards, Turtle Tags, Turtle Sticky Slingers, Water Grow Turtles, Light Up Weapons, Knucklez, Ninja Action Balls, Ninja Banks, Wall Walkers, Shell Phones, Turtle Remote, Ninja Flashlight, Ninja Kamera, and Ninja Keys. Wicked Cool Toys has partnered with Status Media for Hero Holders, full action-figural holders that look just like branded characters for touch-screen devices. The Hero Holders product line includes six different styles to collect with licenses, including WWE, TMNT, Marvel, and Warner Bros. Disney Princess Vanity Hero Holders includes two pairs of interchangeable, poseable arms. Hero Holders fit all smartphone sizes and their bases expand to hold all touchpad devices. In addition, Wicked Cool Toys’ TechXtras product line will include Plush Character Tablet Buddies featuring WWE, TMNT, Marvel, SpongeBob, and Warner Bros. With seven styles to choose from, they have flexible hands to secure around a tablet and a base that raises in the front for extra support. The TechXtras Echo Speaker Assortment amplifies sound and fits most smartphone devices.
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What’s New TOY BOOK
Get Ready to Rock with The Original Toy Co.
ith the Original See Saw, from The Original Toy Co., young kids can keep fit and burn off extra energy. Designed for outdoor use, it has easy XCLUSIVE grip handles and a heavy-duty steel frame, and holds two kids ages 3 to 6. My Little Rockers are Danish-manufactured rockers that provide hours of play value. Recommended for kids ages 1 and up, they come in three versions: Frog, Bumble Bee, and Lady Bug. These are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.
Underground Toys Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who
My Little Rocker—Frog
nderground Toys holds the rights from BBC Worldwide (BBCW) to manufacture and OOK distribute merchandise for the longest-running science-fiction TV series of all time, Doctor Who. XCLUSIVE New additions to the electronic plush assortments include the 24-inch talking plush range, featuring the Daleks and the Tardis with LED lights and sound effects. The Doctor Who Pocket Pal Talking Clip-On features sound effects and phrases from the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Doctor, and the Tardis. The key chain features a detailed sculpted mini replica of the iconic Tardis against a backdrop of the vortex. Underground Toys’ Doctor Who Tumbling Tardis Tower—a classic, family-friendly game of skill with 36 wooden bricks—challenges players to poke, push, pull, and wiggle the bricks one at a time and build the Tardis Tower high without letting it tumble. The taller the Tumbling Tardis Tower gets, the more wobbly it becomes. New figural collectibles on display will include the highly detailed Doctor Who 4-inch Collectible Resin Figurines. Each figurine is cast in a specially formulated metallic resin and painted by hand. A separate range of new Doctor Who 3.75-inch Action Figures will also be available. Under license from Hasbro Inc. and the BBC, Underground Toys, in collaboration with PPW Inc., has launched a new line of Doctor Who Mr. Potato Head figures. Characters include The Tenth Doctor, The Eleventh Doctor, and a Dalek with removable parts. Doctor Who Tumbling From the new range of Doctor Who accessories come stylized wallets, wristbands, Tardis Tower lanyards, tote bags, and iPhone cases. Some special 50th anniversary editions within the ranges incorporate artwork from designer Anthony Dry. Additional Doctor Who merchandise from Underground Toys includes R/C toys and role-play toys, such as sonic screwdrivers; a range of computer accessories, such as USB hubs and desk protectors; kitchen accessories, including cookie jars, teapots, and mugs; and a range of horology products, including high-end collectible watches, alarm clocks, and wall clocks.
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What’s New Daydream Toy Is Ready to Soar with SkyTrix
aydream Toy expands its SkyTrix line with SkyTrix Birds of Prey, a new design in flying toys. It can climb high into the sky, dive, loop, boomerang, or become a long-range glider. A simple plane on a tether, SkyTrix has no batteries or gyroscopes keeping it in flight and balanced; it is all people-powered. SkyTrix gets kids and adults outside and playing. It’s great for a long-distance game of catch between multiple people or a game of boomerang for one person. After getting the feel of the tether, kids can start doing tricks such as casting, snap backs, and loops. SkyTrix Birds of Prey is available in an assortment of three colorful wing designs featuring an owl, an eagle, and a dragon.
Innovation First Introduces New Hexbug Crawly Friends
exbug will introduce its Vex Robotics product line for kids ages 8 and up. This collection of high-tech, tool-less robotic kits allows Hexbug fans to build and program their favorite jumbo-sized Hexbug micro-robotic creature, complete with motors and sensors. Hexbugs’ Vex robots can run in autonomous mode or driver-controlled mode. The line challenges kids’ creative thinking and problem-solving capabilities, and each robot can be disassembled and rebuilt in different configurations. The Hexbug Strandbeast features an eight-legged walking mechanism that gives this robot its smooth stride. The control and extension of the creature’s intricate legs make it look more organic than robotic. It is available in five translucent colors, exposing the electronics and mechanisms to get kids thinking about the science inside the robot. The Hexbug Battle Spider is the first mechanical Hexbug designed for two-person play. The battling robots have a remote control and feature futuristic voice and sound effects and high-tech infrared battling capabilities. Battle Spiders have realistic recoil and a physical response when hit and when shooting. They also feature battle-hardened deco and high-tech life-sensors to add to the battle experience. Hexbug Aquabots with Lights are available in new Hammerhead shark and Angelfish body styles, equipped with red LED lights. The colorful Aquabots offer kids the fun experience of having a pet fish without the clean up. The Aquabot is equipped with an automatic on and off sensor that activates when it is submerged. When in water, the Aquabot swims around, diving and changing directions. The Hexbug Zombie Aquabot Larva and Scarab have been infected by the Zombie apocalypse. These Hexbugs have a translucent black exoskeleton casing that glows in the dark for robotic play day or night. The Larva slithers forward using a slow, rhythmic flexing motion. Each crawler reacts to its environment, instinctively changing direction. The Scarab is a high-speed, mechanical, beetle-like robotic bug that crawls around on six angled legs. It propels itself forward and backward and can pop to its feet if it is placed upside down. Hexbug Battle Spider
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What’s New Diggin Active Hits Fun Out of the Park
iggin Active Inc. will expand its MaxSport line of products with the new MaxSport Lazer Pitch Baseball, available for young sluggers this spring. The new product, for kids ages 5 and up, includes an R/C bat, five balls, and a pitching machine. The ball shoots out when kids press the button on the bat, allowing them to control the timing for each hit. The pitching machine features adjustable pitching angles, including a 90-degree angle perfect for beginners.
The Maya Group Unveils Emoji Expression
he Maya Group has Emoji Icons, a line of ontrend accessories that allow kids to express themselves with Emojis, which are pictoral icons used in texting and social media. Kids ages 8 and up can arrange their Emoji Icons on Emoji Bands that they can wear on their wrists. With 80 different icons, kids can emphasize dozens of feelings and attitudes and then reflect a change in mood through a change in message. The collectible icons come in four different colors. Each Emoji Bands package contains one bracelet and five removable Emoji Icons. With the Emoji Cell Phone Case, kids ages 8 and up can have fun expressing themselves. Each package contains one cell phone case and 12 Emoji Icons, which can be used to write a message, share feelings, or trade with friends. The case fits the Samsung Galaxy S3, iPod touch, and iPhone 4, 4S, 5, 5S, and 5C. Emoji Icons also come in two types of blind packs that include seven or 28 icons.
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Sakar Jams with Kid-Safe Headphones
akar International’s new line of kid-safe headphones allows kids to safely listen to and enjoy music. Large, full-range drivers give listeners a rich sound experience with crisp highs and warm, clear bass tones. The ear cups are lightweight with thick, comfortable padding to provide noise isolation, while the headband bends easily for a comfortable fit. The kid-safe headphone series features a built-in volume limiter, protecting children’s hearing by automatically limiting audio volume to approximately 80 percent of the original maximum volume. Kid-safe headphones are compatible with all portable devices that feature a 3.5mm stereo jack output, including iPod, iPhone, iPad, Android smartphones and tablets, and portable gaming devices such as the PlayStation Vita and the Nintendo DS series. These headphones are also compatible with laptops, PCs, CD players, and home audio systems. Sakar’s collection of kid-safe headphones feature designs from licenses including Hello Kitty, Batman, Superman, Iron Man 3, Monster High, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
What’s New Bandai Relaunches the Tamagotchi Brand
andai will relaunch the Tamagotchi phenomenon under the brand Tamagotchi Friends. The Tamagotchi Friends brand, supported by a handheld device, new technology, a character brand segment, and an immersive portfolio of interactive lifestyle products, will launch in Europe throughout the spring and in the U.S. in the fall. The Tamagotchi Friends Digital Friend allows kids ages 6 and up to take care of the fun, interactive virtual friend that grows and develops differently depending on how well they take care of it. Once the Tamagotchi egg hatches, kids can feed it, give it medicine, potty train it, bathe it, and play games to earn Gotchi points. For the first time, kids can “bump” with other Tamagotchis to send text messages and gifts and go on play dates. The more kids bump, the more points and rewards they earn. Points can be used to buy meals, snacks, and jewelry, or to share items with friends by giving and receiving gifts. The Tamagotchi Friends brand will also feature action figures and play sets that bring the characters from the virtual friends and webisodes to life.
Giddy Up with Tek Nek Toys
he Rockin’ Rider Flowers and Bandana Vintage Rocking Pony, from Tek Nek Toys, have a vintage look and feel. These new ponies feature fun retro floral and bandana patterns and a twisted yarn mane and tale. Both have the same Rockin’ Rider features as previous ponies, including the “I’m a little pony…” song; six talking phrases and sound effects; a synchronized moving mouth; a soft, huggable pony body; easy grip handles; non-slip foot steps; and parental volume control. The ponies are designed for kids ages 18 months to 3 years. The Polaris Green Camo Scrambler ATV rideon, for kids ages 1 to 3, features authentic Scrambler styling, Polaris’ exclusive camo pattern Pursuit, two melodies, three talking phrases with sound effects, three dash buttons, super-grip tires, and parental volume controls. This ride-on is also available in Pink Camo.
Hog Wild Toys Zips into Toy Fair
Rockin’ Rider Bandana Vintage Rocking Pony
he ZipStix collection, from Hog Wild Toys, is a new line of stunt toys designed for kids ages 4 and up. These high-flying launchers 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. Kids can flatten out the ZipStix, load them into the launcher, press the back to curl them up, take aim, let go, and watch them fly. ZipStix are available in a single pack, a double pack, a stunt pack, and a mega-stunt pack with various accessories. Shield Popper is the ultimate attack-and-defend foam ball blaster with gravity-fed auto-load and six soft foam balls. Kids can fire at their opponents from more than 40 feet away directly through the shield by pulling back the foam hammer. The translucent shield also protects kids from incoming fire.
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SPOTLIGHT ON: VTECH PRODUCT LINE CELEBRATES LEARNING MILESTONES
his year, VTech’s mission remains true to its roots as it continues to focus attention on what has always been at the heart of its business: infant and preschool learning products. Its learning toy legacy will continue to evolve with the introduction of more than 80 new products across its entire portfolio, including its infant and preschool line, featuring two distinctive brands that have been swiftly gaining momentum, Switch & Go Dinos and Go! Go! Smart Wheels. “Ever since we introduced the world’s first electronic learning product in 1980, VTech has been synonymous with learning toys,” says William To, president, VTech Electronics North America. “By far the biggest and most important part of our business is infant and preschool learning products, and it is a primary focus for us not only at Toy Go! Go! Smart Wheels Train Station Fair but throughout 2014.” VTech consults a panel of experts on the development of its infant and preschool learning products. These experts specialize not only in the critical subject areas that are important for instilling a lifetime love of learning: reading, language arts, math, and science, but also the broader spectrum of childhood development. Since each child grows at a different pace mentally, emotionally, and physically, insight from these developmental and education experts allows VTech to provide parents with guidelines and recommendations to help them make informed choices about which toys are appropriate for their child’s age, and to accompany them as they reach developmental milestones. These recommendations have been compiled into a Milestones guide that can be found at vtechkids.com/milestones. The Sit to Stand Smart Cruiser, Smart Shots Sports Center, Chomp & Count Dino, and Sing & Learn Music Center are among the 80 new introductions this year. “In addition to our infant and preschool learning products, VTech also has two highly recognizable emerging brands: Go! Go! Smart Wheels and Switch & Go Dinos,” says To. “These two brands in particular are distinct areas of growth for us and all ladder back to our legacy in learning.” Chomp & Count Dino The Go! Go! Smart Wheels product range will expand with 14 new play sets and an assortment of new vehicles, including deluxe vehicles, which incorporate SmartPoint technology. The product line, designed for kids ages 1 to 5, also offers a new extension: Go! Go! Smart Wheels Animals, which are designed to appeal to boys and girls alike. The new Go! Go! Smart Wheels range will allow VTech to reach an even broader audience and further its commitment to developing innovative products that make cause-and-effect learning fun. The Switch & Go Dinos line has been revved up to feature new Turbo products, offering new designs and a remote control transformation for kids ages 3 to 8. The Switch & Go Dinos line, with more than 20 dinos and play sets, allows kids to be imaginative and creative, yet provides educational content at the same time.
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Want to Reach Millions of Consumers During the Holiday Season? • Holiday Gift Guide in the
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To participate in the 9th Annual The Toy Insider™ contact: Jonathan Samet —(212) 575-4510 x 2321, firstname.lastname@example.org Laurie Schacht — (212) 575-4510 x 2320, email@example.com www.toyinsider.com
What’s New Delta Offers Licensed Bedroom Looks
elta Children will launch the Disney/Pixar Cars Toddler-to-Twin Bed with Lights and Toy Box. A new addition to Delta Children’s wood, plastic, and metal twin bed collections, it is designed to resemble the Cars movie character Lightning McQueen. Offering authentic race car style with a steering wheel, a spoiler, working headlights, and built-in storage space under the hood, it converts from a toddler bed to a twin bed by switching out a crib mattress for a twin mattress. Once converted to a twin bed, the built-in storage becomes an oversized toy box. The Marvel 3D Spider-Man Twin Bed helps transition kids from a crib to a big boy bed. Constructed with a high-quality plastic and metal frame, it is both lightweight and sturdy, providing safety and durability. The foot board features a 3-D Spider-Man. The new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Toddler Bed also features a high-quality plastic and metal frame. The bed is built low to the ground to allow for easy child access, and comes with side rails for safe and secure sleeping. Delta Children will also launch Hello Kitty toddler beds, toy boxes, and multi-bins.
Disney/Pixar Cars Toddler-to-Twin Bed with Lights and Toy Box
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Eastcolight Reaches for the Stars
astcolight’s Planetarium with Wireless Bluetooth Speaker offers high-quality star projection and music with a wireless speaker, compatible with all Bluetooth smartphones. The Planetarium shows 61 constellations and 8,000 stars with its five-speed automatic star field rotation, and displays a shooting star every minute. Astronomical professionals provide the precise data that is projected by the Planetarium.
Rubie’s Does Licensed Heroes, Villains
he Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Deluxe Donatello costume, from Rubie’s Costume Co., includes a jumpsuit with an attached belt and shoe covers, elbow pads, knee pads, a mask, and a stuffable shell. Rubie’s will also introduce the Evil Minion costume, from Despicable Me 2, which includes a one-piece purple foam costume. Kids can dress up as DC Comics’ superheroine Wonder Woman with a costume that includes a tutu dress, a cape, gauntlets, a belt, and a matching headpiece. On the other end of the comic book spectrum, the costume for the super villain Harley Quinn includes a tutu dress, a headpiece, an eye mask, and glovelettes.
TMNT Deluxe Donatello
What’s New TÜV Rheinland Tests for Safety
ÜV Rheinland offers testing and certification services for toys and other children’s products, accredited by the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation and approved by the Consumer Products Safety Commission. The laboratory provides mechanical and chemical testing and uses HDXRF technology, allowing for the accurate analysis for lead and other heavy metals, often without damage to the product. The laboratory tests to a number of national and international standards, including Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS), Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), product life cycle, and green compliance.
Yomega Puts a Galactic Spin on Yo-Yos
omega Corp. puts the power of the Force in the hands of kids and yo-yo fans with a new collection of yo-yos based on the Star Wars saga. Star Wars Yomega Yo-Men High Performance Yo-Yos and Action Stands provide kids and collectors with a way to play and display their yo-yos featuring Star Wars characters. Yomega Yo-Men come with a Star Wars Yomega Fireball yo-yo cradled in a highly detailed Yo-Men Action Stand sculpted in the character’s likeness. The yo-yos feature a bold character image and Yomega’s patented transaxle system, which allows for high speed and smooth spins. Yo-Men are available in Darth Vader, Clone Trooper, Yoda, and General Grievous styles, and are designed for kids ages 8 and up. Star Wars Yomega Fireball merges the Yomega Fireball yo-yo with Star Wars characters, including Darth Vader, Clone Trooper, Yoda, and Boba Fett. Star Wars Yomega Fireball yo-yos feature the patented transaxle system and are more than three times longer than an ordinary yo-yo. The yo-yos will feature character imagery and will include String Bling, a collectible ring molded in a Star Wars Yoda Yo-Yo and Action Stand character’s likeness. The yo-yo string attaches to the String Bling ring for added comfort while kids ages 8 and up perform classic and advanced looping yo-yo tricks. Yomega Elite Metals Glide: Star Wars Special Edition combines the competition-level Glide yo-yo with Star Wars characters and imagery, including Darth Vader, Stormtrooper, Boba Fett, and the Rebel Alliance and Imperial symbols. This showcase piece features laser etching perfect for collectors. The Yomega Glide is the first introduction in Yomega’s new Elite Metals collection. The Glide features a silicone pad return system and the Dif-e-Yo KonKave bearing.
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What’s New DEMDACO’s New Lines Bring Cuddly Fun to Kids of All Ages
EMDACO will introduce new doll and plush lines this year. Twinkle Fairies’ magical light-up wings will delight girls ages 3 and up. Knitzies is a high-end plush line designed by DEMDACO licensed artist Lori Sieber. Whimsical animals are hand-crafted, with a mix of patterns, prints, and textures. These plush toys, suitable for kids of all ages, are branded as “huggable hand-me-downs.” Googleez are squeezable silly monsters full of expression, thanks to their googly moving eyes, that are suitable for kids of all ages. DEMDACO also keeps kids of all ages busy with two new activity sets. The Peek-a-Boo Zoo lets kids play a peek-a-boo game with the characters. Covering their eyes activates the feature. When their paws are pressed, they play a special song and their cheeks light up. Nat & Jules by DEMDACO has partnered with children’s apparel brand Zutano. The new line of products blends DEMDACO’s plush toys and keepsakes with the modern designs of Zutano’s apparel. This new line of product includes plush animals and dolls, children’s activity toys, rattles, accessories, picture frames, and banks. DEMDACO Baby Bee Happy, for kids of all ages, is a line of sweet plush friends and stylish gifts with a fresh color palette that is modern and versatile.
DEMDACO and Zuntano’s line
Have a Ball with Poof-Slinky
oof-Slinky’s Smack Ball can be played anywhere. Kids ages 5 and up can keep the ball in the air as long as they can, or make up their own game and rules. No net or court is needed to play. Smack Ball includes two wood paddles and a rubber ball. The Spider Sport Pack is a boxed set with three soft foam Spider Balls, including an 8-inch football, a 6-inch basketball, and a soccer ball that come in various colors. Each ball has web grip technology for better grip and performance. The Breakaway Hoop can be hung over any door, and has a foam ball that assures soft, safe, and cool indoor play. Both the Spider Sport Pack and the Breakaway Hoop are suitable for kids ages 5 and up.
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Interactive Toy Concepts Takes Flight
nteractive Toy Concepts releases birds into the sky with the IFly series of R/C birds that use a patented flying technology that creates realistic flapping flying patterns. Available this fall, the line IFly will include a cardinal, a blue jay, a parrot, and a wasp. Designed for kids ages 8 and up, IFly birds are intended for outdoor flights. The Clip Cam HD allows users to record anything, anytime, from anywhere using this HD camera. It can clip to glasses, a hat, an R/C helicopter, and more. The Clip Cam HD transmits a live video stream directly to the user’s device and allows extended record times directly to the device’s camera roll.
What’s New Tech 4 Kids Is Ready to Rumble
Tek Recon Havok
WE Rumble Fists and Spar Bags, from Tech 4 Kids, get kids ages 4 and up ready to rumble with soft, oversized John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, and the Rock play fists. Each set comes with motionactivated sound effects for realistic action. Kids can prepare for the fight with the Spar Bag, which comes with a full-size John Cena graphic and a water-filled base. Kids ages 8 and up can blast into action with Tek Recon. These blasters feature real trigger and recoil barrel action, high-capacity quick-load cartridges, and blast up to 75 feet. Tek Recon has developed a free iOS and Android app that uses GPS technology to bring video games into real life. The Predator blaster can hold 100 NRG rounds and includes six accessories that can be customized and mounted on six tactical rails. My Little Pony Lite Friends are soft, squishy pony friends that glow to help kids ages 3 and up fall asleep. Lite Friends are available in a variety of licenses, including Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Spider-Man, and Hello Kitty. Transformer Action Lites are light-up action figures that are ready to protect kids from the dark.
Fashion Angels Lets Girls Be More Than Just Fashionistas
ashion Angels has revamped its logo and mission statement to greater reflect the company’s goals. Fashion Angels’ new mission is to empower tween girls to become self-confident, self-assured, and stylish young women by providing them with experiences that encourage them to believe in themselves, express themselves, be happy with who they are, and be proud of what they can do. Fashion Angels will launch the new It’s My Biz line that encourages tween girls to become female entrepreneurs by doing activities they already love. One kit provides the ins and outs of opening a bakery. In addition to specific themed information and activities to get a business up and running, each kit comes with a useful guide about how a business is run, such as book-keeping, advertising, merchandising, and more. Fashion Angels will also add a new knitting line called Darn Yarn and a collage line called Mod Collage. Several new bracelet kits will debut, including the ultimate bracelet making kit Not Just Knotz. This kit includes a patented easy-to-use jig to create trendy bracelets. New packaging will reflect the new branding for the Tapeffiti line and the line of sketch portfolios called Trendfolios. A new Fashion Angels tween lifestyle line will also launch in stores later this year, including jewelry, scarves, handbags, sports accessories, room décor, and more. Fashion Angels has added new brands and products to its licensed lines. The new line of licensed activity kits include Ever After High, Monster High, Barbie, Hello Kitty, My Little Pony, Equestria Girls, and Project Runway.
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What’s New The Bridge Direct Gets Back to Basic Fun
he Bridge Direct’s Basic Fun division, in collaboration with Hasbro, will reintroduce the classic toy Lite-Brite, which has been letting kids color with light since 1967. The updated Lite-Brite brand will include new peg shapes and other enhancements, and is suitable for kids ages 3 and up. The My Little Pony Charmling Bracelet lets little girls wear, collect, and trade brightly colored charm bracelets and pony charms. Suitable for kids ages 3 and up, there are a total of 12 pony charms and assorted bracelets to collect, and each package contains one bracelet and three charms. The My Little Pony Rainbow Dash Keychain allows kids ages 3 and up to touch the bottom of a magic cloud, causing Rainbow Dash to change through a rainbow of colors. C3 WWE Fightin’ Fists joins The Bridge Direct’s WWE line. Available in either John Cena or Ryback and suitable for kids ages 3 and up, these plush fists let kids recreate the excitement of the WWE.
Cardboard Is King with Neat-Oh! Play Castles Geospace Rockets to Fun
he Sky Catchers Tripod Rocket, from Geospace, launches up to 100 feet and can easily be caught thanks to the tripod legs, which attach directly to the launcher. The unique launcher stick adds leverage to kids’ throws, multiplying arm strength for extra distance and simple fun. Suitable for kids ages 5 and up, the Sky Catchers Tripod Rocket can be used for contests in throwing distance, height, and precision.
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eat-Oh! International will introduce sturdy cardboard castles printed in full color, which can be built out into a structure 8 feet wide and more than 4 feet tall. Kids can assemble the pieces in endless ways to customize the castle, and multiple castles fit together for easy expansion. These activity sets are available in Knights Lifesize Play Castle and Princess Lifesize Fairy Castle. Neat-Oh! International will introduce ZipBin Plaid Pals Backpacks, a new line of plaid animal backpacks aimed at younger children. They are the perfect size for a three-ring binder, but also include a padded pocket suitable for a tablet computer. The backpacks are available in elephant, tiger, and bear styles. Neat-Oh! will also introduce ZipBin Plaid Pals Lunchboxes. Each lunchbox keeps food cool for hours and features either a dinosaur or a plane.
Knights Lifesize Play Castle
What’s New Locker Lookz Jazzes Up Middle School
ocker Lookz has expanded its line of color palettes and specialty finishes for lights, bins, rugs, mirrors, and wallpaper. New items for this school season include Magnetic Acrylic White Boards, measuring 8 inches by 12 inches and available in six colors; Peony Flower Magnets, 4-inch flowers available in five colors; Plush Fur Locker Rugs in three solid color and two print choices; beaded or damask Locker Sconces; and jeweled Locker Lamps.
Jakks Pacific Gives Kids the Royal Treatment
ofia the First’s Talking Magical Amulet, from Jakks Pacific, now lights up. Kids ages 3 and up can insert a magical lesson card into the amulet to hear Sofia teach a royal lesson and watch the amulet illuminate. The amulet comes with 12 lesson cards and an exclusive collector case. Girls ages 3 and up can learn to curtsy like Sofia with the Royal Curtsy Dress. Its satin and ruffle details and shimmer print make girls feel like a real princess. The dress comes with a magical lesson card to use with the Talking Magical Amulet. Little ones ages 2 and up can play and be creative with the Sofia the First Color ’n Play Activity Playland. The playland comes with 20 soft flex balls, a ball toss roof, and four erasable markers for coloring and activities. Each dress in the Disney Princess Enchanted Evening Dress Up collection features a gold cameo design of a Disney Princess, sparkles and exquisite details, and two-toned fabric with gold glitter designs. Girls can complete their Disney Princess ensemble with the new Disney Princess Enchanted Evening Shoes and Disney Princess Tiara collections. The Disney Princess Royal Boutique Cash Register has 11 play pieces, including a credit card, coins, merchandise, a UPC scanner, Cinderella’s Carriage credit card machine, a cash drawer, and several sounds and phrases. The Disney Princess Jewelry Box is shaped like a castle, features an Aurora or Cinderella figurine and a key, and plays songs from the princess’ film. All Disney Princess products are suitable for kids ages 3 and up. Fisher-Price DC Super Friends Batman Ride 2 Scoot converts from a ride-on to a scooter and back with the push of a button. This 2-in-1 ride-on/scooter provides extended play value for kids ages 1 to 4, and includes sounds and phrases. Nintendo Wall Climbers are cars based on the Mario Kart 8 video game that can drive up the wall or any smooth surface. The R/C vehicles have a vacuum suction feature that activates to keep it adhered to the wall as it moves forward, backward, left, and right. Kids ages 8 and up can choose from Mario, Luigi, or Yoshi. For kids ages 3 and up, 2.5-inch Nintendo Figures include 16 characters from different video games. Kids ages 5 and up can perform stunts with the MXS Freestyle Bike. Boys can collect the three different bikes to perform each unique stunt. These bikes include a free DVD with Motocross content. The MXS Stunt Ramp allows kids ages 5 and up to perform freestyle motocross stunts with the MXS Bikes. By adjusting the ramp, they can perform different tricks. The ramp includes a bike, a rider, and a foam pit to land the tricks.
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Fisher-Price DC Super Friends Batman Ride 2 Scoot
What’s New Luxury Kitten Helps Kids Find Courage
assafrass Jones and the Search for a Forever Home, from Luxury Kitten, is a whimsical tale of two plucky outsiders. Sassafrass Jones is a perky Pekingese and Madeline is a lonely milliner mouse of Habersham Forest who find each other and the courage to pursue their dreams. Featuring 52 full-color pages of vintage Steiff animals and miniatures, the book is geared toward kids ages 6 and up. The book also includes a CD narrated by Fred Schneider, the front man of the B-52s.
American Plastic Toys Gives Dolls a Ride
s it enters its 52nd year of producing safe, high-quality toys in the U.S., American Plastic Toys has many new product offerings for both the spring and fall seasons. Spring products include many new vehicle assortments, sand novelty items, and role-play items. New fall products include some new twists on basic products, such as shopping carts, kids’ rockers, and vehicles. American Plastic Toys will add several new girls’ products, including a Fashion Doll Playhouse and a Fashion Doll Sports Car. As always, many items currently in the product mix will feature new colors and packaging this year. The most significant change to the current product line is a completely new “family” approach to virtually all packaging for this year. American Plastic Toys continues to not only leverage its expertise in injection molding; it will expand the use of newer technologies in extrusion and In Mold Labeling (IML) in its product line. Also new for the company are programs and a sales force specifically designed for specialty toy retailers, as well as new efforts in export market development.
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Fashion Doll Sports Car
Speed Stacks Keeps Kids Stacking Fast
peed Stacks’ StackPack is a set of 12 Speed Stacks Snap Top Cups in one of six assorted colors—blue, red, green, orange, pink, and purple. Kids can personalize their cups with four Snap Top designs: Blazing Fast, Atomic Silver, Bandana, and Spiro. Snap Tops change the look of Speed Stacks quickly and let kids customize each cup with their favorite designs. The StackPack includes a STACKit Timer, which doubles as the cup carrier, a newly designed StackMat, a Stack Fast training DVD, and a Stack Fast Instruction Booklet. The Competition Cups add-on is another set of 12 Speed Stacks Snap Top Cups in one of six assorted colors. The patented Quick Release Carrier protects and carries the cup. This add-on also comes with the Stack Fast training DVD and the Stack Fast Instruction Booklet. Speed Stacks’ Minis are 2.5 times smaller than regular Speed Stacks and now come with a quick-release carrier and four colors in every set.
Snap Top Cups and assorted Snap Tops
What’s New Pacific Play Tents Gets Intents
acific Play Tents will introduce the new Cotton Canvas Limited Editions line, made from high-quality organic cotton canvas and 100-percent natural bamboo poles. Each tent is handmade to exact specifications. Intents is a new line of products with specially designed size and quality for maximum retail excitement and less expensive freight. Pacific Play Tents’ line of institutional products will debut Jumping Sacks, made of durable, heavy-duty cotton canvas. Jumping Sacks create cognitive challenges plus movement and cardiovascular benefits. All products are designed for kids ages 3 and up. Intents
Kids Preferred Makes Toys for Building, Going, and Growing
ids Preferred will expand its Buildex Furniture and Buildex Riding Toys lines. Both were developed in conjunction with toy designers at Chelona Wooden World, are made with water-based paints, and feature grid-lock and safelock construction systems, which allow strong and safe assembly without glue and tools. These are ideal for little engineers and for tiny explorers looking to take their first independent ride. Available globally this spring, the latest Buildex Furniture models include the Rocketeer Table & Chairs Set, which comes in baby blue and bright orange, and features a table and two small chairs with moon and rocket cutouts. The Rocketeer Chairs Set is also available. Both sets are suitable for ages 1 and up. The Daisy Table & Chairs Set includes a table and two chairs in pink and green with heart and flower cutouts. It is suitable for kids ages 1 and up. Kids who cannot wait to explore the world around them can build and grow with the Freedom Furniture Set, which includes the Freedom Table and Chairs, Freedom Bookshelf, and Freedom Storage Bench. The Freedom Chair is also sold separately. Suitable for kids ages 2 and up, the line comes in majestic blue with orange accents, or fuchsia with lime green accents. Each component in the set assists Rocketeer Table & Chairs Set with early learning and can hold books and toys. Available in spring and ideal for kids ages 18 months and up, the newest lineup of Buildex Riding Toys includes the Super-Scoot, available in pink and blue with easy-to-turn wheels. It features an exclusive connecting system that makes it easy, fun, and durable. Kids Preferred will also introduce new Buildex emergency rescue vehicles that encourage kids ages 6 to 10 to develop 3-D thinking, as well as an appreciation for construction, movement, and design. Along with the grid-lock system, each vehicle offers two different options for building. The Tow Master and Beach Patrol are sporty, solid, and ideal for racing across sand or patrolling the boardwalk. Both feature durable wood construction and are available in orange. The Rescue Ranger and Medic Machine are ready to bring local fire and ambulance crews to the scene of a rescue. The two vehicles are available in rescue red and white.
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What’s New WowWee Helps Kids Make New Tech Friends
iP (short for Mobile Inverted Pendulum) is the latest innovation from WowWee in association with the University of California at San Diego’s Coordinated Robots Lab. With its unique dual wheel balancing, MiP is a fully interactive robot that navigates its surroundings MiP while controlled by hand gestures or through a Bluetooth link to any smart device. MiP has an inquisitive and responsive personality that is communicated through motion, sound, and its LED eyes. Along with a tray accessory that can be attached, MiP can balance multiple objects while moving or standing still, including another MiP. Noomie is an interactive best friend for girls. Kids can pop one of Noomie’s six “active” themed accessories in and watch her come to life through fun and exciting personalities, complete with traits, motions, and sounds. Tipster is WowWee’s first entry-level robot. Tipster enables children to experiment with weights and balances using mini-Tipster character pieces and ladders to hone his or her motor skills in an unforced way that promotes learning while being challenging and fun.
Konami Bulks Up Yu-Gi-Oh! Card Collections
u-Gi-Oh! Legendary Sleeves, from Konami, feature favorite characters from the classic Yu-Gi-Oh! animated series. Each contains 70 cards per pack and is an easy and affordable way to keep cards safe and secure. Yu-Gi-Oh! Legendary Sleeves will be available in the spring. The Cyber Dragon Revolution Structure Deck features the formidable Cyber Dragon. This deck has a 40-card main deck and includes an additional two-card extra deck containing Zane Truesdale’s Fusion Monster, Cyber Twin Dragon, and a new Xyz Monster based on the Cyber Dragon theme. Additionally, there are five new cards, including two new effect monsters, a new Spell card, and a new Trap card. This deck will have synergy with all four of last year’s booster releases. The Primal Origin booster pack is the final booster set before the premier of the new Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V series. Primal Origin contains nine cards that support almost 20 different decks and a new spell card that every duelist will want to include in their deck. Powered by nine Primal Origin booster packs and two foil versions of common and/or rare cards found in Primal Origin, the Primal Origin Deluxe Edition includes one pack of 50 promotional sleeves, one of two foil versions of preview cards from the upcoming booster release in August, and a beginner’s guide. Each Deluxe Edition comes in one of two storage boxes to keep cards safe and ready to play. Battle Pack 3 is designed specifically for booster draft play, but with a new twist from Battle Pack 2: War of the Giants. The Battle Pack series makes it easy to build new decks—just open the packs, make brand new decks from those cards, and start dueling.
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What’s New Falcon Safety’s DigiPals Keep Devices Secure
alcon Safety Products will introduce DigiPals, cute mobile device companions featuring animal designs such as turtles and penguins. Each has a microfiber compartment fitted for most smartphones, MP3 players, and small point-and-shoot cameras on the market today. While devices are securely housed in the DigiPal, which features a zipper closure, users can clean their screens by gently rubbing the DigiPal over the screen. There is an additional zippered compartment for carrying essentials, such as an ID, money, or earbuds.
Uncle Milton Doggedly Expands In My Room Line
ncle Milton will expand its In My Room brand of room décor with new light and sound experiences and themes related to sports, music, and puppies. With Puppy Stars Wild Walls, kids ages 5 and up can visit “Hollywoof” and walk down the red XCLUSIVE carpet with adorable canine stars. A “Paw”-parazzi camera and spotlight effects, as well as real puppy and red carpet sound effects, are included. Kids can customize scenes with mix and match sunglasses, hats, and other accessories. Moonlight Mushroom provides kids ages 5 and up with a magic light show. Kids can watch inside the mushroom as beautiful, multi-colored lights project dancing butterflies and flowers on the walls. It features 10 different light show programs to match various moods and styles. For infants and toddlers, In My Room Jr. is a new line featuring soft, colorful lights that provide a comforting glow and soothing sound effects, such as nighttime crickets and outdoor nature sounds. The line includes Mr. Happy Moon, Pretty Pretty Rainbow, Big Red Rocket, and Sunny Smiles. A remote control is included. Uncle Milton roars into the world of dinosaurs with Dino X Team, which brings the intrigue of dinosaurs and the adventure of being a dinosaur explorer to life. Toys, activities, and room décor items are all part of this new line, which is suitable for kids ages 5 and up. Uncle Milton will expand its Marvel Science line—all about the science of suPuppy Stars Wild Walls perheroes—and Star Wars Science lines. The Marvel Science Captain America Shield Trainer lets kids fly into the world of Captain America as they launch and ricochet his shield to try and knock out the villain. It includes adjustable rebound beams and barrier walls for different challenges on the large activity board. Kids ages 6 and up calculate their attack and launch the fast-flying shield toward their target. An educational poster about Captain America and real world science is included.
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What’s New Famosa Dares Kids to Have Fun
he Dareway standing ride, from Famosa, is designed for kids ages 6 and up and supports up to 89 pounds. It features a sturdy platform that provides stability and a foot pedal accelerator that controls forward action up to 3.7 mph. The handle-grip buttons allow for left and right turns and 360-degree spins. When the buttons are pressed together, the Dareway goes in reverse. The Dareway includes a 12 volt battery and a charger.
Waboba Is Not Afraid to Get Wet
he Waboba Hero Ball celebrates independence all summer long. This ball bounces on water, making it great for pools, oceans, lakes, and rivers. The 4-inch ball features the 50 stars and 13 stripes of the American flag. The Waboba World Ball allows kids ages 7 and up to bounce around the world. This 4-inch ball bounces on water and features 24 flags of the countries where Waboba products are sold. Kids ages 9 and up will love Waboba FiddleSTX, a new product from a collaboration with lacrosse brand STX. This set allows kids to play lacrosse in the water. Each set comes with two FiddleSTX and a Waboba Extreme ball.
Peavey Electronics Puts on a Show
eavey Electronics is the official licensee of many major properties for musical instruments and accessories. Properties represented include Star Wars, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Major League Baseball, The Simpsons, The Walking Dead, DC Comics, Marvel Entertainment, DreamWorks, and the Beatrix Girls. Products in Peavey’s new line for this year include children’s ukuleles for kids ages 3 to 6; half-size acoustic guitars for kids ages 3 to 8; three-quartersize electric guitars for kids ages 7 to 14; children’s drums for kids ages 3 to 7; and accessories including picks and guitar straps for all ages.
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Tactic Games Shows Nordic Favorite
ölkky, from Tactic Games, is a popular outdoor game in Nordic countries. Players ages 6 and up gather outdoors with a set of Mölkky pins. Physical strength is not required in this game, as success is based on a combination of chance and throwing accuracy. The first player to knock down 50 points worth of pins with a Mölkky skittle wins the game.
What’s New Beeline Creative Is Kind of a Big Deal
new series of 8-inch collectible action figures, from Beeline Creative, features the entire Channel 4 News Team from Anchorman: Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), Champ Kind (David Koechner), Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), and Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd). Each figure includes a custom-tailored fabric suit and a signature accessory. The 13-inch Ron Burgundy features 12 iconic movie quotes, two custom-tailored outfits, six accessories, and “Scotchy Scotch Scotch Vision.” The 7-inch Bronze-Style Ron Burgundy Collector Bust has an engraved nameplate of the popular newscaster for display. Also new from Beeline are Stretchable Helmet Covers that magically and economically transform helmets into favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters. Designed to fit all helmet sizes, the Stretchable Helmet Covers will be available this fall alongside Bike Safety Lights and Bike Sound Effects. Additional licenses and a variety of original designs will also be available.
8-inch collectible Anchorman action figures with battle accessories
Zoob Is Built to Move
oob provides unique building sets in which pieces can move after they are put together. The latest wave includes Z-Bricks, which are half-Zoob, half-brick pieces with either a ball or jaw end connection in either an upward or downward orientation. Z-Bricks also swivel on their bases, and can be combined with any building brick play set. Each 12-piece Z-Bricks set contains four different brick shapes and 18 classic Zoob pieces. Creepy Glow Creatures are buildable Zoob creepy-crawlers that can hang and stick to walls. Available in spider, bug, scorpion, and crab styles, each set contains 60 Zoob pieces in special colors, including glow-in-the-dark. Creepy Glow Creatures also come with suction cups and string. Dinosaur lovers have a new glow-in-the-dark option with Glow Dinos. Each set includes more than 250 special pieces, along with instructions for building a Zoobasaurus, Zoobadactyl, Z-Rex, and more. The Fastback Monster Trucks set lets kids build five different vehicles from 50 Zoob pieces. The powerful pullback friction motor lets builders pull back and then watch their trucks go. The sets also include four extra-large rims with monster tires and a working dumper bin. Zoob also has pastel and neon-colored sets available. Glow ZoobTube has 20 pieces in pastel shades, and kids can charge them under any bright light to make them glow in the dark. Neon Brights ZoobTube features 20 pieces in extravibrant neon shades. All Zoob sets are designed for kids ages 6 and up.
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What’s New Insect Lore Introduces the Nature Scope
ids ages 6 and up can see their favorite bugs up close with the rotating Nature Scope, from Insect Lore. This portable multi-chamber microscope holds six clear plastic specimen pods that are easily removable for individual collecting. Kids can snap them into place and they are ready for viewing. The magnifying scope rotates so kids can examine the contents of every pod. Kids can compare specimens, study anatomical details, and watch insect behavior. The scope has a focusing feature and is removable for the times when kids want to observe a bug without placing it in a viewing pod. The Nature Scope helps children discover, understand, and appreciate the world of insects. It comes with a built-in handle and folds flat for easy carrying and storage.
Manhattan Toy Imagines Kids Can
he Manhattan Toy Co.’s imagine i CAN line consists of colorfully designed tins, each containing a game, craft, or role-play activity that only requires imagination. Joining the line are themed adventures that include fashion design, temporary tattoos, and more. In Character Mix-Up, there are 101 magnetized pieces, four paper background scenes, and endless combinations of characters and creatures. To play, kids simply place a background scene on the inside of their tin box and then decide which magnetic piece to add. When play is done, everything goes back into the sturdy case. With Fashion Friends, little fashionistas can make their own statements by mixing and matching outfit and accessory pieces. Packed inside this kit are four paper background scenes and 85 magnetized pieces, including pants, dresses, and hats in lots of different colors and choices. The kit also includes a fashionable tin case with a handle for easy storage and portability.
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Race in Style with Asa Products
he Mobo Rocker, from Asa Products, allows kids to race in style. This threewheeled cruiser, from the company’s new sports line, is a high-performance ride featuring ergonomic design for kids ages 6 to 10. To steer, kids simply need to shift their weight right or left, making the cruiser easy to maneuver. Kids can lean their bodies for swift twists, sharp turns, and a thrilling ride. This cruiser is also available in the Mobo Lady Rocker, which offers girls a fierce, ladylike cruiser to call their own.
Toy State MARKS 30 Years Imagination
OF FUELING THE STATE OF
Andy Friess, senior vice president of marketing, Toy State
his year marks the 30th anniversary of Toy State, a leading manufacturer of highly stylized lights and sound and R/C toy vehicles, best known for its signature Road Rippers product line, as well as high-octane licensed toys under the iconic Hot Wheels and Caterpillar brands. To commemorate this milestone, The Toy Book talked with Andy Friess, Toy State’s senior vice president of marketing, about the company’s secrets to success as well as its future plans. To what does Toy State attribute its success over the past 30 years? One of the key factors in Toy State’s continued growth— and resulting success—throughout the past three decades is that we’ve continually adapted to meet the changing needs of both children and parents. Parents look for toys that are not only fun, safe, and of great value, but that also stimulate a child’s creativity. For that reason, our goal is to always develop toy vehicles that inspire what we call a “state of imagination”— playtime that involves energy, activity, and emotion.
How does Toy State create a “state of imagination”? With Toy State products, our aim is for kids to use our toys to create exciting adventures, such as cruising in a custom monster truck with flashing lights or with pistonthumping action. Kids can urge forward in a color-changing vehicle as it kicks into hyper mode, drive with shark jawchomping or spider leg-crawling action, or haul loads of dirt to the jobsite while driving over anything in their path. This type of engaging play is how we fuel the state of imagination. Toy State’s light, sound, and music twists inject another layer of fun into a child’s play experience. Our toys are aspirational yet attainable. Real-life vehicles are awe-inspiring to children, and it’s great fun to inject toy versions of these cars, trucks, and machines into their playtime.
Hot Wheels Extreme Action Sharkruiser
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What gives Toy State an edge at retail? Innovation and quality are the major contributors to our success. The lights and sound and R/C vehicle categories are very challenging, requiring considerable reflection and reinvention each year to stay fresh. Toy
State is fortunate to have one of the best toy design teams in the industry. Along with the Toy State Research advance concepts group, our product design team continually brings dozens of over-the-top, innovative ideas to the table—with exciting in-store “try me” features—for development each year. Add in a stateof-the-art research and development center and access to multiple Toy State-owned factories, and we have a pool of resources that allows Toy State to effectively design, develop, and manufacture strong lines of smart, innovative, and fun toys every year. High-impact licensing partnerships represent a key competitive advantage. While we have demonstrated the expertise to launch and expand an original homegrown brand, Road Rippers, we have also been fortunate to develop into a best-in-class licensing partner through our relationships with two of the world’s most iconic brands—Hot Wheels and Caterpillar. What does the future hold for Toy State? Toy State has been an innovator and industry leader for 30 years, and we’re more focused than ever on driving innovation and superior quality in our products. Our 2014 lines include some of the most exciting toys we’ve ever launched. I’m very excited about—and encouraged by—the new products, categories, and brands that are in the pipeline for future years as well. Expanding our international footprint will play a major role in Toy State’s growth. The sales teams have been ex-
tremely aggressive in pursuing retail product placement opporRoad Rippers tunities, and we’ve made great Piston Thumper strides in global distribution for all Toy State brands in recent years. I’m very confident that this trend will continue and will be a significant contributor to our long-term success. To help “move the needle” at retail, Toy State supports our leading toy brands through a cross-platform marketing campaign that’s unlike any we’ve run before. Continuing with strong TV and digital media strategies, amplifying our public relations and social media efforts, and exploring new non-traditional promotional tactics will continue to drive increased visibility of Toy State and our brand portfolio. This year will be an exciting one, but it’s just the beginning of great things in the future. Between the ever-evolving innovation of our Road Rippers line and our partnerships with leading global brands, Toy State is ready to embark on our next 30 years and beyond. ■
Hot Wheels Hyper Racer
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Games & Puzzles The Original Toy Co. Teaches Through Puzzle Activities
he Original Toy Co. will expand its line of games and puzzles with two new brain-buildXCLUSIVE ing products. Suitable for ages 3 to 6, Alphabet Lotto helps kids learn the alphabet through a lotto game. Players choose a side of the board and try to be the first to find all the cards that match the letters or pictures on their lotto board. In Who’s in Space?, kids ages 3 and up try to spot all the planets featured in the colorful space jigsaw puzzle. The 25piece puzzle, which measures 16.5 inches by 12 inches at full size, includes an activity guide to help encourage kids’ skill development.
Creative Whack Gets More Complex
George & Co. Gets Wild
CR Wild Dice Game, from George & Co. LLC, puts a new twist on the original LCR Left Center Right dice game. Players get the chance to choose their moves with the new game play. The unpredictable play of the game brings excitement for three or more players ages 8 and up.
reative Whack Co. will launch the Big Ball of Whacks, which is nearly 50 perOY cent larger than the original Ball of Whacks. It has a more complex construction OOK that allows for even more creative possibilities for teens and adults ages 14 XCLUSIVE and up. The Big Ball of Whacks features 36 design pieces, including two entirely new pyramid-shaped pieces. There are 24 Whack pieces, six Half-Whack pieces, and six flat Whack pieces. The Big Ball of Whacks also contains 192 rare Earth magnets, making the ball snap together in a satisfying way. The Big Ball of Whacks is also available in a multi-color version, which makes for an intriguing brainteaser puzzle. It can be combined with any of the other Creative Whack products, including the Star-Ball, X-Ball, and Y-Ball. The ball can be used at home, in educational settings, and in the workplace as a desktop toy. There are also therapeutic benefits to fiddling with the Ball of Whacks, such as relieving stress and clearing the mind.
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Games & Puzzles What Would You Do for All Things Equal?
hat Would You Do for a Klondike Bar?, from All Things Equal, challenges teens and adults to get creative, think quickly, and put their talents on display. In this game of minor skill and major will, players compete in creative, courageous, and cockamamie challenges while racing to collect all six Klondike Bars. In the end, the player who best answers the call, “What would you do for a Klondike Bar?” wins the game. The Loaded Questions On The Go card game is a travel-friendly version of Loaded Questions for two to six players ages 8 and up. The game includes 200 creative questions for hours of game play. The Loaded Questions Junior card game is designed for kids ages 6 and up. There are no right or wrong answers in this fun and silly game.
R&R Brings the Party
&R Games is set to launch new party games this year. Guess the Mess will have players ages 10 and up racing against the clock and using clues to find secret locations from a giant mess of photos and images. In Strike a Pose, players ages 10 and up will freeze like statues while others try to figure out who or what they are. Whoever successfully guesses the most statues wins this freeze-frame party game. R&R will also add new strategy games to its lineup. Players can enter the Battle Arena with UnNatural Selection, a card game where only the wackiest survive. Opponents duke it out for the win by playing cards to alter their rival creatures’ abilities in funny and bizarre ways. The game is designed for players ages 8 and up. With Get a Life, players ages 10 and up can see what the cards (and their friends) have in store for them, whether it’s money and mansions or a mid-level job and mountains of debt. Coal Baron is a strategy game designed for two to four players ages 10 and up that transports them back to the verge of the 20th century in Essen, Germany, when endless supplies of coal were abundant and ripe for the taking. In the game, each player owns a coal mine and must spend capital to buy coal carts and expand tunnels as he or she digs for a variety of coal. Players must fulfill coal orders to gain victory points; however, each order has a specific coal type. Since each kind of coal is in a different mine level, players are forced to expand tunnels, which costs even more money. Finances are tight and each company has a limited number of workers, and as players assign jobs, they need more workers to get those jobs done. Once everyone runs out of workers the shift is over. After three shifts, whoever has the most victory points wins the game.
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Games & Puzzles PlaSmart Challenges Kidsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Strategy Skills
rop Shot, from PlaSmart, requires attention and strategy as players work their way to the top, navigating both vertically and horizontally to avoid the gates that opponents have positioned to block their progress. If anyone rolls the Drop Shot Ball (the yellow ball on the die), that player must release the Drop Shot Ball down the tower. The Last Chance Drop may send those at the top right back to the beginning. Drop Shot is designed for two to four players ages 6 and up.
Blue Orange Games Makes a Splash
lue Orange Games will add easy-to-learn, fast-playing games to its collection. Doodle Quest is a unique drawing game that takes kids on a deep sea adventure to fulfill underwater quests with the power of their pens. Each quest card has a detailed illustration and drawing instructions. On a separate transparent sheet, players complete the drawing and then place them over the quest card to score the success of their sketch. With 36 quests and two levels, the game can be played with one to four players ages 6 and up. Kids ages 6 and up can enter the world of WuzzIt and watch to see what magical monster they will morph into next with this illustrated card game. The WuzzIt population is divided into five families, but the mischievous WuzzIts like to combine with one another to create a confusing cast of characters. To unscramble them, players strategically exchange bottom cards and top cards to match up a monster and earn points. The first to build three full WuzzIts ends the round. The player with the highest score after three rounds wins. Puzzle Battle gives kids ages 5 and up a whole new way to play with puzzles. Two players race to put together two jigsaw puzzles depicting very similar images. All of the pieces are chosen from a mixed-up pile, so players must make fast, but careful, decisions to find the right pieces for their puzzle. Puzzle Battle will debut with two designs: pirate and fairytale. Spot it! Splash is the new waterproof addition to the Spot it! family. Kids can play all five game variations any time with the waterproof plastic cards. Players try to spot the single match between the most card combinations to win. The game features summer-themed symbols and includes a waterproof bag for storage. The game can be played with two to eight players ages 7 and up. Set in the Imperial Garden of Classical Japan, Niya is a two-player game that centers on a dark political conspiracy between two influential clans. On every turn, players ages 7 and up replace a garden tile with one of their clan tokens. The next player can only exchange a token for a garden tile that has an element in common with the previously chosen tile. The first to position his or her clan in a row, square, or blockade wins control of the garden and power at court.
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Games & Puzzles Party Animal Looks to Score at Toy Fair
ids can play and trade TeenyMates with the TeenyMates Touchdown Starter Kit Playset, from Party Animal. The set includes four exclusive American Football Conference/National Football Conference figures, a 16by 11-inch football field, 64 playing cards, and two packs of National Football League (NFL) TeenyMates. The set will be available this summer and is designed for kids ages 4 and up.
Creative Toy Co. Pieces It Together
reative Toy Co., the U.S. distributer of Italybased Clementoni, produces high-quality jigsaw puzzles. Combined with elegant packaging and beautiful and inspiring pictures, Clementoni offers unique puzzles made out of cork and wood, as well as fluorescent and panoramic puzzles ranging from 260 to 13,200 pieces. This year, Creative Toy Co. will add 12 new children’s puzzles to the line. All of the new puzzles feature added value components for more fun once they are put together.
Poof-Slinky Revisits Tripoley Three Ways
hrough its Ideal brand, Poof-Slinky has added new variations of Tripoley, comprised of Michigan Rummy, Hearts, and Poker. Tripoley Black Jack & Texas Hold ’Em includes a deck of playing cards, chips, and playing mats. With Tripoley Power Keeno, poker and Keeno are both in one game. The game includes a deck of playing cards, instructions for four game variations, chips, and Keeno cards. Tripoley Deluxe Felt Mat Edition is available in a new package. It includes a deck of playing cards, chips, and a heavy duty felt playing surface designed to keep everything in place.
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Playroom Geeks Out
he geek trivia party game has taken on a new twist in Geek Out! Pop Culture Party Edition, from Playroom Entertainment. Players ages 10 and up can geek-out over pop culture, with topics including TV, movies, music, literature, and more. The game combines trivia, social interaction, and bluffing, and includes 200 pop culture list cards.
Games & Puzzles Verdes Innovations Gets Geometric
erdes Innovations will expand its V-Cube puzzle cube line this year with two new products. V-Cube 8, an 8- by 8- by 8-inch layered cube puzzle, will challenge players more than ever. Additionally, V-Cube is set to launch the V-Cube 6 Pillow to complete the biggest cube collection with both flat and pillow cubes.
Nut Island Knows New York
Know New York, from Nut Island, is a challenging multiplayer game for teens and adults ages 16 and up that explores fun and unique facts about the state of New York. Two to 12 players test and expand their knowledge of the Empire State through multiple-choice questions on an array of topics, including geography, people, history, sports, arts, natural history, and pop culture. The game is both competitive and informative and includes multiple categories, such as “Know It All” for brainiacs, multiplechoice for more timid players, and “Raider” for more competitive people. The game is manufactured in the U.S.
Smart Toys and Games Builds Kids’ Brain Power
ew to Smart Toys and Games’ IQ series is IQ Steps. Players ages 8 and up are challenged to fit the eight puzzle pieces into the right layout. The pieces are double-layered, so players have to figure out the ultimate final placement as well as the sequence in which they are placed. The portable game board features 120 increasingly difficult challenges. With Brain Cheeser, players ages 6 and up attempt to arrange the 14 magnetic cheese pieces on the folding game board so that mice peek through the holes in the cheese. Brain Cheeser comes in a portable booklet that buttons shut and includes 48 challenges ranging from easy to difficult. Players ages 7 and up can test their planning and directional skills while they create routes for different travelers to get to their destinations with City Maze. Doublesided puzzle pieces, two booklets that offer a combined 120 challenges, and a portable board unite in this travel game. Kids ages 7 and up can create their own personal Quadrillion game board by clicking four magnetic grids together in any order in an attempt to fit in 12 colorful puzzle pieces.
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Games & Puzzles USAopoly Gets Kids Moving with Games
Fat Brain Toys Gets Logical
exHive, from Fat Brain Toys, is a challenging set of puzzles that will get brains buzzing. Kids ages 6 and up must place the shapes inside the hive on a series of numbers that total out to seven. Each challenge indicates which shapes can be used, and the player must determine where the pieces fit. Flink is a brain-bending challenge that will leave even the most astute puzzle-lover feeling perplexed. Puzzlers ages 12 and up set up the board according to the challenge, follow the directions on the tiles, and return the jewel pieces to their proper places. Patience, practice, and persistence are key to mastering this logic game. Peek-A-Doodle-Doo is a memory game designed to improve concentration skills for kids ages 3 and up. The game pieces are in constant motion, which adds challenging, fast-moving game play. With MoonScape, kids ages 8 and up can spin the inner sphere around as they shift the quadrants in this out-of-this-world puzzle challenge. Kids must attempt to fill in every crater on the moonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s surface.
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reasure Trax, from USAopoly, is an all-in-one scavenger hunt game for kids ages 3 to 5. Treasure Trax is an active play-and-learn game where kids search for clues to find hidden animal cards. Parents can set up the cards around the house and even hide a surprise at the end of this fun and fast journey. Kids will develop confidence and thinking skills as well as learn colors, letters, images, and word recognition. Reverse Charades puts a twist on the classic game of charades and gets more people in on the fun. Instead of one person acting out a clue for a team to guess, a team acts out clues for one person to guess. Teams have 60 seconds to attempt to guess as many words or phrases as they can. The team with the most correct guesses wins. Reverse Charades is designed for kids ages 6 and up,
Wiggles 3D Knows Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s What
ye Know, from Wiggles 3D, features an array of famous people, animals, signs, and symbols. Players roll the dice to determine what color cards they can select from. Next, they select any image on the game board in that color, identify the image, and answer one of three trivia questions related to the image. Eye Know features 1,200 questions and 400 cards and is designed for kids and adults ages 12 and up.
Games & Puzzles Explore the World with Outset Media
innovativeKids Goes Green
he Green Start 100-Piece Puzzle, from innovativeKids, is available in two themes: Ballet Studio and Crazy Car Race. Part of the Green Start series for earth-friendly puzzle play, these 100-piece puzzles are made with 98-percent post-consumer recycled materials and are printed with eco-friendly ink. They are designed specifically for more advanced puzzlers, and include smaller pieces.
Explore the World, from Outset Media, is a game for those interested in discovering interesting facts about the sea, sky, cities, and cultures of the world. Players ages 7 and up ignite their brain and move their bodies through question and action cards that keep the game interesting.
Spin Master Brings Game Night to Kids and Adults
ogo Billionaire, from Spin Master, is a family game for kids ages 8 and up. Players must collect famous brands to build companies in multiple brand categories, including transportation, snacks, sweets, tech, and home. Players must collect three or more brands in the same category and then try to launch their company. The first player to earn $1 billion wins. The Best of TV & Movies is the entertainment edition of the Logo board game, packed with logos and trivia questions about TV shows and movies. The game plays just like the original Logo board game, but with the addition of three bonus cards for team play. Players ages 8 and up can use the Mute card to stop a specific player on the other team from answering. The Change the Channel card allows a team to take another card if they donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t like the first card they drew, and the Fast Forward card allows a team to pass on one of the four questions on a card. The player to reach the winning space first and successfully answer the final question wins the game. Shark Mania is a shark-chomping chase game for kids ages 6 and up. Kids play as pirates and race to Shipwreck Island, grabbing gold as they go. All pirates must watch out for the shark that can crash through the path and knock players out of the game. The pirate that makes it to Shipwreck Island with the most gold wins the game. Kids ages 7 and up must find the match to their moustaches in Moustache Smash. Players must smash their matching moustaches as fast as they can. The player to smash the most wins the game.
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Games & Puzzles Tactic Brings a New Trivia Game
actic Games’ iKnow combines trivia and strategy for teens and adults ages 15 and up. First, players hear the question, then they can choose how much help they need to answer it. Players then get to guess how everyone else will fare. iKnow gives all players the chance to shine and strategize.
Hasbro Pops Up and Points Fingers
asbro has expanded its games line with many new ways for kids to come out on top. With Bop It! Beats, kids ages 8 and up act as the DJ, mixing tracks on the doublesided turntable. Players test their rhythm and beat-matching skills as they follow the voice commands in this fun, social game. New tasks include scratch it, reverse it, flip it, and bop it. Songs in the game include “Pound the Alarm,” by Nicki Minaj, and “Levels,” by Avicii, as well as two additional tracks. New this spring, Transformers Battle Masters Challengers brings Transformers characters to life. Players ages 5 and up bring their Autobots and Decepticons into the ring to see who will rule with the ultimate bot-smashing action. The game comes with a special digital code that unlocks more features in the Transformers Battle Masters app, which will be available in April. The game includes one figure and the controller. Pointing Fingers is a hilarious game of who did what designed for four to six players ages 12 and up. Players wear oversized foam fingers and point out hilarious and outrageous things about each other. Players ask questions such as “Have you ever sleepwalked?” and “Have you ever eaten something off the floor?,” and then point out the person who they think is the most likely to have done what was asked. Players who point correctly will earn points. Pop-Up Magic Disney Princess Castle Game allows kids ages 3 and up to immerse themselves in the worlds of their favorite Disney Princesses. Kids can play as Ariel, Belle, Rapunzel, or Snow White as they travel along the 3-D game board through twists and turns to the magical pop-up castle to win. The set includes four princess figurines and friend tokens. Also available are Pop-Up Magic Disney Tangled, Cinderella’s Coach, and Frozen games. Elefun & Friends Mouse Trap Game is a trap-launchin’, mouse-catchin’ game featuring Elefun & Friends characters. With an updated look and quick set-up time, the new Mouse Trap game will have preschoolers racing to trap those silly mice. Players ages 4 and up must land on the “boot” space to set the trap in motion and try to trap their opponent’s mouse to win. The game includes four collectible figures: Hungry Hippo, Sneakers Mouse, Pepper Mouse, and Nacho Mouse.
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Sugar LuLu Has Games for Tweens
ugar LuLu offers four different games for girls ages 8 and up, each stored within a portable tin case with a handle. This or That features 50 cards that might be ridiculous, disgusting, or funny. Kids will learn about each other as they play. Nobody is safe in Truth or Dare, with its revealing questions and risky dares. There is no winner or loser in this game thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s all about silly, crazy fun. The game includes 25 Truth cards and 25 Dare cards. Kids can play with fate and reveal their ultimate destiny with M.A.S.H. The game includes 10 category cards, a pencil, three M.A.S.H. pads, and a lucky die. Girls will see the future when they ask their deepest questions in Fortune Teller. The game includes 25 question cards and 50 fortune-finding answer cards.
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Games & Puzzles Bananagrams Gets Super-Sized
umbo Bananagrams and Jumbo Zip-It, from Bananagrams, are supersized versions of the popular word games. Ideal for word-play on a large scale, both games are entirely portable and deliver all of the fun of the classic games.
Mindware Bends Brains with Wooden Games
indware’s Syclone is an addictive dexterity puzzle for kids, teens, and adults ages 8 and up. The precision-engineered top spins for more than a minute and players must navigate through the ramps, jumps, and sinkholes of the Stratus and Seismic mazes before it stops. The game includes a double-sided maze board, a Syclone top made of wood and acrylic, and a grab-and-go storage bag. Staxis is a construction game that requires balance, nerve, and calculated risk-taking. Once the 3-D frame playing board is assembled, players take turns trying to balance the 12inch-long playing sticks within the frame without causing a crash. It’s a creative challenge that pits players against each other while testing their individual building abilities. Designed for kids ages 6 and up, the game includes 50 wood sticks, base pieces, and a die. Castle Blast is an action game of clever destruction for kids ages 6 and up. Armed with a wrecking ball, players target the enemy castle with hopes of saving the princess, retrieving the king’s treasure, and defeating the dragon. Players earn a token for each successful feat—but they must aim carefully. If he or she clears the wrong piece from the board, that player loses a token. The first player to claim all three tokens wins the game. This heirloom-quality game includes 26 solid wood castle blocks, a wooden game board, a wrecking ball, three character blocks, one die, and 12 tokens. Fans of Qwirkle! can experience the game in a whole new way with Qwirkle Trio. Kids ages 6 and up can play classic Qwirkle, Qwirkle Select, or Qwirkle Connect using the expansion boards. Qwirkle Select adds star tokens that offer new powerful strategies, such as removing tiles from the board. Qwirkle Connect adds unique bonus point opportunities and allows kids to create longer connections. The simple play requires no reading, so the whole family can join in the fun. Designed for two to four players, the game includes 108 wooden tiles, a drawstring bag, four double-sided game boards, and 12 tokens. Quick thinking and fast fingers are the key to finishing first in Pivit. Kids ages 8 and up can race their opponents as they arrange their 24 tiles crossword-style by matching color and design. Every tile must connect, and a row of two just won’t do. Kids can use a trade token to swap a tricky tile and hope for a Wild tile in return. Players must switch, shuffle, and “pivit” their tiles to place them all and claim the highest scoring stick.
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Peaceable Kingdom Eliminates Competition
oodle Speedoodle is a quick-draw cooperative party game, from Peaceable Kingdom. Players ages 8 and up have 30 seconds to draw a picture and get the other players to guess what it is—but there’s a twist: Players must include a noodle in the doodle. If a player guesses the doodle correctly, everyone wins. In Say the Word, players take a zany character, some silly words, and an offbeat challenge and work to put them all together one phrase or sentence at a time. If one player can’t recall a word, the other players can act it out for him or her. Players must repeat the story from start to finish to win. The game is designed for three to six players ages 10 and up.
Games & Puzzles University Games Embarks on a Learning Quest
rain Quest Learning System, from University Games, is a full line of educational games for kids from the preschool level through sixth grade. The games are separated by grade level and children’s education areas, including language arts, math, logic and problem solving, memory, motor skills and coordination, and creativity. Brain Quest Numbers Counting Game is for kids at the preschool and kindergarten level and helps develop math skills. Designed for two to four players, kids use picture cards to perform addition and subtraction problems and earn picture tokens for their scoring boards. No reading is required. The game teaches number recognition and counting skills. Brain Quest Basic Shapes is designed for kids at first and second grade levels and helps develop coordination skills. Using various shapes and colors, kids create new designs and configurations while practicing motor skills and creativity. With 78 Colorforms pieces, kids can keep playing and using their imaginations. No reading skills are required in this game, which can be played alone or in a group. Brain Quest Magnetic Four helps kids in third through sixth grade develop memory skills. Two kids must try to line up four of their colored playing pieces in a row—but they must watch out for the magnetic force that may flip the color of the pieces. In addition to the Brain Quest line, University Games will add Smart Eggs to its roster. Smart Eggs are collectible brain teaser eggs designed with a 3-D maze that will challenge minds. Kids and adults must move the rod from the start hole all the way to the exit hole as fast as they can.
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What Goes Around Comes Around with Set Enterprises Inc.
ocial and competitive players alike will enjoy the clever nuances of OY Karma, from Set Enterprises OOK Inc. Karma is an elimination game where everyXCLUSIVE one wins—except the last player holding cards. Two to four players ages 8 and up must play a card of equal or higher value on each turn to avoid picking up the entire discard pile. Players can move through their cards faster by playing doubles or triples. Karma Cards can get players out of a jam—but players must be careful, because what goes around comes around. Similar to wild cards, Karma Cards can be played on any card. There are four different Karma Cards in the game: Players can give the pile to a friend, play a table card early, move the bottom card on the discard pile to the top, or force the next player to play a five or below.
Upside Down Games Introduces Yoga to Kids
he Yoga Spinner Game, from Upside Down Games, directs kids ages 6 and up to spin the spinner and draw a card from the matching colored pile. Cards range from yoga poses that must be held for 10 seconds to “steal a card,” “lose a card,” or “all play.” The player who collects one card of each color wins the game. Memo Yoga introduces kids ages 3 and up to yoga while building their concentration, coordination, and memory skills. With two levels of play, kids can enjoy a classic memory and matching game with cards featuring basic yoga poses while older kids must find a matching pair and perform the pose in order to collect the cards. Memo Yoga sharpens visual recognition, builds confidence, and increases memory and attention span.
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Games & Puzzles Gamewright Goes for the Win
ushi Go!, from Gamewright, is a pick-and-pass card game for two to five players ages 8 and up. Players try to grab the best combination of sushi dishes as they whiz by. Players score points for making the most maki rolls or collecting a full set of sashimi. Kids can dip their favorite nigiri in wasabi to triple its value. The player who gathers the most points becomes the sushi master. Qwixx is a quick-playing dice game for two to five players ages 8 and up. Qwixx is simple to play but each decision is crucial—the more numbers players cross off, the more points they score. There is no downtime between turns, giving players the chance to gain from each and every roll. Gamewright will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Super Slamwich with a special edition packaged in a sandwich-shaped box. Two to six players ages 6 and up will flip and stack a giant loaf of cards to build slamwiches and double-deckers. Players must stack and be the first to slap to win the pile, all while catching thieves and stopping meddling munchers along the way. Players must collect all of the cards to be a Super Slamwich hero. Pyramix is a three-sided strategy game for two to four players ages 8 and up. Players take turns removing one cube at a time from the pyramid stack. As cubes come out, others will slide down toward the base. Players must plan their moves carefully as the bottommost cubes are worth big points at the end—and watch out for cobras that may drop in and lessen players’ scores.
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Ravensburger Sweetens Up Game Night
ula Moon Edition: Eiffel Tower, from Ravensburger, is a 216-piece, 3-D puzzle with precision-cut plastic flat and hinged pieces that click perfectly into place without glue. This colorful version of the iconic structure reflects the artistic style of British artist Steph Dekker, who is inspired by color and pattern, nature, retro and vintage fabrics, and old children’s book illustrations. This display-worthy structure stands 18 inches tall when completed and is designed for kids ages 12 and up. Dream Cakes is a bakery-inspired game featuring sprinkles, swirls, ribbons, and roses. Players ages 4 and up work on multiple cakes at once, spinning the wheel to determine their pieces, stacking luscious layers and toppers to complete their cakes, and judging finished creations for points. With thousands of possible designs, the game is different every time kids play. A modern-day version of Hot Potato, Spy Tag offers kids ages 5 and up a high-speed race to spot the spies and tag them before time runs out. Players take turns drawing spy cards and slapping them on the matching agent cards laid out in front of their teammates. If a player gets caught with a match when the timer goes off, he or she has to draw a card from the secret attaché pile. If the card is empty, the player is safe, but if he or she gets the stolen gizmo, that player is a goner.
Pressman Toy Dances into Toy Fair
ance Charades, from Pressman Toy, challenges players ages 8 and up to bust a move and win the game. The game requires players to perform hilarious new dances, such as doing the dishes, vacuuming, the tornado, and more. Players try to earn as many tokens as they can during a 40-second song while other players try and guess the dance move. The game includes a CD with 40 varied dance songs. Tic Stac Toe takes the game of Xs and Os to the extreme where four in a row on any level wins the game. One player places one of his or her pieces on the game base or on top of any piece thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s already been played. Players ages 8 and up must stay alert for opportunities to win vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. Bar Bingo is a trivia game for three to eight adult players. The emcee squeezes the can to release the bingo balls and then reads aloud the trivia question for the category thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s being played. Categories include game shows, movie quotes, company slogans, and more. The first player to find five answers in a row on his or her bingo card wins the game.
Games & Puzzles 4D Cityscape Explores Dubai
ubai Time Puzzle, from 4D Cityscape, has more than 1,200 pieces and recreates Dubai’s famous skyline in 3-D, while also utilizing the fourth dimension of time, spanning more than 100 years of architectural history in Dubai. The puzzle includes 72 plastic building replicas that depict the city as it appeared as far back as 1787 through to the addition of the Infinity Tower last year, and into the future to this year with the completion of the Khalid Al Attar Towers. The puzzle includes iconic structures such as the Burj Khalifa, Princess Tower, and Burj Al Arab. Puzzlers can recreate the famous waterways of The Palm and The World. The buildings fit into pre-cut holes in a traditional 2-D jigsaw puzzle that forms the city’s street layout. The puzzle is designed for kids ages 8 and up and includes a time poster.
Becker Shows TCG, Funskool Games ThinkFun Games Enhance Kids’ Brain Power
ravity Maze, from ThinkFun, is a gravitypowered logic maze that puts kids’ visual perception and reasoning skills to the test. The colorful, translucent towers can be arranged in visually stimulating structures, but for each challenge, kids ages 8 and up have to think carefully and build a path that will successfully carry the ball to its target. This single-player game includes 60 challenges ranging in difficulty. Last Letter will inspire creativity, laughter, and quick thinking in kids ages 8 and up. Players must race to come up with and blurt out a word from one of the picture cards in their hand. The next word called must begin with the last letter of the word previously called. The first player to get rid of his or her cards is the winner. The unique illustrations will allow kids to come up with lots of new words.
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ecker Associates will show off new licensed games, including TCG’s Didi Dotter Game, which is appropriate for kids ages 5 and up. Up to four players pick their starting egg half and search for its mate. The game is currently marketed in the U.S., Canada, and some European countries. In the fast-paced strategy game Safe, from Funskool, players take turns as any one of the safe animal character pawns, playing in any free square—provided it’s not adjacent to a square containing a similar character. Suitable for kids ages 4 and up, the player with the last safe move is the winner.
Games & Puzzles MasterPieces Brings the Gridiron to the Table
asterPieces Puzzle Co. has added the National Football League (NFL) to its 1,000-piece Panoramic Stadium Puzzles lineup. The line includes puzzles featuring 28 NFL teams and is designed for kids and adults ages 13 and up. The completed puzzles measure 13 inches by 39 inches and make great collectibles for sports enthusiasts. NFL Rusherz are 100-piece puzzles for kids ages 5 and up. Each puzzle features artwork from the NFL Rusherz TV show and measures 12.75 inches by 16.5 inches when completed. All 32 NFL teams are included in the line. MasterPieces’ Highlights for Children line has expanded with new kids’ puzzles, such as the Puzzlemania Activity Puzzle Pack, designed for kids ages 6 and up. With the Elmer’s Roll & Stow, kids can save their puzzle for later without ruining their progress. Made with high-quality acrylic felt and non-slip footpads, the Elmer’s Roll & Stow will always stay in place.
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Cardinal Celebrates 70 Years with New Licensed Puzzles and Games
ardinal has a new line of Color Your Own puzzles and games that use Crayola technology, including Color Wonder and Color Explosion. These licensed products will feature Disney, Marvel, Mattel, Sanrio, Hasbro, and Despicable Me characters. The companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s latest featured games include Hollywood Game Night!, based on the NBC TV show. It includes five action-packed mini-games, such as Celebrity Name Game and Take a Hint, that will keep players guessing. The My Little Pony Rainbow Magic Game takes players into the magical world of My Little Pony, where they must work together to form a magical rainbow. Thomas the Tank Engine Topsy Turvy Turntable Game challenges players to balance freight atop a Troublesome Truck, and comes with Thomas the Tank and Troublesome Truck figures. Cardinal will also add puzzles featuring the pop art of Lisa Frank. These puzzles are bright and colorful, featuring images of unicorns, cute animals, and rainbows, and are packaged in lunchbox-style tins, boxes, and bags. The unique Puzzle Binder has eight puzzles packed in an actual binder with compartments for storage and pages so the puzzles can be displayed when completed.
100-piece Lisa Frank Puzzle Lunchbox
Dolls & Plush TOY BOOK
Craftstone Group Ltd. Offers Rainbow Magic
raftstone Group Ltd. introduces The Jungle Book plush for kids ages 3 to 8. Based on the classic tale made famous by Walt Disney, Craftstone Group has created various plush products such as beanbag plush, glove puppets, plush key chains, pillows, XCLUSIVE cushions, story pillow books, and more. Many products in the 10-character line are made from soft boa fabric, with facial details rendered with high-quality embroidery and printing. The Jungle Book plush will be available in South America, Asia, and Europe this year. Craftstone will also have Rainbow Magic Plush Dolls in 12and 17-inch sizes, as well as a range of plush cushions and pillows for kids ages 3 to 8. The seven fairy plush dolls are based on the Rainbow Magic story book and will be available in the U.S. and Canada this year.
The Jungle Book character plush
Folkmanis Offers Royal Puppets
he Wolf Pup Puppet, from Folkmanis, is more cuddly than fierce, and is fresh from the den with fluffy, soft brown and white fur. He features perky ears, blue eyes, and a movable muzzle. Not the lone wolf type, this gregarious little guy will prey on kids for lots of love. The Perched Eagle Puppet is regally perched and ready to swoop. This puppet is realistically rendered with keen, piercing eyes and plumage of dark brown with a white head and tail. The strong, hooked beak and powerful talons are featured in a gold-hued leatherette. The Standing Lop Rabbit Puppet is a 12-inch rabbit that features distinctive long ears and soft, creamy white and brown patterned fur. Kids can entertain their friends with the Grunting Pig Puppet. The 14-inch piggy features silky, soft pale pink plush with grey patches and a curly tail. He comes to life with a workable snout, mouth, and front trotters. Kids can squeeze his pot belly to make him grunt. The Airedale Terrier Puppet features the signature markings of the breed: wiry looking, yet soft fur with a black saddle and a tan head, ears, and legs. The terrier also has a black nose and dark, soulful eyes. Kids can cradle this cuddly canine in their arms to work his mouth while their other hand wiggles his playful tail. The dashing Royal Prince Character Puppet is dressed in a noble crown and a scarlet robe bearing the royal Folkmanis crest. His movable mouth and arms command kids to play along with him. The Royal Princess Character Puppet is graceful in her tiara and formal gown. Her blue eyes feature a twinkle, and her movable mouth and arms allow for hours of playtime fun. The Royal Prince and Royal Princess Character Puppets
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Dolls & Plush Blip Toys Brings Dancing Fun
lip Toys has expanded the Disney Princess Palace Pets collection with Magic Dance Pumpkin for kids ages 4 and up. Cinderella’s pet Pumpkin comes to life as an interactive, R/C plush puppy that can speak more than 12 phrases and sounds, follow movement commands from the light-up magic wand controller, and perform dance moves. Featuring soft fabric ears, removable fur cuffs, a stylish satin tutu, an oversized plush tail, and a pearlized shimmer, Pumpkin will launch in the fall. Hello Kitty comes to life at home, in the office, or on the go with the new Dancing Hello Kitty. Kids ages 4 and up can attach her to any glass surface or place her on the included stand and dance along as she grooves to two songs. Hello Kitty’s dancing groove is activated through motion or touch, and she can dance with or without sound.
Imperial Toy Lights Up Friendship with Lum Lums
um Lums is a new collection of pocket-sized light-up dolls, pets, and accessories from Imperial Toy. When girls ages 4 and up hold their Lum Lums by both of their hands all of the dolls in the circle light up. Girls can include an unlimited number of Lum Lums dolls and friends in their glowing circle of friendship. Four Lum Lums styles are available this year, as well as play sets and accessories. Floressa and NuNu includes a little blonde Lum Lum full of creativity. Girls can dress Floressa up for the garden party with her shovel bracelet, extra boots, flowerpot purse, flower hair charm, and her pet NuNu Luu Luu. Trindi and NuNu includes a fashionista who is ready to dominate the runway. Girls can play dress up with Trindi’s stylish selections, including two colorful skirts, boots, a purse, a trendy necklace, and two fashionable hair charms. She also comes with her light-up pet NuNu Foo Foo. Yummie and NuNu features a Lum Lum who is known for her tasty treats. Yummie always bakes in style with her pet sous-chef Tum Tum. Ready to take on any kitchen, Yummie comes with an extra skirt, boots, a spatula bracelet, an apron purse, and two food-inspired hair charms. Valerina and NuNu are ready to rock the stage with two costume changes, including two hair charms, a ballerina bracelet, a stylish purse, boots, and two skirts. Valerina’s biggest fan is her pet NuNu Tuu Tuu, who comes ready to cheer her on. In addition to the Lum Lums doll assortment is the Light-Up Fashion Boutique play set. The Lum Lums Fashion Boutique includes multiple outfits for hours of dress-up play and doubles as a night light and a storage unit. The Lum Lums dolls activate the light by touching the magic heart located on the mirror, or kids can press the moon button to make the light glow for up to 30 minutes. Girls can dress up their Lum Lums in the latest fashions and model their favorites in front of the light-up mirror. The Fashion Boutique comes with 17 accessories, including skirts, shoes, a skirt rack, a shoe closet, hair charms, a bracelet, a necklace, and purses.
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Dolls & Plush Tech 4 Kids Gets Squishy
ech 4 Kids introduces Fash’Ems for kids ages 4 and up. Fash’Ems are soft, squishy, fashionable figures for girls who like to dress up and play with their favorite characters, such as My Little Pony and Hello Kitty. Style Packs include one Fash’Ems character and two fashion accessories.
My Little Pony Fash ‘Ems
MGA Expands Its Lalaloopsy Line
GA Entertainment has added new mermaids and babies to the magical world of Lalaloopsy. Lalaloopsy Bubbly Mermaids have cute, bubbly hair that grows with a squeeze of their tails. Suitable for kids ages 4 and up, each doll comes with a pet blowfish and can be refilled with any soap or bubble solution. With Lalaloopsy Babies, kids ages 4 and up can rediscover the original characters Crumbs Sugar Cookie, Pillow Featherbed, Jewel Sparkles, and Mittens Fluff ’n Stuff as soft babies. Each Lalaloopsy Babies doll comes with accessories that match its colorful personality, and has a character-specific pattern printed on its body. There is also a unique sewnon date on each doll’s bottom.
The Bridge Direct Is Berry Sweet
his fall, The Bridge Direct will release the Strawberry Shortcake Sweet Beats line, based on the new band formed by Strawberry Shortcake, her bandmate Cherry Jam, and their friends from Berry Bitty City. The Strawberry Shortcake Sweet Beats Stage Playset puts Strawberry Shortcake and Cherry Jam center stage for a live performance. The stage sparkles with bright lights and plays clips of two songs—“Invincible” and “The Real Music in You”—from the TV series Strawberry Shortcake’s Berry Bitty Adventures. Strawberry and Cherry dolls are included in the play set, along with Cherry’s guitar and a microphone with a stand. This play set is suitable for ages 3 and up. The Strawberry Shortcake Sweet Beats Band Dolls line features Strawberry Shortcake, Plum Pudding, and Raspberry Torte. The three are glammed-up 6-inch dolls with sharable jackets and skirts, and accessories such as an instrument, a microphone, a comb, and sunglasses. The dolls are suitable for ages 3 and up. Strawberry Shortcake also goes solo as the Strawberry Shortcake Sweet Beats Singing Doll, which stands 11 inches tall, is dressed in a sparkly ensemble, and comes with accessories including a guitar and a microphone. When Strawberry’s microphone is raised to her mouth, the doll sings and gives shout-outs. Suitable for kids ages 3 and up, she also strums her guitar, plays riffs, and hums along with the push of a button.
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Dolls & Plush Douglas Lineup Gets a Little More Wild
Bushy the Red Fox
ouglas Co. will add a slew of new wildlife animals to its lineup. Douglas’ Wildlife Animals come in a variety of sizes, engage the imagination, and make learning fun. Douglas will introduce Bushy the Red Fox, Dancer the Wolf, Ulysses the Moose, Harriet the Cow, Swift the White Tail Deer, Ranger the Raccoon, a smaller Pauline the Pig to go along with the larger Pauline, and Wizard the Snowy Owl, which completes a set of eight styles of owls offered by Douglas Co. Douglas also adds larger wildlife animals that range in size from 11 inches to 24 inches in length. They include Dawn the Fawn, Missy the Moose, Carrots the Red Panda, Snow Queen the Arctic Fox, Bruno the Grizzly Bear, Irbis the Snow Leopard, Tundra the Wooly Mammoth, Loper the Elk, and Chops the Beaver. Douglas’ Wildlife Animals hail from all areas of the world and bring attention to both current and endangered species. Douglas Co. will also debut eight new Douglas Dogs, pups that have their own unique names that suit their personalities. These new dogs include Chap the Golden Retriever, Bear the Black Lab, Zach the Yellow Lab, Tucker the Chocolate Lab, Puddin’ the Yorkie, Blaze the Husky, Dellwood the Beagle, and Rhea the German Shepherd. The dogs are created from soft faux fur in the exact likeness of their real-life counterparts.
Cuddle Barn Gives Back with Lil Bub
il Bub, the female cat known for her ever-protruding tongue and big eyes, is an Internet sensation. Her success has led to TV appearances, a heavy web presence, a documentary, her own book, and a web series. Lil Bub uses her celebrity status to advocate for homeless and special needs pets worldwide. With her big green eyes and signature tongue poking out, Lil Bub is now a plush toy, from Cuddle Barn. With this soft plush suitable for kids ages 3 and up, Lil Bub’s fans can share her joy for life as they snuggle up with their favorite feline. In keeping with Lil Bub’s charitable efforts, Cuddle Barn will donate a portion of the proceeds to charity. Billy Gold is the newest member of the Cuddle Barn collection of characters that sing popular songs. Decked out in a metallic gold jacket, Billy Gold sings “Blurred Lines” with the push of a button. Kids ages 3 and up can squeeze his foot and groove to his tunes as Billy breaks it down with his swag shades on.
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Dolls & Plush Snuggle Up with Adora
dora’s SnuggleTime Dots have extra plush bodies weighted with beans. These microfiber plush dolls are available in three fun and bright polka dot patterns. SnuggleTime Babies come with a removable hoodie with yarn pigtails. The dolls are 100-percent machine washable and appropriate for infants. Each SafariTime Pal comes with its own animal-themed removable hoodie made of cuddly microfiber plush. There are six different animal costumes available. With their extra squeezable bean bodies and vinyl faces, SnuggleTime Dots they are ready to be hugged.
Gund Gets Grumpy
und introduces Monsteroos, a new line of monster plush. Each of the four characters comes with a special story telling kids to hug them tight. Buddy, pal of Boo The World’s Cutest Dog, is now available as a 9-inch plush. Fluffey is a new line of baby plush. Fluffey is a soft puppy that comes in pink, blue, and cream, and is available in two sizes. Rattles, Huggybuddys, and Comfy Cozys are also available. Gund’s version of Grumpy Cat is the spitting image of the popular feline cat. Grumpy Cat’s famous frowning face has been recreated in the finest quality plush. Modeled after the Internet sensation and with more than 3 million Facebook fans, Grumpy Cat is the star of her own book, Monsteroo plush clothing line, and giftware. Gund’s 9-Inch Grumpy Cat gives her fans the chance to own their own realistic Grumpy cat plush.
Aurora Knows Friendship Is Magic
urora World Inc. will expand its My Little Pony plush collection with new designs, including characters in a seated pose, as well as a new key chain assortment in which each pony includes a clip for hanging. The plush are based on characters from the animated series My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, including Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy, and Princess Twilight Sparkle. The Sea Sparkles line will expand this year to include new mermaids and sea friends called Sea Sprites. With new designs and colors, the dolls and sea friends feature colorful yarn hair and sparkling, shimmering fabrics. The expanding Miyoni line, based on popular domestic and jungle animals and North American wildlife, features hundreds of handmade plush animals. Aurora will also roll out Unlikely Friends, bringing cats and dogs, rabbits and chicks, and other different species together in heartwarming ways.
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Unlikely Friends cat and dog
Dolls & Plush Hog Wild Gets Huggable
Imports Dragon Chats with Caillou
queeze Popper Huggables combine all the fun of Hog Wild Toys’ Squeeze Poppers with a soft and huggable plush toy. Each popper can shoot a soft foam ball up to 20 feet from its mouth. The harder that kids ages 4 and up squeeze, the farther the plush pal will shoot. Each Squeeze Popper Huggable includes six soft foam balls.
he new Caillou Talking Doll, from Imports Dragon, talks when kids press his belly. The 15-inch doll says, “Hello,” “Bonjour,” and other friendly phrases. Preschoolers feel right at home with Caillou as he experiences the everyday adventures of childhood. Caillou is dressed in his school uniform and matching backpack. Caillou airs regularly on PBS Kids and Sprout.
Squeeze Popper Huggable
Mattel’s New Doll Line Lives Happily Ever After
attel introduces its Ever After High line, which follows the stories of the teenage sons and daughters of famous fairytale characters. The Apple White doll, daughter of Snow White, leads the Ever After High Ever After Royals doll assortment. Joining the assortment is Briar Beauty, daughter of Sleeping Beauty, who hides bouts of sleepiness with her ornate sunglasses. The Ever After High Ever After Rebels doll assortment features characters that believe destiny is theirs to rewrite. The Raven Queen, daughter of the infamous Evil Queen, doesn’t have it in her to be evil. Madeline Hatter, daughter of the Mad Hatter of Wonderland, joins her best friend Raven Queen as part of the assortment. Each doll in both lines comes with a stand, a Ever After High Dolls hairbrush, and a bookmark that features a unique character story. Barbie once again proves fashion is all about fun with the new Barbie Iron On Style Doll. Designed for kids ages 5 and up, the doll comes with the fashions and tools for girls to create their own printed T-shirts for Barbie. With three tops, two skirts, one jacket, and more than 30 decals, girls can mix and match styles and colors. Barbie Iron On Style Doll
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Dolls & Plush It’s GirlTime for Smart Zone
mart Zone HK introduces new dolls for this year. The company’s GirlTime lineup will expand with new mini dolls. The 7-inch mini dolls come in two different styles: princesses and fairies. Each doll is individually boxed for retail sale. The GirlTime All About Hair Doll features long, comb-able hair for hairplay. Smart Zone’s GirlTime brand is designed to celebrate friendship and culture.
Hasbro’s My Little Pony Equestria Girls Really Rock
asbro introduces new additions to its Baby Alive line. The Baby Alive Baby Gets a Boo Boo doll lets kids ages 3 and up feel like a real parent when they use the pretend ointment on the doll’s pretend boo-boo and see how it “heals.” Kids can feed her with her bottle and change her diaper afterward because she really wets herself. The doll comes with pretend ointment, a bottle, a diaper, and a bandage sticker sheet for additional pretend boo-boos. Additional diapers are available separately. Baby Alive Plays & Giggles Baby is an energetic baby doll that reacts to a variety of playful movements and activities. Kids ages 3 and up can swing her around in their arms or bounce her up and down on their knee and she will respond with adorable sounds. The Plays & Giggles Baby doll speaks various phrases to let kids know when she wants to play again. Once playtime is over, her soft and snuggly body is designed for kids to cuddle and carry with them. New to the Furreal Friends line is Butterscotch, My Walkin’ Pony. Butterscotch walks, whinnies, and neighs when kids pet her back. Kids can groom her mane and add a flower accessory to keep her looking her best. Furreal Friends Butterscotch & Friends Snuggimals are palm-sized pets to take on the go. Kids ages 4 and up can stroke their backs and watch them move their heads and wag their tails. New to the My Little Pony line is Pinkie Pie’s Rainbow Helicopter Playset. This heart-shaped helicopter has a colorful rainbow propeller for kids ages 3 and up to fly Pinkie Pie around Equestria. She travels with a small pink suitcase, a rolling luggage rack, and fashionable accessories. My Little Pony Equestria Girls My Little Pony Equestria Girls Dolls That Rock let kids ages 5 and up make Dolls That Rock, Twilight Sparkle Pinkie Pie, Twilight Sparkle, and Adagio Dazzle come to life singing the “My Little Pony Equestria Girls” song. Each doll comes with fashionable accessories and a musical instrument. Glimmering wings, rainbow accents, and colorful, cascading manes make the My Little Pony Fantastic Flutters winged ponies look majestic. Princess Twilight Sparkles, Princess Celestia, and Princess Cadance figures feature gorgeous glow-edge wings and cutie mark-shaped glitter that swirls inside each translucent, water-filled pony figure when it is tilted or moved.
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Neat-Oh! Lets Kids Play and Store Everyday Princesses
eat-Oh! International will expand its Everyday Princess collection with new dolls and play-and-store spaces. The line includes Emma, Haley, and Sophie dolls, as well as their dog friends Buddy and Dottie. Play sets that double as storage include the ZipBin Dollhouse Backpack, which features castle walls that unzip into a courtyard and a two-story dollhouse with a slide leading into a swimming pool. The Dollhouse Backpack can zip up with the toys inside once play is over, and it includes a 4-inch Everyday Princess Emma doll. The Everyday Princess Ballerina Purse play set opens to reveal a ballet studio, transforms back into a purse for travel, and includes the Everyday Princess Haley Ballerina Doll. An exciting twist on the classic storage product is the Everyday Princess Butterfly Chateau, which can store dolls and accessories like a traditional trunk. It also opens up into a dollhouse.
ZipBin Dollhouse Backpack
Dolls & Plush Sophia’s Celebrates 20th Anniversary
ophia’s welcomes a new 18-Inch Doll Play Set Series, which includes play food sets, a hair salon set, and other play themes. The newly-expanded series complements the new Reversible PlayScene backdrop series, which includes an 18-Inch Doll Fashion Show Runway/Bedroom Scene, as well as an 18-Inch Doll Ice Cream Parlor/Beauty Parlor. The sets include play food, tea sets, and soda fountains. Sophia’s also offers a Hair Salon Set, which includes all of the accessories girls need to maintain their doll’s hair and beauty regimen. The Beach Set includes a doll-sized beach chair, a beach ball, a sun umbrella, and more.
The One World Doll Project Expands
he One World Doll Project expands its celebrity signature collection and will introduce fashion accessories for the dolls. The company is also adding three new dolls to the Prettie Girls! collection. The Prettie Girls! are diverse in culture, interests, attitude, style, and charisma. These hip young girls attend the Dream Academy of Excellence, where hard work makes dreams come true. Kimani, an African doll; Dahlia, a South Asian doll; and Alexie, a Caucasian doll are all new to the line. Kimani is an artistic, creative free-spirit who loves performance art. She loves all-things-fashion, and dreams of walking the red carpet. Dahlia is an energetic comedian who loves being the center of attention. She has an adorable puppy named Chance. Alexie loves life, and has fought against the odds her entire life with a “can do” attitude. She is grateful for all of the good things in life, especially her best friend Lena. Kimani
Reversible PlayScene backdrop
The Beatrix Girls Continue to Own the Stage
he Beatrix Girls, PopStar Club’s new line of collectible pop star dolls driven by original music, continues to empower and inspire young girls nationwide to rock out this year with all new original music, fashion accessories, outfits, musical instruments, play sets, and hair kits. Just like a true pop star band, The Beatrix Girls’ debut album Meet the Beatrix is now available on iTunes, Amazon Mp3 Store, Spotify, Pandora, and other digital music outlets.
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Uglydolls Rock Out with Kiss
retty Ugly LLC and the Kiss band members have teamed up to present the Uglydoll Kiss 11-inch and clip-on plush dolls. Available in Ox Demon, Wage Spaceman, Babo Catman, and Big Toe Starchild, the 11-inch plush dolls are suitable for kids ages 1 and up, while the clip-on plush is designed for kids ages 3 and up. Uglydoll has also partnered with DC Superheroes for 11inch and clip-on plush dolls. Uglydoll will release the second phase of its twist on the iconic DC Superheroes, including IceBat Batman in pink and purple, Wedgehead Robin, and Tray Wonder Woman. The 11-inch plush dolls are suitable for kids ages 1 and up, while the clip-on plush is designed for kids ages 3 and up. Uglydoll Kiss 11-Inch plush dolls
Dolls & Plush Aliquantum International’s Plush Inspires Creativity
h e Japanese brand Rilakkuma launched in 2003, and now Aliquantum International will bring it to North America. The line consists of five plush sizes for the adorable characters Rilakkuma, Korilakkuma, and Kiiroitori. The brand aims to encourage imagination and creativity. Everything about the characters is left up to interpretation. According to the company, the excitement around the brand stems from having the control to make each Rilakkuma character unique.
Kids Preferred Connects Hearts with Red Thread
ids Preferred will refresh its Bunnies By the Bay brand with the new Red Thread Collection this spring. Each item in this soft toy line includes a cloth tag with the message, “A Red Thread connects your heart to mine.” The collection includes Little Big Friends, three big-and-little fuzzy sets. Big Friend Skipit and Little Friend Skipit are puppies with open arms that are waiting to be hugged and cherished. Big Friend Hops and Little Friend Hops are cuddly bunnies, and Big Friend Bao Bao and Little Friend Bao Bao are caramel brown teddy bears. Each Big Friend comes in a two-pack, and each Little Friend comes in a three-pack. Kids Preferred will also introduce the O’Ruffy’s collection, a stuffed toy line that features a rough look with a soft interior. Old Houndog Beauford has a sculptured face, floppy long ears, and three-toned fur that looks coarse but is soft to the touch. Packs of three are available in rich chocolate brown and warm cream fur.
Old Houndog Beauford
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S-K Victory Expands Fairy Tale High Doll Line
-K Victory will add to its Fairy Tale High line of fashion dolls this year. Fairy Tale High is a place where fairytale characters come together in a modern-day high school setting. Fairy Tale High is licensed from The Toon Studios of Beverly Hills. The new students to walk the halls of Fairy Tale High this year include Teen Prince Charming, Teen Peter Pan, Teen Victoria the Wicked Witch of the West, and Teen Pocahontas. All of the new dolls are fully articulated and stand 11.5 inches tall.
Spin Master Brings Pixel Plush
pin Master’s newest interactive doll line, Gabby Girls, are talking, moving, “thinking,” animated toys for tech-savvy girls ages 4 and up. Maddy, the first doll in the line, is funny, bubbly, smart, and isn’t afraid to be a little silly. She can interact with kids in many different ways with the included accessories, such as her chocolate cupcake, her eye shadow palette, and her pet puppy Sprinkles. Maddy loves listening to music, and when kids play her one of their favorite songs she’ll start to dance along. Maddy wants to get to know kids, and she’ll ask them questions, such as “What’s your favorite pizza topping?” and “Do you like dinosaurs or unicorns?” Kids can answer by touching her glasses and they can unlock bonus interactions using the Gabby Girls mobile app. For kids looking to bring the pixilated fun of Minecraft to the real world, the Minecraft Medium Plush Assortment includes the nefarious Creeper, the mindless zombie, the undead skeleton, and the elusive Enderman. Each plush is an accurate representation of some of the most common enemies that any intrepid Minecraft explorer might encounter in the game. The Large Plush Ghast lets kids cuddle up with this dangerous and aggressive denizen of the Minecraft Nether. With high-quality, pixilated embroidery detail and soft plush material, this large plush character is perfect for squeezing rather than scaring.
Dolls & Plush Lottie Dolls Are Back to Inspire
ll Lottie dolls stand 7.5 inches tall and have Saran nylon hair and tactile fabrics with stitch ing detail and inner linings. The new range of Lottie dolls includes four “hero” dolls, including Robot Girl Lottie, who celebrates the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering, and math. Kawaii Karate Lottie comes with collector cards demonstrating beginner karate stances that both the doll and kids can try for themselves. Pirate Queen Lottie is based on the orignal “Pirate Queen,” Grace O’ Malley, who lived in 16th century Ireland. The Pirate Queen Accessory Set includes replica silver pesos de ochos coins (pieces of eight) as well as a treasure chest and a pirate flag with Latin wording. Pirate Queen Lottie
Irwin Toy Offers Huggable Twinkle Toes
sabella Ballerina, from Irwin Toy, is the perfect dance partner for kids ages 3 to 6. The original huggable dancing friend launched in 1995 as gymnast Susie Stretch. Slipping on Isabella’s hands and feet, her arms and legs stretch to heightened lengths that are just right for little girls to move across the dance floor in perfect timing and technique. Isabella is an enthusiastic dance partner and will encourage kids to get active as they practice their pirouettes. Dancing with Isabella will help kids learn grace, poise, hand-eye coordination, and social interaction.
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Corolle Introduces New First Babies
on Premier Calin Maria, from Corolle, is a first baby doll for girls ages 18 months and up. This multi-ethnic, 12inch baby doll is just the right size for young kids. She has a cuddly, soft bean bag body so she can be posed like a real baby, and vanilla-scented vinyl skin. Also from Corolle is the Grenadine Mini Miss & Baby Teether, a mini-size first soft doll with a sweet face and a vanilla-scented baby teether. This doll is appropriate for all ages. Grenadine Mini Miss
Dragon-I’s Toy-Fi Teddy Sends a Message
ragon-I Toys offers Toy-Fi Teddy, its first toy to use Toy-Fi technology, which enables the plush bear to communicate with mobile devices. Friends and family can send messages from their mobile device to a child’s Toy-Fi Teddy. Suitable for kids ages 3 and up, Toy-Fi Teddy is slated for retail by mid-year. Dragon-I will also reinvigorate its Chatimals line with Cheeky Chatimals, featuring a hamster, a monkey, and a penguin armed with groovy up-and-down and sideto-side moves. Dragon-I will extend its line of toys based on the Talking Tom and Friends app with Talking Tom and Friends Talk Back Animation Plush Toy, as well as Talking Cheeky Chatimals Tom and Friends Talk Back Animation Hamster in new packaging with a refined Talking Tom, Talking Ginger, and Talking Angela.
Jakks Pacific Lets Kids Cuddle Up with Their Favorite Characters
ith Jakks Pacific’s Ugga Mugga Daniel Tiger, kids ages 2 and up can touch foreheads and rub noses to hear the plush figure say “Ugga Mugga.” Daniel’s ears and nose wiggle, and he sings a song about friendship called “Good Feeling.” The Good Night Tiger & Tige-y plush is dressed in trolley pajamas and provides kids with comfort through encouraging phrases and the “Good Night” song. The Talk ’n Cuddle Princess Sofia shares 12 princess lessons and says interactive phrases. The Dance With Me Clover hops, spins, flaps his ears, and wags his tail. When kids squeeze his hand, Clover teaches his moves step-by-step in learning mode, and then sings and dances in dance mode. Cabbage Patch Twinkle Toes wears Skechers Twinkle Toes shoes that light up and sparkle when tapped, and come in a variety of fun fashions, ethnicities, and hair and eye colors. The 9-inch Cabbage Patch Kids Around the World Cuties are dressed up as animals, including a monkey from South America, a panda from Asia, a koala from Australia, a fox from North America, and a polar bear from Antarctica.
Ugga Mugga Daniel Tiger
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Dolls & Plush WowWee’s New Princesses Are Zombified
owWee will introduce three new Once Upon a Zombie dolls—Zombie Alice in Wonderland, Zombie Tinkerbell, and Zombie Pocahontas—in time for Halloween. Based on the property created by Toon Studio of Beverly Hills, each doll comes with highly detailed fashion, glass eyes, and full articulation. Elektrokidz are music-inspired figurines with hair that dances to the beat of the music kids listen to. The six unique Elektrokidz have finishes including black matte and shiny gold, and each comes with its own stylized shades. Each Elektrokidz has its own unique hair movement that dances to the beat, so kids can collect them all.
NABCO Arrives Bear-ing Tats
orth American Bear Co. (NABCO) presents Cutie Tattootie, with 12 vegetable-based ink tattoos and a cotton-fabric friend. The temporary tattoos are removable and safe for kids ages 3 and up. Shark, DJ, Girl, and Bunny Cutie Tattooties range in size from 17 to 20 inches. With Fancy Prancy Princess Finger Puppets, a fairytale princess comes to life in puppet style. The puppets are 9 inches tall and designed for girls ages 3 and up. Each includes a hidden leg pocket for finger puppet play. The line includes Cinderella and Snow White Fancy Prancy Princess Finger Puppets.
Once Upon a Zombie dolls
Shark Cutie Tattootie
My Pillow Pets Inspire Kids
oucheez, from My Pillow Pets, give kids ages 3 and up a new way to stash their things. Kids can pinch the sides and this plush backpack clip becomes a pouch to store whatever kids want to carry. Poucheez can attach to purses and backpacks with ease and are available in Lulu Leopard, Snuggly Dog, Flower Power Cat, Rainbow Unicorn, Comfy Panda, and Zany Zebra. Tricksters are plush-covered helmets featuring Pillow Pet characters for kids ages 3 and up. The adjustable interior dial strap allows for a proper fit with a reflector for extra safety. Tricksters are available in Snuggly Puppy, Lulu Leopard, Flower Power Cat, Rainbow Bear, and Comfy Panda in small and medium sizes. The Inspirations line delivers inspirational messages of peace, love, and comfort. This new line is made from soft chenille and embroidered with words of comfort and inspiration for kids ages 3 and up. With styles including Prayer Lamb, Prayer Pup, and Prayer Bunny, the inspiration line is available as 18-inch Folding Plush, Dream Lites, Blankets, and Poucheez.
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MerryMakers Brings Joy with New Dolls
erryMakers Inc. introduces the 11-inch Dot Doll, based on Randi Zuckerberg’s book Dot, for kids of all ages. The Dot Doll encourages kids to put down their devices and go outside and interact with the world. Based on Johannes Vermeer’s famous painting and produced under the auspices of the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague, the Girl with a Pearl Earring Doll features a glowing inner light, vibrant color, and an enigmatic subject. The doll is designed for kids ages 3 and up. The Caroline Jayne Church Bear Doll is inspired by the children’s books by Church, many of which feature this teddy bear as a constant companion for the books’ characters. Soft and cuddly, this teddy bear is 12.5 inches tall and is appropriate for kids of all ages. A new addition to the Fancy Nancy collection, the 6-inch Fancy Nancy Doll is based on the character from Jane O’Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser’s best-selling books and is suitable for kids of all ages.
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Dolls & Plush Famosa’s Nancy Heads to School Just Like You
enuco Runny Nose, from Famosa, has a runny nose that turns red with little bubbles running down her face. Kids ages 3 and up can wipe her nose with a tissue and give her medicine from her sippy cup. Nenuco is 16.5 inches tall and is dressed in a pink and white hooded
outfit. Nancy Like You At School—The Artist loves art class. Dressed in a plaid school outfit, Nancy wears a pink smock that doubles as a jacket to keep her dress clean. Her wheeled backpack stores colored pencils and paper, and her long hair is pulled back with a pink satin ribbon. Nancy Like You At School—The Cheerleader dons her cheerleading outfit after school. This set includes a head-to-toe athletic uniform, sneakers, and a backpack to hold her cheer supplies. Nancy’s long blonde hair comes tied in red ribbons to match her second outfit: a red argyle vest worn over a crisp white blouse and pleated skirt. Nancy dolls are designed for kids ages 3 and up.
Starpath Dolls Take Magical Adventures
tarpath Dolls gives girls the chance to escape into magical, personalized chapter books starring themselves and their dolls. The line features four dolls, each of which comes with a gift code for a customizable chapter book. Each book focuses on shared adventures between two girl companions. Girls can choose from four 18-inch dolls—Morning Star, Shining Star, Wishing Star, and Wandering Star—and then visit the Starpath Dolls website to create their personalized book using the code they receive when they purchase the doll. Starting with one of two chapter books, A Fairy Tale Gone Wrong or Tiger Magic, families can either enter their child’s and doll’s given names, for the names of the story’s characters. Then they answer a series of fun questions about the child’s world and favorite things.
Morning Star, Shining Star, Wishing Star, and Wandering Star dolls
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Haba Debuts Plush Dress-Up Dolls
ennja and Elin are doll sisters with blonde yarn hair. Big sister wears her hair pulled back and sports a pink scarf, while little sister complements her freckles with ponytails and red hair bands. Kids ages 3 and up can also play with red-headed Shona, whose home is tucked inside a handheld suitcase featuring illustrated furniture. Magnetic Game Dress-up Doll Lilli lets kids ages 3 and up pick a scene and then select an outfit for Lilli to wear. The game is self-contained and has a tin lid for magnetic fun. Shona and her suitcase home
Activities & Construction Mindware Lets Kids Paint and Bake Porcelain Dishes
he Playful Chef Deluxe Cooking Kit, from Mindware, features tools that are sized for kids’ small hands, including a baking pan, a mixing bowl, scissors, muffin liners, and five illustrated recipe cards that correspond to the color-coded measuring cups and spoons. Hands-on lessons in kitchen safety, science, measuring, nutrition, seasonings, and cleanup are also part of the experience for kids ages 3 to 6. The Paint Your Own Porcelain Party Kit lets six kids ages 8 and up paint and personalize high-quality porcelain bowls using vibrant, food-safe paint. Simply oven-bake the painted bowls for a glossy, permanent finish. Each bowl comes with an individual gift box. This set includes six bowls, 12 paints, six paint brushes, six gift boxes, six idea cards, and instructions with party planning ideas. Kids ages 8 and up can paint and oven-bake each piece in the tea set for a glossy, permanent finish with the Paint Your Own Tea Set. This set includes four teacups and saucers, a tea pot with a lid, a sugar bowl, a cream pitcher, and four tea party invitations. Kids can decorate the set using 12 paints, a paintbrush, and full-color instructions. With Paint Your Own My Doll & Me Teacups, kids can design a doll-and-me tea party, and then paint and oven-bake the set for a glossy, permanent finish. My Doll & Me Teacups includes one child-sized and one 18-inch doll-sized cup and saucer set. Kids ages 8 and up can decorate the set using 12 paints, a paintbrush, and full-color instructions.
K’nex Introduces New Sets to Build Sea Battles and Super Speed Coasters
he Plants vs. Zombies Pirate Seas Plank Walk Building Set, from K’nex, allows kids ages 7 and up to defeat the zombies and save their brains on the Pirate Seas. The buildable replica of the Pirate Seas level from Plants vs. Zombies 2 includes special “rumble grid” action. Kids can turn on the batterypowered motor to make the zombies move down the rows toward the plants, just like in the game. K’nex Thrill Rides: Hyperspeed Hangtime Roller Coaster Building Set lets kids ages 9 and up build a roller coaster that Plants vs. Zombies Pirate Seas Plank Walk Building Set rises more than 2.5 feet high from more than 600 pieces. The exclusive inverted blaster motor launches the hanging coaster car on an out-of-this-world adventure through 18 feet of track. Instructions for a second coaster can be downloaded. Kids can build anything they can imagine with the new 52 Model Building Set. Loaded with more than 600 K’nex rods and connectors and instructions for 52 unique models, kids ages 7 and up can build trains, planes, animals, and tall structures. The parts can be stored in convenient plastic storage tubs.
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Activities & Construction Mega Bloks Builds with Favorite Characters
ega Bloks Hello Kitty—Fun at the Fair set includes more than 200 pieces and two Mega Bloks Hello Kitty figurines, a moving merrygo-round, and a ferris wheel. The Mega Bloks Barbie Fab Mansion features five rooms and a patio to build and decorate, and includes Barbie and Skipper minifashion figures. Mega Bloks Skylanders Swap Force—Skylands Spinner Assortment lets kids choose their hero and build, spin, and smash their way to victory. Kids ages 5 to 7 can assemble the spinner, choose a battle tip, and launch their hero into the Frost Guard Battle Arena. Mega Bloks will introduce the new SpongeBob SquarePants construction line, which features collectible micro-action figures, buildable vehicles, and play sets. The main battle tank of the Mega Bloks Call of Duty Heavy Armor Outpost is a directfire, heavy-armored vehicle. Designed for kids ages 14 and up, it comes with a heavy machine gun and main cannon on a rotating turret, and tracks that spin.
Play Visions Debuts Sands Alive
ands Alive, from Play Visions, is a “can’t-stoptouching-it” organic compound that feels like a soft, sandy, doughy mixture that can be molded, packed, or poured, just like real sand. Sands Alive is dry-to-the-touch, non-sticky, and residue-free. It can be packed to create paths or roadways with a rolling tool, or molded into shapes to build castles, forts, and other creations. Lift it up and Sands Alive cascades through fingers. Tools and molds are included in the Sands Alive play sets. Unlike ordinary sand, Sands Alive doesn’t scatter like playground or beach sand, so cleanup is a snap. It also contains anti-bacterial properties, is made of all-natural 100-percent organic matter, is hypo-allergenic, and does not stain, dry out, or stick to clothing or carpet.
SpongeBob SquarePants Buildable Vehicle
No Sew Pillow Puffs Cat
Darice Lets Kids Have Sticky, No-Sew Fun
arice has expanded its PomTree line of activity toys for kids. Kids can create their own giant mama pom pal and mini baby pom pal with the Giant Pom Pal Owl. The large plush friend comes pre-assembled, and kids can decorate it using felt stickers and adhesive-backed wiggle eyes. The Giant Pom Pal Bird is also available. With No Sew Pillow Puffs Cat, kids can create their own stuffed animal friend using sticky back felt. Kids can decorate the bright and colorful cat with a sticky foam collar and a bow, and the cat comes with its own toy mouse. The No Sew Pillow Puffs Dog is also available and comes with its own toy bone.
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Activities & Construction Alex Toys Brings Out the Creativity in All Ages
he Ultimate Friendship Bracelet Party and Ultimate Hair Accessories Salon from Alex Toys’ Ultimate Kits line let girls create their own accessories. With the Friendship Bracelet Party, girls ages 8 and up can make 30 friendship and beaded bracelets. There are 20 colors of floss, seed beads, silver beads, metal charms, elastic string, a beading needle, and easy instructions to create unique accessories. Girls ages 7 and up can color, bead, and accessorize their hair with the Hair Accessories Salon, which creates up to eight accessories, including headbands and hair clips. Tweens can get a jump on the DIY jewelry trend with new kits from Alex Toys. Spike Jewelry has all the materials to create seven bracelets with neon satin cords, spikes, and studs. This kit is designed for kids ages 6 and up. Girls ages 8 and up can create six super cool cord and chain mashup bracelets with the Chain Bracelets set. The special suction hook allows for easy braiding and knotting. With Pixel Jewelry, girls ages 6 and up can flash back to the ’80s. They can create 17 accessories from 40 pixel designs, including earrings, necklaces, rings, key chains, brooches, and barrettes. Alex’s Ultimate Easel Accessories includes four colors of poster paint, four lidded paint cups, four natural bristle brushes, a paper roll, 10 types of chalk, two white board markers, and a board eraser for kids ages 4 and up. The Colossal Art Set lets kids make masterpieces with 315 included pieces. The Sidewalk Mandala, for kids ages 5 and up, lets kids create beautiful mandala designs with easy patterns. Kids can choose Garden or Sweet Stuff patterns.
Lego Builds Across Multiple Lines
ith new sets inspired by The Lego Movie, kids can re-enact their favorite scenes from the film and even create their own. With Lord Business’ Evil Lair, kids ages 8 and up can record Lord Business’ broadcasts in the TV studio and plot how to control the world from the office. Kids can unleash the Kragle and trap the Master Builders in the think tank to extract their creativity. The set includes six mini-figures with assorted accessories. Lord Business’ Evil Lair New Lego Mixels combine using their “magic mixer,” which Mixels can create any shape or form imaginable. When combined, the Mixels are able to defeat the colorless Nixels, but sometimes a mix doesn’t work, and the results are hilarious. Mixels are mini Lego character building experiences that showcase the versatility of building opportunities, inspiring creativity, imagination, and hours of fun. Cartoon Network will premiere original Lego Mixels content shorts this year.
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Activities & Construction Kahootz Toys Celebrates 50 Years of Spirograph
Pick ’n Mix with International Playthings
raft Scene Pick ’n Mix Jewelry Kit, from Interna-
tional Playthings, lets kids make fashion accessories to wear and share with friends. Kids ages 8 and up
can follow the illustrated activity guide and make colorful
he Original Super Spirograph, from Kahootz Toys, lets kids ages 8 and up create their own unique pattern shapes with the
beads using self-adhesive felt. Up to eight pieces of jewelry
classic interchangeable Spiro-Tracks. This 72-piece
can be created. Kids can express their
set comes in a durable storage case with a work sur-
face, and features a
real metal die-cast
No. 50 Spirograph
felts to make
wheel to commemo-
their own origi-
rate the 50th an-
introduction of the original Spirograph.
Moose Toys’ Glitzi Globes Goes Beyond the Mega Dome
Materials and Magic from Poof-Slinky
oof-Slinky has new building sets that foster creative fun, as
are required; kids ages 4 and up can just stack the lightweight
boards. Two balls are included to fly down any chutes, tunnels, or
sign, collect, wear, and share. There will also be
well as a kit that is simply magical. The Building Blocks 200 Piece Set consists of 200 solid wood boards. No glue or nails
his spring, Moose Toys’ Glitzi Globes line, featuring DIY kits for creating mini snow globes, will see new themes to de-
slides. The Kinderblocks 37 Piece Set has big, chunky, solid wood
new Mega Dome Packs—themed kits that come
blocks designed to fit small hands and improve motor skills. Kids ages
with one mega globe and one mini-globe. The in-
4 and up can stack and build with their own creativity. The Sno-Cas-
cluded materials can be used to assemble minia-
tle Kit lets kids ages 5 and up melt snow bricks and design their own
ture glittery snow globes for popping, swapping,
snow kingdom. They can also sculpt turrets, a drawbridge, or a moat.
sharing, and wearing. The
The Mega Magic Show Kit is
Mega Dome Packs come
for both serious and beginner ma-
gicians ages 7 and up. Sixty-two
Ocean Treasures and
pieces are included, along with in-
structions to learn and amaze others. Ryan Oakes teaches his 220 “easy-to-learn” tricks.
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Activities & Construction The Orb Factory Sparkles and Shines
ids can tie, bead, and decorate trendy tassel jewelry with Imaginista Tassel Jewelry, from The Orb Factory. The kit lets kids ages 8 and up loop neon tassels and add beads to create earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and other fiercely fashionable accessories. Imaginista Paint ’n Lace Jewelry lets kids ages 8 and up pour, paint, and assemble pieces of lace jewelry. Kids can cut and paint two yards of lace to make dozens of unique accessories. The Orb Factory will also expand its PlushCraft line with the Fancy Fish Pillow. Kids ages 5 and up can use the included stylus to punch oversized fabric pieces into the pillow. This no-mess, no-sew craft is great for introducing kids to fabric crafts. With Stick ’n Style Forever Friends, kids ages 5 and up can fill mini-bottles with sparkles, pom poms, and more, then add a ribbon to create a glittering pendant. The legend on the back of the box will help kids choose craft components that best represent their personalities. The kit also includes stickers, glass beads, and shaped sequins. New to the Sticky Mosaics line is Sticky Mosaics Owls. Kids ages 5 and up can create owl pals by following a numbered legend. With more than 2,200 sparkling jewels and tiles, kids can create up to four mosaic masterpieces.
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Spin Master Goes Domestic
ool Baker Magic Mixer, from Spin Master, gives kids an easy way to make decorated treats. The kit comes with a mixer, a spatula, a spoon, sprinkle stencils, brownie and cupcake molds, cake mix, brownie mix, two packages of frosting, two packages of sprinkles, piping bags and tips, and a cardboard cake stand to display the finished desserts. With the Sew Cool Sewing Machine, girls can start sewing in a safe and creative way. The threadless machine provides kids with a first-time sewing experience and allows them to create nine projects from start to finish. Patterns and pre-cut shapes for purses, pouches, and characters are included. The set is designed for kids ages 6 and up, and encourages imagination and hand-eye coordination. Ionix, Spin Master’s line of shape-shifting construction bricks, has expanded with new Pokémon products. The Pokémon Ionix collection includes a mini-figure assortment with Pikachu, Ash, and more, as well as Pokémon Evolution Packs. Kids can build their favorite Pokémon through all three stages of evolution using the shapeshifting bricks. Evolution packs are available in Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle. The Meccano line of building models with motorized parts has expanded with the Evolution Helicopter. Kids can organize air rescue operations with this working motorized helicopter. Once built, kids can make the helicopter take off, stabilize in the air, and lower the winch for a successful rescue. With two building choices, kids ages 10 and up can rebuild it into a leisure plane.
Activities & Construction The Bridge Direct Has WWE StackDown for Kids to Build Up
he WWE StackDown Universe is part of The Bridge Direct’s new C3 Construction brand, which lets kids create, construct, and customize. At the center of the line is the C3 WWE StackDown Ring Playset, which includes three figures with snap fit design—John Cena, The Miz, and Referee—and more than 350 pieces in total. The play set, suitable for kids ages 6 and up, also features a TitanTron screen and working ring ropes. The C3 WWE StackDown Train ’n Rumble Playset lets kids recreate brawls between Rey Mysterio and Sheamus in a two-level training room. Lockers slam, water coolers are thrown, and punching bags swing. The play set includes more than 200 pieces, including a weight rack and bench press. The set is suitable for ages 6 and up. C3 WWE StackDown Ring Playset In the C3 WWE StackDown Undertaker’s Entrance Playset, the Undertaker can ride his chopper on his way to becoming the next StackDown champion. The set comes with more than 120 pieces including swinging gates, a custom statue, and the Undertaker figure. The C3 WWE StackDown Starter Sets include High Flyin’ Sin Cara, Kofi Kingston with Ladder Match Set, Damian Sandow’s School of Hard Knocks, and Santino Marella’s Cobra Cage. Each set includes one figure and more than 70 pieces to build, as well as unique accessories such as Santino Marella’s Cobra Cage and Kofi Kingston’s ladders and chains.
Let’s Go to the Mall with Jakks Pacific
akks Pacific introduces miWorld, a line of play sets that allows girls ages 7 and up to build, play, collect, and connect in a miniature world of their favorite stores. The miWorld mall features stores such as Claire’s Jewelry and Accessory Shop, Sprinkles Cupcakes, OPI Nail Salon, Dairy Queen Restaurant, and Sweet Factory Candy Shop. The free miWorld Mall app, from the Apple App Store, allows girls to play games, interact with each store, and design their own virtual avatar and bring her to life inside the physical miWorld play sets. The miWorld Starter Environment set is the intro set to miWorld, featuring Sprinkles Cupcakes, OPI Nail Salon, and Dairy Queen Restaurant. When assembled, the set is 7.5 inches wide and includes two walls, a floor, a sticker sheet, and more than 25 accessories. The miWorld Deluxe Environment is the largest of the play sets and includes everything needed to build and customize either the Claire’s Jewelry and Accessory Store or the Sweet Factory Candy Shop. When assembled, the set is 15 inches wide and includes four walls, two floor pieces, a doll figure, a sticker sheet, and more than 50 accessories. All sets in miWorld snap together to connect the stores vertically or horizontally. miWorld Collector Packs let girls build and add to their miWorld mall. Each pack comes with six to eight tiny, realistic miniature accessories that match each Environment set. These packs come in two styles for each Claire’s, Sweet Factory, Dairy Queen, SprinmiWorld Deluxe Environment kles, and OPI set. Sweet Factory Candy Shop
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Hasbro Sweetens the Deal
asbro adds new play sets to its Play-Doh line. Kids ages 3 and up can
have their Play-Doh cake and ice cream in one with the PlayDoh Double Desserts Playset. Kids can create colorful Play-
Doh cakes and pies in the oven and then scoop a side of Play-Doh ice cream. This set includes two 2-ounce cans of Play-Doh and two 2-ounce cans of Play-Doh Plus. Kids can use the book mold and stampers on Boomer the Fire Truck to create Play-Doh bricks, blocks, and flames to set up a dramatic scene with the Play-Doh Diggin’ Rigs Boomer the Fire Truck Playset. Kids can help Boomer roll to the rescue, load his water cannon with Play-Doh, and shoot water to put out the fire. The
Play-Doh Double Desserts Playset
ladder extends and rotates to further enhance the fire truck play.
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Activities & Construction PlaSmartâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Gelli Baff Brings Gooey Fun to Bathtime
Creative Toy Has Science Kits
aby Clemmy, from Creative Toy, is a line of super-soft building blocks for kids ages 6 to 18 months. The durable, colorful blocks are sized for little hands to grasp, squeeze, and put together safely. Baby Clemmy blocks encourage little ones to develop their motor skills. Science and Play is a line dedicated to science for kids ages 6 and up. Kids can excavate dinosaur fossils and then snap their findings together to make a model with the Excavate Dinosaurs kit. The Human Body Kit allows kids to assemble a realistic model with organs and skin. A real stethoscope is included, as well as a web app to access facts and images to gain even more knowledge. Other kits available in this collection are Crystal Laboratory, Future Energy, Chemistry, and Ecosystems. Crazy Chic is a new line of sketchbooks and craft kits. The collection includes seven sketchbooks that include silhouettes to dress, stencils to design clothes, brightly colored textures, and more than 100 reusable stickers to design outfits. Crazy Chic also has 16 safe, simple craft kits that allow girls to make jewelry, scrapbooks, and tattoos.
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elli Baff, from PlaSmart, turns water into goo and back again. This completely harmless powder soaks up to 400 times its own weight in water. Kids ages 5 and up can sprinkle the powder evenly over the surface of bath water, let the goo magically form for about two minutes, stir well, get in, and have fun. When bathtime is over, the goo disappears with the use of the dissolver. Gelli Baff two-packs are available in blue, red, green, or pink.
Laser Pegs Teams Up with Nat Geo
aser Pegs introduces National Geographic Kits in Oceans, Animals, Dinosaurs, Space, and Landmarks & Archaeology themes. Kids will explore their imaginations as they investigate the marvels revealed in these kits. The Power Block Car lets kids ages 5 and up build a light-up Sports Car with rolling wheels and seven additional light-up models, such as the Roadster, Truck Rod, and F1 Racer. Once connected to a power base, each Laser Pegs piece feeds power to the next piece to light up. Kids can build eight light-up rolling model cars with the Laser Pegs 9100 Power Block, which has construction brick nubs on its surface and comes with detachable light-up rolling tire pegs so kids can build the base into their model.
Wooky to Offer Style Me Up! Disney
ooky Entertainment debuts a new line of licensed products in its Style Me Up! fashion-focused craft line for tween girls, called Style Me Up! Disney. The collection lets girls ages 8 and up express their individual style as they create character-inspired fashions from outlines, stencils,
stickers, and more. Each of the Style Me Up! Disney Sketchbooks offers 40 sketch pages, including five hairstyles, four stencil sheets, storyline and inspiration sheets, more than 50 different stickers, and sample pattern pages. The two larger sketchbook collections, The Princess Collection and The Villains Collection, contain 30 sketch pages, including four silhouettes and 12 hairstyles, four stencil sheets, more than 110 different stickers, sample pattern pages, and storyline and inspiration sheets. The Nautical Jewelry kit is ideal for kids ages 8 and up looking to create their own trendy, nauticalthemed jewelry. It includes more than 45 feet of stylish cord, six ribbon clamps, four different clasps, charms, a metal chain, stylish beads, and a jump ring.
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Activities & Construction Ohio Art Goes Micro
hio Artâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Hello Kitty Travel Doodle Sketch includes a Doodle stylus, making drawing simple and fun for kids ages 3 and up. The go-anywhere handle makes carrying a breeze for on-the-go play. The Doodle eraser erases images in a flash, so kids can draw, erase, and start again as many times as they like.
Hello Kitty Travel Doodle Sketch
Playmobil Marks Its 40th Anniversary with Bonus Gifts
laymobil marks its 40th anniversary with a line of commorative products with bonus gifts. The 40th Anniversary Fire Rescue Operation Compact Set + Quad contains two fun-filled sets. Kids ages 4 to 10 can race to the scene and help extinguish the fire with the functioning water hose and the help of the bonus Quad. By pulling back and releasing the car, it zooms to the rescue. The set includes three figures, a working fire hose, a fire hydrant, a house, a tree, flowers, and more. The bonus set includes one figure, a pullback quad car, a rescue cable, and additional accessories. Fire Rescue Operations Compact Set + Quad
Kids Can Grow with DuneCraft
uneCraftâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new Sea-Quarium lets kids grow an underwater adventure and watch it come to life through the magnifying portals. Kids can incubate the included eggs and watch the SeaSauruses burst to life. The tank is injectionmolded in one piece and has five magnifying portals on the curved front pane. This kit includes LED lights that feature blue, red, and mixed settings, as well as an exclusive Notchster Sea Friend.
Paper Punk Adds Nickelodeon Properties
aper Punk’s paper-based construction toy line is expanding with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles kits. Each hero in a half shell has its own all-inclusive kit containing 16 punch-n-fold shapes, more than 30 stickers, and 40 adhesive dots to construct a 9- by 3- by 5-inch 3-D paper figure.
Paper Punk’s SpongeBob SquarePants kits will feature main characters SpongeBob
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles kits
and Patrick. Each kit contains everything kids ages 6 and up need to make a free-standing figure for play and display. The SpongeBob SquarePants kit will include 16 punch-n-fold shapes, more than 150 stickers, and 40 adhesive dots to construct a paper figure standing 7 inches by 7 inches by 4 inches. The Patrick kit will include eight punch-n-fold shapes, more than 150 stickers, and 40 adhesive dots to create an 8- by 7- by 3-inch figure.
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Tablets & Appcessories Hasbro Debuts Furby Furblings
urby Furbling friends, from Hasbro, are lively companions for any Furby Boom creature, which combines physical and digital play for a fun entertainment experience. With the free Furby Boom app, kids ages 6 and up can go on a digital adventure via their mobile devices as they raise, care for, and play games with their Furby Boom creature. Similar to the virtual Furblings friends featured in the Furby Boom app, these pint-sized creatures will be recognized by Furby Boom, or Furby Boom can sing a song with them. Pat the Furblings friends’ heads to hear fun sounds and Furbish phrases. The Furblings friends also unlock content within the free Furby Boom app, such as unique playroom décor and a matching Furbling egg. Furblings will be available in six pattern combinations including waves, stripes, and zigzag designs. Six additional patterns will be available later this year. The Furby Boom app is available for iOS and Android devices. Not all functions of the app work with Furblings friends. This spring, the Furby Boom creature will be available in five additional fashion-forward pattern combinations, including hearts, stars, and diamond designs. Additional patterns will be available later, including an Easter-inspired Furby Boom with bright Furby Furbling pastels and holiday-themed designs.
eKids Shows Kids How to Draw Their Favorite Characters
ith eKids’ Marvel Creativity Studio Smart Stylus’ variety of coloring and drawing tools, kids use an iPad to create their own superhero scenes, complete with sound effects and backgrounds. The app includes professionally illustrated coloring pages, where kids can add flair with drawing tools and an extensive color palette. Kids can also unlock special tools to flawlessly color the pages. An interactive grid system includes specialty drawing aids, such as a side-by-side drawing canvas, trace lines, and a “drawing scope” that allows artists of all levels to successfully learn how to draw the characters. Artists can build and animate action scenes with character stickers, sound effects, speech bubbles, and backgrounds, and can create custom stickers and add them to animated scenes. The Disney Creativity Studio Smart Stylus lets real Disney artists teach kids how to draw their favorite Disney characters. Activities such as tracing, connecting the dots, and coloring provide hours of fun. Kids can access more than five different drawing tools, flip the stylus to erase, shake the stylus for magical art effects, and easily change the line thickness for precision drawing.
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Tablets & Appcessories Techno Source Introduces New Kurio Phone, Tablet
echno Source will introduce the first Kurio smartphone made just for kids. Kurio Phone has all of the sophisticated smartphone features kids want, combined with the advanced parental controls and safety features that are attached to the Kurio brand. Parents can enable features that allow them to know who their kids contact, manage their phone usage, and rest assured that they are safe online. Kurio Phone’s parental controls are built into the device and include app management, time control features, and the Kurio Genius Internet filtering system with advanced security levels and daily auto-updates covering more than 450 million websites in 170 different languages. Additional parental control features developed for the phone include phone directory control, so that parents can restrict who their kids can call or be called by, and usage controls that can limit their volume of data and text messages. Techno Source will also debut the Kurio 7x 4G LTE, the kids’ tablet with wireless WAN. A Verizon Wireless exclusive, the new Kurio 7x 4G LTE tablet will provide highspeed wireless freedom, allowing families to stay connected on the go. More streaming and on-demand services will also be available. Kurio Phone Using the Kurio interface, families can create up to eight unique user profiles, each offering full separation of files, apps, game progress and scores, downloads, parental control settings, and more. Parents determine each child’s level of Internet access by choosing from recommended settings by child age, blocking specific websites and inappropriate terms, or creating safe lists. Parents can also set daily time limits and manage applications by profile, including restricting web access by app. The new 4G LTE device also features advanced controls designed especially for mobile access via the Verizon cellular network, including geolocation, data management, and remote administration. This Kurio tablet also adds Bluetooth connectivity.
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Silverlit Busts a Move
ith the Bluetooth BlueBot, from Silverlit, kids can use the power of their smartphone to control a robot. By sliding a finger over the screen, kids can move him forward, backward, left, and right. Kids can speak into the smartphone and it broadcasts through the Blue-Bot. Kids can also record messages and play them back with a voice changer. By switching to dance mode, Blue-Bot performs a “moon dance” with music. Kids can mix sound effects using their smartphones so that Blue-Bot can show off a little personality. Blue-Bot can also be used in stand-alone mode to program up to 50 moves without using a phone. Blue-Bot will be available in the spring.
Tablets & Appcessories Verdes Innovations’ Newest V-Cubes Get Personal
erdes Innovations lets kids personalize their V-Cubes with the new V-Cube 2 and V-Cube 3. The cubes are used as a canvas to hold personal pictures, logos, and messages. By visiting v-cubes.com and using the Create Your Cube app, kids can unleash their imaginations and make their own perfect cube. The images and designs are depicted on the cube in high-quality four-color printouts. The whole surface of the cube is covered, so no borders are required. These cubes suit companies looking for corporate gifts, licensors who want to promote their brand, designers who seek new mediums to express their creativity, and cubers that are searching for new concepts to challenge them.
Sakar Adds New Tablets and Features to XO and Camelio Lines
akar will introduce new versions of its XO Tablet, which is designed and developed by One Laptop per Child. The XO Tablet comes preloaded with hundreds of apps, games, and e-books. The XO Tablet line is designed for kids ages 3 to 12, but functions as a full Android tablet so parents can enjoy it as well. The new XO2 features the same 7-inch design and functionality of the original tablet, but with added features such as Bluetooth capability and a faster quad core processor. The XO Large features a 10-inch multi-capacitive screen and Bluetooth capability. Bonus content and additional Dream categories will be available on this tablet. Each Dream is supported with numerous apps, games, and e-books. Both new XO Tablets run on the Android Kit-Kat operating system. Sakar will also introduce new XO Tablet accessories, including a digital microscope, a digital telescope, and a wireless Bluetooth keyboard. The digital microscope and telescope are designed to work alongside several of the preloaded Sakar’s XO Tablet apps, including those within the Scientist, Doctor, and Astronaut Dream categories. The Bluetooth keyboard pairs wirelessly with the XO Tablet and features a sleek, kid-friendly design. Sakar will also add several new technologies for its Camelio tablet this year, including Camelio ClassMates, Camelio Chat, and Camelio Beaming. Camelio ClassMates is a group video communication platform idea for cooperative learning. It fosters teamwork in the classroom and at home with friends. ClassMates works with any Camelio Dual Core device connected to the same Wi-Fi network. Teachers, coaches, and parents can control all voice communications and up to six participants can view the content simultaneously. Camelio users can transmit content from the tablet screen to the TV wirelessly through Camelio Beaming. The Camelio controls the TV screen and users can share images, videos, and more. Accessed through the themed contacts app, Camelio Chat features customized chat backgrounds and connectivity (accessed through the Internet) to chat with up to three contacts at the same time.
176 • THE TOY BOOK
Tablets & Appcessories Improv Electronics Redefines Note-Taking
he Boogie Board Sync 9.7 LCD eWriter, from Improv Electronics, takes electronic note-taking to a new level. This e-writer offers the simple, pressuresensitive handwriting experience of paper and pen, but better. Users can save hundreds of pages to memory; transfer files to a computer, tablet, or smartphone; share messages with Evernote, OCR, or Adobe Illustrator; or collaborate on the big screen instantly and wirelessly via Bluetooth. There is also free software for direct social sharing and Virtual Whiteboard Mode.
Orbotix’s Sphero 2B Is Ready to Roll
rbotix has added the Sphero 2B to its Sphero family. The Sphero 2B comes with interchangeable parts such as tires and hubcaps for different terrains, and is fast and maneuverable, with the ablility to reach speeds of up to 14 feet per second. With only two points of contact, it can also turn on a dime and launch off of steep inclines. With seven new apps, Orbotix’s consumer-friendly robot now has more than 35 games. Sphero 2B is made for open play, offering interactive player versus player and multiplayer games, and is designed to inspire future inventors. Sphero 2B will be available worldwide starting this fall, with accessories and customizable parts to be announced at a later date.
178 • THE TOY BOOK
Tosy Robotics Gets Groovy
iscoRobo, from Tosy Robotics, represents a new generation of entertaining and interactive high-tech toys. Kids can play their favorite tunes, dance along, and chat with this intuitive robot that uses beat detection technology to match any music with 56 dance moves. DiscoRobo’s face lights up with funny facial expressions that change as he dances. He can also dance to other sounds: beat box, drum beats, handclaps, and even footsteps. On his special stage, DiscoRobo can stand on his head for the ultimate break dance. With a new smartphone app (available for iOS, Android, and Windows), kids can chat with DiscoRobo or choreograph his dance steps. In chat mode, kids can type in questions and DiscoRobo will respond with witty remarks. If kids pair two DiscoRobo robots together facing each other, the robots will chat with one another. In dance mode, just a shake of the phone or a swipe across the virtual on-screen DiscoRobo makes the actual robot react and mimic the movements. Kids can control DiscoRobo’s actions as they view him through their smartphone cameras while they play favorite songs from their own music libraries. DiscoRobo’s stage is a highquality, portable MP3 player speaker with internal memory for music storage and music device connectivity. This portable, battery-operated system comes in four colors to match each DiscoRobo (blue, pink, red, and purple).
School Zone Unveils School Zone Little Scholar
chool Zone Publishing will launch a new interactive education experience, the School Zone Little Scholar. This tablet is the exclusive platform for the new educational kids’ video series, Charlie and Company, as well as other educational apps, songs, and early learning content. It will be available for pre-order in October. The School Zone Little Scholar will offer an enriched interactive experience with pre-loaded features, including the world premiere of Charlie and Company, an early learning-based series developed by School Zone and with original music from Brian Vander Ark from The Verve Pipe. The content is exclusively developed to provide children in preschool through first grade with a safe and easy-to-use platform to explore and enjoy learning skills that are critical to educational development. Other tablet features include large buttons and easy navigation, a front- and rearfacing camera, and an app that allows parents to track screen time and progress.
Popar Toys’ Educational Charts Jump Off the Wall
he Interactive Human Anatomy 3D Chart, from Popar Toys, allows the human body to become more amazing through augmented reality. Kids can pinch to zoom and swipe to rotate on a mobile device to explore a human torso. They can click on the clavicle to see a screen shot that explains its unique location and its importance in connecting the scapula and the sternum. When the skeletal structure is turned sideways, they can get a different view. Young scientists can uncover the secrets hidden among the Periodic Table 3D Chart, which features atomic masses, boiling points, densities, structures, and descriptions. Kids can match compounds or learn elemental compositions by total mass in a graph format. Using the legend, they can sort the table by only the categories they wish to see. Kids can explore space through the window of augmented reality and watch the planets pop right off of the Solar System 3D Chart. Zoom in on Earth or Saturn and, with a tap of a finger, learn about the planet’s orbit or moons. Space probes such as Magellan and Mariner hover above the chart and reveal photos, drawings, and greetings in different languages. Popar also offers two fabric wall charts: The Wonder of the World & Landmarks 3D Map and the Solar System 3D Chart. By downloading the Popar app, kids can use their smart devices to bring these two wall charts to life in high-quality 3-D.
THE TOY BOOK • 179
The Voice Reaching Both Trade and Consumers
CONTACT: JONATHAN SAMET OR LAURIE SCHACHT ADVENTURE PUBLISHING GROUP 307 7TH AVENUE, SUITE 1601 NEW YORK, NY 10001 TEL: 212-575-4510 FAX: 212-575-4521 WWW.ADVENTUREPUB.COM
T HE D EFINITIVE I NFORMATION S OURCE
4 Considerations for Efficient Toy Packaging
Outwitting the Big-Box Competition
Bartering for Toy Business Growth
G IFT M ERCHANT
Reaching Consumers at Home
you to join—not to constantly promote your shop (no one will appreciate that), but to be an active member of your community and a trusted source of information when the conversation naturally (and no doubt frequently) turns to “What toy should I buy for a child’s birthday party?” and “What should I do with my kids this Saturday?” You will remain Jackie Breyer, top of mind for busy parents who may just need that editor in chief frequent reminder that you are the best source for toys in your community. Once you have their support and awareness, loyalty to your store and all that you offer should come easy. ●
onsumers want to shop local. They want to support their communities and their neighbors’ businesses. Moms and dads truly want to keep their hard-earned dollars in their hometowns whenever possible. Small Business Saturday has 3.3 million likes on Facebook. At the very least, people like the concept of supporting their local retailers. “Sure, Jackie, easy for you to say. Show me the business.” Of course there are obstacles. If you’re not seeing the sales levels you’d like, ask yourself why. I believe one of the main reasons has to do with awareness and remaining top of mind with your community. Even if you are doing the mailings, coupon booklets, and Penny Saver ads, that may not be enough. You need to reach moms where they are spending their precious free moments of the day and, for many, that place is online, on social media. My community has a group for local moms on Facebook (dads are welcome, but remain in the minority). It has more than 5,000 members who live in my town and actively seek advice from the group on everything from parenting to what to do with kids locally to where to eat and shop for various things. I’ve noticed that when the topic turns to toys, the first place group members recommend is Fun Stuff Toys, a local toy retailer in Seaford, N.Y. that caters to the community. If your community has a group like this, I urge
NEAT-OH! TO DISTRIBUTE NICI WONDERLAND
ON THE COVER: CHESTER THE FOX IS A NEW ADDITION TO THE RAGTALES LINE OF BRITISH-STYLE SOFT TOYS, FROM ROUNDABOUT. CHESTER IS MADE WITH SOFT TWO-TONE BROWN VELOUR. HE HAS A LONG BUSHY TAIL AND IS DRESSED IN A HAND-KNITTED VEST AND PURPLE STRIPED PANTS . M ORE INFORMATION ABOUT RAGTALES CAN BE FOUND ON PAGE S30.
Neat-Oh! has been named the North American distributor for the Nici Wonderland and My First Nici product lines. The dolls from Nici Wonderland are perfect as learning and role-play toys for young children. They are machine washable and suitable for kids ages 2 and up. Nici Wonderland super soft dolls and accessories are designed to inspire kids’ imaginations. My First Nici is a range of animals made Nici Wonderland from the softest materials, designed for kids to enjoy from birth and beyond. All My First Nici toys are available in muted and neutral colors for both boys and girls. Each toy features patterns such as stripes and polka dots, as well as different textures. Nici Wonderland and My First Nici will begin shipping in May. Neat-Oh! will launch 65 new items at New York Toy Fair.
ASTRA MARKETPLACE & ACADEMY
The headlining speakers at the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) 2014 Marketplace & Academy, scheduled for June 8 to 11 in Phoenix, will be Lisa Ford and Howard Partridge. Ford is a customer service thought leader and will open the conference with Everyday Excellence: Creating a Customer-Focused Team, a talk on what stores can do to create loyal customers through exceptional customer service. Partridge is a small business coach and will close the convention with a keynote address, 5 Secrets of a Phenomenal Business, about how store owners can enjoy their businesses rather than being slaves to them. More information is available at www.astramarketplace.org.
DOREL INDUSTRIES ACQUIRES TINY LOVE
Dorel Industries Inc. has signed a share purchase agreement to acquire Tiny Love Ltd., a global baby products and developmental toy company headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel, with offices in the U.S. and China. Tiny Love is recognized as an innovator in the developmental toy category, which includes products such as activity gyms, mobiles, light gear, and toys designed specifically for babies and toddlers. Tiny Love’s line is considered to be complimentary to Dorel’s, and its annual sales for the fiscal year ended December 31 were approximately $45 million. Sales are made in more than 50 countries worldwide, of which 75 percent are through a worldwide distributor network, while the remainder is in North America through its U.S. subsidiary. The transaction is expected to close during the first quarter.
SPECIALTY TOYS & GIFTS
ASTRA’S NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES:
BEST IN THE BUSINESS
by Kathleen McHugh, president, American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) ndependent toy store owners are busy people. If you are like most members of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA), you may be your store’s buyer, manager, clerk, bookkeeper, webmaster, marketer, and even janitor. All these roles and long days of constant work may make it hard to remember the excitement and passion you had when you started your business. Wouldn’t it be great to talk to someone who knows just how it feels? Or someone who has successfully managed challenges such as the ones facing you right now? That’s where a network like your ASTRA peers comes in handy. Indeed, it is a big part of the reason ASTRA was founded. ASTRA works hard to attract the most successful, creative, and promising independent toy retailers in the business. Year after year, when ASTRA asks its members which membership benefits they value over all of the others, it is the networking opportunities that are ranked at the top of the list.
Many Ways to Share Ideas and Get Advice
ASTRA offers several ways for retailers to share information with each other. The annual Marketplace & Academy is the year’s largest gathering of the specialty toy industry—this year to be held from June 8 to 11 in Phoenix. Retailers report that its value goes far beyond the product discounts and the cutting-edge educational seminars. It’s also about new ideas, new connections, and refreshing your energy by getting away for a few days to recharge. Find out more at www.astramarketplace.org. American International Toy Fair is another venue for sharing expertise about the retail business and about specific products. In fact, ASTRA has institutionalized networking at Toy Fair through its Monday evening Share the Fair event, which gives retailers a quick, easy way to learn from each other about new products. Gather with your fellow store owners to discuss the must-see toys for 2014 and learn more about what types of products other independent retailers will be carrying for the holiday season. ASTRA’s online discussion groups are a forum for getting opinions
SPECIALTY TOYS & GIFTS
on how to handle business challenges, asking specific how-to business questions, and sharing information about products and manufacturers. ASTRA’s member directory is a priceless business tool that gives members access to each other via telephone or email.
Tips for Effective Networking
Here are a few tips for effective information sharing and networking: • Know your objectives. If you ask someone in your network for help or information, make sure you know what you want to know. It wastes everyone’s time if you are not able to articulate what you need. • Reciprocate. If you expect others to share, be ready to do so yourself. When you receive helpful advice from a colleague, always ask if there is anything you can do to help him or her. When you come across information that might be useful to those in your ASTRA network—such as an article or a web link—send it to those ASTRA friends. • Show your appreciation. If someone helps you, he or she can never be thanked enough—even if he or she is an ASTRA friend you have known for years. Be sure to acknowledge everyone who lends you a hand. And then thank them again when you have a chance. Whether you have been in the business for years or are just getting started, look to your ASTRA colleagues to have the piece of information or advice you need to get you through the tough spots. Remember, one of the best places to get a big dose of energy and inspiration from your peers is at ASTRA’s annual Marketplace & Academy, which brings together all the best in the specialty toy business—including you. ●
BARTERING for Toy Business Growth
by John Strabley, CEO, IMS-International Monetary Systems s toy retailers continue to look for ways to expand their businesses, many are taking a fresh look at bartering as an opportunity to unload excess inventory, fulfill operational needs, expand their reach, and find the funds necessary to sustain and grow their businesses—all while conserving cash flow. Nowadays, retailers and manufacturers have less cash to spend, making barter’s cashless system of trading goods and services especially appealing. It’s easy to get started. A toy or gift business lists goods for trade through a barter exchange. In return, the business receives a trade credit based on the dollar value of the goods offered. It can then use those trade dollars to “purchase” items or services offered by other members. It’s a simple exchange, but as a result, businesses can access a rich, varied network of actively bartering members. Trade dollars can be used for a variety of merchandise and services, including advertising, office supplies and equipment, cleaning, accounting, renovations, printing, travel, and dining. Melinda Gardner of Ted’s Toy Store in Cincinnati values the flexibility and variety of services offered in her barter network. Gardner barters the entire inventory for business and personal needs, using trade dollars for expenses such as signage, business printing, repairs, travel, and dental treatment. Gardner finds barter especially useful during seasonal slow periods when cash flow is limited. Trade also brings in new customers who, in turn, tell their cash-paying friends about the store. Barter’s benefits extend beyond conserving cash—it’s also a valuable business strategy for increasing sales. In fact, companies are currently generating thousands of dollars in sales annually through barter networks. Barter exchanges bring new buyers and sellers together, creating the potential for a new customer base for retailers. By heightening the visibility of their products to potential customers, many retailers in turn see an increase in their cash-paying customers. Robert Reinhardt, managing partner of New to You Kids in Green-
SPECIALTY TOYS & GIFTS
field, Wis., trades all manner of toys, clothing, and furniture from the children’s resale store. Reinhardt has paid for dining gift certificates through barter that he then used in customer promotions, as well as rewarding employees. He has also used trade for cleaning services, supplies, advertising direct mail coupons and shopper coupons, travel, and repairs. “I believe the majority of the business we get with barter is business we probably wouldn’t get otherwise,” sayIs Reinhardt. “It’s another great avenue for marketing.” Companies using barter also turn what otherwise would be less valuable capacity into a tool they can use to their advantage. After all, most businesses have excess capacity—a professional person has empty time slots, hotels or airlines have empty rooms or seats, restaurants have empty tables, and retail toy stores have unsold seasonal or discontinued merchandise. Purchasing power created through “barter leverage” creates value in the barter network and is one of the reasons bartering actually thrives when the economy is slow. For example, if companies sell any products that have a keystone markup—a pricing structure in which their wholesale cost is half of the retail selling price—they acquire each of their trade dollars for a cash outlay of only 50 cents. Then, when they make a purchase using trade dollars, they essentially pay half price for everything they buy. Barter leverage allows toy companies to generate new business, conserve cash, and convert excess inventory and capacity into needed goods and services. Bartering may sound like a different way of doing business, but toy retailers are embracing it as a valuable addition to their business models. And just like toys, it’s fun. ● John Strabley is CEO of New Berlin, Wis.-based IMS-International Monetary Systems, one of the country’s leading barter organizations. For more information, visit www.imsbarter.com or call (800) 559-8515.
Narrow Your Focus, Expand Your Reach How Independent Toy Stores Can Outwit, Outplay, and Outlast Their Big-Box Rivals
by Joseph Bona, director of branded environments, CBX ore than 600 independent toy stores threw a party on No-
vember 9 to celebrate Neighborhood Toy Store Day. This
publicity event triggered some heartwarming media cover-
age and was surely lots of fun for all involved. However, when you sur-
vey the retail landscape with which today’s independent toy retailers
are forced to contend, you might wonder whether or not celebration is
or two specific product categories.
Imagine a store focused exclusively on nifty, harder-to-find toys
related to science, mathematics, DIY construction, and IQ-building puz-
zles and games. With a demeanor akin to that of Bill Nye the Science
Guy, the owner holds special events in the store and at local schools. If
Target has three telescopes, the Science Guy has 12. Need a space poster
for you nephew but can’t find one at Walmart? You know where to go.
their Christmas shopping done in an hour or two simply by visiting ama-
also like that the store is local. This might sound antiquated, but it is
portions of the toy business itself.
products were tightly sealed in the kind of packaging that requires a
Even mass retailers such as Target, Walmart, and Toys “R” Us are
nervous about the dawning of an era in which Mom and Dad can get all zon.com. In this $22 billion industry, how could an independent toy store hope to compete? The answer might just lie in the massive pro-
American consumers are rapidly becoming overwhelmed by the
confusing array of choices in the marketplace. They live hectic, over-
scheduled lives, which makes the gridlocked drive to a cavernous big-
box store an unsavory option for many parents. The glut of
homogenized, commoditized retail products has triggered a bit of back-
The store is loaded with cool and unique stuff, so much so that kids
enjoy hanging out there. Pleased by the uplifting atmosphere, parents
right in line with retail trends.
Not so long ago, you could walk into a cellphone store and all the
sharp knife to get open. These days, more retailers are talking about
“high touch,” the notion that people should be able to play with the products. Our science store could have all kinds of toys and games out
for the kids. Would Target and Walmart do the same? Not likely. The typical employee at a big-box store also lacks the motivation to build
lash among some consumers. More people are now demanding authen-
personal relationships with regulars, and they know little about individ-
toy stores—the market position in which small, local operators can
it is obvious to customers who walk in the door. With Amazon chatting
ticity and uniqueness from the shopping environments they visit and
the products they buy. This is the potential sweet spot for independent
enjoy a distinct advantage.
The trick is to actually narrow your focus rather than broaden it—
to become the source in your community for a particular category of
merchandise, and to build a brand for your store based on top-notch cus-
tomer service, sincere community involvement, and impressive knowl-
edge of the category itself. Selling the same products as Walmart and
Target is not an option anymore; instead, you should specialize in one
ual product categories, such as science toys.
When you are passionate about your products and your community,
up the media about delivery via intense-looking drones, such human
qualities might be far more valuable than any of us know.
Joseph Bona is the director of branded environments for CBX, a
global branding and retail design consultancy. He can be reached at
SPECIALTY TOYS & GIFTS
Thames & Kosmos Teaches Robotics to Young Engineers
mart Car Robotics, from THAMES & KOSMOS, allows kids ages 10 and up to explore automotive technology with a futuristic car. Kids can construct the car and then use their tablet or smartphone to control the car’s motorized wheels and steer it in any direction. On the device, they can watch the car as it drives through an augmented reality (AR) cityscape. By spreading the AR code cards and pointing the camera at them, kids can build a vitural city. Through the app, they can script a simple program that instructs their car to automatically follow a predetermined course. In addition to the smart car, seven other models can be built with this kit. The special Bluetooth Low Energy interface results in long-lasting battery life. With the Gyrobot, kids ages 8 and up can build seven motorized models that explore the powers of the gyroscope, including a robot that can balance on two linear wheels and move along a tightrope. Kids will learn about the physical science principles that keep the robot balanced. By building different models, they can experiment with and learn about the importance of gyroscopic devices. Models include the gyroscopic robot, a balancing personal vehicle, a gyro horizon (or artificial horizon), a gyrocompass, a balancing game, a tightrope walker, and a flight simulator. At the core of these models is a unique motor-driven gyroscope, a rapidly spinning wheel mounted so that its axle can move in any direction. Because of the laws of physics, the gyroscope reacts to external forces differently than a nonspinning wheel would—it resists forces in certain directions.
Rubbabu Offers a Sack of Learning
he Sack of Learning, from RUBBABU, features the 26 letters of the alphabet made of 100-percent natural rubber foam filling, along with a smooth cotton-lycra covering and cotton piping. These colorful letters each represent a different animal or insect: for example, B is for bee, D is for XCLUSIVE dalmation, and H is for harlequin duck. The letters are also large and soft to encourage tactile exploration and motor skills. As with all Rubbabu toys, Sack of Learning is biodegradable and sustainable, and uses an eco-friendly manufacturing process. Rubbabu will also show off soft, plush, pthalate-free sports toys made of natural rubber. The Bat and Ball Set features a wide, cushioned bat with a firm handle, as well as a larger-sized red ball for easy batting practice. “Hug me” is stitched on the handle of the bat. The set is suitable for kids ages 2 and up. The Mitt & Ball features a ruby red mitt made of cloth with a plush finish and a sky blue-colored natural rubber ball that is weighted and grooved to provide a tactile grip for budding pitchers. The ball is soft enough to make tossing and throwing easy and safe. “Hug me!” directions are embroidered in the mitt in the event of snuggle breaks. It is suitable for kids ages 2 and up. The Golf set is made of soft, sturdy, and safe natural rubber and nylon sourced from Switzerland. The set has two clubs, two balls, a putting cup with a flag, and a rolling caddy bag on wheels so little golfers can pull their bag along to the next green. It is designed for kids ages 3 and up.
Sack of Learning
SPECIALTY TOYS & GIFTS
Worx Keeps Kids in Style
ORX TOYS is bringing the ’80s glamour sensation back with Bo-Po (brush on, peel off) nail polish. The polish peels away in seconds without the use of nail polish remover and is safe for kids ages 3 and up. With 10 vibrant new colors, Bo-Po can match every mood. Kids can alternate colors to create fun and unique looks. In their new non-spill containers, Bo-Po makes getting glam easy and mess-free. The BoPo line will expand this year with lip glosses, hair products, and other funky accessories.
PlanToys Offers Old-Fashioned Fun
hen pulled along, The Dancing Alligator Rainbow Edition, from PLANTOYS, moves his head and tail up and down making a clickclack sound. This colorful alligator is designed for kids ages 1 and up. PlanToys’ Electro Bus is a ride-on designed for kids ages 1 and up. The bus features a stable base, a handle grip, and a storage compartment. Tots can scoot and turn around with ease. Electro Bus
Little Pim Is Fluent in Fun
he Progress Tracking App, from LITTLE PIM, is a free app that allows parents to track their child’s growing foreign language skills. The easy-to-use app is available on iOS devices, as well as on iTunes. It can be used on its own, or in conjunction with the Little Pim video series and the new Little Pim flash card game. The app features eight different languages: Spanish, French, Italian, German, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, and Japanese. Parents can create profiles for each child to easily keep track of the words they are learning, view their progress by language, and assess their progress by theme. Each new vocabulary word features a hand-drawn flash card image, the English translation, the phonetic pronunciation, and an audio of the word being read aloud by a native speaker, making it easy for parents to follow along. With Flash Card mode, parents have the ability to quiz their child on the words they’ve learned, check off learned words to keep track of overall progress, and see how well the kids have absorbed different themes, words, and phrases. Parents can also share their child’s progress on social media platforms. The English ESL Flashcards from Little Pim introduces 45 words and phrases for mealtime, playtime, and other daily activities. The new flashcard line features colorful illustrations of Little Pim, helpful phonetic pronunciation on each card, and teaching and activity tips. No prior language knowledge is required. The flash cards may be used in conjunction with the Volume 1 series, or independently. The line is available in Spanish, French, Chinese, Italian, and more.
SPECIALTY TOYS & GIFTS
Specialty Aeromax Travels to Space and Beyond
he Youth Astronaut Helmet, from AEROMAX, allows kids ages 3 and up to pretend to be an astronaut. Kids can dream big with this helmet, featuring a moving visor, NASA logo, and decorations. The helmet can be combined with other Aeromax space products. Kids ages 8 and up have the power to launch Aeromax’s Alien Invasion Light-Up Flying Saucer into the air and beyond the furniture indoors or the backyard bushes outdoors. The flying saucer design comes in purple or green, and each saucer includes three bright, multi-color LED lights. Future astronauts ages 3 and up will look smart wearing the Astronaut Drawstring Backpack. The white backpack has red, white, and blue accents, including the NASA logo, an American flag, and the word “Commander” printed at the top. This bag can hold space gear or snacks when traveling from planet to planet. Also new from Aeromax this year is the Firefighter Drawstring Backpack, for kids ages 3 and up. The backpack is solid black with red and yellow accents. The center focuses on fire rescue symbols such as a fire helmet, an ax, a ladder, and a hydrant.
Youth Astronaut Helmet
Safari Ltd. Offers Incredible Creatures
AFARI LTD. has a range of new creature figures encompassing the modern, prehistoric, and fantastical worlds. Safari Ltd. will expand the Incredible Wild Safari Dinosaurs Monolophosaurus Creatures line with the Incredible Creatures Hedgehog, which is authentically detailed and hand-painted for added realism. It measures 3.5 inches long by 2.5 inches high and is suitable for kids ages 3 and up. Other new Incredible Creatures figures include Piglet, Piranha, and Gouldian Finch. There will also be several additions to the Wild Safari Dinosaurs line. The hand-painted Monolophosaurus, based on the ancient meat-eating dinosaur, measures 7.5 inches long and is suitable for kids ages 3 and up. Its fellow compatriot from bygone times is the Pachyrhinosaurus, which remains imposing even at 7 inches long. This year’s additions to the Wild Safari North American Wildlife line include the White Buffalo, Gila Monster, Peccary, and Jim the Park Ranger. The Wild Safari Sea Life line will gain the Bowhead Whale, Dolphin, Pilot Whale, and Thresher Shark. A blue-eyed Good Luck Dragon, sized at 8 inches long, 2.75 inches wide, and 3.75 inches high, also joins Safari Ltd.’s line of figures this year. This hand-painted sculpt is appropriate for kids ages 4 and up. The Mythical Realms line will add Icarus, a hand-painted figure measuring 4.25 inches by 4.25 inches, suitable for ages 3 and up. For those who like their animals domesticated, the new Best in Show Yorkshire Terrier has a petite, 3.25- by 2-inch body and small paws. This year, Safari Ltd. will have new TOOBs, for kids ages 3 and up to learn about healthy edibles and seashells. The Fruits and Vegetables TOOB contains eight hand-painted figures: oranges, bananas, apples, pears, carrots, broccoli, corn, and artichokes. The figures range in size from 1.5 inches to 3 inches, and are packaged in a reusable acetate tube. The Seashells TOOB includes a murex, nautilus, tuba, sand dollar, turban, whelk, and lion paws packaged in a reusable acetate tube. These hand-painted figures range in size from 1.5 inches to 3 inches, and are suitable for ages 3 and up.
SPECIALTY TOYS & GIFTS
Reeves Offers Peace, Love, and Horses
EEVES INTERNATIONAL has new additions to its Breyer Animal Creations line, including two equestrian friends from Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses. Magic is modeled after a therapy horse of the same name, specially trained to visit and comfort children and adults in schools, hospices, and hospitals. Hamlet is modeled after a therapy horse in training. Both are suitable for kids ages 8 and up. Peace, Love, and Horses is the first in a series of limited-edition classic horses. Suitable for kids ages 4 and up, this decorator model horse features pops of color, peace signs, and bright patterns. Pet Groomer depicts a Corgi dog, a Siamese cat, and a Palomino foal about to enjoy bath time. Kids ages 4 and up can help the groomer make these pets look their best with accessories including a shampoo bottle, a bucket, and a water trough.
Peace, Love, and Horses
Beach and Nature Co. Gets Kids on Track
cean Charms Jewelry Making Kit, from BEACH AND NATURE CO., includes everything kids need to create three beach-themed necklaces. The kit includes enough plaster mix to make three charms, two sheets of wax paper to make the charms on, a squeeze mixing bottle, three pre-tied adjustable necklace cords, assorted sea shells and sea glass, and sand. Kids ages 8 and up can keep the necklaces for themselves or give them as unique, handmade gifts using the included blue crinkle paper for packaging. Kids can follow three steps to create a cast of an animal’s tracks with the Nature Trax Animal Tracks Casting Kit. Kids can use the included tracking guide cards to find prints of the most common animal tracks, mix the plaster of Paris, and pour. The print will harden in 20 minutes and kids can keep the unique souvenir on display. In addition to the tracking cards, the kit includes a plaster casting medium, a stir stick, and a paper mold strip.
Kids Preferred Brings Children’s Classics to Life
PREFERRED will release a number of toy and gift lines inspired by children’s books. The Guess How Much I Love You collection, from the children’s book written by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram, will debut this year with new products. The Guess How Much I Love You Rattle features Nutbrown Hare sitting on top of a soft rattle that has “Guess How Much I Love You” printed on its side. He also appears on the Guess How Much I Love You Light-up Pullstring Musical Toy, which brings together music, lights, and a light-up moon featuring the words, “I love you right up to the moon and back.” The moon sits atop a crinkly ribbon anchored by Nutbrown Hare, who plays music when pulled. The Guess How Much I Love You Blanky conveys the “I love you right up to the moon and back” message, is bordered with green satin trim, and features a plush Nutbrown Hare in its center. There is also a Guess How Much I Love You Jack in the Box, which offers music and action. Nutbrown Hare jumps out of the colorful musical box, which features art from the book on all four sides. With The Very Hungry Caterpillar as its centerpiece, The World of Eric Carle has inspired both a Little Artist Collection and a Little Musician Collection. The Little Artist Collection for spring includes artistic toys and accessories, such as a wood easel with a paper roll and paint cups. The set also comes with a chalkboard and dry erase board, and magnets that can be used to display artwork. Other items in the collection include a colorful art smock/apron with vinyl pockets to hold supplies. The splat mat/floor cover easily absorbs paints and spills, and shields the floor with a colorful design. From castanets to maracas, the Little Musician Collection helps little ones make their own music and march to their own beat. Select items from the spring collection include wood maracas in caterpillar and ladybug shapes. The maracas are contoured for easy holding and maneuvering, as well as safety. The I Heart Music Wood Tambourine features The Very Hungry Caterpillar and a lot of colors, and offers opportunities for tapping and banging. A wood recorder allows little musicians to play their favorite tunes, or make up some of their own. The colorful caterpillar recorder’s design is easy for little hands to hold. The collection also includes a caterpillar wood clacker in yellow and green, which clicks and clacks to entertain little music makers. The World of Eric Carle is represented by global licensing agent The Joester Loria Group. IDS
Guess How Much I Love You Jack in the Box
SPECIALTY TOYS & GIFTS
Smart Toys Attracts with New Magnetic Construction Kits
MART TOYS & GAMES has expanded its SmartMax magnetic construction line this year. All SmartMax sets feature safe and strong building pieces and are compatible with one another. The new features include chutes to drop balls through, accessories to bring life to constructed homes and factories, and building pieces with new shapes that expand the types of structures that kids can build. New sets include the Mega Ball Run, Home Sweet Home, Tripod, Factory with Car, and House with Car. The new items will be available in June.
Saving the World Can Be Pretty Ugly
unko will produce Uglydoll DC Comics Vinyl Figures, which measure approximately 4.5 inches to 5 inches in height. These figures love justice and snacks, and will be available in Ice-Bat as Batman, Wedgehead as Robin, and Babo as Superman. The vinyl figures are designed for kids and collectors ages 14 and up.
SmartMax Mega Ball Run
BeginAgain Brings Eco-Friendly Learning Fun
he BEGINAGAIN Balance Boatâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;Endangered Animals Edition develops dexterity, patience, and play skills while teaching kids about endangered animals. Kids ages 3 and up can stack the brightly colored animals as high as they can, balancing them atop the chunky 6- by 12-inch wooden boat. These endangered animals also become perfect pocket pals, and the boat includes a storage tray for easy clean-up. Made from eco-friendly rubber wood with non-toxic, child-safe stains, each of the 16 pieces in this play set is double-sided and 1-inch thick. The BeginAgain Alphabites A to Z Puzzle serves up learning and role-play fun for kids ages 3 and up. Each of the 26 puzzle pieces features one letter, with uppercase on one side and lowercase on the other. The puzzle storage box also does double duty, with an illustrated serving tray on one side and a play-stove on the other. From apple to zucchini, kids can play with their food and learn letters. Alphabites pieces are made from eco-friendly rubber wood with non-toxic, child-safe stains.
SPECIALTY TOYS & GIFTS
Balance Boatâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; Endangered Animals Edition
Melissa & Doug Plays House
y Horse Clover Magnetic Dress Up, from MELISSA & DOUG, is a showhorse that kids can dress and decorate with 53 magnetic accessories, including bows, braids, blankets, and sparkling wings. Kids place the magnetic wooden horse in her stand, choose the accessories, and then stick them to Clover to dress her up. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s easy to remove and rearrange the pieces, which store in a segmented tray. With the Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Play House! Vacuum Up Play Set, kids can vacuum up much cuter versions of the everyday messes that parents know all too well. The set includes six painted wooden pieces: a pretzel, a peanut, a bandage, a coin, cereal Os, and a lost diamond ring. Kids can pass the vacuum over the top and the pieces are swept into a compartment inside. When kids are ready to play again, they can open up the back panel, pull the pieces out, and make another mess. The Astronaut Role Play Set includes a jumpsuit, stretchy silver gloves, and a shiny helmet. There is also a reusable nametag that identifies each little space explorer and then wipes clean so another astronaut can have their turn. Suitable for kids ages 3 to 6, this roleplay set is machine-washable and made of sturdy materials. The Magnetic Car Loader has a magnetic arm that is easy to maneuver and reaches every car on its trailer. Kids can link up the trailer to the car carrier and take the four magnet-topped cars for a drive, unloading each one at its destination. Each wooden car has a unique color, stripe, and number to inspire counting, sorting, and sequencing activities. The vehicles also have tough, sturdy wooden chassis and smooth-rolling wheels.
My Horse Clover Magnetic Dresss Up
Be a Fashion Designer with Creativity for Kids
Smakaball Gets Kids Moving
hinestone Wrap Bracelets, from CREATIVITY FOR KIDS, combines faux-suede cord with shiny rhinestone trims to make 15 sparkling fashion bracelets. This trendy crafting kit includes everything kids need, such as elegant button closures and rhinestone accents, to really make the bracelets pop with any outfit. The Charming Chains Accessory Set turns classic silver and gold chains into sophisticated, chic necklaces, bracelets, and headbands. Kids can weave faux suede cord in the chains, add faux suede flowers and sparkling rhinestones, and then accent with four charms. Kids can create up to eight accessories.
makaball is an active play toy that offers an intriguing magnetic-like catch. Smakaball encourages hand-eye coordination and builds confidence in children. Special needs and disability friendly, lightweight and durable, Smakaball snaps apart for travel and is safe for indoor use. Launched last year, Smakaball is a dynamic catch game that can be found in national school systems, gift stores, sports stores, physical therapy stores, pool and surf outlets, and toy stores.
Schoenhut Plays Twinkle Tunes
CHOENHUT PIANO CO. introduces the Twinkle Tunes Piano Book. Twinkle Tunes features a one-octave (eightnote) keyboard that electronically produces piano sounds, enhanced with an illustrated interchangeable songbook containing a collection of 12 familiar tunes. This instrument, designed for children with no previous piano study, is paired with Schoenhut’s patented Tri-Play Learning System. The Twinkle Tunes Piano Book is easily portable for young children. Additional books are sold separately. Schoenhut’s Limited Edition Ragg’s Twinkle Tunes is Schoenhut’s Twinkle Tunes Piano Book enhanced with a limited-edition song book and CD featuring the music-loving characters from the children’s TV show Raggs. A Three Pack of Raggs Songbooks is also available. These three 24-page, full-color hardbound books feature 12 simple songs that are ideal for all Schoenhut toy pianos, but are specifically created to correspond with the Twinkle Tunes Piano Book snap-in, snap-out interchangeable design. These Raggs song books utilize the Schoenhut patented Tri-Play Learning System. Each book features activities to accompany the songs and a corresponding Raggs CD to assist the child while learning the tune. Titles include Sing-A-Long Songs, Celebration Songs (holidays), and Learning Songs (ABCs, numbers).
SPECIALTY TOYS & GIFTS
Specialty Take Flight with Guillow
he new miniModels, from GUILLOW, are available in six different styles for kids ages 13 and up. The airplane models are kits from the 4500 Series made of precision laser-cut balsa wood for easy building. The kits include a rubber band motor for long flights. These model airplanes are for young pilots to span the gap between Guillow’s toy gliders and larger model construction kits. The 4500 Series includes the U.S. Hellcat and U.S. Warhawk, each with red propellers. The handsome German Fighter has distinctive black markings on its wingtips while the American war models sport patriotic blue. The non-military Rockstar Jet, V-Tail, and Stunt Flyer round out the six miniModels. Guillow’s miniModels do not require cutting of parts or sanding. All that’s required is a little glue, making these simple enough to construct in one night.
Educational Insights Has the Magic Moves
ids ages 6 and up can host their own comedy show with The Riddle Show, from EDUCATIONAL INSIGHTS. Kids can perform more than 145 jokes, riddles, and tongue twisters with this talking electronic microphone featuring pre-recorded content, music, and sound effects. Kids press a button for a joke or a riddle and another for the answer, or they can try a tricky tongue twister. The mic also doubles as a working microphone so children can perform their own stand-up show or other material. With the Magic Moves Jammin’ Gym, kids ages 5 and up get motivated to move with commands, flashing lights, and music. Shaped like a standard free weight, Jammin’ Gym includes traditional exercises, such as jumping jacks and arm curls, as well as active breaks with “Let’s Surf” and “Dance Party” commands. Jammin’ Gym includes 65 randomly generated exercises with corresponding tunes, and features a rubber grip and a tether.
Magic Moves Jammin’ Gym
SPECIALTY TOYS & GIFTS
OgoSport Zips Along
atapult action and soft, safe projectiles give OGOSPORT LLCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Aero Zipp incredible distance and movement. With a flick of the wrist, the Aero Zipp can reach more than 200 feet of controllable curved flight. Kids ages 6 and up will develop skills in accuracy, distance, height, and curved flight, without rubber bands or springs. The power is directly derived from the throwing action. The Aero Zipp is available as a single or double pack.
Luna Star Is Beautiful
UNA STAR NATURALS introduces Klee Girls, a natural, nontoxic, hypoallergenic mineral makeup line for young girls.The line consists of 12 shades of loose-powder mineral eye shadow in an easy-to-use applicator bottle, four shades of mineral blush, and four shades of mineral lip gloss with extra-moisturizing apple extract and vitamin E. Klee Girls products range from subtle and natural to bold and shimmery. Each eyeshadow and blush comes with color and shimmer ratings on the packaging, and can be used as a dry powder or applied with a moist brush for dramatic colors.
High IntenCity Is Charming
harm It!, from High IntenCity, is the original, detachable charm jewelry for girls ages 5 to 14. Kids can pick an accessory, choose charms, and then create an entire collection. The wide selection of charms range in theme from animals, birthday, sweets, and sports to princesses, friends, and licensed collections, such as Disney and Hello Kitty. The charms include moving parts, sparkle, dimension, and more. Charm It! is available worldwide and sold exclusively at independent specialty retailers and premium department stores.
Charm It! Girl on the Go Bracelet
Peaceable Kingdom Is Stuck on Fun
eusable Sticker Totes, from PEACEABLE KINGDOM, include two fold-out scenes and vinyl cling stickers, which means kids can move the stickers around as much as they want. The New York Reusable Sticker Tote includes both a fold-out map of Manhattan and a fold-out city street scene. Kids can place landmark stickers, such as the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, and create a scene of New Yorkers in their daily lives. The Ninjas Reusable Sticker Tote has two fold-out scenes: a ninja training dojo and a dragon boat sunset. The vinyl cling stickers feature all sorts of stealthy ninjas and their ninja accessories. The totes are designed for kids ages 3 and up. Kids can partake in fortune-telling fun with Peaceable Kingdomâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Cootie Catchers. Each pack includes a pre-folded and pre-printed cootie catcher, a sheet of stickers, and instructions to create the cootie catcher and play. Styles for boys and girls are available. Flip Books are interactive storybooks that appear animated when kids flip through them. Kids can customize their stories with the included stickers.
Tangle Lights Up the Night
he Tangle Matrix NightBall, from TANGLE TOYS, is a light-up football for kids ages 5 and up that features Tangle’s unique airless design. The NightBall’s symmetrical design and balance makes it easy to catch and throw. The NightBall lights up, and the faster the NightBall spins, the brighter it gets.
Hape Shakes It Up
he Rock & Rhythm Band, from HAPE, helps kids ages 3 and up keep the beat. This percussion set includes a duo of drum sticks, a cymbal, and a rhythm maker, designed to foster an appreciation of music and an awareness of cause and effect. The Happy Harp is a wooden sitar for kids ages 3 and up. The harp includes a music book that teaches kids to play their favorite tunes and two picks for strumming. The harp is sized for small hands. The Bird Whistle, for kids ages 18 months and up, is a painted wooden whistle that sends out a cheery note when the beak is blown. The Walk-A-Long Hedgehog, for kids ages 1 and up, is a wooden, motion-activated hedgehog designed to stimulate early walking and talking. As a toddler pulls it, the wheels turn and the hedgehog raises his back and tail, encouraging kids to keep pulling and walking. The Busy City Playset and On Safari Playset are designed for kids ages 2 and up. Kids can build a city from the ground up with a detailed puzzle mat, wooden vehicles, houses, and even a string to make a parade. They can also create an animal habitat from the ground up with a detailed puzzle mat, 10 wild animals, a tree, and a string to keep the creatures in line. The DIY Dreamhouse, for kids ages 3 and up, is a contemporary, wooden dollhouse with magnetic walls that allow accessories to be fixed in place for play and then removed and rearranged to play again. Designed with modern colors and fixtures, it comes with 32 pieces of furniture for four rooms, including picture frames that hold a choice of prints or can feature a child’s own artwork. A working elevator zips through all three levels.
Green Toys Brings the Circus to Life
erform at the big top, roll in the mud, or explore around the pond—open play is the name of the game with GREEN TOYS’ Animals-on-Wheels. These fun, friendly-faced push toys for babies and toddlers are made in the U.S. from 100-percent recycled plastic milk jugs that save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The elephant, pig, and turtle each feature an easy-to-grasp handle and free-spinning wheels that encourage both fine and gross motor skill development. The compact, rounded bodies are designed with no sharp edges or metal axles, encouraging imaginative, eco-friendly play for early crawlers. Recommended for kids ages 6 months and up, these toys are BPA-, phthalate-, and PVC-free, and are dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning.
Poof-Slinky Has Fun Down to a Science
ew kits have been added to POOF-SLINKY’s Scientific Explorer line. Kids ages 4 and up can find out what bugs live in the backyard or in the park with My First Backyard Explorer Kit, which includes a two way viewer, tweezers, and a collecting case. The My First Pirate Treasure Kit lets kids ages 4 and up dig for treasure. They will learn the science of the seas, how to use a compass, how to make and read a treasure map, and even some pirate history. Along with a digging block, chisel, compass, and treasure map, the kit comes with an eye patch, a bandana, and tattoos. With Ice Cream Science, any T-shirt serves as the ice cream machine. Kids ages 8 and up can invent recipes by mixing flavors and colors in whatever way they want. They can grab a shirt, mix up the ingredients, and twirl the shirt like a jump rope. The ice cream is ready to eat in 5 minutes. Fun with Your Dog offers fun activities to do with a kid’s best friend, including giving a massage and a bath and making a homemade dog tag. Kids ages 8 and up can teach their dog seven different tricks. The kit includes a dog brush, glycerin soap, a split ring, and four full-color dog breed cards. With the Color Mysteries Kit, kids ages 5 and up learn cool things about color and make a liquid rainbow, a color wheel, and a bracelet with color-changing beads. The kit comes with color tablets, test tubes with caps, and solar beads. Six awesome activities are possible with the Glow-in-the-Dark Fun Lab, including making glow-in-the-dark slime and a human-powered light bulb. Suitable for kids ages 8 and up, the kit includes 30 glow-in-the-dark stars for making constellations on the ceiling, zinc sulfide, and test tubes. Sports Science helps kids ages 8 and up to become better athletes. The kit teaches how to throw a curve ball, reduce glare on the field, where the sweet spot on a bat is, and more. The kit includes a foam baseball, a rubber ball, a ping pong ball, string, and a mallet. With the Turbo Land Rocket, kids build a land rocket fueled by baking soda, vinegar, and magic, while the Turbo Sky Rocket utilizes materials from any kitchen to make rocket fuel that will power a rocket up to 100 feet in the air. Both kits are suitable for kids ages 8 and up.
SPECIALTY TOYS & GIFTS
Borgfeldt Canadaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s LiteHawk Is Caged Freedom
he LiteHawk High Roller, from BORGFELDT CANADA LTD., is ready to go right out of its box. This R/C aerocraft can fly in every direction and hover, but it also rolls across floors, ceilings, and up walls. The LiteHawk High Roller has an impact-resistant roll cage surface that protects it during crashes and LED lights that glow for night flights. Its use of 2.4 GHz radio technology gives kids ages 10 and up the freedom to fly several High Rollers together without fear of frequency clashes.
Maple Landmark Is Xtreme
ini Monster Xtreme Expedition Set, from MAPLE LANDadds dimension to imaginative play. The eight-piece set allows children to jump, climb, and conquer the toughest obstacles with their Mini Monster vehicles, such as the truck jump, rocks, and the bridge. The truck jump is completely adjustable so kids can jump over as many cars as they wish. Made from solid maple wood with laser engraved details, the jump set measures 3.25 inches tall on a base thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 3.25 inches wide. The included rocks are ready for the Mini Monster vehicles. Measuring 2.25 inches wide, 7.25 inches long, and 2 inches high at the top, the rocks are engraved and made with two pieces of solid maple wood that are securely glued together. The bridge measures about 3.5 inches across by 6 inches long, is made from solid, locally harvested hardwood maple, and is crafted in Vermont. MARK,
SPECIALTY TOYS & GIFTS
Stretchkins Combine Fitness and Fun for Kids
tretchkins, from BLUE BANANA, are life-size, super-stretchy, cuddly, active fitness buddies for any type of play. Stretchkins were developed to invite kids ages 3 to 9 to play and have fun while exercising. The Stretchkins animals magically transform from 28 inches into 5-foot-tall fun fitness friends. Stretchkins are available in four characters: Playful Puppy, Pretty Unicorn, True Blue Elephant, and Jumping Frog. Each Stretchkins buddy comes with a free fitness DVD.
Build and Learn with OWI
he EM4 Educational Motorized Robot Kit, from OWI INC., is a three-speed vehicle designed for lovers of simplicity. It is compact and provides kids with an easy-to-assemble robotic playmate. Kids can bring the EM4 Educational Motorized Robot Kit to life in one of four modes: Sixlegged Cricket; Beast, the master of bipedal movement; Trailer, which moves forward thanks to its motorized transmission; and Grandpa-bot, the bobble-headed, gear-driven family member. Each mode is equipped with its own form of movement and the robot easily transforms between each mode. Rookie Solar Racer is supported by a strong metal base and runs on solar energy. The solar panel converts the sunâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s energy directly into electrical energy. The lightweight design allows for extra speed. By building it themselves, kids learn how automotive transmission and motors work. Rookie Solar Racer
SPECIALTY TOYS & GIFTS
Specialty Whole Wide World Goes to China
WIDE WORLD TOYS is introducing new play sets that educate kids about different cultures. Each contains a book, a playmat, a puzzle, and story cards that immerse kids in locations around the world. The first in the new series, World Village Playset—China, is suitable for kids ages 4 and up. It has a storybook that tells about a visit to Suzhou, China, and features artwork and activities. The large fabric playmat has a lot of cultural details, while the wooden puzzle includes people, animals, and vehicles. Each puzzle piece has descriptions in English and Mandarin Chinese on the back. The story cards prompt kids to begin a new story based on what they see on the playmat. Boat, House, and Shop The line also includes Boat, House, and Shop, which is an extension of the play set. It fosters 3-D play with two buildings that have doors and windows, and a boat in which figures can ride up and down the illustrated canal. Suitable for kids ages 4 and up, the play set encourages imaginative and creative play as well as cultural understanding. HOLE
Beamz Helps Kids Make Music
ids can make great sounding music by moving their hands through laser beams, regardless of skills or experience with traditional instruments. Beamz is a unique music experience for kids ages 7 and up that includes more than 20 interactive songs inspired by some of the world’s greatest artists, including Flo Rida, Adele, Taylor Swift, Coldplay, Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Pink, Lady Gaga, and Carrie Underwood. There are hundreds of rich-sounding musical instruments over a wide range of genres, so kids can rock out to today’s hottest pop tunes or tap into their inner concerto. With the touch of a button kids can capture and record their creations as MP3s. Beamz can be used with a computer, iPad, or iPhone.
SPECIALTY TOYS & GIFTS
Toot, Toot and Hop, Hop, with innovativeKids
reen Start Play Blocks: Toot, Toot, and Hop, Hop, from INNOVATIVEKIDS, are oversized, eco-friendly cardboard building block sets that are folded flat and are easy to use for kids ages 2 and up. Kids can build huge interchangeable play sets. The blocks are made with 98-percent postconsumer recycled materials and are printed with eco-friendly ink.
Magicforest Sparks Big Imaginations
he Nighttime Shadow Theatre, from MAGICFOREST, is a fabric hanging that depicts a European theater stage. The screen comes with four shadow puppets and measures 31 inches wide by 23.5 inches long. It can be hung inside or outside. Puppets in Magicforestâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s shadow puppets line include Circus Shadows, Paris Shadows, Dinosaur Shadows, and Castle Shadows. Magicforest also introduces a new line of games and puzzles. Kids can point to a train, a rocket ship, or a bus as they learn the various modes of transportation with the Transportation Puzzle. The PopUp Bus gives kids the chance to board their animal friends onto the big red bus with Moulin Roty printed on the side. It is colorful and full of motion to stimulate a babyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s senses. The Bus Puzzle has five easy pieces so toddlers can start and finish this cute puzzle in a short amount of time. Magicforest will also debut plush products for newborns. The Large Plush line features animals that range in size from the 11-inch Monkey to the 14-inch Lion. With wide eyes, smart outfits, and soft limbs, the plush is available in five styles. The Petit Plush line ranges in size from 7 inches to 9.5 inches and features a panther, an owl, a lion, and an elephant.
SPECIALTY TOYS & GIFTS
Learning Resources Teaches Kids Through Food and Science Fun
he New Sprouts Shop It!, from LEARNING RESOURCES, includes everything kids need to stock and run a pretend store, including a shopping basket, seven play food items, and a price/bar-code scanner with sounds. This set coordinates with New Sprouts Ring It Up! and all new Sprouts play food, and is recommended for kids ages 2 and up. Number Pops and Stack ’em Up Doughnuts are new to Learning Resources’ Smart Snacks line. Smart Snacks Number Pops allows kids ages 2 and up to build number and fine-motor skills with ice cream pops. Kids pop the numbered shell over the ice cream pop with the matching number of dots. These pops help kids practice learning numbers 1 to 10 and color matching. Smart Snacks Stack ’em Up Doughnuts stack up size comparison and color recognition skills. Kids stack the five doughnuts from biggest to smallest and fit the doughnut hole on top. Little scientists can make discoveries with the Primary Science ViewScope. For kids ages 3 and up, the scope features a soft eyepiece, simple magnification, and a clear case for viewing specimens. This toy helps kids get familiar with the feel of using a microscope. A detachable viewer is included for on-the-go discoveries. The Primary Science Metal Detector features a grippy handle and colorful design. Kids ages 3 and up can play with this detector at the sand table, the beach, or the playground. It lights up and makes a beeping sound when metal objects are detected.
Smart Snacks Stack ’em Up Doughnuts
Roundabout Offers Soft, Cuddly Fun
expands Ragtales, a collection of British-style soft toys. These classic toys are cuddly companions that encourage kids ages 3 and up to engage in creative storytelling and imaginative role play. Inspired by the heritage of English life and designed with a French flair, Ragtales is an assortment of dolls, teddy bears, soft toy characters, play sets, books, and more. Each toy is crafted with handpicked fabrics, high-quality velour, hand-knitted clothing, and elegant packaging. New to the collection this year are Baby Bo, Baby Darcy, and Chester the Fox. Rag Tags is the Ragtales’ assortment of petite animal friends. They are super soft and are sized for little hands. Primrose the Pig, Parker the Bear, and Paxton the Fox join the line this year. Coco is a white poodle and pull-along toy made with textured velour. Coco has pale blue eyes and fur styled on her head, feet, and tail. She comes with an embroidered nametag, a matching pink collar, and a leash so kids can pull her along. She can easily be detached from the wheels by undoing the straps on her feet. Kids can celebrate with the Ragtales soft Happy Birthday Cake. The 6-inch diameter cake is divided into four pieces and topped off with a birthday candle. It comes in an authentic bakery box. Rag Tags Ragtales Rag Books are eight-page illustrated fabric books that feature easy-to-read rhyming text. They come in a book-style box with a magnetic closure. The Birthday Surprise is a traditional counting book featuring a family of mice planning a birthday surprise for their 1-year-old son. A to Z is an educational Rag Book that teaches kids the alphabet. Each letter is represented by an object that begins with that letter, and the illustrations are accompanied by a few simple words. OUNDABOUT
SPECIALTY TOYS & GIFTS
Rainbow Beast and The Rock Band Land Rockers announces the upcoming release of Tales From the Monstrosity Scrolls. This album features mysterious, but playful tunes inspired by Roald Dahl, Lemony Snicket, and Tim Burton. Intended for older kids, the album explores an edgier creativity than most albums created for younger kids. The album opens with “Happy Clouds,” a unique tune that sets the tone for the entire record, as it features an interesting variety of genres. The tracks that follow range from pop stylings to New Orleans jazz nods. “Lola vs. the Giant Shrimp” showcases the bands’ twisted take on a rock and roll classic, and “The Truth About Polar Bears” pays tribute to French folk music.
In a perfect balance between song and storytelling, the pop musical Pacha’s Pajamas: A Story Written By Nature inspires children to tap into their imaginations to discover the special talents with which they were born. The two-CD set inspired by Aaron Ableman and produced by BALANCE, addresses topics such as health and sustainability in nature through music from featured artists, including Mos Def, Cheech Marin, rising kid rapsensation Bentley Green, and many other young stars. With 28 tracks by 70 artists, this CD is a collection of songs all based on the little girl whose pajamas whisked her away to imaginary worlds and showed her that everyone has the power to make a difference and change the world.
In a Heartbeat is Laura Doherty’s new album that features Glenn Kotche of Wilco in an assortment of sweet love songs. The collection is made up of upbeat songs for kids of all ages. All of the songs are inspired by the rolling hills of the Hudson Valley and the urban energy of Chicago, the places Doherty calls home. With titles like “Breakfast Gives Me Energy,” “It’s Okay to Be Shy,” and “I’m a Little Fish,” Doherty’s music is extremely kid-driven, but enjoyable for the entire family. “Jazzasaurus” features a sound that is a bit different than the other tunes on the album, while “Electric Guitar” showcases a new sound as well. The songs range from jazz and blues to funky and folkie, but they are all upbeat, feel-good melodies.
In an animated and wicked adventure, it’s up to one brave young girl, Gerda, to defeat the evil Snow Queen and set her imprisoned brother free. The Snow Queen, from VERTICAL ENTERTAINMENT, has come to DVD to continue its reign of enchantment that is sure to warm the hearts of everyone in the family. Based on the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, the heroine comes to life as she battles dangerous obstacles in her journey across the frozen land and saves the world from eternal frost. The endearing DVD was produced by award-winning producer Timur Bekmambetov and also features a soundtrack from the Emmy-nominated composer Mark Willot. The Snow Queen has grossed more than $14 million in the worldwide box office.
SPECIALTY TOYS & GIFTS
CHILDREN’S PUBLISHING Daisy and Josephine is a charming story from SIMON AND SCHUSTER, written by Melissa Gilbert and illustrated by Julia Kuo, that describes the love all kids find in their furry friends. Everyone has a favorite person, and Daisy’s is her dad. When the two of them are on the road for his work, Daisy sometimes feels lonely. She is very shy and wishes she had a friend. So Daddy gets Daisy a surprise: a funny-looking puppy named Josephine. They make quite a pair—Daisy with her overbite and Josephine with her underbite. Will Daisy’s rambunctious new friend help bring her out of her shell? This charming story of an unlikely friendship, based on actress and author Gilbert’s own childhood and her own French bull dog named Josephine, is one that everyone can relate to.
Henny, published by SIMON AND SCHUSTER, is written and illustrated by Elizabeth Rose Stanton. Henny doesn’t look like any other chicken she knows—instead of wings, she has arms! Sometimes Henny likes being different. She enjoys the way her arms flutter like ribbons when she runs. But other times, she just can’t do things the same way as the other chickens. In this heartwarming story, Henny comes to realize that doing things the same as everyone else is overrated. The story is sweetly told and illustrated with fresh, expressive artwork that celebrates the individual in everyone.
The Luca Lashes series from LUCA LASHES LLC turns fearful firsts into educational adventures. Written and illustrated by Nicole Fonovich, Damir Fonovich, and Camille Turnbull, Luca Lashes is a multilingual eBook and app series that makes first experiences, from dentist and doctor visits to swimming lessons, a more positive experience for kids and parents. The main character of the book, Luca, is a boy who has magic eyelashes that give him special powers and make him brave. The seventh book in the series, Luca Lashes and his Trip to the Nursing Home, features Luca as he visits his greatgrandmother, plays some games, and has a wonderful time. This story is a great resource for parents and grandparents to introduce the concept of nursing homes. At the end of each story, a parental section provides suggestions for making the designated first experience more comfortable. Each story incorporates lively cadence and rhyming, and is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, French, and Italian to meet diverse language needs, as well as to introduce new languages to children.
SPECIALTY TOYS & GIFTS
Clothesline Clues to Jobs People Do, from CHARLESBRIDGE PUBLISHING, is written by Kathryn Heling and Deborah Hembrook, and illustrated by Andy Robert Davies. Kids will use clues from the clothes and special gear associated with an array of different professions as they appear on a clothesline. An accompanying four-line stanza asks the reader to guess what job that person does, and the next page reveals the worker wearing and using the featured items. This lively text introduces young readers to seven recognizable careers that are fundamental to most communities. Clothesline Clues to Jobs People Do is an excellent story-time choice for use in preschool and kindergarten classrooms. Readers will enjoy spotting the hidden connections among all of the characters introduced throughout, leading to a surprise ending.
Yes! We Are Latinos, from CHARLESBRIDGE PUBLISHING, is written by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy, and illustrated by David Diaz. It tells the stories of 13 young Latinos and Latinas living in America. This book celebrates the rich diversity of the Latino and Latina culture and experience in the U.S. Free-verse fictional narratives from the perspective of each youth provide specific stories and circumstances, and each profile is followed by nonfiction prose to explain the characterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s background and history, touching upon important events in the history of the Latino American culture, such as the Spanish Civil War, immigration to the U.S., and the internment of Latinos with Japanese ancestry during World War II. This text provides a resource for young readers to understand the contributions made by Latinos in the U.S.
THE SECRET MOUNTAIN has released its new book-CD, Sounds from a Journey with a Parrot, featuring music from Brazil and Portugal. This collection of musical traditions has been handed down in the Portuguese-speaking countries for centuries, and has now been transformed into 30 songs that blend musical styles, including samba, modinha, fandango, and bossa nova, all performed by native speakers from the two countries. Inside the included picture book is a display of colorful illustrations and Portuguese lyrics that are followed by notes in English that tell the origin and cultural background of the songs. The songs and rhymes feature a range of topics, including life, work, play, and love, inviting children on a one-of-a-kind musical journey.
SPECIALTY TOYS & GIFTS
Vehicles & Action Figures Moose Toys’ Light Up Speedway Is a Bright Idea
oose Toys will expand two major lines of toy vehicles this year. The Trash Wheels collection will have new play sets, accessories, and vehicles. New to the Micro Chargers line is the Micro Chargers Light Up Speedway, which lets kids charge their light-up cars and then send them flying around the bend and down a light-up track. Switching off the lights allows for glow-in-the-dark racing action. The Light Up Speedway includes one LED race car and one launcher.
Spin Master Smashes, Crashes, and Rolls into Toy Fair
pin Master has expanded its Air Hogs line with Hypertrax, an all-terrain vehicle for kids ages 8 and up. The Hypertrax’s tread gives maximum grip so kids can drive over grass, dirt, sand, or gravel. Using 2.4Ghz communication, kids can race, jump, flip, and drive as the independent suspension system navigates the toughest terrain both indoors and outdoors. The Air Hogs RollerCopter lets kids ages 8 and up smash, crash, and roll. This new R/C helicopter enables pilots to roll along the ground, up walls, and even along the ceiling. Great for new pilots, the protective cage allows the helicopter to take serious bumps and keep moving. DreamWorks Dragons: Real Flying Toothless can soar into the sky reaching heights and distances of more than 50 feet. Kids ages 4 and up can adjust his tail to unleash flying acrobatic dragon stunts as Toothless soars through the air, flapping his wings. Real Flying Toothless can be used indoors and outdoors, and kids can wind him up to fly as often as they like without batteries required. New to Spin Master’s Flutterbye Fairies line is Flutterbye’s Flying Unicorn, made for kids ages 5 and up to use indoors. Kids can control the fantasy creature’s graceful flight with the palm of their hands. The unicorn launches from the floor or a table with the simple push of a button. The Minecraft Vinyl Figure Assortment lets kids bring the pixilated video game to life. Vinyl figures include Steve with his pickaxe and grass cube, Diamond Steve with his diamond helmet and sword, and the Creeper vinyl with its valuable diamond cube. Each figure has a ball-jointed head and is designed for kids of all ages. Spin Master has signed with NASCAR to produce NASCAR Authentic Toys this year. With the NASCAR Authentics 1:43 Diecast Snap Kit, kids can build their favorite driver’s ride from the ground up. This set includes all of the pieces kids need to create a race-accurate model without using glue. All pieces from the kit fit snuggly together to create a detailed replica race car at the 1:43 scale. Once the kit is completed, kids can take to the track or display the car on the included collector’s stand.
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Vehicles & Action Figures
SpongeBob Vinyl characters
NKOK Brings Characters to the Open Road
KOK puts a fun twist on Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants cast by turning the characters into vehicles. The SpongeBob Vinyl line features the characters as actual vehicles made of squishy vinyl that never scuffs or breaks. Designed for kids ages 3 and up, the vehicles play SpongeBob’s signature “getaway” song whenever he is trying to get out of a jam. The WWE Diecast Hauler, for kids ages 8 and up, adds to NKOK’s licensed line of die-cast haulers, R/C vehicles, and other die-cast race cars. These collectible haulers feature fan-favorite wrestlers’ faces. Different themes and variously colored trucks accompany different wrestlers. NKOK has teamed up with the animated cartoon Scooby-Doo to create R/C vehicles featuring the mystery-solving, loveable gang and their dog pal. The Wheelie Mystery Machine features Scooby as the driver. Kids ages 3 and up can zoom around and pop wheelies or do other fun tricks with Scooby. This vehicle includes button-activated sounds and motion. NKOK has also teamed up with Discovery Kids to make learning an engaging and fun-filled experience. The RC T-Rex lets kids explore the world of lights, sounds, and dinosaurs. The dinosaur walks and roars at a kid’s command, and its eyes light up and flash.
Wicked Cool Toys Launches Monster Jam Plush
his spring, Wicked Cool Toys will introduce a line of figures, accessories, vehicles, play sets, role-play, and plush products based on its master toy license for Wild Kratts. 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. Along the way, viewers learn about animals, as well as the lives of the Kratt brothers and the Wild Kratts crew. Wicked Cool Toys has partnered with Feld Entertainment for a new line of licensed Monster Jam novelties and plush. The line will feature Monster Jam Trucks such as Grave Digger, Max-D, and Monster Mutt, and will include Total Destruction Key Chains, High-Flying Coin Banks, 6-inch Plush Crashers, 16-inch Plush Crashers, and 24-inch Plush Smash & Crash Grave Digger.
Monster Jam 6-inch Plush Crasher
Vehicles & Action Figures Tree House Kids Revvs and Roars
ree House Kids will debut a multi-figure, mid-sized vehicle line, including a UTV with a working winch and dump, and an amphibious six-wheel ATV that holds up to four figures and floats in water. New to Tree House Kids’ growing line of licensed and non-licensed vehicles is the SUT, which has opening doors and a working winch. Tree House Kids will also debut a T-Rex Attack Puppet with sound—the first in its Dino Adventure line. Kids can make the fearsome predator roar, threatening the figures and vehicles.
Goldie International Celebrates Transformers’ 30th Anniversary
Worx Toys’ Edutech Line Goes Prehistoric
orx Toys’ Edutech line of educational toy vehicles teaches kids ages 3 and up how things work. When the coded buttons are pressed, the translucent plastic vehicles come to life with real motorized lights and sounds. New to the line are the Bulldozer and the Mighty TRex. With lights, sounds, and moveable parts, the Bulldozer will show kids how this machine works to help clear land and build everything from houses to the tallest skyscrapers. The Mighty T-Rex marks the line’s first non-vehicle-based SKU and will teach kids what makes dinosaurs eat, breathe, and dominate their territory. Worx Toys has partnered with Haynes Manuals, which has produced do-it-yourself books for mechanics for more than 50 years. Haynes Manuals has expanded its offering to kids, and all Edutech toys will be accompanied by a Haynes Manual.
oldie International will introduce a set of miniature figures to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Transformers brand. The Transformers 30th Anniversary Figurines Assortment features Transformers characters from the past 30 years, and includes Prime, Movie, and Generation styles. The figures come in single, three-, and five-packs, and are suitable for kids ages 7 and up.
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Vehicles & Action Figures Activision Figures Out Top Video Game Franchises
his year, Activision will release new action figures and vehicles based on the two popular video game series Skylanders and Call of Duty. With Skylanders Battlers, Skylanders heroes battle it out in an all-new hybrid portal. Not only can the portal slide, it can also spin and launch. There are a total of three to collect: Water Battler, Fire Battler, and Earth Battler. The Skylanders Hero Figure Pack is a themed set that includes six characters, a display build, and a unique printed plate in blister display packaging. Activision will also release new Call of Duty action figures and vehicles that bring the video game into the real world. The Tactical Unit Assortment has everything needed to recreate a full scene, including one micro action figure with highly detailed accessories, and a build. The Light Armored Vehicle Assortment I features buildable drones and similar-class vehicles, available in Drone Assault and Mountain Recon. Each entry also includes one micro action figure as well as a care package in which to store buildable weaponry and accessories. Heavy Armor Outpost The Care Package Troop Pack Assortment features five micro action figures and a buildable display environment. It comes complete with authentic accessories and buildable weaponry. The assortment of packs includes Alpine Rangers, Seal Team, Desert Troopers, and Zombie Horde. The Light Armor Firebase includes a buildable multi-utility transport vehicle and comes complete with three micro action figures, authentic accessories, and buildable weaponry. The chase character is Alex Mason. The buildable Odin Space Outpost features a multi-tier build, missile turret, crane, and space patrol. It also comes complete with three micro action figures, Federation enemy soldiers, and authentic accessories. The chase character is Kyra Mosley. With the Heavy Armor Outpost, Call of Duty enthusiasts can build a highly detailed tank featuring a rotating cannon, working treads, and a buildable outpost with a canopy. It also comes complete with three micro action figures, authentic accessories, and buildable weaponry. The chase character is Captain Price. The Heavy Lift Copter is a highly detailed, buildable aircraft transporter with stow away propellers. It also comes with four micro action figures.
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World Tech Toys Has Helicopters
orld Tech Toys introduces the Batman, Superman, and Joker R/C Helicopters, from DC Comics. Kids can control their own superhero with any of these officially licensed R/C Helicopters. The helicopters include a two-channel IR control, and is ready to fly out of the box. World Tech Toys introduces the exclusively licensed NBA R/C Helicopters. With all kids’ favorite teams and players available, kids can proudly represent their team. The Gyro Hercules 3.5CH Electric RTF RC Helicopter is an unbreakable R/C helicopter. Featuring a strong polymer frame, the helicopter’s body can handle up to 200 pounds of force, and can even withstand being stepped on.
Batman R/C Helicopter
Party Animal Gets the Party Started
Carrera Takes It to the Track
ars’ Francesco Bernoulli and Lightning McQueen duel and light up in
neon with Carrera’s Shift ’n Drift. Special LED lights light up the cars.
The 6.2-meter circuit provides space
Mates line. Standing 1
for racing manuevers. The loop, high bend,
inch tall, TeenyMates are detailed,
narrow section, junction, and fly-over give kids
collectible vinyl figures suited up in
ways to accelerate and keep the action going.
the uniforms of professional sports
Carrera Transformers lets kids guide
teams. Each blind foil pack contains
their favorite character to victory around this
two random figures and two puzzle
high-speed circuit. The 4.2-meter Transform-
pieces. Kids ages 4 and up can col-
ers circuit offers action, such as a fly-over, with two
lect all 35 double-sided puzzle pieces
and build their choice of a display set or a collectible mini-poster. The TeenyMates line includes NFL, NHL, and NBA TeenyMates.
Kids Can Race and Stack Play Visions’ Connect-a-Cars
cially licensed by the U.S. Army. The
Alpha Squad launches this spring
stack on top of one another. They are equipped with
Lil’ Troops, for kids ages 4 and up, are the first action figures offi-
lay Visions’ Connect-a-Cars are sa-
fari-style jeeps that kids ages 5 and up can join together side-by-side or
with five figures, including the
a strong pullback motor that can power up to eight
Urban Unit Trooper, Rescue Pilot,
linked vehicles. Each pack comes with two vehicles and
Infantryman, Desert Trooper, and
two sets of decals for decorating the rides.
Recon Scout. These poseable 3-inch action figures are safe and durable. A portion of each Lil’ Troops sale goes to the U.S. Army Morale, Welfare, and Recreation programs.
Bachmann Chugs Along with New Chuggington Sets
achmann introduces two HO-scale Chuggington
electric train sets based on the Chuggington TV series. Wilson’s Freight Adventures features a
Wilson locomotive with an operating headlight, a lowsided gondola, and a box car. Brewster’s Cargo Caper features a Brewster locomotive with operating headlights and two colorful hopper cars. Both ready-to-run sets include a 36-inch circle of snap-fit E-Z Track, a power pack, a speed controller, and an illustrated instruction manual. Locomotives and rolling stock are also available.
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Vehicles & Action Figures Skullduggery Races to Toy Fair
racer Racer Trucks is the latest addition to the Tracer Racer line, from Skullduggery. Tracer Racer Trucks utilize Light Trail Technology as they blaze streaks of light on Skullduggery’s patented glow-in-the-dark track. Each Tracer Racer Truck beams down purple light rays from its undercarriage onto the specially engineered track to emit glow remnants long after the racer has passed. The set includes two Tracer Racer Trucks and 16 feet of glow-in-thedark track. It is designed for kids ages 6 and up.
Playmates Has TMNT from A to Z-Line
he Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back in a new line of Z-line play sets, from Playmates. Suitable for kids ages 4 and up, the Freefall Fire Escape and Window Wipeout allow kids to zip their favorite Turtles around the room from wall to wall. Z-Line Deluxe Playsets include Water Tower Washout and Billboard Breakout. Each set has more parts than basic play sets and lets kids zip their Turtles even farther. This fall will also see the debut of Z-Line Action Playsets, including the Construction Crane Cascade, which has a high-flying pulley system that allows kids to zip Turtles from a higher distance to gain attack speed. All Z-Line Playsets connect to one another, and action figures are sold separately. For the first time, kids ages 3 and up can engage in Ninja Turtle fun through the new Half Shell Heroes line of friendly figures. Basic 2.5-inch figure two-packs are available in various characters, including Leo with a luge, Don with a glider, Mikey with a skateboard, Raph with a mini cycle, Splinter and April, and more. Vehicles with 2.5-inch figures consist of a basic line that includes a figure with a unique action feature and a vehicle that separates into two parts. The mid-priced line also comes with a vehicle and a 2.5-inch figure, and is available in Stealth Cycle with Raph and the Shred Tread with Shredder. The Shellraiser group vehicle lets kids drive the Turtles into battle. It features more than 30 phrases and sounds, unique ninja actions, and trash cannons. When it’s time for the Turtles to retire, they can head back to the Lair/City Playset with Mikey and Splinter. It includes more than 100 phrases and sounds, an exclusive TRawket vehicle, and Mikey and Splinter figures. More Pre-Cool figures include the new 5-inch Talking Turtle line. Each Talking Turtle features more than 20 phrases and sounds, and the line includes Leo, Don, Mike, Raph, and Shredder. The 10-inch Mega Mutant Leo has controllable moves and more than 100 phrases and sounds. Both lines will be available this fall. For kids ages 4 and up, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Blimp inflates to 30 inches long, holds up to five action figures, and includes a repelling system to drop the Turtles into battle. It is also maneuverable with an easy grip handle. Freefall Fire Escape
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MGA Entertainment Has Touch-Centric Land, Sea, and Air Toys
Silverlit Releases the Beast
ment, are battery-operated cars, trucks, and
airplanes that are con-
the remote and a special propeller
ouch and Go Racers, from MGA Entertain-
he Heli Beast, from Silverlit, has two-channel R/C and includes beast gear for realistic walking action. The Heli launches with a touch of a button on
trolled by touch, and are
system with auto-stabilization
suitable for kids ages 3
technology and precision speed
control allows for a smooth and easy flying experience. It is easy to recharge the Heli through the transmitter. The Heli Beast will be available this spring.
Vehicles & Action Figures Dracco Co. Brings Zombie Zity to Life, Filly Unicorn to U.S.
he Zombie Zity mobile app, from Dracco Co., introduces new fans to the line’s various characters, their wobble heads, quirky behavior, and rotten smells in an engaging game. The goal of the app game is to hit specific zombies with the correct stinky objects before time runs out. Shooting the wrong object at the wrong zombie zitizen generates negative points. The game uses the gyroscope in the device for real-world interactive play. The toy range includes more than 70 characters, figurines, and play sets. Zombie Zity denizens come in two cateZombie Zity Dan gories: Swobblerz, which consist of 12 bobble-headed figures with interchangeable body parts that can make kooky new characters; and Bouncerz, which consist of 48 micro-sized figures that spring nearly 30 feet high. Each Swobblerz comes with an exclusive zombie ID card to unlock interactive games at zombiezity.com, an interactive, animated website where users can explore the Zombie Zity universe, find exclusive content, and compete in mini-games. The play sets include two trap sets and a large tow truck, replicating the online Zombie Zity gaming experience. Fans can also take the Filly toy line on the go with Dracco’s Filly Photo Fun app, which blends real-life pictures with Filly frames, icons, and graphics. Dracco’s Filly toy line features velvety flocking, Swarovski Elements crystals and golden crowns, and the excitement of the hunt for favorite characters and special editions. Now the Filly Unicorn and its colorful world will be entering the American market. With more than 20 characters to collect, this will be the first Filly line to feature Swarovski crystals on every character, with one rare character, Princess Sparkle, having five crystals on her crown.
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Mattel Extends Hot Wheels Line
attel will introduce the Hot Wheels Track Builder System, which features “universal” plastic connectors that allow kids ages 4 and up to seamlessly extend their Hot Wheels play. With a variety of car-activated, action-oriented stunts and the ability for new track sets to connect to other new sets, the Track Builder System allows kids to design, create, and customize their ideal track challenge. Mattel and Marvel have collaborated to introduce a line of co-branded Hot Wheels cars and play sets featuring the Marvel brand’s iconic superheroes. The Hot Wheels Marvel Ultimate Spider-Man Web Swing Drop-Out Play Set reflects Marvel’s Avenger’s Ultimate Spider-Man animated cartoon. The object of this gravity-based set for kids ages 4 and up is to make Spider-Man’s web swing back and forth and then launch the enemy Venom car toward him. The vehicle escapes the web, gets knocked off the track by the web, or gets caught in the web. Based on this year’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 film, the Hot Wheels Marvel The Amazing Spider-Man 2—Speed Circuit Showdown Play Set, for kids ages 4 and up, includes a 1:64-scale car representing the villain Electro. The set features a battery-powered booster and a figure-eight track for continuous play. The Hot Wheels Marvel Hulk Smash Spin-Out Track Set is based on Marvel’s Avengers Assemble cartoon. Designed for kids ages 4 and up, the set includes a 1:64-scale basic car representing the Hulk’s archenemy Abomination, and features a four-speed launcher, a jump ramp, and a Hulk figure with spinning and smashing fists to smash Abomination in mid-air. Ultimate Spider-Man Web Swing Drop-Out Play Set
Hasbro Debuts Marvel Super Hero Mashers and Kre-O Cannon Kit
he Marvel Super Hero Mashers electronic action figures assortment features Marvel superheroes and villains with interchangeable parts and accessories, so kids ages 4 and up can create their ultimate hero. Each Marvel Super Hero Mashers electronic action figure comes
with Battle Gear pieces, including a launching missile and an electronic light-up piece, plus additional Mash Up pieces for even more combinations. Four figures are available in the assortment this year. Kids can own the battlefield with the long-range Kre-O Dungeons & Dragons Lightning Cannon Building Set. They can build the spring-fired, rolling cannon and take aim at their opponentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s armies or castle. The set includes two cannon darts, two Dungeons and Dragons Kreon figures with Kreon cards, and assorted weapons and armor to get the Kreon army battleready. Three Dungeons & Dragons Challenge Cards are also included, allowing kids to practice their skills and master the battle.
Marvel Super Hero Mashers electronic Iron Man figure
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Vehicles & Action Figures Fisher-Price Expands Thomas Line
ew from Fisher-Price’s Thomas & Friends Trackmaster line comes the Thomas & Friends TrackMaster Avalanche Escape Set for kids ages 3 to 6. In this play set, Thomas charges up a steep 30-degree incline, soars across a gap in the tracks, then races down the mountain. Redesigned TrackMaster engines feature enhanced power and performance.
Bandai Introduces Power Rangers Super Megaforce Line with Legendary Ranger Keys
andai has added the Legendary Ranger Keys to its Power Rangers toy line. Every Zord Builder and role-play toy comes with at least one Ranger Key that activates many new functions, giving the toys a more extensive value and play pattern. Role-play items interact with the keys to unlock unique sounds and features. Each key includes a code for kids to scan with the Power Rangers Scanner app for smartphones and tablets to activate a morphing and battle sequence. New to the Zord Builder line is the Power Rangers Super Megaforce Deluxe Megazord, which includes five individual Zords that combine together and one Ranger Key. The key can be inserted into the back of the Megazord to open the chest compartment to store items, including the Ranger Key. This Zord connects with other items in the Zord Builder Collection. Other new Zords from the Power Rangers Super Megaforce line include the Zord Cycle with Figure, the Zord with Key, the Deluxe Zord Armor Ranger, and the Deluxe Zord with Figure. The Power Rangers Super Megaforce line also includes other new action figures. The 5-inch Action Hero figures have 13 points of articulation and two accessories. More than 30 figures will launch throughout the year. The 6.5-inch Double Battle Action Figures allow kids to control both the Ranger’s arms and the Ranger’s battle gear by moving their thumbs back and forth. A Legendary Ranger Key Pack that includes three Ranger Keys is also available. Bandai will also introduce the Power Rangers Super Megaforce Deluxe Legendary Morpher and the Deluxe Super Mega Saber. The Morpher allows kids ages 4 and up to insert Legendary Ranger Keys to activate lights and sounds. It recognizes Ranger Keys from 20 different Power Rangers seasons. There will be approximately 60 keys available to collect and key combinations unlock additional phrases. The Super Mega Saber features battle sounds and lights as well. Ranger Keys activate even more LED lights in the blade, along with additional special battle sounds. The Saber comes with one Ranger Key.
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Super Megaforce Deluxe Megazord
Maisto Zooms In
ower Builds, from Maisto, are motorized do-it-yourself model kits that are fast and easy to build. Kids can snap a kit
together, power it up, apply the labels, and play. Movement is controlled by a forward-off-reverse switch. Up to 16 play-
ers can drive at a time with Maisto Tech Extreme Beast. Extreme Beast features 2.4 GHz, a 229-foot control range,
hobby grade TPE tires, proportional speed control, spring suspension, and a rapid electronic battery charger. The 1:16-scale Tech ReCon Rover features a spring mount that accommodates a smartphone or other camera device to capture the action. Fully functioning R/C and steering alignment adjustment make for easy maneuvering. The Maisto 2015 Ford Mustang GT is available in 1:18 scale, 1:24 scale, and 1:64 scale, with opening doors and hood in the two larger sizes. All are made from die-cast metal with plastic details and will be available worldwide mid-year. Muscle Machines Garage are 1:64-scale caricature vehicles with big tires, big wheels, and plastic bodies available in six styles with two colors each. They will be available worldwide mid-year. Bburago Go Gears Super Spin Speedway features banked high-speed curves, a super-spin clear tunnel, a sticker sheet, and a car. Kids can pull back the car and watch it zoom around inside the transparent tube. The car exceeds 322 kph, and travels more than 14 meters. It will be available worldwide early this year.
Maisto Tech Extreme Beast
Tomy Chugs Along and Battles It Out
ased on Checker Station from season four of Chuggington, the Checker Station Set is a great starter set for be-
ginning engineers. As Wilson rides through the swing gates and pulls into Checker Station, he must take the elevator up to the top of the track so that he can head back out on his next adventure. This set includes an elevator,
swing gates, and a die-cast engine. The set features two levels of elevation and multiple layouts and is designed for kids ages 3 and up. The new Battroborg robots have interchangeable parts for customized battling play.
Checker Station Set
Kids ages 6 and up can choose a warrior and customize their Borg for the most intense arena battle ever. Features include new robots and warrior themes, such as Samurai, Alien, Roman, Knight, and Viking warriors; a new katana blade controller (singleand double-bladed warriors with interchangeable weapons); and a new battle arena. Kids can help John Deere and his hard-working crew tackle everyday jobs and adventures on the farm and construction site with new Gear Force vehicles. The Gear Force Combine Harvester Playset includes the largest vehicle in the John Deere Gear Force fleet. The ultra-powerful Combine features cool sounds and lights and can pick up bales and pop them out of the hopper. The play set also includes three figures, a bull, and accessories. The Combine Harvester is designed for kids ages 3 and up.
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Infant & Preschool The Original Toy Co. Works with Wood
y Farm Book, from The Original Toy Co., is a classic OY wooden farm-themed book containing 10 pages of colorOOK ful animals and graphics. Suitable for kids age 1 and up, it encourages reading along and interaction. Each point-of-purchase counter display contains six books. My Smartphone is a realistic-looking smartphone built out of hardwood with actual ringing sounds and full graphic presentation. It is designed for kids ages 1 and up.
Parents Delight at Tomy’s Multi-Function Toys
he Lamaze Sit Up and See Gym, from Tomy, is an all-in-one system that is safe for newborns. The gym can be positioned flat with the arch above the baby for lay-and-play fun. In addition, the rainbow headrest may be used as a tummy time pillow, or the gym may be propped up with easy pivoting handles so parents can strap the baby in the safety harness. Once the baby can sit up alone, the arm can be removed altogether so he or she can play Night Night Owl with the plush activity toys on the mat. When baby bats at the mobile, it spins and the sun mirror lights up and plays an ocean song. The Sit Up and See Gym also includes three removable dangling plush toys with sounds to stimulate babies’ senses. Shine a Light Freddie is an all-soft book with peekaboo flaps, crinkle, and bright colors to stimulate baby’s developing senses. Babies ages 1 and up can follow Freddie the Firefly around the garden as he explores and meets new friends. The book features a carry handle that makes it easy to take on the go or attach to a link. The soft and cuddly Night Night Owl will soothe newborns with a color-changing nightlight and gentle melodies. Packed with different textures, patterns, and bright colors for tactile and visual development, Night Night Owl is easy to activate for little hands. Parents can select between lights only or lights and sounds. Push ’n Chase Turtle is a push-along, push-n-go, and rattle all in one. The turtle promotes muscle development and encourages crawling for kids ages 9 months and up. Counting with Luke the Loop keeps toddlers active while teaching them to count in four different languages. Kids can soar Luke through the air or push him along to the sounds of whimsical music, engines, and a turning propeller. Luke counts each time he flies a loop. Ride ’n Rock Playhorse is a five-in-one toddler activity center loaded with features to keep babies ages 1 and up engaged and active. This portable toy includes a rocking horse, a ride-on, a push-along, a storage unit, and a wagon.
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Infant & Preschool It’s Time for Tea with Reeves International
eeves International will expand two of its toy lines, both of which are aimed at kids ages 1 and up. Mini Wow, a new set of hero-themed vehicle characters from Wow Toys, introduces children to the worlds of rescue and construction and helps them develop fine motor skills and imagination. The line includes six lightweight mini-cars and figures, including JoJo the Ambulance, Blaze the Fire Buggy, Clay the Cement Mixer, and Jax the Dump Truck. A whimsical addition to playtime, the Tolo Toys Teatime Shape Sorter helps toddlers gain an understanding of color matching and shape recognition. Kids can practice their fine motor skills as they match four mini teacups to their respective color-coordinated holes. An easy-to-remove lid makes it easy to access the cups to play again, and the clear beaker inside the teapot allows kids to add liquid to create a real teatime experience. Teatime Shape Sorter
MGA Entertainment Helps Kids Ride Off into the Playset
he Activity Garden 3-in-1 Adventure Center, from MGA Entertainment, is suitable for kids ages 9 months and up and easily converts from a climb-andslide to a rocker. It helps build mobility, balance, and coordination. The Garden Chair features a contemporary garden design made of lightweight plastic construction, and provides comfortable, high-back seating. Intended for kids ages 18 months to 4 years, it comes in a variety of vibrant colors. Jelly Bean Racers are bright, rideable jelly beans that encourage independence, self-satisfaction, and the development of motor skills for kids ages 1 and up. The Little Tikes Organizer consists of versatile storage units that can be used individually, stacked, or on shelves, and is suitable for all ages. MGA will also introduce the Little Tikes Cook ’n Grow BBQ Grill. Suitable for kids ages 18 months and up, it Little Tikes Cook ’n Grow BBQ Grill has two stages and grows with kids. The Treehouse Swingset, suitable for kids ages 3 to 10, includes swings, a slide, a climbing wall, and a lookout tree and encourages active play while building young imaginations. With the Sandy Lagoon Waterpark, kids ages 2 and up can experience the fun of sand and water play in their own backyard. The activity set includes twin waterslides, a diving board, and a built-in drain plug for easy clean up. The Tunnel ’n Dome Climber is a versatile, igloo-shaped climber featuring multiple play patterns for kids ages 3 to 6. It has holes of various sizes that allow for easy or more challenging climbing play. The 1, 2, 3 Climber, See Saw, & Slide is a woodland-style climber that has a variety of play patterns, as well as climbing platforms molded to look like wood, a crawl-through tunnel log, and see-saw features. It is suitable for kids ages 2 to 6. The Cozy Coupe First Swing is an easy-to-use swing for kids ages 9 months and up. There is a seat belt to keep children in place, a steering wheel with a horn, and a weather-resistant rope that attaches easily to the swing set.
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Fat Brain Toys Shows Building Smarts
marty Blocks, from Fat Brain Toys, are perfect for readers and non-readers alike. With 120 multilevel challenges, Smarty Blocks grow with kids ages 5 and up. Kids can begin with a simple stacking puzzle, and then advance through sequencing, reading, spelling, and logic cards. New to Fat Brain Toys’ Squigz suction construction line is Squigz Benders. These suckers bend, twist, and loop their way into creative play. Completely interchangeable with the original Squigz, Squigz Benders come in 4- and 6-inch pieces, and are designed for kids ages 3 and up. pipSquigz easily attach to any stroller, highchair, or bathtub. With super-suction, each shape can be tugged, pushed, shaken, and pulled. Kids can even push and stick the shapes together for new play experiences. pipSquigz provide kids ages 6 months and up with a multi-sensory experience, including touch with wavy ridges and bumps, sound with rattles and “pop” noises, and sight with brilliant colors. pipSquigz
Ginsey Home Solutions Turns Travel Time into Playtime
insey Home Solutions will launch its Oops collection of wooden and soft toys with a grouping of on-the-go travel items. Designed for kids ages 6 months and up, these products build the development of fine motor skills and imagination. My Magnetic Puzzle! is a unique puzzle that assembles vertically. Available in City and Forest themes, each colorful piece contains a magnet and provides a new look to the classic wooden puzzle. The puzzle stimulates kids’ memories as they take on the challenge of recalling how each piece stacks to create the playful scene. My Activity House! incorporates multiple activities into a bright and My Magnetic Puzzle! Forest cheerful house to stimulate kids’ desire to learn. Kids can twist the gears or turn the hands on the clock. Available in City and Forest themes, My Activity House! encourages problem-solving skills with a shape sorter and four wooden shapes. A removable roof panel provides access into the house, allowing kids to store the pieces and explore its multiple uses. All I Need Backpacks! are available in Mr. Wu the Owl, Happy the Dog, Cookie the Turtle, and Jerry the Cat. The cheerful characters allow kids to bring a friend with them wherever they go. The backpacks each feature adjustable straps, a large back pocket, and a write-on name tag. The soft and lightweight backpacks are made from easy-to-clean and water-resistant neoprene material.
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Infant & Preschool Hasbro Lets Kids Rock Out with Elmo
here are three ways to play with the Elmo Guitar, from Hasbro. Toddlers ages 18 months to 4 years can sing along with Elmo to “This Old Man,” “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” and “Elmo’s ABC Song,” or they can switch into free play mode and jam on the light-up keys and whammy bar. Kids can also switch modes to play a color game with Elmo. Toddlers can sing out and sing loud with Super Grover on the Super Grover Microphone. This brightly colored microphone features Super Grover singing “Old MacDonald,” “Wheels on the Bus,” and “Happy and You Know It.” The Elmo Bath Adventure Steamboat is a five-inone bath toy for kids ages 18 months to 4 years. The cabin is a water scoop, the smoke stack is a strainer, the hull floats, Captain Elmo floats and squirts water, and the paddle wheel suctions to the tub wall. This spring, Grover and Bert will join the Sesame Street mini plush collection. Kids ages 1 and up can take these soft and cuddly pals on the go. The Sesame Street Racers Assortment features new vehicle two-packs that include Elmo driving an ice cream truck and Oscar in a recycling truck, and Ernie driving a tow truck and Big Bird behind the wheel of a school bus. Additional duos include Super Grover and Cookie Monster, Big Bird and Elmo, and Ernie and Cookie Monster.
Elmo Bath Adventure Steamboat
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Mega Bloks First Builders Fold ’n Go Musical Farm
Little Hands Can Build Big with Mega Bloks First Builders
ega Bloks First Builders introduces new themes and characters to its preschool construction line, which will be available at all major retailers in the fall. Little builders can create rescue scenes with the Mix ’n Match City Rescue Center, featuring the Mega Bloks First Builders Fast Tracks Rescue Squad, which includes 100 pieces with three buildable cars and adjustable tracks. Mega Bloks First Builders Learning Train and Learning Cubes sets feature number and picture stickers for mixing and matching, along with different themes, blocks, and accessories to help toddlers identify objects with words, numbers, shapes, and colors. The Fold ’n Go Musical Farm plays 24 farm songs and animal sounds for children to enjoy as they build and play. The set includes a Farmer Block Buddy, two animal Block Buddies, a tractor, and 15 First Builders blocks with storage and a fold-and-go feature. Mega Bloks Junior Builders themed bags, for kids ages 2 to 5, include blocks, special parts, and a figurine in each set. They feature a storage bag and fun themes, such as Fun Farming Day, Cool Construction Site, Firestation Rescue, and Pretty Pony Stable.
Visit us at Toy Fair Booth # 5521
Infant & Preschool Alex Toys Gets into the Groove
lex Toys will launch the Sound & Play Busy Table, designed for babies ages 18 months and up. They can pound, slide, peek, explore, and make music utilizing eight fun activities, including a xylophone and a drum. Up to three kids can play at a time with this whimsical, modern toy. Features include two peek-aboo doors, spinning gears, a curvy bead maze, two track sliders, and a wooden mallet. With the Tots Finger Paint Party, kids ages 18 months and up can channel their inner aspiring artist. This big bucket of finger painting fun is filled with six plastic finger-paint tools, four colors of finger paint, four colored paint trays, and a plastic apron. Alex will also add the Bubbalooka Bubble Horn to its Rub a Dub bath toy collection for kids ages 2 and up. Sound & Play Busy Table
Hedstrom Lets Little Ones Touch, Squeeze, and Stack
vailable in both three- and four-packs, Sensory Light Up Balls, from Hedstrom, are great for sensory development. Bells, glitter, confetti, beads, and lights fill each ball to gain kids’ attention. The Sensory Fun Cube is a versatile sensory cube with tactile features on the outside and openings in which to drop foam letters, numbers, and shapes. It can be taken apart and pieced back together into a fun barnyard puzzle. Sensory Stakkups are versatile, stackable cups that offer a safe and fun way to increase coordination and gross motor skills. Little ones can build a tower, hide Sensory Bumpeez things underneath, or nest them together for easy storage and clean up. Sensory Wobblerz have specially weighted bases that ensure they stand up straight; playful chimes that engage a child’s auditory system; stacking rings that develop hand-eye coordination and sequencing skills; bright colors providing visual stimulation; and soft, fuzzy fabric and shiny ribbon accents, which encourage little hands to explore. Sensory Softeez are soft, textured plush balls with vibrant colors and patterns that can be used for playtime or naptime. Their bright colors provide visual stimulation, while the soft, fuzzy fabric and shiny ribbon accents encourage little hands to explore. Sensory Bumpeez are balls with easy-to-grasp bumps to help kids hold, toss, or roll the ball. They have soft fabric construction, clear plastic ends containing colorful beads that rattle during play, and bright colors and bold patterns that help engage a developing sense of vision and curiosity. At first glance, the Sensory Revers-i-Ball looks like a regular plush ball, but after unzipping the side panel and turning it inside out, the ball becomes a fun, colorful cube.
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Tiny Love Encourages Sensory Stimulation
ach Gymini mat, from Tiny Love, encourages babies to independently explore his or her environment and discover sensory surprises. The Gymini Developlace is a stylish and versatile activity center that converts from a floor mat to a crawling tunnel to keep kids engaged from infancy through the toddler years. As a floor activity center, newborns can play on their backs as they bat and grab at colorful dangling toys with ease. The dangling toys can be repositioned so parents can keep the environment interesting and stimulating. The Gymini Developlace also promotes tummy time with vibrant mat graphics and activities, including peek-a-boo. As infants start to move and crawl, the sides fold up to create a tunnel for added play value. The sides double as activity walls with drop play and 1-2-3 soft cards, among other activities.
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Infant & Preschool Cloud b Twinkles into Toy Fair
he new Twinkling Firefly Frog, from Cloud b, has fireflies in its belly to create a magical glow that helps ease kids’ fear of the dark. With its crown-topped head and soft, sweet charm, this special friend offers enchanting playtime fun. The soothing sounds of rain, crickets, and a lullaby melody enhance the nighttime experience, helping kids transition from playtime to bedtime. The 45-minute timer offers a convenient way to ensure darkness and silence during kids’ deep sleeps. Cloud b brings an out-of-this-world experience to bedtime with a combination of soothing sight and sound with the Cosmic UFO. The UFO features moving projections of the Northern lights and cosmic sounds, transforming any child’s room into a personalized planetarium. The brightness and movement settings can be adjusted to customize the experience in any room. The UFO has a 23-minute timer. Bernie the Watchdog is an interactive plush puppy that helps ease kids’ fear of the dark. Featuring smart sensor technology, Bernie is on alert to deliver comforting lights and soothing phrases for little ones who wake up in the middle of the night. When a child vocalizes, the emergency barrel Bernie holds under his chin instantly lights up and he responds with different comforting phrases and melodies to help soothe kids back to sleep. The Stay Asleep Sheep helps children understand when it’s time to stay in bed and when it’s time to wake up. Featuring a friendly-faced alarm clock at its core, this interactive plush engages kids while delivering gentle reminders for bedtime and playtime. The Stay Asleep Sheep was developed in conjunction with the Sleep Lady Kim West. Twilight Firefly Frog
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Under the Sea i-Mat
Creative Baby Enters the iGeneration
he Alphabet i-Mat, from Creative Baby, is an interactive foam mat made out of four interlocking soft sections embedded with technology to use with the Creative Baby Voice Pen. Preschoolers will learn pronunciations, phonics, and letter recognition in English, Spanish, and Mandarin. The Under the Sea i-Mat lets kids discover aquatic animals, including seahorses and seals. The World of Eric Carle i-Table comes with two mats that serve as a table top, both featuring The Very Hungry Caterpillar and familiar friends from Eric Carle’s books. On one table mat, kids can point to the caterpillar’s middle, which resembles a piano keyboard. Kids can point with the Voice Pen and listen to eight musical notes or point to the ABCs to hear the alphabet song or learn letters one-by-one. When kids point to the caterpillar’s apple, pears, plums, and strawberries, they get a colorful math lesson counting from 1 to 5. Other activities teach shapes, colors, addition, and subtraction.
From Playtime to Bathtime, B kids Is Full of Magical Surprises
he Hippo-Poppin’ Piano Pal, from B kids, has lots of fun surprises for kids ages 1 and up to discover. Babies will have a blast as they drop one of three colorful balls through the opening on the top and watch it pop out of the hippo’s mouth, which will open and close at random. Three musical key notes magically light up. The Spray ’n Play Fountain takes bathtime to a whole new level. The floating base becomes a fountain that can create different spray effects and patterns when the included sea animals are swapped or stacked. This fun toy for kids ages 1 and up features a whale, an octopus, and a turtle. Both products will be available this spring. Hippo-Poppin’ Piano Pal
Kids Can Build Their Own Worlds with Lego
ego will introduce sets to its Lego Duplo Farm line that help kids learn about animals. With the Baby Calf farmyardthemed set, kids can help Grandma look after the baby calf. Zoo Care includes a girl zookeeper figure, a bear, a fish, and assorted bricks for role play. With the Farm Tractor, kids can lift the trailer bucket, unload the food, and help the farmer feed the cow. All Lego Duplo Farm products are for kids ages 2 and up. Lego Duplo Legoville expands with new play sets. Farm Animals allows kids to build the shelter and explore the world of farm animals, while Big Farm includes buildable models of a barn, a farmhouse, a stable, and two figures. Other Legoville sets include My First Police Set, where kids can stop a thief and throw him in the police station jail, and My First Shop, where the friendly shopkeeper has everything the customer needs, including fruits, vegetables, bread, milk, and flowers. All Legoville sets are for kids ages 2 and up. Lego Duplo’s creative play toys include the Lego Duplo All-in-One Gift Set, All-in-One-Box-of-Fun, All-in-One PinkBox-of-Fun, Creative Animals, Toddler Build and Boat Fun, Creative Picnic, and Creative Ice Cream, encouraging kids ages 18 months and up to expand their imaginations. Little princesses can build the world of Sleeping Beauty with Sleeping Beauty’s Fairytale, featuring a magical castle tower and Merryweather’s forest cottage. The Lego Duplo line will also feature new vehicles, including an ambulance, a truck, a big front loader, and a garbage truck for kids ages 2 and up. The Lego Juniors line introduces the Vehicle Suitcase and House Suitcase for kids ages 4 and up. Both sets include more than 145 colorful elements that all fit into a handy case. Little superheroes can save the world with the Lego Juniors Spider-Man Spider-Car Pursuit and Batman Defend the Batcave. Kids ages 4 and up can build the Spider-Car or the Batcave and Batmobile for crime-fightLego Duplo ing fun. Each comes with minifigures and weapons. Big Farm
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Infant & Preschool International Playthings Creates Bathtime Fun
Winfun Has Tots Wiggling and Giggling
he Wiggle ’n Giggle Caterpillar, from Winfun, scoots across the floor, encouraging kids ages 1 and up to crawl after it. This action-packed caterpillar moves when a child touches the buttons on the infrared apple-shaped controller. There are sound effects and melody buttons to push for fun sounds. Flashing lights add to the excitement and encourage repeated use.
nternational Playthings’ Beezeebee Zeeland lets kids ages 1 and up create their own imaginary island in or out of the tub. Beezeebee Zeeland suctions securely to any smooth surface and includes four colorful friends that fit in the holes and squirt water.
Fisher-Price Promotes Learning Through Play
isher-Price will debut the Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Chair, which features Smart Stages learning, a new technology that lets parents change the learning as their baby grows. The magic ABC seat knows when a baby sits and stands, activating interactive learning songs and phrases. The chair features a light-up remote, a flip book, and a lift-up cushion that teaches babies about numbers, shapes, and more. The Smart Stages Chair offers three learning levels of play that include fresh songs, phrases, and sounds that match the needs of little ones ages 6 months to 3 years. Fisher-Price’s Little People Musical Preschool features an outside entry and lots of places to discover action and musical rewards. The set, for kids ages 1 to 5, features an art easel, a hamster wheel, a dino, and a fish tank. The Peppa Pig Singing Ballerina Peppa is dressed as a prima ballerina. Kids can give this soft friend a squeeze and she’ll talk and sing a sweet ballerina song. Peppa Pig Peppa’s Ballet Bag is a bag full of everything Peppa needs for her ballet recital. She can warm up on the ballet barre and choose one of three tutus to wear on stage. A mirror is also included. Both Peppa Pig toys are suitable for kids ages 3 and up. New from Fisher-Price’s Julius Jr. line, which features characters from the Paul Frank brand, is the Julius Jr. Rock ’n Playhouse Box, designed for kids ages 2 and up. The play set features lights and sounds on every floor and includes a 3-inch Julius Jr. figure, an art table, a keyboard, a microphone, a skateboard and a ramp, and a rocket. It can connect to other Julius Jr. play sets.
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Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Chair
Infant & Preschool ThinkFun Gets Babies into the Groove
ove & Groove, from ThinkFun, inspires movement, creativity, laughter, and learning for babies ages 18 months and up. The game introduces little ones to the basics of game play and the joy of movement without the pressure of competition. Players toss the plush cube to determine the color, choose a matching colored card, and perform the given move. There’s no right or wrong way to boogie, so babies can use their imagination while improving balance, coordination, and flexibility.
Edushape Shapes Up Educational Fun
ids can use Edushape’s Lady Bug Sorter on a table, the floor, a bed, or in the bath. The Ladybug Sorter can float on its firm Edu-Foam lily pad bottom and includes six unique shapes for sorting fun and learning. Shapes ’n Shadows lets kids take hand shadows to the next level. Shapes ’n Shadows builds on the entertaining fun of simple shadows with a self-standing 13- by 11.5-inch Theater Screen and 24 pieces that snap together in different ways to form ever-changing shadow puppet creatures. Using any available type of illumination, such as a window or a flashlight, Shapes ’n Shadows encourages role playing, storytelling, creativity, and building skills. Build ’n Play Forest is an easy construction Edu-Foam puzzle that becomes a fun forest tree that includes two seesaw balancing branches. Kids can use the included Edushape animals and food pieces to balance the branches just right. Chicky Fun Puzzle doubles as both a puzzle and a sensory balance, open-ended stacking toy. Open-ended construction doesn’t create any expectations, since there is no right or wrong way to play. Starting as an 11- by 11-inch puzzle with rounded shapes to match, the puzzle eventually progresses to a patterned balancing toy using shapes that require more thought than most puzzles or blocks. Kids must name the animal by its coat pattern in Animal Memory Match. Each of the 24 squares has an animal’s coat pattern on one side and the animal on the other. The game helps build pattern recognition and association skills, and can be used during bathtime. In addition to these new products, Edushape has revamped its package design this year. Edushape’s new white packages’ fronts are designed to draw the customers’ eyes toward the product in the box. Developmental icons on the package represent each toy’s developmental aspects, with each skill titled for easy comprehension. The side, top, and bottom colors are consistent within each category; For example, all baby/toddler products are red and water toys are blue. New live image and animation design themes appeal to both children and adults, and all package text is trilingual.
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Gorgeous Products Balances Fun and Skill Development
he Boikido Wooden Flying Saucer Pull Toy, from Gorgeous Products, helps kids take their first steps. The saucer promotes balancing and encourages walking. Kids can watch the flying saucer’s head move as it is dragged along. The Boikido Wooden Comet Pull Toy promotes balancing and encourages walking. Kids can watch the comet tail go up and down, and hear the click-clack noise as it is dragged along. The Boikido Wooden Balance Game Circus is a fun game of nine circus characters and shapes that will help kids develop motor skills and color recognition. The game also helps kids name animals and learn shapes. The kid that stacks the characters on the base as high as possible without collapsing in the shortest time is the winner. Boikido Wooden Multi-Activity Center is easy to carry. The bead coaster, shape sorter, maze, and puzzle are all crucial elements in developing hand-eye coordination, problem solving, and fine motor skills. Kids can take this center along with them on the go.
Boikido Wooden Multi-Activity Center
Cartwheel Kids Has a Sweet Café Galt Toys Softens Playtime
alt Toys’ Playnest Gym & Farm is a soft, multi-sensory environment with a farm scene around the Playnest and the Gym as the sky above. The Playnest is a fabriccovered inflatable ring that supports babies during play. Babies can explore textures and sounds in the four Gym toys and the eight activities around the Playnest while developing hand-eye coordination and manipulative skills.
he Hello Kitty Cupcake Café, from Cartwheel Kids, is a two-in-one kitchen and café. The café features stylish detailing that is customized by the world of Hello Kitty. The café includes an “open” sign, menus, a fabric awning, an ice-maker, a light-up oven, and sweet treats to serve. A baking pan, two play cupcakes, a serving tray, a spoon, a coffee pot, a timer, and a cup are also included. The Peter Rabbit Playset helps kids discover and play out their favorite stories from Nickelodeon’s Peter Rabbit series in a fun tree fort. Peter Rabbit can swing in the tire swing, take flight on the hang glider, or make an escape down the slide. This play set encourages motor skill learning and creative play. Hello Kitty Cupcake Café
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Why Children PL AY the Way They Do PART 2 Core Play Patterns in Kids Ages 0 to 2 by Nancy Zwiers, CEO, Funosophy Inc.
n last month’s issue of The Toy Book, Part 1* of this series discussed that children have a biologically based inner play drive that transcends time, geography, and culture. The Funosophy Play Theory introduced the concept that play is nature’s way of ensuring that our brains get wired in a systematic, predictable way, as children progress through three age-based stages of play. In this follow-up, we will delve more deeply into the first stage and examine core play patterns of children ages 0 to 2 years. (Note that the age breaks in the chart below are not discrete break points, but rather they represent a bell curve—some kids are earlier and some are later in transitioning to the next stage.)
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Infants and Toddlers (0 to 2 Years of Age) The primary role of play for infants and toddlers is to help them to structure their knowledge of the physical world. The brain circuit that supports development of the five senses and the ability to move one’s body through physical space—the sensorimotor system—gives rise to the first core play patterns that we all share throughout our lives. We never outgrow our desire to explore and discover and to master new abilities. This inner drive is how nature ensures we learn and grow.
Exploration & Discovery • Children are driven to explore their immediate environment, which in turn stimulates their five senses. The brain circuits for wiring our senses get developed in this way. For infants, the proximity senses (touch, taste, and smell) are the most important initially, while our distance senses of sight and sound grow in importance as infants grow older. Currently, with all our emphasis on lights and sound, the tactile nature of toys may be underdeveloped except for toys targeted to kids who are older than 6 to 9 months. • Part of exploring the environment is developing an understanding of the law of cause and effect, and of one’s own self as “agent” in the world—“When I do this, that happens,” etc. All the button-pushing feature sets of infant and toddler toys support this learning.
Mastery • Mastery play at this age is focused on developing motor skills—mastering our ability to move our limbs and bodies through physical space (gross motor skills) and manipulating objects in 3-D space with our hands (fine motor skills). The brain development needed to master motor skills in 3-D space is the foundation for all cognitive functions of the brain (even abstract thinking) and cannot be overemphasized. This is why screen play should be minimized for infants and toddlers. • Put-and-take play is one of the most engrossing play patterns for toddlers—this is when children methodically put things into a “container” and take them back out. This play supports exploration of the concept of containers, volume, up, down, etc., which is the foundation for much abstract thinking later on. Of course, the mastery of object manipulation involved also develops fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination. • Mastery play also shows up in higher order cognitive and language development. Children learning to listen, speak, and sing are playfully learning language. Early cognitive development includes learning ABCs and 123s, as well as the foundation of basic categorization, which is a key mechanism for how our brains work with concepts. In other words, children learn to categorize the objects in their world (e.g., dog). Categorizing concrete objects—ones that can be physically interacted with—is a level of categorization that young children can understand.
Imitation • We all have mirror neurons in our brains that drive us to mirror behaviors and emotions around us. The 1995 discovery of these specialized neurons has led scientists to hypothesize that they are the engine of socialization, turbo-charging our evolutionary progress. We no longer have to learn by direct experience—we can learn from others. • As we all know, children love to imitate. Children become rapidly socialized by observing and imitating those around them, and who they are attuned to imitate evolves with age. Among toddlers, imitation role play is largely spurred by parents’ behaviors: baby care, cooking, cleaning, drinking tea,
Fisher-Price’s Little People Disney Princess Klip Klop Stable, for kids ages 18 months and up, stimulates multiple senses through baby’s play.
talking on the phone, driving, using power tools. These parentmodeled behaviors show up in children’s play, and new parental behaviors, such as interacting with screens, create new role-play toy opportunities.
Evolution of Play Patterns These three early play patterns—exploration and discovery, mastery, and imitation—are evolutionarily proven ways for wiring our brains for survival. They show up from our earliest moments as newborns and, while they stay with us for life, they will never be as strong as they are in early childhood. Toys that tap into these innate drives will engage children best. In our next installment of the series, we will explore how these initial fundamental play patterns get overshadowed by new play patterns that emerge in kids ages 3 to 7. Imaginary play begins to dominate as children approach the age of 3, and in contrast to infant/toddler play, play at this age becomes highly gender-based. ■ Nancy Zwiers is CEO and chief funosopher of Funosophy Inc., a brand-building consulting firm in the play industry. Founded in 2000, Funosophy conducts extensive research in the area of kids and play and has advised more than 150 clients ranging from start-ups to established companies. Prior to founding Funosophy, Zwiers held top executive positions with Mattel, including senior vice president of worldwide marketing for Barbie. *To read Part 1 of this article, see page 50 in the December/January 2014 issue of The Toy Book.
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The Technology Trickle-Down Effect at by Reyne Rice, toy trends analyst and consultant
he International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the world’s largest digital technology trade show and playground, was held on January 7 to 10 in Las Vegas. The show covered more than 2 million square feet and featured 25 different TechZones—six more than in the prior year—for more than 15 categories of products. There were also more than 150,000 attendees, with nearly a quarter of those being trade guests from global markets. We uncovered smart devices and products that will soon be found in family homes, cars, offices, pockets, and pocketbooks worldwide. These technologies will have a profound impact on kids and families over the next two years through what we refer to as “the trickledown effect”: Kids watch closely as their parents, caregivers, educators, celebrities, and other role models use technology products, and soon they want to pretend play with real technology as well. One of the most buzzed-about concepts at International CES was the interconnected, emerging Internet of Things (IoT). This connectivity network involves not only smart devices that have computer chips built into them, but also seemingly everyday physical objects that can communicate with each other without any human interaction. Last year, it is estimated that more than 10 billion physical objects—from traffic signals and in-vehicle technologies to health and wellness tracking devices and ingestible monitoring medications—were connected to one another. This number is projected to grow exponentially, reaching 50
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Left: MiP, on display at International CES, is a robotic innovation from WowWee in association with University of California at San Diego’s Coordinated Robots Lab.
billion connected physical objects by 2050. Many of the connections between objects will involve kids’ toys, games, and devices. Interesting creative applications and new arenas for toy research and development became apparent in walking the International CES floor, attending the press preview events, and scouring all the various TechZones. The Robotics TechZone, which focused on engineering,
science, and artificially intelligent and capable products for kids and adults, brought 3-D robots and intelligent systems to life. WowWee, Vex IQ, PlayI, Ozobot, and Tosy Robotics were just some of the companies that showed off amazing new toys in this particular arena. The new 3-D Printing TechZone launched the latest in hardware and software products that bring the future of printing and 3-D layering to life. Though still relatively young, 3-D printing capabilities have already impacted the toy industry by making the process of creating samples more efficient and cost effective, and possible at earlier stages in the product development cycle. At International CES 2014, MakerBot offered software packages for as low as $1.99 for a single design download, while the hardware is currently priced at less than $1,500 per unit. As prices decrease, additional commercial uses will likely be implemented. It’s fascinating to imagine where 3-D printing could lead retailers as far as in-store demos, classes, and paid development for both the makers and do-it-yourself consumers within their local communities. Other new TechZones included FashionWare, Wrist Revolution, and Fitness Tech. All three highlighted the newest trends in fashionable mobile technology and fitness and activity trackers. Wearable technology is consistently moving toward more compact and portable form factors, and new applications that make sense from a consumer useability perspective. Currently, these include tech-infused fashion clothing, rechargeable and solar-powered backpacks and carry cases, and embedded technology in smart eyewear, wristwatches, and jewelry. But flexible and curved screens and other lightweight and portable connected form factors will soon be reflected in children’s toy products as well. In addition, there were more than 30 tablet computers— mostly targeted to kids ages 3 to 9—on display. Boasting age-appropriate content, Wi-Fi connectivity, and powerful parental controls, most include both educational and entertainment content preloaded onto the devices. Look for our annual round-up of the latest tablets and technology devices for kids, focusing on the newest versions of kids’ tablets, smartphones for kids, smart-watches, and wearable forms of technology, in an upcoming issue of The Toy Book. By staying abreast of these new advancements in technology, retailers can keep their product mixes fresh and timely, and appeal to tech-enthusiast parents and their curious, digitally adept children. n
“Last year, it is estimated that more than 10 billion physical objects—from traffic signals to in-vehicle technologies, from health and wellness tracking devices to ingestible monitoring medications—were connected to one another.” Reyne Rice is an industry professional with 30 years of experience in marketing, researching, and analyzing the toy industry and youth marketplace. She advises clients, consumers, broadcast and print media, and trade associations on the hottest trends in toys, games, technology, entertainment, and licensing as it affects the youth marketplace. She can be contacted at www.reynerice.com.
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State of the Industry
How 3-D Printers Work
Good News and Bad News
Originating with a 1986 patent, Chuck Hull, the founder of 3-D Systems, created 3-D printing, or “stereolithography” that used a beam of ultraviolet light to solidify successive thin layers of liquid plastic—additive manufacturing. The 3-D printer works much like a regular 2-D printer, but while the inkjet printer sprays ink onto the page, the 3-D printer deposits layers of material—usually plastic—atop one another. A printer can deposit a polymer that hardens when it is exposed to ultraviolet light in successive layers with a degree of accuracy equal to a print resolution of 600 dots per inch. The printer builds the succession of layers, the layers are fused, and the fabricated object is treated and hardened to form objects, such as toys. One computer expert highlighted in a Forbes article has built a type of universal connector for plastic building toys, for example. The blueprint for the toy could be a 3-D design file, which can be independently designed using a computer -assisted design (CAD) program or scanned from one of the existing toys. The scanner measures the object vertically, with succeeding thin horizontal scans. Computer software then reads the file as cross-sections, which are printed in sequence, creating the product layer by layer. Size and complexity depend only upon the printer. Although plastic is the most common material for 3-D printer output, the printers can be adapted to materials including silicone, cement, stainless steel, glass, metals, ceramics—even cake frosting, cheese, and chocolate. Such printers have also made products ranging from batteries to bicycle and toy parts.
Like most new technologies, 3-D printing presents both an opportunity and a threat for toy manufacturers. Because 3-D printers lower the per-unit cost of manufacturing, this innovation can help manufacturers produce toys for a much lower cost. In addition, 3-D printers allow the manufacture of personalized images as toys, like a 3D photograph. But since 3-D printers also allow individual consumers to copy and print consumer products, including toys and replacement parts for toys—and with some printers selling for less than $1,000—3-D scanning and printing offers an easy, though usually unlawful, way to copy patented or copyrighted designs. Responsive manufacturers need to protect themselves against theft of their intellectual property.
“Manufacturers need to protect themselves against theft of their intellectual property.”
246 • THE TOY BOOK
The Legal Questions For toy manufacturers, the 3-D printer can seem like printing money—only in reverse. The toy company’s innovations and investment are incorporated in a scan of the product, which can be printed on a home computer. But unlike counterfeit money—which can be stopped by technology used to trace the counterfeiter—the vast number of product designs for toys alone makes that kind of protection impossible. Even though copyright, design, and/or utility patents generally could cover a scanned design, enforcement would be extremely difficult. (See Raising the Bar, “Copyright or Design Patent?” January/February 2010 and “The Courts Toy with Copyrights,” September 2008.) There’s an important lesson to be learned from how the music industry proceeded when music file sharing proliferated. Many copyright holders embarked on a wide campaign of suing end users—customers. And many of these customers were, in fact, children.
Copyright As with traditionally manufactured infringing goods, toy companies can protect their copyrighted designs by suing infringers. Some toys only have limited copyright protection,
because concepts and ideas are not The Solutions protectable. But if a toy company can Combating commercial counterovercome the hurdle always present in feiters—those printing large numbers toy copyright enforcement—mainly, of toys for sale—will be more difficult showing that its copyright covers a than it is today because counterfeitseparable part or aspect of the toy that ing will be easier, more mobile, is not “useful” and thus protectable— cheaper, and stealthier. But for indithen asserting copyright should be viduals who are 3-D printing toy deable to stop an infringer, large or signs protected by patent or small. In fact, bringing actions against copyright, enforcement will be excommercial parties that use 3-D printtremely difficult and unrewarding, as ers to make infringing toys is no difmusic publishers learned after chasferent from suing any infringing ing teenagers who were downloading competitor. But most toy companies music. Toy manufacturers would be probably would hesitate to target their wise to consider how to protect their own customers—the kids who print products before 3-D printing becomes the toys at home, or their parents. a household infringing enterprise. MakerBot Thing-O-Matic 3-D Printer Toy companies can also protect 3-D Whether or not products are covered printing digital files, bringing actions against producers by patents or copyrights, manufacturers could seek enof a toy design file—which can also be protected by copy- forcement of their rights against hosting sites such as right, much like an architectural design—that is used in Thingiverse and Shapeways if there is indeed a violation the printer. However, enforcement may be difficult, be- of registered rights, as is the case with copyright incause CAD files, like MP3s, can be easily transferred and fringement of music, films, and other media. Whereas copied. Individuals can also scan actual toys to make the iTunes eventually emerged as a kind of win-win option for design files. the music industry, a similar arrangement for selling licensed printable design files for products on a per-use basis could allow toy manufacturers to retain control over Patents Because patents cover useful articles as well as or- their intellectual property. But, as Mattel told The Wall namental designs, many toys can be protected by both Street Journal, toy manufacturers cannot ensure that toys utility and design patents. Printing, or scanning and then printed on home 3-D printers will meet safety standards. printing, a toy covered by a patent would be direct in- So toy makers will have to solve that problem before they ■ fringement. For example, a website such as Shapeways, can sell 3-D software files to consumers. that will actually fabricate and sell products, could be liable for patent infringement if it made or sold a patented Howard N. Aronson has provided legal counsel to toy invention. Enforcement is more straightforward because industry companies for the past 30 years. He is the manpatent infringement does not require knowledge of the existence of the infringed patent. Unlike copyright, patents aging partner of Lackenbach Siegel LLP, an intellectual allow no exception for “fair use” of a protected invention. property law firm recognized for its nine decades of hanHowever, toy companies still face the dilemma of suing dling toy company issues. Contact Aronson at haronson@LSLLP.com or (914) 723-4300. individual infringers—their customers.
THE TOY BOOK • 247
State of the Industry continued from page 58
“Reports of the death of toys have been greatly exaggerated. As I see it, the future of toys is also the future of man.”
the microprocessor enabled the creation of many new types of toys and games. Certainly, toys will be increasingly interconnected, both to each other and to the Internet. For example, toys will eventually become virtual through the user donning a “holodeck” set of glasses that creates an entire 3-D environment, in which toys are apps to be downloaded for play. Though I can’t say exactly what Toys 4.0 will look like, one thing I know is that people have played with toys forever and will continue to do so. To summarize, toys are as basic as breathing and they will Reports of the death of toys have been greatly exaggerated. As never go out of style. I don’t make this statement as a self-servI see it, the future of toys is ing validation of my own also the future of man. livelihood; rather, I say it as I’m not inclined to use my answer to the question I this space to lay out what was asked: What is the fuLund and Co.’s plans are, ture of toys? My answer is but there sure are lots of big, bright, bold, endless whiz-bang new toy ideas toys—and not just toys that kept under lock and key in light up, roll over, hug, or our vault in Chicago. Some embrace cultural diversity. will become hits, while othNo, the future of toys is all ers may not find their target of those things and more. audience. My challenge is So for those of us who not to convince people that love toys and the toy busithey need toys or they need ness, don’t chase an idea to have fun; those characthat is rooted in selling Bruce D. Lund with some of his new toys teristics are hard-coded into units or making profits. Exeveryone’s DNA. Liking toys is not a cultural or socio-economic pand your mind. Observe, listen, smell, and use your creativissue (although there is, admittedly, an access issue). At their ity and humanness to connect. core, people play, and I believe people will always play. n Toys 4.0: It’s coming to a toy store near you. The question in this new evolving 4.0 era is: How do we capture minds and hearts? Is it through focus groups, movie Bruce D. Lund has been a constant champion of the toy intie-ins, and reality TV show placements? Yes, yes, and yes— dustry for more than 30 years, and both he and his team have but will marketing endeavors lead us to what defines the future of toys? No, marketing leads us to take operational actions invented some of the hottest toys and games on the market. After such as design, optimization, manufacturing, distribution, and a brief stint at the Marvin Glass & Associates studio in Chicago, making money. Does marketing work? Yes! Can it help? Yes! Lund started his own toy design and product invention comDoes marketing create markets? No. When someone pretends pany. He has created hundreds of toys and games, including they can predict the future, they become less credible. If they TMX Elmo, Baby Alive Sip ’n Slurp, Baby Alive Yummy Treats, could really predict the future—in toys, stocks, sports, rela- Uno Roboto, Dino Construction Company, M3 Master Moves Mickey, and more. tionships—they would be a deity.
248 • THE TOY BOOK
International Toy Industry
The World of Licenses by Scarlett Wisotzki, editor in chief, das Spielzeug; German member, International Toy Magazine Association
e it from a blockbuster movie, TV show, app, or an original brand, manufacturers like to adapt and capitalize on successful characters for kids. Despite regional differences, the major themes seem to work well across international borders. We have been keeping our ears close to the ground for both current and emerging themes. Last year, it was family feature films with established characters that inspired toy makers to create new licensed products in a host of different areas. Launching a diversity of action figures, cuddly toys, games, and models, they gave kids the opportunity to immerse themselves in the
“The global potential of the licensing business is very promising. Experts expect this year to be the strongest year in recent history for toys tied to movies.”
250 • THE TOY BOOK
world of films such as Iron Man 3, Monsters University, Despicable Me 2, and Planes. “Planes is also growing in Sweden,” says Lena Hedö, editor in chief of Swedish toy magazine Leksaks Revyn. “In addition, Hasbro’s My Little Pony is experiencing a comeback.” She also points out that the licensing market also has other avenues, as steady local heroes such as Pippi Longstocking show. Similarly, the key European markets all seem to have their own characters, such as
Besides global themes, each country has its own licensing stars. For example, the animal characters from Dezico in China.
Horrid Henry in the UK, Die Maus in Germany, and Titeuf in France. “Licensed toys account for about 25 percent of the overall toy market in Poland,” says Anna Wakulak, editor in chief of Polish trade magazine Swiat Zabawek. Successful trends there include app stars Angry Birds, Mattel’s Monster High, the newly styled Minnie Mouse, and Star Wars.
Balala the Fairies targets girls. The global potential of the licensing business is very promising. Experts expect this year to be the strongest year in recent history for toys tied to movies. “[This year], we think Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be strong, and maybe the first Lego movie as well,” says Hedö. The latter is a 3-D animated adventure based on a story centered around the Lego construction sets, featuring popular and new figures. To mark the occasion, Lego will launch a line of its own, which will be complemented by a diverse range of products from licensees worldwide. Sequels to successful films will equally define the business in the near future. Accordingly, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Jurassic Park 4, Transformers 4, and the last part of the The Hobbit trilogy will soon appear on cinema screens. In 2015, cinema-goers will meet old friends such as Charlie Brown and Snoopy, as announced in October by Peanuts Worldwide. This will be preceded by 500 completely newly animated short stories based on the comics and characters created by Charles M. Schulz. The new collection will be available for global distribution this fall. ■
Disney Tops the List Star Wars remains a best-seller. It ranked second in the 2012 top 10 of the most successful merchandising themes in the American and Canadian licensing market, generating U.S. $1.47 billion in sales, second only to Disney Princess and ahead of Sanrio’s Hello Kitty. Having acquired Lucasfilm, Pixar, and Marvel, there is no doubt that Disney leads the field in this sector. The heroes of the American corporation are also high in the popularity stakes in Asia, alongside established local characters. The cartoon series Boonie Bears and Dezico, for example, appeal to younger kids in China. Armor Hero, on the other hand, offers plenty of action for boys, whereas
Lego construction sets and a diverse selection of licenses will coincide with the release of the Lego movie.
THE TOY BOOK • 251
International Toy Industry
German Quality from China: A Profile of Hape
by Scarlett Wisotzki, editor in chief, Das Spielzeug
ighteen years ago, Peter Handstein packed his bags and went to Ningbo, China to open a factory. Shaped very much by German virtues, his company has since grown into the world’s largest maker of wooden toys: Hape. “Even back then, people liked our designs, but choked on our prices,” says Handstein, explaining his reasoning for going abroad. In 1995, he erected his factory in Beilun, a district in Ningbo, though he did not speak Chinese or English. At the same time, Handstein knew, “If we wanted to make our mark on the Chinese market, we wouldn’t succeed with cheap products. If Europeans want to be successful in China, they have to go for quality.” Since those early days, Hape’s workforce in China has soared from 50 to 1,500 people, and the production site has grown from 8,000 square meters to 60,000 square meters. Meanwhile, the decision on location proved a wise one. Beilun is located 3 kilometers from one of the biggest container ports in the world. Filling 3,800 containers per year, Hape is extremely reliant on having excellent transport links. At the same time, the city has ballooned into a vibrant city with a population of 1.2 million. Today, Handstein still produces wooden toys for German manufacturers, as well as children’s play kitchens for a Swedish furniture store. “Anything small can grow into something big,” says Handstein, who is an ornamental blacksmith by trade. When it comes to Hape, however, the products must always be for children, reflect educational values, and be environmentally friendly.
consumption is also high priority. In the surface treatment phase of production, for example, water-based paints are rolled—rather than sprayed—onto the products. The company also has its own water purification system and even makes its own paper palettes, which are surprisingly strong and easy to recycle. Given that Handstein cannot work without suppliers, he pledges that, “anything we don’t produce ourselves is thoroughly checked.” To that end, more than 70 employees devote all their time to quality assurance. The natural materials used to make Hape’s toys include European beech wood, Russian birch, and Chinese bamboo. An entire collection can be made solely from bamboo, which grows to a height of 12 meters within just three months. Such is the material that an entire department will eventually be devoted to it, and just a few miles outside Beilun, the indefatigable company head owns a bamboo wood with lake access, enabling his guests to enjoy adventure weekends amid nature. The nearby village is home to a bamboo design shop, where UNESCO-aided product workshops are regularly held for young students. Plans are in the works to extend the site to accommodate additional facilities, such as a research center. “People in China attach more importance to education than to play,” says Handstein, who is trying to promote the benefits of play in China. “In addition to the educational aspects of a toy, nursery teachers are looking for quality and durability. Within the next five years, we intend to become the leading force in China’s nursery school market.”
Company Policy in Action
“The country I work in doesn’t dictate what or how I think.”
When visiting the Hape production facility, it is clear that the company lives by a philosophy of being environmentally sound and technologically efficient. Electricity and lighting are only used where and when needed, and low energy
Further showing his commitment to social projects, in 2003, Handstein, a 52-year-old father of two, joined forces with the local government of Guizhou, opening a school in China’s poorest region. Since then, he has also founded a nursery, a
252 • THE TOY BOOK
secondary, and a vocational school. The final apprenticeship year for students is spent working for Hape. ICTI, the certification body for humane working conditions, sees Hape as an exemplary business—providing everything from safety at work to strict working hours and fair pay. “Our workers are important links in the chain,” Handstein explains. This year, Käthe Kruse was taken under the company’s wing, and with it came a factory in Latvia. Another factory in Romania is currently under construction. To maintain high standards, plans are underway to swap staff between locations for limited time periods. “The country I work in doesn’t dictate what or how I think,” Handstein says. “The market is forever changing, with several manufacturing and retail companies currently coming up for sale.” The Hape Group is now represented on every continent, sells to 63 countries worldwide, and trades from more than 100 shop-in-shops. Ningbo’s major shopping malls are also home to Hape’s dedicated stores. In keeping with the motto, “Love.
Play. Learn,” the shops are welcoming environments, and customers can test the products. In Germany, sales and distribution are handled by Beleduc, and this system is gradually bearing fruit. The company also brings its appeal to the many trade fairs it attends. At the recent Spielwarenmesse, Hape unveiled its latest toy innovations, including the Creative Dream House with magnetic furniture that can be arranged and re-arranged; the space-saving All-in-One Kitchen, which has many attractive features; and the Pull-Along Hedgehog, which has a unique design children will love. n Scarlett Wisotzki is the editor in chief of the German trade magazine Das Spielzeug, a member of the International Toy Magazines Association (ITMA), which fosters regular cooperation among international colleagues. Wisotzki has witnessed many interesting developments in the toy trade and industry over the years, which never fail to fascinate her.
Editor’s Note ADVENTURE PUBLISHING GROUP, INC.®
Winter 2014 Table of Contents
Halloween in 2014
Halloween 2014 is shaping up to be a big success. Not only does the holiday fall on a Friday, driving adult costume and accessory sales, as well as home décor sales for all those Halloween parties, but sales are up in general year over year. This indicates a positive trend that will surely continue, especially with the holiday leading into a weekend. Retailers cleared out a lot of inventory last year, providing the ability to start with a relatively clean slate. Smart retailers are making room for a slightly larger inventory of indoor and outdoor decorations as home décor sales continue to rise. They’re making room for Fido, too. As the economy improves, consumers are finding a few extra dollars to dress their pets, and so this segment continues to grow. In this issue, we take a look back at what worked for Halloween 2013 and look ahead at trends and top costumes for 2014. We talked to manufacturers, retailers, and industry analysts to break it all down for you. Enjoy The Halloween Insider! —Jackie Breyer
Laurie Schacht and Jonathan Samet firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Jackie Breyer firstname.lastname@example.org
Marissa DiBartolo email@example.com
Phil Guie firstname.lastname@example.org
6 Halloween Stats 8 A Freaky Friday Means a Boost for Halloween 2014 12 H&P Expo Prepares for Another Great Show 14 Rubie’s Launches into 2014 with Perennial Favorites and Hot New Licenses 17 Expert Perspective: Howard Beige, Rubie’s Costume Co. 18 Retailer Spotlight: Costume SuperCenter 20 Las Vegas Halloween Show: The Adult Side of Halloween 21 Fun World Looks to Spook Up Sales in 2014 22 Home Décor Expands as More Consumers Deck Out Their Homes 23 Product Showcases 23 Home Décor 24 Adults’ Costumes 28 Kids’ Costumes 30 Accessories 33 Pet Costumes 34 Toys & Media
Ali Mierzejewski email@example.com
36 Industry Update
Christine Duhaime firstname.lastname@example.org
38 Flashback: Halloween 1994
Kara Faulk email@example.com
Anthony K. Guardiola firstname.lastname@example.org
All rights reserved. Reproduction in any form is prohibited without prior written consent of Adventure Publishing Group. All photographs, logos, and artwork are the property of their respective owners.
The Halloween Insider
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Stats Top 5 Adult Costume Searches (week ending October 19)
1. Minnie Mouse 2. Banana 3. Witch 4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle 5. Tinkerbell
of costume site visitors
Top 5 Costume Searches (week ending October 19)
1. Minion (Despicable Me) 2. Wonder Woman 3. Zombie 4. Mad Hatter 5. Tinkerbell
Top 5 Sites
receiving traffic from costume searches
• 53.5 percent female • Adults ages 18 to 24 are 68 percent more likely than the population as a whole to visit costume sites.
1. Costume Express 2. Spirit Halloween 3. BuyCostumes.com 4. Costume SuperCenter 5. Candy Apple Costumes
(week ending October 19)
• Minions were the most popular costume online for the second consecutive week. • Zombie joined the top five costumes overall for the week. • Banana joined the top five adult costumes this week.
The Halloween Insider
SOURCE: EXPERIAN MARKETING SERVICES (EMS)
Insider Look at Trends
a Freaky Friday Means a Boost for Halloween 2014 The forecast calls for more superheroes, all-in-one costumes, and weekend parties as more grown-ups take part in the festivities than in recent years.
by Phil Guie
ith 2013 on the books, there was plenty for
the Halloween industry to cheer about.
popular movies and TV shows dominated the holiday.
the National Retail Federation (NRF), and many retail-
loween season. According to survey data from the NRF,
Total spending is estimated to have
reached $6.9 billion for Halloween 2013, according to
ers reported slightly better sales compared to 2012,
which itself was a robust year. To put things in per-
spective, spending for Halloween 2012 was estimated
at $8 billion and participation was measured at 170 million people—an all-time high. Yet with this coming
Halloween falling on a weekend, the industry has rea-
son to believe that record could be broken.
Several experts have made their predictions re-
garding Halloween trends in the coming year,
the top costumes for adults, children, and even pets for
Halloween included Superman, Spider-Man, and Bat-
man. Approximately 2.9 million adults and 2.5 million
children said they were planning to dress up as a Bat-
Superheroes Still Hot, But Villains Get to Shine,Too
This coming year should bring even more super-
heroes to Halloween retail. Rubie’s Costume Co. has
should provide a signifcant boost for retail-
characters as Spider-Man and Captain America, both of
agreed that Halloween falling on a Friday
ers. The consensus is that more adults will
participate, meaning an increase in sales for
costumes and accessories, as well as for decorations and home décor to go with parties and social events.
“What our records show [is] a 6 to 8 percent in-
crease in everything connected to adults, which tends to be about a 4 or 5 percent increase in
Last year, big screen superhero blockbusters such as
Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel translated well to the Hal-
and while there was some disagreement on what will be in versus what is on the way out, all
Spider-Man Kids Costume, from Rubie’s Costume Co.
buy, the trends are largely similar to last year, when
overall Halloween [sales],” says Howard
Beige, executive vice president of Rubie’s Cos-
tume Co. With regards to exactly what consumers will
The Halloween Insider
the license for Marvel’s entire library of characters until
2016, and expects to do well with such recognizable whom are starring in films this year.
Bernice Nesbit, director of marketing at Disguise
Inc., says the company will also introduce a range of
costumes tied to upcoming Marvel Comics-based films, including the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy.
Nesbit singles out Guardians of the Galaxy as espe-
cially promising, since it introduces a ragtag group of
superheroes that have not gotten much exposure in costumes before. At the same time, the film is part of an
ongoing storyline that ties into last year’s Thor: The Dark
World, the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Sol-
dier, and 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. As such, it has
from the upcoming Transformers: Age of Extinction, Jake
going to be stronger than ever,” says Nesbit. She adds
tion and lights are constantly skewing younger, for rea-
a good chance to reach audiences and stir interest.
“I think superheroes are here to stay, and they’re
that Marvel Studios has done a great job of creating
characters that are both fantastic and relatable, making
them appealing as Halloween alter egos.
Non-superhero fantasy is looking to have a strong
year, too. Rubie’s has high hopes for its Star Wars,
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Wizard of Oz lines.
“The Wizard of Oz is usually a great property for fam-
ilies, where the entire family—children, parents, even
pets—can dress up,” Beige says.
Disguise has exclusive rights to Maleficent, the up-
from Jake and the Never Land Pirates, and Minnie Mouse. As a costume trend, features such as motion-activa-
sons including better technology and lower prices. “It
was ages 5 to 6, but now it’s 3 to 4,” says Nesbit. “Kids no longer have to push a button, but can just do what they want and the lights come on.”
Risque Is Historay?
While licensed character costumes look to be a
strong trend once again, what could be on the way out
is the “sexy” costume, long characterized by being
tight-fitting, low-cut, and packing a certain amount of
coming Walt Disney Pictures film starring Angelina
shock value. Recent years have seen “sexy” permeate
character’s iconic horns. “That should be a huge cos-
strength over other attributes.
Jolie as the villainess from the animated classic, Sleeping Beauty. Disguise will release a costume that includes the
tume next year,” says Nesbit, who points to dressing
up as fantasy villains as a trend on the rise.
Kids Are Lining Up for Licensing
Overall, experts predict kids’ costume sales will re-
main consistent with previous years. However, this
Halloween could see more parents and children in com-
all manner of different outfits; however, revelers may
now be looking for better-fitting costumes that convey The Internet search term, “sexy costumes,” actually
declined last year, according to Bill Tancer, general
manager of global research at Experian Marketing Services, who tracked costume search terms leading up to
Halloween. The drop corresponded with a decline in
overall costume searches; however, his data also
showed Wonder Woman trending at No. 2 for top five
plementary costumes: for example, kids dressed up as
“We have seen this trend of parents wanting to be active
tracking the data, he also calls her a “statement cos-
Captain America, while dads are in-costume as one of
his nemeses, either the Red Skull or the Winter Soldier.
in dressing up with their kids,” says Nesbit. “This is the
first generation [of parents] who have grown up with
these characters, so they think it’s a cool thing to dress
up as them, too.”
Besides superheroes, the youngest Halloween rev-
elers could also wear characters from Disney’s Sofia the
First or Mattel’s Monster High. For toddlers, there will
be more innovative costumes, such as ones that light
up. Disguise, for example, will release a line of costumes that light up when the wearer moves around.
These will be available in a number of recognizable
characters such as the red Power Ranger, Bumblebee
Although Tancer says that Wonder Woman has been
a perennial favorite among search terms since he began tume.” “It might be about female empowerment, with
some costume choices made more by philosophy than
something driven by television,” he says.
Meanwhile, Disguise will launch a line of new Mar-
vel costumes specifically for women, but, according to
Nesbit, they do not fall under the “sexy” category.
Rather, she describes them as fully enclosed body suits
made with a bustier construction. “We’re hoping this is where sexy will now go,” says Nesbit. “It’s figure
conscious and it’s fitted to you, but it’s like a cat suit
that’s going to make you feel powerful.” The first wave will feature the characters Spider-Girl, American
Sequin Devil Deluxe Costume from Disguise
The Halloween Insider
Insider Look at
Dream, Black Widow, and Iron Girl.
Zombies: Back to the Grave?
Given the popularity of TV shows such as The Walk-
ing Dead, it’s not surprising that zombies have been a
popular Halloween costume in recent years. Interest-
ingly, from the perspective of those within the indus-
quite back to full strength, which, according to Nesbit,
is when “people turn to their pets.” There is also the
possibility that pet costumes reflect a larger sociological trend, as empty nesters and those without children turn to their pets to fulfill nurturing needs.
Disguise already has a Spider-Man costume for
try, it’s not a fad, since zombies have always been
dogs, and will expand the line this year to include Mar-
whether you zombify a presidential candidate or a
of their family… and to be able to dress them up and let
intrinsically tied to the spooky holiday.
“I think to zombify anything is classic Halloween,
vampire,” says Nesbit, who admits that it’s hard to pre-
dict whether the trend will continue its triumphant
shamble. She thinks there is a good chance that zom-
vel characters such as Captain America, Iron Man, and
Wolverine. “A lot of people see their pets as extensions
them celebrate a holiday that you love, that’s always going to be a good thing,” Nesbit says.
Similarly, a new division devoted exclusively to
bies will still rule this year, and says Disguise will offer
pets, Rubie’s Pet Shop Boutique, recently opened. “Pets
will offer a wide range of zombie products, Beige is less
million was spent on pet costumes this past year.
that zombies began showing up in his data—and then
Accessories Add Up
book. “We see a lot of activity in search term data, but
costumes alongside everything a customer would
a zombie gnome decoration as well as masks.
Others, however, feel differently. Although Rubie’s
confident about the trend’s longevity. According to
Tancer, it wasn’t until the week right before Halloween
quite strongly. He theorizes that a lot of the discussions about zombies may have happened on Twitter or Face-
what we’re not seeing is activity in social media,”
Tancer says. “I’m guessing that a lot of interest in zom-
bies skewed younger, and was happening [there].”
Pet Costumes Un-Leashed
Although humans remain the major en-
gine powering Halloween costume sales,
The Wizard of Oz Scarecrow Pet Costume, from Rubie’s Costume Co.
pets are becoming a larger part of the mix,
with a pre-Halloween survey from the
NRF anticipating that roughly 8 percent
of the populace dressed their furry friends up last Halloween. Some Hal-
loween insiders predict that number is
only going to get bigger.
“In the grand scheme of things, is it going
to take over Halloween? No, but it’s a growing
portion,” says Nesbit. As for the reasons why more pet owners are indulging in pet costumes,
signs point to an economy that is recovering, but not
The Halloween Insider
is definitely a growing part of the industry,” says Beige. Indeed, a pre-Halloween NRF survey estimated $330
One final trend being observed this year is more cos-
tumes and accessories packaged together. This was a
successful strategy by retailers last year, as displays of
want—including wigs, jewelry, and other extras—led
to an increase in the average sales ticket. This year, Disguise will release all-inclusive packages that adopt a
similar strategy—featuring base costumes as well as
The growth of costume fun beyond just Halloween
partially explains the demand for this kind of pre-packaging. “People are going to spend a little more money
for better quality that they can then use year-round for
dress-up or role play,” says Nesbit.
But overall, Halloween falling on a Friday—along
with an economy that is improving, albeit gradually—
is still considered the main reason for optimism about
this coming year. “People had a better year in 2013,”
says Beige. “[Retailers] cleaned out inventory, and they will be prepared for Halloween falling on a Friday, so I
do think 2014 will be an additional increase over what everyone experienced this past year.”
Insider Look at
Halloween & Party Expo With Halloween being such a success, H&P Expo prepares for another great show. by Drew Gregorczyk
alloween may celebrate zombies, ghosts, and other undead, but sales related to the popular holiday are very much alive. In 2013, more than 158 million people celebrated Halloween, with the average reveler spending more than $75 on their festivities. Total Halloween spending in the U.S. alone topped out at just under $7 billion and there was considerable growth in other countries, such as the UK, which saw a 12 percent increase in spending over the previous year. The party mood doesn’t stop at Halloween either; it grows year-round, with costumed obstacle runs and themed parties being more popular than ever. The No. 1 global show for the Halloween, costume, and party industry is also very much alive. Thousands of attendees from more than 63 countries worldwide will descend on the George R. Brown Convention Center for the Halloween & Party Expo, which will be in Houston for a sixth year in 2014 before heading to New Orleans in 2015. Eighty-five percent of the 600,000-square-foot show floor is currently reserved by hundreds of eager exhibitors. “If you’re in the party business, or if you’re in the Halloween business, you must attend this show,” says exhibitor Marie LaCentra of Forum Novelties/Creative Products. Manufacturers of Halloween products in particular have an extra incentive to attend the 2014 show:
The Halloween Insider
The Haunted Attraction National Tradeshow and Conference (HAuNTcon) is co-locating within the George R. Brown Convention Center during the same dates as the Expo. “It’s not Halloween without a little haunting; we think that’s a vital segment to support,” says Jonathan Erwin of the Halloween & Party Expo. “The H&P Expo is the international event for Halloween, costume, and party vendors,” explains Leonard Pickel, HAuNTcon coordinator and Haunt industry expert. “It was a natural move to co-locate our show to the same city so we could offer our attendees the opportunity to see new products and services featured only at this exhibition.” Each show will operate separately with its own requirements, but attendees and exhibitors are encouraged to at-
tend both for a richer experience. Both the Halloween & Party Expo and HAuNTcon are known for far more than simply their show floors. The two shows offer a variety of events and activities designed to educate and entertain attendees, including more than 20 hours of educational seminars at the Expo and more than 40 hours at HAuNTcon. The Expo’s famous Halloween Costume Style Show also returns in 2014 with 100 costumes presented in an extravagant runway production at the close of the first evening. Attendance is free to all Expo attendees and includes free beer and wine throughout the show. HAuNTcon takes over afterwards with its annual Costume Ball. Attendees won’t want to miss this lavish event, which includes barbecue buffet, complimentary beer, prizes, photos, and
all-night entertainment, all while they’re dressed to the nines in costumed regalia or evening attire. x
Visit www.halloweenpartyexpo.com or www.hauntcon.com for ticket information, schedules, and more, such as details on the pet costume shows presented by the Expo and Haunt Tours presented by HAuNTcon. As always, registration for the Halloween & Party Expo is free, but documentation of industry involvement is required. Don’t miss THE show for the industry, January 25 to 28, in Houston. Visit www.halloweenpartyexpo.com to view the floorplan, create a customized expo schedule, request appointments, book hotels/travel, and register to attend.
The Halloween Insider
Expert Q&A Rubie’s Costume Co. Rubie’s Launches into 2014 with Perennial Favorites and Hot New Licenses The Halloween Insider chats with Howard Beige, executive vice president, Rubie’s Costume Co., about Halloween trends, Rubie’s success, and predictions for 2014. The Halloween Insider: How do you think Halloween falling on a Friday will impact costume sales in 2014? Howard Beige: The impact that Halloween falling on a Friday generally has is that it increases the involvement and participation of adults in Halloween, because you’ll find that there are more adult parties in restaurants and bars as well as homes. Everything connected to the celebration for adults will have an increase in sales, including costumes, costume accessories, makeup, wigs, as well as decorations. All of these categories will experience a natural increase, typically in the 6 to 8 percent range.
Kids’ Batman Deluxe
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THI: How did the 2013 season compare to 2012? HB: I think 2013 was a good year all around for everyone, and I think it was a bet-
ter year than 2012 in quite a few respects, but I think you’ve got to go back two years. In 2011, the east coast got hit with a freak snow storm the Saturday of Halloween, so it canceled most of the Halloween parties that year. Then we fast forward to Halloween 2012, and that ended abruptly on the Monday prior to Halloween, when Hurricane Sandy affected probably 25 percent of the country. It essentially canceled Halloween. Going into 2013, retailers had a lot of inventory left. They were pretty much buying only what they had to, what they sold out of, or what was brand new, like Man of Steel or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costumes. We had two Halloweens that were somewhat soft, but then going into 2013 there was a lot of last-minute reordering that took place in September and October as people found what was beginning to sell, and it proved to be a very good Halloween. Not every last retailer, but the majority of the retailers—at least 75 percent—actually had a small increase in 2013 over the prior years. Really, there are three reasons for that: Primarily, we didn’t have a snow storm or a hurricane, and we were blessed with very good weather for this Halloween. In addition to that, the economy is slowly improving. It’s not a miraculous recovery, but each year it gets slightly better. And, of course, we had a Thursday Halloween, which is certainly better than the past two years. In addition to having a better Halloween
B because they bought conservatively, retailers actually finished the year with less than what they started with. So they cleaned out inventory, and are now more open to buying products that are new and exciting—and boy, do we have them for next year.
THI: Are there any new trends in the home décor category emerging this year? HB: We are seeing the air-blown outdoor decorations become more important as people start to decorate their homes again. We’re definitely seeing outdoor decorations starting to increase. We’re seeing more of the type of decoration people save, like the animatronics. The slightly better quality decorations people pack away each year and unpack each year, there seems to be an increase in that. THI: Does licensing continue to become more important to costume sales? HB: I think that licensing is the single most important element in kids’ costume sales. Children are greatly influenced by what they see on TV and in the movies. All of the children’s best sellers are basically connected to either a TV show or a movie. For adults, licensing is a little bit less of a factor. People are just as influenced by current events, what they see happening in the news. One of the big costumes last year was Miley Cyrus’ performance at the Video Music Awards (VMAs) with her twerking. That wasn’t a license that was available from anybody, but it certainly became important to Halloween. THI: What do you predict will be your hottest costumes and hottest licenses for 2014? HB: This is the first year in more than 20 years that Rubie’s has the license for all of the Marvel characters. The last time we had the license was in 1993. We have the entire library of Marvel characters and all of the new movies that are coming out. Spider-Man and Captain America will be very big for us, and there is another new film from Marvel called
Guardians of the Galaxy that we have. For children, Monster High will continue to be very big and so will the new Mattel property Ever After High. And, this is a very big year for Wizard of Oz because it’s the 75th anniversary of the original film, which came out in 1939. There’s also a brand new Batman: Arkham Origins game that just came out, which means all-new costumes for 2014. And, there’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, because of the movie that comes out in August.
THI: What are some of your best sellers every year? HB: Batman in all of its different forms. Whether it’s Batman from the Dark Knight movies, Batman from the TV shows, the animated cartoons, Batman from the comic books, it’s Batman and all of the related characters. Every single year, the property is one of the perennial favorites. And when I say Batman, I’m talking about all of the associated characters, whether it be Catwoman, Robin, The Joker, The Riddler, all of these characters. That is probably the biggest licensing program out there because of all of the different characters that everybody’s aware of. And then the horror properties are always great, things like A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th.
Adult A Nightmare on Elm Street Freddy Victim
THI: How important are pet costumes and acces-
The Halloween Insider
Expert Q&A Rubie’s Costume Co. sories to your business? Is this a growth area for the industry? HB: Absolutely, it is a growth area for the industry. If you go back about eight or nine years, this was a very small part of the Halloween business. Pet costumes probably represented somewhere between $5 and $10 million at Halloween retail. The last estimate I saw from the National Retail Federation (NRF) was over $350 million. Despicable Me 2 Minion Dog Most of the licensors are recognizing this growth and are allowing us to do licensed pet costumes. One of the ones we are introducing—which will be hysterical—are the Minions from Despicable Me 2. We’re working on a whole slew of Marvel pet costumes as well. The same costumes that are popular for children are also popular for the other children—we know them as pets. It’s the same characters, Batman, Superman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Star Wars. These are all the best sellers for pet costumes as well.
THI: How are online sales of Halloween costumes and accessories trending? HB: For quite a few years the online sector was growing by leaps and bounds, double digits and all. The online segment was probably the fastest-growing part of the industry. I think it is continuing to grow, but not at the same phenomenal rate of growth that it’s been experiencing for the last four or five years. THI: Are you seeing resurgence in Day of the Deadthemed products? HB: We are seeing resurgence in horror products
The Halloween Insider
completely, and we really are the leaders in the industry on horror products. Look at our Friday the 13th license, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Leatherface, which is from Texas Chainsaw Massacre. We also have Michael Myers from the movie Halloween, and we just signed a new deal for Pennywise the Clown from the movie It. We really do have all of the licensed horror rights, and in addition to that we do Day of the Dead, where you’ll see all of the different skeletons. In addition to that we do a very large line of zombie products, because for the past three or four years zombies have been quite the hot commodity, but I do believe that zombies have peaked. I hate to use the term ‘trending down,’ but I do believe they’ve peaked.
THI: Are there any new trends in retail merchandising, or at retail in general? HB: The important thing with merchandising is that retailers are showing the full costume and all of the accessories that are available. I think that is increasing sales. As opposed to just having witch costumes or zombie costumes, they’ll actually have character boutiques with all the accessories alongside the costumes. I’ve heard from retailers this year that the average ticket was up, and I definitely attribute that to the way product is displayed, where it makes it easier for the consumer to think, “Oh, I don’t want to just buy the vampire costume, I also want to buy the wig, the makeup, the fangs, and the medallion.” So there are lots of accessories that people are buying. THI: How are sales affected by do-it-yourself (DIY) costumes? HB: People are grouping different accessories together and making their own character. Although they may be a pirate, they’re not going to be the same pirate that four or five other people might be wearing to the party. I think the accessories are a key part in creating a unique look for any costume.
Can’t Wait Until Halloween 2014! The only thing better than looking back on a triumphant Halloween is looking ahead to more parties, more costumes (licensed or otherwise), and more spooky holiday fun.
by Howard Beige, executive vice president, Rubie’s Costume Co. rab your costumes and candy, it’s time to cel-
produced for Halloween, including costumes, dress-up
tumes and accessories, pet costumes, animatronic dec-
ebrate. The Friday Halloween is back! Retailand
anticipating more parties, more decorating, and more
spending during the 2014 holiday weekend. The Na-
accessories, masks, make-up, high-end collector cos-
orative props, costume shoes, seasonal décor, and
more. Costume products will be available in toddler,
tional Retail Federation (NRF) reported that an as-
child, tween, teen, and adult sizes this year.
last year, and the overall average amount spent on the
classic Marvel properties as well as new Marvel films,
with total spending estimated to reach $6.9 billion.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Guardians of the
tounding 158 million Americans celebrated Halloween
spooky holiday has increased 54.7 percent since 2005,
Some of 2013’s best-sellers included the lovable little
minions from Despicable Me 2, Teenage Mutant Ninja
Turtles, and the cool ghouls from Monster High. To no
These officially licensed products will encompass
including Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier,
Galaxy. Rubie’s will also produce costumes for all Marvel Classic characters, including—but not lim-
ited to—Iron Man, Spider-Man, the Hulk, Thor,
surprise, Batman and Superman remained among the
and Black Widow.
looking ahead, the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz
season and look forward to 2014, we are
friends from the land of Oz.
the Rubie’s family of companies. In August,
biggest-selling superheroes of all time. Meanwhile,
should prove to be a big year for Dorothy and her As the popularity of Halloween continues to rise
among children and adults, we’ve also witnessed
As we wrap up the 2013 Halloween
delighted to introduce a new division into
Rubie’s acquired Princess Paradise, which has
been designing and selling trendsetting, cre-
tremendous growth in the pet market. Last year alone,
ative, high-quality costumes and acces-
tumes. With that in mind, Rubie’s Costume Co. has ex-
build upon Rubie’s overall position in the
Americans spent more than $300 million on pet cos-
sories since 1981. This latest endeavor will
panded its pet collection by introducing hundreds of
upscale costume marketplace.
bandanas, wings, and hair bows.
Ninja Turtles, monsters, or Minions, Hal-
pleased to announce that it will feature a full line of li-
tures for the entire family to enjoy. We encourage you
new products including pet costumes, wigs, hats, tutus, In addition to our pet line expansion, Rubie’s is
censed Marvel costumes for the U.S. and Canada start-
ing this year. Rubie’s is in the process of creating the broadest collection of Marvel Universe products ever
Whether you’re into superheroes,
loween 2014 will be filled with new adven-
to take full advantage of a Friday Halloween, and re-
member, Rubie’s is proud to be your No. 1 resource for all licensed costumes and accessories.
Princess Paradise Icelyn the Winter Princess, from Rubie’s Costume Co.
The Halloween Insider
Retailer Spotlight Costume SuperCenter
The 0ne-Stop Costume Shop By staying ahead of the trends, Costume SuperCenter is able to provide a wide selection of costume options for all occasions in just one place. by Ali Mierzejewski e ’ve all been there: Halloween is less than a week away and suddenly you realize you are sans costume. Thanks to online retailers, such as costumesupercenter.com, Halloween costume shopping is easier than ever—quick, simple, and in the comfort of your own home. After seeing an opportunity in the vast space of the Internet world, Party City founder Steve Mandell came out of retirement and founded Costume SuperCenter, an online retailer for all things costume- and costume accessories-related, in 2006. This online retailer provides a one-stop-shop for all things Halloween, Christmas, and even St. Patrick’s Day. The site’s variety of costumes ranges from boys, girls, men, and women to sexy, teen, and plus size.
SuperCenter Vs. the Big Guys
Floor display at Wholesale Halloween Costumes
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Online Halloween costume retailers have seen larger retailers such as Amazon grow to be more competitive and become a bigger factor in the business over the past few years. But Mandell is confident that although Amazon is a big player in the market, these retailers do not pose too much of a threat to stores
such as Costume SuperCenter. “Retailers, such as ourselves, have been able to offer customer services or provide a different experience than [customers] can get on Amazon,” says Mandell. “I think we’re capturing some of that business, and not losing the business to Amazon.” The same goes for big-box retailers, such as Target or Walmart, who also provide a Halloween costume selection online and in-store during the spooky season. However, there are huge advantages to being a true Halloween- and costume-centric online retailer, as opposed to a website selling many different items. One of these advantages is the bigger selection available. With the help of manufacturers such as Rubie’s Costume Co. steering the retailer toward the hottest trends and licenses, CostumeSuperCenter.com is able to provide a wide selection of costumes for all ages, genders, and interests. “Our site is about costumes and costume accessories, where Walmart and Target are about a lot of things,” say Mandell. “It’s much easier to find what you’re looking for on our site.” And although return policies make online shopping a bit of a risk, Mandell finds that online retailers are at a great advantage when it comes to the amount of product they are able to supply. Big-box retailers tend to only have a small amount of space for their seasonal products, and therefore, Halloween costumes are limited to the hottest costumes at the lowest price. According to Mandell, that is an en-
B tirely different audience than the one that Costume SuperCenter is targeting. The customers they get tend to be someone who is looking for an easy shopping experience and a better-quality costume.
The newest additions to the Costume SuperCenter family include several niche websites that target specific markets, including Plus Size Costume SuperCenter and Plus Size Lingerie Boutique for those looking for plus-size costumes. Another site, Birthday in a Box, features birthday supplies and costumes that are geared toward a primarily younger audience. Mandell finds these niche websites to be a big benefit to the overall company. “If somebody goes to a site that’s geared toward young kids, for example, they can feel comfortable that kids aren’t going to see X-rated costumes,” says Mandell. “Somebody looking for a plus-size costume that comes to a plus-size website—they don’t have to sort through a bunch of stuff they aren’t interested in.” In short, these sites give the online retailer a whole new advantage, as they make shopping much easier on consumers as a whole. Although a large part of Costume SuperCenter’s business is its online stores, the company also has permanent and temporary brick-and-mortar costume and toy stores nationwide. These locations include Halloween Adventure, Wholesale Halloween Costumes, and a toy store called Smart Toys. The brick-and-mortar stores are relatively new for the company, but according to Mandell, they do provide certain advantages for the company as a whole. “We’re able to leverage our overhead with pretty much the same kind of product and same IT infrastructure by having the stores in addition to the online,” he says.
Overall, Costume SuperCenter’s online, as well as
in-store, presence allows them to stay ahead of other costume retailers through the customer service offered, the promotions that the site runs, and the overall marketing strategy. Without giving away too much detail about upcoming surprises, Mandell explains, “We identify opportunities through marketing and take advantage of those opportunities, whether it’s things that we see are selling very well, or maybe that other people don’t carry—and we add them to our line.” Staying a step ahead of the trends is what Costume SuperCenter as a business is all about, whether it is in the stocking of its online and brick-andmortar stores, or finding the hottest licenses on the market and bringing favorite properties to consumers. Of course, the best strategy of all seems to be the extra effort put forth on the customer service side of the business. “We run promotions like cheap next-day delivery towards the end of Halloween,” says Mandell. “We also allow returns in October, which many websites do not allow.” Costume SuperCenter’s year-round service provides the customer with a reliable source for all things costume and decoration. In addition to providing Halloween costumes and accessories, the company also has one of the largest selections of hats, wigs, masks, accessories, and make-up, as well as seasonal holiday decorations and props for holidays including Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, Purim, Presidents’ Day, Fourth of July, and Thanksgiving. No matter what the occasion—or the gender, size, or type of costume you’re looking for—Costume SuperCenter strives to provide the best quality and selection for its consumers in the most convenient way that it can.
The Halloween Insider
Insider Look at Las Vegas Halloween Show
The Adult Side of Halloween
The show that happened in Vegas has stayed in Vegas.
by Jeff Yunis, president and owner, Specialty Trade Shows he Las Vegas Halloween Show was originally
the same time, Howard Beige, from Rubie’s Costume
vendors objected to the name. The truth is the
West coast to buy Halloween costumes—at the time,
We started the show in 2008 because buyers at our
As soon as we announced our show, the Chicago
called the Adult Halloween Costume Show, but
latter is what the show is about.
International Lingerie Show told us that Halloween
costumes were becoming a huge part of their business,
and many of our lingerie vendors were adding sexy costumes to their lines. At
Co., told us that there was no place for buyers on the
the main Halloween show was in Chicago.
people decided to come to Las Vegas—but that turned
out to be a big mistake. They alienated their buyers and vendors and soon went out of busi-
ness, while our success grew. Now our
show hosts almost all of the major costume companies in the Rio Hotel in
Las Vegas every spring, where they show off their grown-up and adult
Our show, which is scheduled for
March 31 to April 2, is late for Hal-
loween, but that has turned out to be a plus. Since Halloween is of secondary
importance to our lingerie buyers,
they do not want or have to put in their orders 10 months in advance. It
also works for the exhibitors, because
by then they know what numbers they are making for sure and where they
need extra orders to make cuttings.
Buyers, exhibitors, and guests can
register for the Las Vegas Halloween Show at www.lvhalloweenshow.com.
Most exhibitors are in a separate area of the Rio Hotel, but still very close to
the International Lingerie Show. One
badge admits buyers to both shows.
There is also free breakfast, lunch, and
Adult costumes on display at a recent Las Vegas Halloween Show
The Halloween Insider
afternoon refreshments for all who at-
tend or exhibit.
Expert Q&A Fun World
Fun World Looks to Spook Up Sales in 2014 The Halloween Insider chats with Phil Talio, senior product manager, Fun World, about how the company stays relevant in multiple Halloween product categories. The Halloween Insider: How important are costume accessories to your line? Phil Talio: Accessories are more important than ever. The current trend is to create a unique costume that reflects the individual’s style and personality. The trend has been inspired by the world of fashion and driven by the economy. Although makeup has historically been a female category, zombies have now allowed men and boys to wear makeup, causing sales to rise considerably. In addition, mask sales continue to rise. Both our wholesale distribution and results from retailers are strong. The surprise here is that the high-end masks are the better sellers. If the consumer puts on a mask and likes it, they’re sold. This is true for both the young boy who tries on a scary bleeding mask, or the lady who puts on the pretty masquerade mask.
THI: What are some of your most exciting new costume additions? PT: We’ve added a new license called Once Upon a Zombie, which includes zombified versions of Cinderella, Snow White, Belle, Rapunzel, and Sleeping Beauty. Betty Boop, Raggedy Ann, and Andy have joined the Fun World family of evergreen licenses this year, and we also have a lot of excitement in our generic line, such as the girls’ Pink Skull Fairy and Rockin’ Rainbow Monster. We’ve also added a bleeding scary clown and a bleeding zombie that uses our patented bleeding mask system.
THI: Do activities products, such as pumpkin carving kits, still play a role in Halloween? PT: Pumpkin carving has been a strong category for years, but has been yearning for improvements and creativity. Before we broke into this category six years ago, the scoops and carvers were small and weak and often broke. The Fun World Super Goop Scoop and Colossal Carver have reignited the category. Retailers are now seeing improved sales in what was a strong—but stagnant—category. THI: Do you think Halloween falling on a Friday this year will affect sales of party products? PT: We will almost certainly see improved sales. The party category will get the benefit of both the Friday school parties as well as the parties with friends and family. The wild card is consumer confidence and the economy. The big question is: What percent increase will we see at retail? Our suggestion is a conservative estimate of 5 percent. We are not looking to unload product in one year, but would rather see our customers appreciate a strong and steady growth. Fun World has been in business for more than 50 years and we plan to be here for at least another 50, but we need our customers to get there.
The Halloween Insider
Insider Look at Home Decor
Deck the Halls With home décor sales on the rise, manufacturers are catering to consumers on all budgets. by Christine Duhaime ecking out the house for the holidays is one of the best parts of the season. While some may not include Halloween in “the holiday season,” it is the first of those end-of-the-year festivities that people young and old embrace and take part in, and driving around the block to check out the decorations can be just as exciting as it is at Christmastime. With an ever-improving economy and an upcoming Friday Halloween, home décor is poised to be one of the strongest categories this year. “After a few years of slow growth, 2013 was very successful [for home décor], says Warren Berkowitz, production development director at Rubie’s Costume Co. “We expect the trend to continue for weekend Halloween sales.” Rubie’s has developed a range of animated props that caters to price-conscious consumers, as well as those who want to go all-out. Animatronics has been on the rise, and indoor and outdoor decorations are proving equally popular. Fun World is responding to the trend with its own range of décor products. It will offer Day of the Dead gravestones and hanging figures, large spider webs, glow-in-the-dark handprints for windows and doors, and new pumpkin carving kits this year. Halloween isn't all about costumes and candy. Creating a spooky, gory, or gothic ambiance takes the holiday to the next level and allows revelers to celebrate for more than just one night. It’s a category that continues to grow, and shows no signs of stopping. x
un World offers two scary styles to add an eerie atmosphere to any door with the Zombie Door Cover assortment. Help Us! features bloody hand prints and splatters; Zombie Breakout has horrible hands tearing at the door. Zombie Door Covers are appropriate for indoor or outdoor use.
The Halloween Insider
he Posable Friendly Spiders, from Fun World, are happy little spiders in eyelash plush and fun colors. These smiling spiders have bendable legs to display anywhere and are available in three Halloween colors.
B lowSpray introduces non-flammable jack-olanterns. Economical, reusable GlowSpray is a sprayable glow substance in an aerosol can that can be sprayed onto paper, fabric, tissue, or anything else that is absorbant. When placed inside a pumpkin, it glows safely for hours.
g he Foggie, from Duval LLC, is a 400W fog machine that includes a remote. The Maxi Fogger is a 1,000W fogger with a removable tank and timer controller. The LED Mini Strobe features speed control and is battery-operated. The DJ Mini Strobe is a compact strobe featuring an adjustable mounting bracket and variable speed control. Duval’s Xenon Strobe features a molded reflector and a black case with a bracket. It comes with three colored filters and a 6-foot AC cord. Duval offers a 75W Blacklight Bulb for use in standard house fixtures, a 4foot Blacklight Fixture that includes a 40W BLB bulb, and an 18-inch Deluxe Blacklight Fixture that includes a reflector and a 15W BLB bulb. Vulcan’s Fire Pedestal features flames of silk and an orange bulb for a flamelike effect. The fire effect is also available as a Mini Tabletop Flame, Hanging Mini Flame, and Mini Wall Mount Flame.
OWindow Posters are colorful, backlit plastic window posters that light up with standard room lighting. The window posters are made in the U.S. and come in a variety of designs ranging from fun to scary.
75W Blacklight Bulb
Vulcan’s Fire Pedestal
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Product Preview Adults’ Costumes ith Tetris celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, Rasta Imposta joins the party with the debut of Tetris costumes for men, women, and children. The Tetris Geometric Dress is available in teen sizes and above. Other Tetris costumes include the single Tetrimino Shapes, an interactive game board costume, and an interactive women’s dress costume. Rasta Imposta brings the iconic Bazooka bubble gum brand to the Halloween Industry in 2014. The Bazooka Gum tunic costume for children and adults features the retro Bazooka Gum packaging.
Tetris Geometric Dress
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adies can get into the spirit this Halloween with the licensed Friday the 13th Jason Cheerleader costume, from Rubie’s Costume Co. The costume includes a black and red dress with a pleated skirt. Complete with iconic imagery from the popular films, this costume is sure to delight horror fanatics.
ouples can show their undying love with the Gothic Vampire and Vampiress costumes, from Pamson. The Vampire’s costume includes a sleek gray and black shirt, a thick black belt, and black pants. The Vampiress on his arm sports a sexy and shiny silver and black dress with a large gothic collar.
elicious’ Spellbound costume is a new, playful, mystical wizard. The costume includes a velvety skirt, a tunic with dropped bell sleeves in velvet and pleated gold lamé, and a matching wizard’s hat. The gold star wand is sold separately.
B he Iron Girl Bustier Costume, from Disguise, puts female superheroes into Iron Man’s iconic suit. Trading in “sexy” for feminine, confident, and powerful, this costume comes with a tunic with a zipper closure, leggings, a pair of glovelettes, and the headpiece.
he Clownin’ Around costume, from Fun World, features a kaleidoscope of color. The costume includes a multicolor tutu dress with polka dot sleeve puffs, mitts, thigh highs, and a mini clown top hat. It is available in ladies’ and girls’ sizes.
nCharacter Costumes represents the hit show Duck Dynasty with three adult costumes featuring Willie, Uncle Si, and Phil. Each costume features a Duck Dynasty camouflage vest and beard. Willie and Phil’s costumes feature bandanas with attached wigs. The Uncle Si costume includes glasses and a cap with an attached wig.
aliant knights can fight dragons and save maidens with the Medieval Knight, from HGM Costume Inc. The costume includes a long tunic with a gold printed dragon, a removable satin cape, and boot covers.
he Magician’s Assistant “Carry Me” costume, from House Haunters, is a strange and sexy optical illusion. One person appears as both the magician and his assistant. The kit includes her red stretchy dress, gloves, and fake saw, and “his” full tuxedo, hat, and gloves. One size fits most.
The Halloween Insider
Product Preview Kids’ Costumes uper Megaforce Red Ranger, from Disguise, is an officially licensed Saban’s Power Rangers costume. The jumpsuit features a muscle-padded torso and arms and an attached belt with a detachable belt buckle. The costume also includes a character mask, allowing kids to morph into their favorite Ranger. Designed by Disguise, the Colorful Cutie costume is part of Disguise’s new Tutu’rrific collection. The costume includes a dress with an attached belt, a pair of leg warmers, and a headpiece.
he Elegant Vampiress, from Pamson, includes an orange dress with black detailing and a black top hat with an orange bow. The dual layered skirt features ribbon details and a swirly bat print. The sleeves and skirt have sparkly spiderwebs, completing the Halloween look.
ittle girls can head back to Medieval times with the Violet Royal Princess costume, from HGM Costume Inc. The crushed velour dress includes rouching and a faux corset top with a printed organza skirt. The puffy sleeves and the included matching headpiece with attached veil pull the historic look together.
Pink Skull Fairy
he Pink Skull Fairy, from Fun World, is an edgy fairy of pink and black plaid. The dress features a tutu with bone print embellishments, goth sleevelets, tattered wings, and tattered striped stockings. The Goth Dragon Fairy is a spooky costume with lacy wings for girls. The costume includes a tutu dress with pink skull print and purple and pink tatter accents, glovelets, web lace wings, and printed skull footless tights.
Goth Dragon Fairy
The Halloween Insider
ora the Kitty Witch, from Princess Paradise, fuses two classic costumes in a fun and chic way. This fashion-forward costume includes a dress, leggings, and a hat, with an available matching broom sold separately. The kitty dress is made out of pink cat print velour and pink and black glitter tulle. The costume is also offered in orange and black, and is available in sizes extra small through extra large. Brendan’s Boys is a line of costumes for little boys to dress up like big boys. The Native American costume, from Princess Paradise, is offered in toddler sizes. The set includes a top, pants with attached boot covers, a headdress, and a quiver. Little boys love to dress up like big boys, so Princess Paradise has created a line of little boy costumes that have an over-sized boots and hat feel. Also included in the line is a Cowboy and a Crusader.
reamworks Animation will bring Jay Ward’s classic cartoon Mr. Peabody and Sherman to the big screen in March, and Rasta Imposta has everything kids need to impersonate the classic characters. Rasta Imposta’s Mr. Peabody costume will keep kids snuggly and warm in the white coverall with the iconic red bowtie and glasses. The Sherman costume includes the Sherman Mask, shirt, and shorts. Kids can also find separate accessories, such as Sherman glasses, and a rubber Sherman wig.
ubie’s Costume Co. is set to bring hilarity to Halloween this year, with Minion costumes from Despicable Me 2. The Despicable Me Female Minion Girl’s Costume includes the dress with yellow underlay, black gloves, black knee-high socks, and iconic zany goggles. Once injected with the PX-41 mutagen syrum, the Minions take on a purple, crazy look. Boys can emulate this with the Evil Minion Costume, which includes the foam overlay.
The Halloween Insider
Insider Look at Make-Up and Accessories oth White, from Manic Panic, is cream-topowder white face makeup that goes on with a smooth, velvety consistency. It can be used as a white base for costumes such as a vampire, goth, zombie, clown, or evil ice queen. It can also be used as an eyeshadow base to make neon colors pop or as a skin-correcting concealer under foundation. Dye Hard Styling Gel is washable hair color that washes out with shampoo. The gels are opaque on hair, and they dry hard for stiff styling. The gel glows under blacklight and comes in 11 colors. Glam Strips are clip-in hair extensions available in 8-, 10, and 18-inch styles. Available in human and synthetic hair, they clip in securely and add streaks of color to hair. Glow Glitter is available in six neon colors and can be sprinkled over hair and body for a vibrant sparkle. Glow Glitter also glows under a blacklight. Manic Panic Classic Cream Formula Semi-Permanent Hair Dyes are available in more than 38 shades. They are vegan, made in the U.S., and cruelty-free.
The Halloween Insider
inema Secrets presents Woochie, a new line of Zombie foam and latex appliances. Woochie comes with instructions for consumers to create the perfect, unique Halloween costumes. Woochie Pro Zombie Foam Piece and Woochie Latex Zombie Set are new to the Cinema Secrets collection.
Woochie Foam Mask
he Halloween Stencil & Glitter Tattoo Set, from GlitZGlam Body Art, is a Halloween tattoo stencil and glitter set that includes a collection of 10 Halloween tattoo stencils and four Halloween colors. The set includes 10 glitter tattoo stencils, and four cosmetic-grade glitter colors: brown, orange, black, and red. This set does not include body adhesive and cosmetic brushes, as it is designed to be added to any glitter tattoo kit.
B andyRific offers classic new Halloween items for this year, along with the most popular items from last year. This year’s new lineup includes Disney Halloween Mickey and Minnie Safety Light with Candy, an M&M’S Brand Halloween Fan, and new designs for the Light Up Halloween Fans. Halloween Keychain Flashlights and the award-winning M&M’S Brand Star Wars Light Up Lightsaber will also be available this year. The Mickey & Minnie Safety Light with Candy can guide kids’ way on Halloween night by providing a constant or blinking light. Each comes with .53 ounces of microbites candy, a lanyard, and a clip. The Light Up Halloween Fans keep you cool with a scary werewolf or vampire, and include .28 ounces of microbites candy. The M&M’S Brand Halloween Fan features the Red, Yellow, or Blue M&M atop a fun fan. One Fun Size bag of M&M’S Brand Milk Chocolate Candies is included with M&M’S Brand the fan.
The Halloween Insider
Glow 141 Ankle Booties
rom The Walking Dead, the Well Walker Mask is a full-head latex mask from Trick or Treat Studios. Designed from behind-the-scenes photos of the mask used in the show, this mask makes the wearer look as if they were just pulled from the well. The Saw Pig is a full-head latex mask that was cast from an actual pig head. A wig and stitched mouth are included to ensure complete onscreen accuracy. This mask can be paired with the Trick or Treat Studios Jig Saw Cape for the ultimate scare. The Nightbreed Boon Mask is a half-latex mask with a wig attachment for comfort and screen accuracy. Burned-in scars add great detail.
ighest Heel is adding to its glow UVreactive neon series of footwear. New styles include Amber-601 ankle bootie and Glow 141, raincoat-themed upper with an ankle strap. All of the new styles feature Highest Heel’s exclusive comfort foot bed padding for fit and comfort. Highest Heel’s shoes come in a variety of styles and patterns. The 5.5-inch heel and 1.5-inch covered platform will add something special to any costume without sacrificing comfort. Kissable-41 is a tuxedo-style, open-toe pump, and Kissable-71 is a basic Mary Jane-style shoe with a fully-adjustable instep strap. Marquis-21 is a classic open-toe, covered platform that is adorned with hundreds of Egyptian crystals. Highest Heel’s exclusive Flame Heel comes in a variety of heel heights and platforms, ranging from 5 to 7.5 inches.
Well Walker Mask
un Ghoul is a highly detailed original Cyclops monster with excellent mouth movement, hidden eye slits, and many extras. A quality 1-inch harness provides reliable mouth movement and a secure fit , so that the mask does not shift on the wearer’s head.
The Halloween Insider
Fun Ghoul Mask
Product Preview Pet Costumes
ubieâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Pet Shop Boutique introduces new pet costumes into The Wizard of Oz 75th Anniversary Costume Collection. The collection, in partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, commemorates the milestone by featuring the iconic characters of the film classic. The Wizard of Oz 75th Anniversary Costume Collection is available in a variety of pet sizes ranging from small to extra-large. The Dorothy dog costume includes a dress, a bow, and ruby red slippers.
ets can join in the zombified fun with this gauze and 3-D guts pet shirt from Fun World. The Zombie Dog costume includes a T-shirt and brain cap.
Product Preview Toys & Media eb Attack Black Widow RC Creeper, from Fantasma, shoots and retracts a creepy cool red web. The detailed spider can be controlled by kids ages 8 and up with the included remote control. The remote control HandRunner works upside down and can climb on the floor and on the walls. The exposed bone and green veins provide kids with the perfect Halloween scare.
lay-Doh: Halloween Craft Fun, from Silver Dolphin Books, is a 32-page activity book with Halloween-inspired craft projects written by Susan Amerikaner and illustrated by Kara Kenna. Kids ages 3 and up will help Groovy Ghost bring the Halloween party to life with step-by-step guides to mold spooky Play-Doh sculptures. Kids can create jack-oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;-lanterns, ghosts, witches, spiders, candies, and other ghoulish goodies. The book and activities combine reading, written and verbal directions, and hands-on projects. Play-Doh: Halloween Craft Fun is complete with four cans of Play-Doh compound, a roller, and a plastic knife.
exbug Larvae, Scarabs, and Aquabots, from Innovation First, have been infected by the zombie apocalypse. These Zombie Hexbugs have a translucent black exoskeleton casing that glows in the dark for robotic play day or night. The water-born Aquabot is equipped with an automatic on and off sensor that activates when submerged in water, a design element meant to get kids thinking about the science behind the robot. When in water, the glow-in-the-dark Aquabot comes to life swimming around, diving, and changing directions to explore its environment. The Larva slithers forward using a slow, rhythmic flexing motion. Just like real larvae, each of these creepy crawlers reacts Hexbug Zombie Scarab to its environment, instinctively changing direction upon sensing an object in its path and wriggling off to explore a clear, undisturbed path ahead. The Scarab is a high-speed, mechanical, beetle-like robotic bug that crawls around on six angled legs. The high-energy micro-robotic creature propels itself forward and backward, and can pop from its back to its feet if placed upside down. Packed with advanced design and engineering, each Scarab has an inner body loaded with robotic intelligence. All of the zombified Hexbugs are designed for kids ages 8 and up.
Hexbug Zombie Larva
The Halloween Insider
Industry Update Haunted Attraction National Tradeshow Joins National Conference in Houston The 2014 Haunted Attraction National Tradeshow and Conference (HAuNTcon) will be held in Houston from January 25 to 28 at the George R. Brown Convention Center, in conjunction with the 2014 Halloween & Party Expo. The two events will take place concurrently, but in separated areas within the George R. Brown Convention Center. Attendance to the Halloween & Party Expo will be free for paid HAuNTcon attendees, as well as the certified retail buyers who already attend the show. Each event offers a unique perspective on Halloween and being in the same center should enhance the overall experience for attendees. Halloween & Party Expo attendees interested in participating in HAuNTcon activities will have a variety of options to choose from over the multiple-day conference that traditionally includes more than 40 hours of educational seminars and workshops, a haunted garage sale, networking socials such as the annual Costume Ball, and the event’s tradeshow. HAuNTcon education topics span the spectrum from haunted house marketing and business plans, to cheap scares and haunted house design, actor training and character development, and prop building and set design.
Sprout Helps Trick-or-Treaters Get InCharacter
Sprout, InCharacter Costumes, and Big Tent Entertainment have partnered to launch Sprout characterbranded Halloween costumes and accessories. The long-term deal will bring popular Sprout characters, including Chica from The Chica Show and Star from The Good Night Show, to fun and festive Halloween costumes in the U.S., including U.S. territories, possessions, and military bases, and Canada. The costumes and accessories will be sold in department stores, specialty stores, and select online retailers.
The Halloween Insider
Rubie’s and Marvel Bring Superheroes to Life This Halloween
Rubie’s Costume Co. Inc. will develop a line of Marvel costumes for the U.S. and Canada this year. Rubie’s currently produces Marvel product lines for Europe and other international markets. Rubie’s will create the broadest collection of Marvel Universe products for Halloween, including costumes, dress-up accessories, masks, makeup, high-end collector costumes and accessories, pet costumes, animatronic decorative props, costume shoes, seasonal décor, and more. Costume products will be available in toddler, child, tween, teen, and adult sizes. The officially licensed products will encompass all classic Marvel properties and new Marvel Films, including Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Guardians of the Galaxy. Rubie’s will produce costumes for all Marvel Classic characters, including Iron Man, Spider-Man, the Hulk, Wolverine, Thor, and Black Widow.
Rasta Imposta Does Breaking Bad Rasta Imposta has received a license from Sony Pictures Television to introduce Breaking Bad Halloween costumes. As the only officially licensed Halloween costume for Breaking Bad in the U.S., Rasta Imposta’s costume will be the Hazmat Suit worn by the lead character from the TV show. The costume will include the yellow Hazmat suit, a red and black Hazmat mask, blue gloves, and a goatee. Rasta Imposta costumes are currently available for presale at many online Halloween retailers. The costume will ship in early October.
The Voice Reaching Both Trade and Consumers
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Flashback Halloween 1994 A Host of New Licenses and Product Innovation Stir Up Halloween Excitement alloween merchandise manufacturers’ hopes are high for the holiday this year. Although Halloween will fall on a Monday in 1994, costume makers still expect strong sales. A wide array of hot properties, especially those based on male action characters, are stirring up new excitement in the category this year. There are many new product introductions in every category from masks to home decorations.
Hot Properties Male action characters are featured prominently this year in the Halloween merchandise lineup, with properties such as the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, Biker Mice from Mars, Cadillacs & Dinosaurs, and Super Human Samurai Syber Squad set to ring up strong Halloween sales.
This year, Disguise has expanded into licensed costumes for adults, including this Snow White costume for women.
Disguise’s The Lion Kinglicensed costume is available in a deluxe plush.
Rubie’s offers a Yabba-Dabba-Doo Time and Talking Costumes
1. Rubie’s is the costume licensee for The Flintstones, this summer’s live-
action film. Pictured here is Pebbles. The Flintstones line has costumes and accessories items for both kids and adults.
2. Rubie’s has introduced its Talking Police Car costume for children, which comes with play handcuffs.
The Halloween Insider
2. Winter 2014
continued from page 38
Findings from Kidz Global show that the top three toy categories for Chinese children ages 3 to 14 are games, video games and tablets, and arts and crafts—although construction sets, dolls, and cars and trucks are not far behind. Segmented data for infants ages 0 to 2 is also included in the report. According to Altios, the infant and preschool toy market is a particular area of growth, due to China’s high birth rate and the increased purchasing power of Generation Y parents. These shoppers are concerned foremost with product quality and safety, then price. “This is just a surface view of the extensive information Kidz Global and Altios were able to collect and compile,” McConnell said. “We are looking forward to sharing the full results with our members and industry stakeholders.” The reports offer in-depth data on when, where, how, and with whom local children play, as well as how best to distribute and promote product lines in both China and Brazil. That includes market demographics, cultural customs and customer behaviors, product trends, major distribution and retail channels, media options, brand awareness, op-
portunities and threats to market entry, and more. TIA, in conjunction with Kidz Global and Altios International, will present these findings during educational sessions at Toy Fair. An executive-level overview will be offered for TIA members only on February 17 from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. An indepth session on Altios’ and Kidz Global’s Brazil research, open to all stakeholders, will be held later that day from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.; data on the Chinese market will be presented from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., also open to all stakeholders. For exact Source: KIDS GLOBAL session locations, check on-site signage in the Javits Center’s E Hall. Research findings were also shared during a “preview” webinar on January 19; details can be found in the Knowledge Network section of TIA’s website, www.toyassociation.org. For more information on TIA’s global market research reports, contact Anne McConnell at (646) 520-4870 or email@example.com. ■
THE TOY BOOK •
BUSINESS DIRECTORIES 2014 Trade Show Directory $39.95 Independent Sales Rep Directory $69.95 Toy Wholesalers & Manufacturers $29.95 We carry Salesman's Guides to Find Buyers and Trade Show Exhibitor Lists for Toy Fair and others! 1-800-635-7654 • firstname.lastname@example.org www.Forum123.com Free Magazine: www.RFmagazine.com Place a classified in Please contact Anthony Guardiola 212-575-4510 x2322 email@example.com
SUBSCRIBE TO Get weekly updates on the latest toy industry news and trends! Available only by email! Sign up at www.adventurepub.com The Toy Book Volume 30, Number 1 THE TOY BOOK (ISSN-0885-3991) is published bi-monthly by Adventure Publishing Group, Inc.® Editorial and advertising offices are located at 307 Seventh Ave., Room 1601, New York, NY 10001, Phone (212) 575-4510. Periodicals Postage paid at New York and additional mailing offices. Copyright © 2014 Adventure Publishing Group, Inc.® All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. Printed in U.S.A. Subscription rates: $48 one year, foreign $200. The Toy Book is a trademark of Adventure Publishing Group, Inc.® Registered in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Postmaster: Send address changes to: The Toy Book, c/o Adventure Publishing Group, 307 Seventh Ave., Room 1601, New York, NY 10001. Opinions and comments expressed in this publication by editors, contributing writers, or solicited or unsolicited documents are not necessarily those of the management of The Toy Book.
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Classifieds Playtime Sales & Marketing Co. LLC A Toy Manufacturers Sales Representative Corporate Office 331 Piermont Road Norwood, New Jersey 07648 TEL: 201-784-7727 FAX: 201-784-1912 E Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org // email@example.com
The Playtime Sales & Marketing Company, LLC. is a Toy and Electronics Manufacturers sales representative organization. Our prime focus is to represent Toy and Electronics Manufacturers to the Mass Market Retailers. The principals of our Company are Len Soyka and Murray Bass. Our only vocation has been in the Toy Industry. We are dedicated toy professionals.
Our geographical areas of sales coverage and accounts include: • NEW ENGLAND…Connecticut North to Maine and Upstate N.Y. Accounts… CVS Drug, BJ’s Whle Club, Benny’s, TJ Maxx, I Party and CW Price. • N.Y. METRO…N.Y. City and New Jersey. Accounts… Toys R Us and their DOTCOM and Global Divisions, FAO Schwarz, Xmas Tree Shops, Shepher Distributors, Burlington Coat Factory, Buy Buy Baby, Marlon Creations, ToyZam, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Steven’s Intl.,TRU Express and NY area Supermarket Chains. • MID-LANTIC…Pennsylvania, Wash D.C., Northern Virginia and Western Ohio. Accounts…Rite Aid Drug, Group Sales, Boscov’s, Liss Bros, 5 Below and Big Lots. • K mart USA // JC Penney Catalog // Universal Studios Orlando // Gordman’s // Duckwall // Pamida // AAFES • CANADA…Walmart, Toys R Us, Canadian Tire and Big Lots. We employ a staff of 5 toy sales specialists. Our contact information is listed on our above shown letterhead. We welcome your inquiries.
Advertiser Index Activision...............................................................................................79 Adora Doll ...........................................................................................139 Adventure Publishing Group...............................................................180 ALEX ..............................................................................................20, 21 Aliquantum International.......................................................................85 All Things Equal..................................................................................123 American Pacific/Spring Swings ........................................................S25 American Plastic Toys ...........................................................................93 ASTRA................................................................................................S19 Aurora Gift ..........................................................................................135 Bachmann ....................................................................................216, 217 Ball, Bouce, Sport/Hedstrom ..............................................................S23 Bananagrams........................................................................................111 Beamz Interactive, Inc.........................................................................103 BERG Toys..........................................................................................225 Blue Orange Games.............................................................................109 Carrera .............................................................................................26, 27 Cloud B................................................................................................133 Craftstone Group, Ltd..........................................................................153 Creative Toy Co.....................................................................................89 Creative Whack ...................................................................................117 Cuddle Barn.........................................................................................141 Darice ..........................................................................................163, 165 Delta Childrens Products.......................................................................55 DEMDACO .........................................................................................300 Diggin’ Active........................................................................................87 Douglas Company ...............................................................................147 Dracco Company Ltd ............................................................................91 Duncan Toy .........................................................................................S21 Eastcolight .......................................................................................30, 31 Edushape................................................................................................83 Fashion Angels ....................................................................................171 Fat Brain Toys .......................................................................................53 Finch & Associates......................................................................235, 296 Folkmanis ........................................................................................10, 11 Forum Publishing ................................................................................296 Funosophy ...........................................................................................239 George & Co........................................................................................119 Ginsey Home Solutions/Oops .............................................................S13 Guangzhou Litong Exhibition Co. Ltd................................................253 Gund ....................................................................................................145 Hasbro..................................................................................................1, 2 Imperial Toy ........................................................................................137 Imports Dragon......................................................................................99 Innovation First .....................................................................................41 Interactive Toy Concepts .....................................................................219 International Playthings.........................................................................S2 ITMA ...................................................................................................254 Jakks Pacific ..........................................................................................67 Kahootz Toys .......................................................................................169 Kent Displays ......................................................................................177 KidStuff PR .........................................................................................S20 Kids Wish Network .............................................................................249 Konami ................................................................................................223 Maisto ..............................................................................................12, 13
Mattel.....................................................................................................39 MEGA Brands .....................................................................................157 MGA Entertainment ..............................................................................19 Mindware.............................................................................................125 Moose Toys............................................................................................17 Neat-Oh! International.........................................................................159 NKOK..............................................................................................22, 23 Nut Island.............................................................................................127 Ollie’s Bargain Outlet ..........................................................................296 One World Doll Project .......................................................................143 Pacific Play Tents.................................................................................101 Party Animal Toys ...............................................................................215 PlanToys ................................................................................................S9 PlaSmart...............................................................................................107 Playtime Sales & Marketing................................................................296 Play Visions ...........................................................................................81 Pom Tree ..............................................................................................125 Regal Logisitcs ....................................................................................155 Reeves International ........................................................................75, S5 Rubik’s Brand Ltd................................................................................130 Saban....................................................................................................8, 9 Safari Ltd. ............................................................................................S11 Sakar International.........................................................................97, 173 Sassafrass Jones...................................................................................S17 Schoenhut Piano ..................................................................................S15 Sesame Workshop ................................................................................229 Silverlit Toy ...........................................................................................95 Skullduggery....................................................................................32, 33 Smakaball ............................................................................................S29 Smart Toys and Games ........................................................................121 Smart Zone HK....................................................................................149 Sophia’s Heritage.................................................................................151 Speed Stacks ........................................................................................115 Spin Master ............................................................................................47 Tech 4 Kids ............................................................................................69 Thames & Kosmos ..............................................................................161 The Bridge Direct ................................................................................4, 5 The Orb Factory...................................................................................170 The Original Toy Co............................................................................S22 TOMY..................................................................................................6, 7 ToyFestWest.........................................................................................S27 Toy Industry Association .....................................................................299 Toy State ..........................................................................................14, 15 Toy Insider .............................................................................................77 TUV Rheinland....................................................................................233 UL ........................................................................................................129 Underground Toys ...........................................................................71, 73 USAopoly.............................................................................................113 Verdes Innovations...........................................................................28, 29 VTech.....................................................................................................63 Winfat...................................................................................................175 World Tech Toys ..............................................................................24, 25 Worx Toys ............................................................................................167 Yomega ................................................................................................131 Zing Toys ...............................................................................................65
THE AD INDEX IS PUBLISHED AS A COURTESY. WHILE EVERY EFFORT IS MADE TO BE ACCURATE, LATE ADDITIONS AND CHANGES IN LAYOUT MAY RESULT IN ERRORS OR OMISSIONS.
THE TOY BOOK •
Warner Bros. Licenses Animaniacs, Signs a Plush Deal for Looney Tunes
Warner Bros. Consumer Products has developed a licensing program to support Animaniacs, the new animated TV series airing on the Fox Children’s Network. Merchandise will begin appearing at mass market retailers in the spring. In other news, Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Applause Inc. have become partners in the plush category for classic Looney Tunes characters in the U.S. and Canadian gift markets.
T.V. Teddy is YES!’s teddy bear that laughs, sings, and asks children questions while using his endless vocabulary to interact with his specially encoded children’s video tapes. 2. Casio’s Secret Sender 6000 Diary is an electronic organizer for kids. With its special “Magic Beam,” the Secret Sender allows kids to communicate with one another by sending messages from one unit to another via infrared signals. 3. Children can pretend to be the star of Lamb Chop’s Play Along as they play with Direct Connect’s new The Little Shari Doll, which is wearing overalls and holding a miniature Lamb Chop puppet. 4. Clifford The Big Red Dog and Stacy Jones and Schemer, from Shining Time Station, are some of the licensed characters featured on Toymaker’s Talking Stories. When a story is created by the child or told by the toy, Schemer’s mouth moves as he tells the tale. 5. In Kenner’s 1994 line of Jurassic Park action figures, the Dino Trackers are hunters called upon to recapture the dinosaurs that have escaped from the park.
298 • THE TOY BOOK