May/June 2014

Page 1

Vol. 30, No. 3

Smart Tech Toys


ids watch the progression of new tablets, smartphones, and other gadgets on TV, in their homes, and in the world around them and become fascinated with these products. See page 14 for an overview of new smart tech toys made just for kids.

May/June 2014

ASTRA’s Marketplace

page S18



he latest trend in tech, robots are fun and interactive toys for kids with tons of educational aspects and innovative features. Find out how robots are dominating the tech toy space on page S4.

Licensing Expo 2014 page 100

page 25

Chatting with the Industry

page S10

The Real Deal with Minimum Advertised Pricing Policies (MAPP)

page S72

Clockwise from top left: Train with Rail Car Construction Set, from Eitech; Rex, from Gund; Ninjabot, from Areaware; Creativity Cans, from Creativity for Kids; Dreams to Go Groovy Globe, from Cloud b

May/June 2014

in this issue


F eatures


06 Editor’s Viewpoint

Smart Toys

08 Industry Update

A Kids’ Eye View of This Year’s Smart Tech


10 Stat Shot

11 The Big Toy Book &

12 TIA Perspectives

Why Children Play the Way They Do

Blogger Bash ‘14

21Talking Social Media

102 Property Profile:

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy

118 Outside the Box

Toy Licenses: How Important Are They?

International Licensing Expo 2014

Lutz Muller analyzes the impact licensing has on toy sales.

120 International Toy

Industry: ICTI CARE Process Turns 10

124 Industry Marketplace


A Peek at the Upcoming Las Vegas Expo


Setting Up International Distribution: The RODVANS Approach

126 Flashback:



Part 4

Finding the right partners oversees can make a world of difference.

June 1994

Specialty Toys & Gifts ASTRA’S INSIGHTS S3



Published by Adventure Publishing Group, Inc.®

Volume 30, Number 3 P UBLISHER Jonathan Samet E DITOR - IN -C HIEF Jackie Breyer S ENIOR E DITOR Marissa DiBartolo A SSOCIATE E DITORS Christine Duhaime Phil Guie Ali Mierzejewski E DITORIAL A SSISTANT Deanna Atkins E DITORIAL I NTERN Magdalene Michalik P RODUCTION D IRECTOR Anthony K. Guardiola C ONTROLLER /O FFICE M ANAGER Lori Rubin





U.S. Corporate Headquarters Laurie Schacht, President

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





n chatting with specialty retailers from around the country, it became abundantly clear that no matter where in the U.S. they’re located, it is, above all, the product mix and experience they provide that keeps customers coming back to their stores. While mass-market retailers struggle to compete on price and drive traffic with retail exclusives, it can be considered that specialty toy stores are essentially full of retail exclusives that the big-box stores don’t carry—and the service is typically impeccable. It is always clear when you are chatting with a specialty retailer, because every other sentence is directed at customers entering the store, welcoming them, and asking how they can help. Owning a specialty toy shop is a lot of fun and a lot of work. In this issue, we chat with both specialty retailers and manufacturers to find out what drives their success and how they cope with the challenges they face (page S10). Because product mix is so important to retailers and consumers, we look at some of the categories that are trending right now. Consumers are showing increased interest in science and technology, and we address this trend across several features. A lot of emphasis is being placed on products that promote STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics) education. It’s become a hot-button category for the toy industry, with many new items being promoted as STEAM toys. Check out some of the latest items that fit this theme on page 12. In the past couple of years, kids’ tablets has been a growth category with a number of toy manufacturers jumping on board. As the category begins to shake out, new types of tech items for kids are being introduced (smart watches, kid-safe smartphones, etc.). You’ll find an overview of the


Jackie Breyer editor-in-chief

latest tech items for kids beginning on page 14. Robotics was a huge trend we noticed at American International Toy Fair in February. These items are fun and often educational as well. Read our take on this rapidly growing category and the latest product introductions on page S4. And, of course, be sure to check out our ASTRA Marketplace showcase (page S18), featuring some of the great new products that are on exhibit at ASTRA’s Marketplace, taking place June 8 to 11 in Phoenix. ■

“Thanks, Daddy—but I asked for a Robot!” MAY/JUNE 2014



FanTOYstic Fact For 50 years, the G.I. Joe brand has entertained kids of all ages with its collection of military-themed action figures and play sets. While the term G.I. Joe has long referred to members of the U.S. armed forces, the decision by Hasbro to adopt it came after the success of The Story of G.I. Joe, a 1945 movie starring Robert Mitchum and Burgess Meredith. The classic film centered on a company of Army infantrymen facing combat situations in Tunisia and Italy. Designed by the late Donald Levine, Hasbro’s then-head of research and development (Levine passed away on May 22), G.I. Joe: America’s Movable Fighting Man was first unveiled at the American International Toy Fair in 1964. Since that time, the brand has evolved from initially depicting the four branches of the military, to adventurers and superheroes famous for their “kung fu grip” during the 1970s. In 1982, the line was re-launched as G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, which introduced fantasy/science fiction elements; fan favorite characters, such as Snake Eyes and Baroness; and a terrorist organization called Cobra as the antagonist. This popular era served as the basis for two recent G.I. Joe movies from Paramount. To help celebrate G.I. Joe’s half-century of prominence, Hasbro has partnered with Toys “R” Us for an exclusive, 50th anniversary line of 3.75-inch scale action figures and vehicles, which will re-introduce several G.I. Joe and Cobra characters that have not been available for decades. Baroness action figure


TOY STATE ACQUIRES NIKKO, NIKKO ENTERTAINMENT Toy State has secured the worldwide rights to Nikko by acquiring the consolidated operations of its Japan and Hong Kong offices. Toy State has also acquired Nikko Entertainment BV, the European arm of the company’s R/C toy category. Nikko manufactures R/C toys, from custom vehicles, boats, and flying items to an array of preschool R/C toys. These toys are marketed through licensing partnerships with global automakers, as well as brands such as Transformers, Hello Kitty, Fast & Furious, and Angry Birds. The acquisition expands Toy State’s presence to Amsterdam and Japan, as well as in Hong Kong, the location of its current headquarters. The acquisition will also serve as a platform for the company’s continued expansion into Europe. Toy State’s U.S. office is located in Boston.

CTA, TIA ENTER AFFILIATION AGREEMENT The boards of directors of the Canadian Toy Association (CTA), along with the U.S.-based Toy Industry Association (TIA), have approved a formal relationship. Under the terms of the initial three-year agreement, CTA will become an affiliate of TIA beginning July 1, and any TIA member with operations or sales in Canada will be eligible for CTA membership at no additional charge. In addition, CTA members, including distributors, will become eligible for membership in TIA. Financial support provided by TIA will support CTA’s advocacy activities and operational programs, such as the promotion of toy sales in the Canadian market. CTA will no longer organize or host any trade fair or toy marketplace event. A representative of each organization will sit on the leadership committee of the other body. CTA will maintain its Canadian incorporation, its own mission, and its own bylaws. The agreement was approved by the TIA board of directors at its meeting on May 7, and by the CTA board of directors at its meeting on May 8.

WICKED COOL, SESAME WORKSHOP TO PARTNER ON SUMMER AND SEASONAL PRODUCTS Wicked Cool Toys has signed a multi-year licensing agreement with Sesame Workshop for summer and seasonal toys based on classic Sesame Street legacy characters, including Elmo, Cookie Monster, and Abby Cadabby. The licensing agreement covers North America, and the line is ex-


pected to include balls, hoppers, and sandboxes. These items are set to arrive at retail next spring.



Nintendo is planning a new line of character figurines that can communicate with video games, similar to Activision’s Skylanders franchise and Disney Infinity. The new Nintendo Figurine Platform (NFP) was announced on May 8 by Nintendo president Satoru Iwata at the company’s annual financial briefing. “Other than using character intellectual property (IP) in Nintendo’s video game software, we need to start a new business that will someday become one of our core activities,” says Iwata. He stressed the importance of taking risks and coming up with interesting ways for Nintendo to leverage its character IP. NFP figurines will be compatible with the Nintendo Wii GamePad and the 3DS handheld system, and will launch by the end of this year. During his presentation, Iwata described NFP as having both a writer as well as a reader function, so it can tell which character figurines are on the Wii U GamePad, and a compact amount of data unique to each game can be written into and read from it. “That is to say, you will be able to customize your NFP to raise or train your own Nintendo characters,” Iwata says. Products and full details will be unveiled at the E3 expo in June.

THE TOY INSIDER ANNOUNCES TOP TOYS FOR SPRING AND SUMMER The Toy Insider has released its spring edition online at Featuring six categories of spring and summer toys, the Toy Insider assists gift givers in selecting the best toys for the outdoor and travel season. “After playing with and testing hundreds of toys, we created a list that is jam-packed with play value and includes something for everyone,” says Laurie Schacht, Toy Insider Mom. She reminds parents and gift givers to look for toys that provide active play or engaging play that will last for hours, and that will help kids “shut down” their devices and enjoy the great outdoors. The six categories offer products for boys and girls of all ages, and include outdoor toys, water toys, travel toys and games, physical/active toys, nature and educational toys, and entertainment toys.

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, and add that address to your address book to ensure delivery. For up-to-the-minute news, follow The Toy Book on Twitter:, and like The Toy Book on Facebook: Visit our blog at


TIA PRESIDENT AND CEO CARTER KEITHLEY TO RETIRE Carter Keithley will retire as president and CEO of the Toy Industry Association (TIA) effective April 30, 2015, after nearly a decade of leadership with the trade organization. As reported by the TIA, he announced his retirement on May 7, at the TIA Board of Directors meeting held in Scottsdale, Ariz. “My years as chief executive of the Toy Industry Association were the highlight of my 40-year career as an association executive,” says Keithley. “My only regret is that I did not come to TIA as a younger man able to sustain the pace and workload for a longer time. As I enter my 70th year of life, it is time for me to pass the baton to someone with fresh energy, vision, and ambition, so that TIA can continue to serve its members and support the growth and health of the toy industry.” During his time at the association, the annual budget of the organization grew from less than $14 million to nearly $18 million, and TIA’s membership base skyrocketed from 470 members to more than 750 companies, including manufacturers, retailers, sales reps, licensors, toy inventors, and more. An office in Washington, D.C., was also established to accommodate a robust external affairs team comprised of nine industry advocates and technical/safety specialists. John Gessert, chairman of the TIA Board, has appointed TIA Board vice chairman David Hargreaves of Hasbro Inc., and immediate past TIA chairman Soren Torp Laursen of Lego Systems Inc., to co-chair a transition committee that will work with a professional search firm to hire a new executive for TIA.



Top Licensed Toys and Top Growth Licensed Toys Based on Annual 2013 and Q1 2014 Dollar Sales


2014: Q1

Top 5 Brands Barbie Monster High Nerf Hot Wheels Little Tikes

Top 5 Brands Barbie Lego City Hot Wheels Nerf Little Tikes

Top 5 Growth Brands Lego Legends of Chima Nabi Nerf Rebelle Cra-Z-Art Lego Ninja Turtles TMNT

Top 5 Growth Brands The Lego Movie Pokémon Lego City Ever After High My Little Pony Equestria Girls

Top 5 Licenses Disney Princess Star Wars Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mickey & Friends Disney•Pixar Cars

Top 5 Licenses Disney Princess Star Wars Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Disney Frozen Mickey & Friends

Top 5 Growth Licenses Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Doc McStuffins Sofia the First Disney Planes Despicable Me

Top 5 Growth Licenses Disney Frozen Minecraft Sofia the First Disney Planes Despicable Me

Annual 2013

Percent Change in Dollar Sales vs. Last Year

Brands Licenses All Other

Millenial Females Ages 25 to 34 -14.9 percent -1.0 percent -2.2 percent

All Other Buying Segments 0.7 percent 3.0 percent 6.2 percent

Percent of Sales Online

Brands Licenses

Brands Licenses

Annual 2012 49 percent 25 percent

Annual 2013 47 percent 23 percent

Brick-and-Mortar 45 percent 43 percent 28 percent 29 percent

Annual 2013 Percent of Licensed Sales Total Census Region 100 percent 15 percent Northeast 20 percent Central 43 percent South 23 percent West

Percent of Total Sales 100 percent 17 percent 22 percent 40 percent 21 percent

Source: The NPD Group/Retail Tracking Service



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 interact with company representa-

tives 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 17 and 18, 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 or (212) 575-4510 and be sure to visit




Toy Industry Association

Fun & Engaging

EdUCational Toys Pick Up “STEam”

by Kristin Morency Goldman, communications specialist, Toy Industry Association


dentified by the Toy Industry Association (TIA) as one of the top toy industry trends of the year, “Full STEAM Ahead” toys—which teach kids about science, technology, engineering, arts, and math topics—are praised by parents and educators for their ability to get boys and girls experimenting, creating, and exploring the world around them as they play. Many of these playthings also support aspects of the Common Core State Standards VEX Clawbot, from Initiative, which establishes Innovation First consistent education standards for kids in grades kindergarten through 12th in English language, arts, and math, and has been adopted by 45 states to date. “Toymakers are definitely focusing on a new generation of toys that foster learning and creativity for every child, whether that child has a penchant for the arts, science, or engineering,” says Adrienne Appell, TIA trend expert. “These toys—from programmable robots to construction toys that teach circuitry—weave creativity, design, and even technological elements throughout the play patterns.” Showcased at TIA’s 111th American International Toy Fair, the following toys and games are just a few examples of “Full STEAM Ahead” products that are new for this year:



Science Kits (Thames & Kosmos) This line of hands-on science kits is organized into seven series, including the new Spark kits, which retail for less than $10 and make learning new concepts fast and fun, and the “Geek & Co. Science” series, which includes a kit that allows kids to make their own glow sticks using nontoxic phosphorescent substances and ultraviolet light. Mini Science Labs (Uncle Milton Industries) Kids can make their own lava, snow, slime, bouncy balls, spider webs, and more with these low-priced mini lab sets that are available in Star Wars and Marvel licenses.

TECHNOLOGY VEX Clawbot Kit (Innovation First) The ClawBot includes 600 different pieces and electronic components that can be combined to build a programmable robot with a giant claw that opens and closes. MiP (WowWee) The Mobile Inverted Pendulum (MiP) is a fully interactive, hand motion-controlled robot that can be driven using a free app. Kids can play games with the robot and balance multiple objects on its tray while it balances on two wheels.

ENGINEERING PowerUp 3.0 Smartphone Controlled Paper Airplane (Tailor Toys) Simply fold a paper plane, attach the motorized propeller and motor, and watch it take flight. The latest (3.0) version has been integrated with Bluetooth technology so that kids can


control the plane using a smartphone. Deluxe Roominate (Roominate) A wired construction kit designed specifically to get girls excited about engineering, this educational toy allows kids to construct everything—from lamps to windmills—and then wire their constructions with lights and motors to bring them to life.

ARTS OgoBild Bits + Animate (OgoSport) This 75-piece building kit allows kids to create characters and feature them in stop-motion animated movies using the included video software. Combines building, storytelling, and movie-making for endless creative fun. Vivitz (Jakks Pacific) Vivitz is a building toy that incorporates traditional arts and crafts. Young designers snap together the bendable, hexagon-shaped pieces to create colorful jewelry and bedroom accessories.


swer math questions in order to move around the board. Right answers are also rewarded with the opportunity to add baking soda to the “volcano” at the board’s center. The first person to make the volcano erupt wins. myPi (NumbersAlive!) myPi is a 3-D, educational plush figure that includes Pi’s decimal expansion printed around the rim and the geometric definition printed on the back. ■ Trending toys, seasonal play tips, safety information, and much more can be found on TIA’s year-round resource for parents and caregivers:

M o r e B u z z w o r t h y Tr e n d s A recording of TIA’s Toy Trends Tea presentation from this year’s American International Toy Fair is now available at The presentation includes an in-depth overview of each of this year’s hottest toy trends—and includes product demonstrations of some of the STEAM-related playthings mentioned here.

Math Explosion (The Young Scientists Club) The object of this family-friendly game is to correctly an-




SMART TOYS: A Kids’ Eye View of this Year’s Smart Tech by Reyne Rice, trend hunter, media influencer, consultant, and keynote speaker


mart tech and the trickle-down effect are extending into the everyday play experiences of kids and families alike. Along with new kids’ tablets, there are plenty of new products in the categories of kids’ wearable fashion, portable kids’ digital cameras, and even new phones designed specifically for the needs of both kids and families. Early adopters have long embraced smart technology, whether it’s the newest laptops, tablets, smartphones, or other gadgets. Kids watch this progression of new gadgets on TV, in their homes, and in the world around them. Naturally, they become fascinated and want to try their hand at these products. Here is an overview of new age-appropriate kids’ items in the smart toys/smart tech space: Tablets: In 2010, the groundbreaking iPad singlehandedly jumpstarted the tablet computer segment. Only three and a half years later, the category captured worldwide sales of more than 200 million units in 2013. According to Shawn DuBravac, CES chief economist, an estimated 270 million more units are expected to be sold worldwide this year. In the U.S. alone, more than half of households own at least one tablet device. Tablets and smartphones represent 43 percent of all technology device sales revenue globally (Source: GfK Digital World Report). This year, expanded product ranges and content selection are a major trend among the various tablet companies. Kids’ Wearable Motion Cameras: Kid-sized versions of miniature wearable cameras are being offered by a range of manufacturers. Smart Watches: These feature-laden devices are


being offered by at least two manufacturers, with kids’ versions from VTech and FiLIP. Kids’ Phones with Robust Parental Controls: This includes the new Kurio Phone, but other manufacturers also offer wallet-friendly, waterproof options for families with all of the features kids want, as well as the security protections that parents demand. The Kyocera waterproof phone is another affordable option. Wearable Technology: Kids’ fitness monitors and kids’ Google Glass-like devices from companies such as LeapFrog were introduced at both American International Toy Fair and Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Robotics: A variety of manufacturers are reviewed in a separate article by Senior Editor Marissa DiBartolo (page S4), which features a round-up of the latest in robotic offerings for kids. During the coming year, retailers will need to be aware of this growing collection of smart tech offerings and decide which ones best fit their product mix. ■

With more than 15 years as a trend expert, trend hunter, and trend analyst, Reyne Rice has advised on family and youth trends for toys, games, technology, licensing, and entertainment. A seasoned industry professional with 30 years of experience in marketing, researching, and analyzing the toy industry and youth market, she currently advises trade associations, entertainment studios, consumers, manufacturers, and media on the hottest trends. Rice has owned her own consultancy, ToyTrends, since 2003. She can be contacted at


Vivitar’s Camelio tablets offer a flexible user experience on durable and reliable hardware. The Camelio brand offers customizable tablet options for kids, and lets up to five users customize a tablet with their own personality packs, featuring wallpaper, widgets, lock screens, and a themed bumper case in a multitude of brands and characters, including Hot Wheels, Monster High, and Barbie. The tablets are available in 4- and 7-inch models. The XO Tablet, from Sakar, a Vivitar company, offers a 7-inch tablet for kids with all of the standard Android operating system features, including software designed and developed by the One Laptop Per Child organization. This multilingual, Google-certified tablet delivers an engaging, interactive learning experience with access to the latest apps available in the Google Play Store. Its career option software has expanded this year to include environmentalist, scientist, and more, and curated educational content is provided from brands including Discovery, TED, and Oxford University Press. Sakar has also added multiple accessories to deepen the experience, including a telescope and wireless keyboard. A 10-inch version of the XO Tablet will arrive this fall. XO Tablet, from Sakar/Vivitar

The LeapPad2 Custom Edition, from LeapFrog, upgrades the LeapPad2 with more than 100 different ways for kids to personalize their tablet, including 10 sticker skins and 11 digital wallpaper designs. The LeapPad2 Custom Edition comes with nine apps, as well as front and back cameras and video recorders, and 4 GB of memory. Like other LeapPad tablets, it allows access to LeapFrog’s learning library, which contains nearly 1,000 content experiences designed or approved by LeapFrog’s learning experts, and built against a proprietary curriculum of 2,600 skills, including math, reading, and science.


The Nabi FuHu Dream Tab, from Fuhu, incorporates the DreamWorks Animation alliance and an animated suite of characters in its learning islands approach. Available in 8and 12-inch sizes, the 4.4 KitKat Android operating system incorporates an active stylus, a touch screen, and cloud sync technology, and is available in 16 GB or 32 GB formats. The near field communications (NFC) sensor gives it the ability to detect toys that have embedded RFID chips. Kids programming is available with one easy click navigation from DreamWorks Animation, Nickelodeon, Disney, and other content providers, while parental controls offer time limits, allow for locking and unlocking features, and include COPPA-compliant kidsafe email, texting, and sharing options. The internal Wings operating system is aligned with common core standards to provide adaptive learning tools for reading, writing, and math proficiency, and the built-in Creative Studio Be An Artist program gives kids one-on-one video lessons from real DreamWorks animators.


This year, Techno Source offers the Kurio 7s Tablet, a 7-inch, Wi-Fi-enabled Android 4.2 tablet that lets kids email, search the web, read e-books, and more with the protection of Kurio parental controls. The Kurio Touch 4s Handheld is a 4-inch, Wi-Fi-enabled Android 4.2 device that lets kids watch and record videos, listen to music, play with the apps, and surf the web. Parents can determine the child’s level of Internet access. This fall, Kurio will debut the Kurio Xtreme, which is a 7-inch tablet available in two versions, one offering Wi-Fi, the other a 4G LTE version that runs exclusively on the Verizon Wireless network. Kurio 7s Tablet

Suitable for kids ages 18 months and up, Tiggly Shapes, from Tiggly, is an iPad learning toy that helps develop spatial thinking, motor skills, creativity, and language development using a set of four geometric shapes. Durable enough for toddler play, Tiggly Shapes is also gentle enough for iPad screens. Three apps are included—Tiggly Safari, Tiggly Stamp, and Tiggly Draw—and all come in eight different languages. In addition, Tiggly Shapes has a bilingual code that allows children to learn two languages simultaneously.


The InnoTab 3S WiFi Learning Tablet, from VTech, offers an extended software library designed for kids ages 3 to 9. The new VTech Wi-Fi capability offers the unique Kid Connect app, which allows kids to text parents, siblings, and selected parent-approved caregivers, and offers a unique role-playing option for kids that uses real texting with emoticons, visuals, and simple words. The VTech Learning Lodge software library includes more than 650 educational and entertainment games, e-books, music, and videos, with age-appropriate content across a wide variety of curricula. Parents can also track their child’s progress and determine the next software in order to challenge their young learner.

The Galaxy Tab 3 Kids, from Samsung, is a new 7-inch kids’ tablet that integrates solid hardware with a physical home button on the front of the tablet. Parental controls include options for setting time limits and controlling which apps and websites are available from the extensive library in the Google Play Store, as well as access to just about everything Google, including Google Maps, Google Search, Gmail, Google Talk, Google Plus, YouTube, and more. The Galaxy Tab 3 Kids has a 1.2 GHz, Android 4.1 operating system with 8 GB of internal memory, a micro SD slot, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth access, and a USB port. The front camera is 1.3 MP, while the back-facing camera is 3 MP. The Galaxy Tab 3 Kids is suitable for kids ages 3 and up, and comes preloaded with 28 apps, including Toca Train and Toca Hair Salon 2, as well as several video selections.


With the interactive Kidizoom Smart Watch, from VTech, kids ages 5 and up can capture photos, add effects, record videos, and play built-in games. With its 1.4-inch color touchscreen and customizable watch mode with analog and digital clock display, the Kidizoom Smart Watch is a tool for kids learning to tell time. It also includes a rechargeable battery and voice recorder with versatile voice-changing sound effects, special visual filters, and frame effects. Available this summer, it is PC-compatible for uploading photos, videos, and recorded voice files, and includes a USB cable for data transfer and charging.

The LeapBand, from LeapFrog, is a wrist activity tracker for kids that encourages physical activity and promotes healthy habits through games and play. Through the use of the LeapBand, kids can select customizable pets and earn points by caring for and nurturing them. Audio instructions assist pre-readers with verbal cues. Parents can impose time limits and set up to 50 different challenges to unlock rewards. Selected devices can access the Petathlon app to unlock more game play and further motivate kids to be active. Parents will appreciate both the rechargeable battery and water-resistant feature.

FiLIP, from FiLIP Technologies Inc., has introduced a wearable smart locator and smartphone watch device for kids ages 5 to 11. Parents can stay connected with their kids with a wristphone device, smart locator, and short text messaging capabilities. They can also set smart virtual radius zones to monitor their kids’ locations, and can trigger intelligent emergency recordings, broadcasting the child’s location to selected contacts, if necessary. FiLIP is available in four colors, and is oversized, rugged, and water-resistant. It is compatible with both iOS and Android devices and has a simple, kidfriendly, twobutton interface.

ibitz, from GeoPalz, is a wireless activity tracker for the whole family. ibitz Kids features a reward-based kids’ application designed to motivate them to do physical activity, while ibitz Adults allows parents to monitor the whole family’s health from their mobile device. With the kids’ app, kids can play with a spaceship powered by their steps, so the more active the child, the more they can explore and the more rewards they can earn. Kids can also earn coins and exclusive content through Disney’s Club Penguin. New LockerBot technology offers a parental control app that uses physical activity to unlock features on certain tablets, including Kindle Fire and Samsung Galaxy Tablets.

Kids can dive into the world of Peter Parker with the portable Spider-Man DVD Player, from Lexibook. Featuring an exclusive Spider-Man-embossed design with a large 7-inch LCD screen, this DVD player is ready to travel anywhere, and comes with a built-in USB port, parental controls, a battery life of up to two hours, a power adaptor, an in-car adaptor, a carry case, and a remote control.



The Go Xtreme Nano Action Camera, from EasyPix, is an extremely small HD camera that captures fast-action videos with sound and is easy to use. The camera has a 120-degree wideangle lens and waterproof case with 1.3 MP sensor, and is compact and lightweight. It produces 1280- by 720-pixel videos with sound, and includes accessories for diverse sports activities, such as a helmet mount and bike mount with stickers. Other versions, including Wi-Fi, Xtreme Race, and Xtreme UnderSea, are available. The Go Xtreme Nano Action Camera is currently available in Europe and EasyPix is looking for U.S. distribution.

The ATC Gecko Action Camera, from Oregon Scientific, has interchangeable cases and an easy-to-use interface for video and still captures. It also includes a USB cable for digital uploads and a Micro SD slot for advanced and longer film capture. The ATC Chameleon Dual Lens HD Action Video Camera is for teens, more experienced videographers, and sports capture enthusiasts. It includes a helmet mount and other mounting options.

ATC Action Cameras, from Sakar, a Vivitar company, are portable, user-friendly cameras. Built-in Wi-Fi uploads images to a smartphone or social media outlets in a snap, while dual-screen underwater and action cameras are built for all manner of terrain. Vivitar’s line of still and video cameras is designed for easy use, convenience, and portability, while the action cameras offer affordable, high-quality options for kids and families.

SpyMaster Glasses, from Spin Master, offer kids a Google Glasslike experience without the hefty price tag. They have standard VGA resolution, take photos and videos, and transmit kids’ stored images via micro USB (not Bluetooth). These are good for spy-loving kids and parents who are concerned with wallet-friendly tech options.


The Quick Attach Microscope, from SkyRocket Toys, converts an iPhone, iPod, iPad, or Android device into a 30x magnifying lens that can magnify everyday items. It easily snaps over the device’s camera lens, and the lens will automatically adjust to focus in on cool microscopic discoveries. Curious kids ages 3 and up can capture photos or videos of their magnified findings with the existing capabilities of the camera.

The new Kurio Phone, available this summer from Techno Source, offers all the features that kids want with the robust security and controls that parents demand. Promoted as a safe smartphone for kids, the Kurio Phone features parental controls, including 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. Parents can use remote access, add emergency information, and install geolocation, geofencing, low battery alerts, and theft loss triggers. The Kurio Phone will run on the Android 4.2 (Jellybean) operating system and features a multi-core processor, 1 GB RAM, a 480by 800-pixel 4-inch screen, front- and rear-facing cameras, 3G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, GPS, FM radio, and 4 GB of internal memory for storage of apps and files (expandable to 36 GB with a micro SD card).

The Kyocera Hydro Elite waterproof phone is an affordable option for families looking for a kid-friendly phone. This sleek, full-feature phone is durable, waterproof, sound-enhanced, and comes protected right out of the box. The Kyocera Smart Sonic Receiver technology converts the entire touch screen into a speaker, knocking out background noise and enabling call clarity. As long as Hydro Elite is near the ear, users can hear clearly—even when wearing a motorcycle, bike, or ski helmet, a scarf, or ear protection. Phone features include an 8 MP camera and an HD camcorder with digital zoom, while the 1.3 MP front-facing camera is perfect for video chats and self-portraits. For advanced shots, LED flash, auto-focus, panoramic, HDR, multi-shot, and smile-shutter modes are all available. Favorite movies and games can be viewed on the 4.3-inch, impact-resistant, edge-to-edge, HD touch screen. Contacts, videos, and more are easily transferred with touch-and-send NFC sharing. Overall, this is the perfect phone for teens, tweens, or clumsy family members.

Zact Mobile offers kid-friendly smartphone service with pre-loaded Disney apps and content to families nationwide. The Zact Mobile service will come pre-loaded with apps from Disney, including Toy Story: Smash It! and Disney Infinity: Action! The service will also feature access to the best in family-friendly content, such as Disney Video; Disney Music; and Disney’s Spanish language destination, Disney ¡Ajá! It is available on the Virgin Mobile Awe from ZTE, an Android 4.1 device with a 4-inch display and a 5 MP camera.




social media


Ways to Boost


Using Social Media

by Ben Stewart, co-founder and chief technology officer, Social Rebate

Choose the Right Net work Facebook is great for search engine optimization (SEO) when the posts are public, but when users engage and reshare your public content, it is usually only viewable by friends of that user. Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest are better for mass distribution of a message. Remember, if you can’t see it without logging into the network, then the search engines can’t either.

Format Content per Net work Each social network is unique, so why use the exact same content on each one? Make sure your content is formatted to play well with the network you plan to share it on. I often see posts on Twitter that were copied from another source and the message is broken. If I post something to Facebook that is more than 140 characters, I can’t expect it to show up on Twitter in the same complete fashion (it will be truncated). If you are going to tie accounts together for convenience, make sure your posts are formatted to be uniform on as many networks as possible.

Start a Conversation Search engines love conversation threads. When people ask questions on a specific topic, a thread of opinions forms around it. With multiple sources all weighing in on the same topic, the topic becomes much more relevant. Reddit is a great social forum that can generate great SEO when a topic gets traction. Ask questions that are relevant to your brand or product, take a unique stance that will elicit more opinions, and make sure your profile points people directly to your site.

Join Groups and Gatherings There are keyword-rich conversations going on around the so-


cial sphere that the search engines have already found. Forums, public Facebook pages, Twitter trends, and Facebook group pages are a great place to start looking. By jumping in on conversations relevant to your brand and weighing in with your opinions, you can establish yourself as a valued resource. Not only is this a good way to reach new potential customers directly, but if links to the conversation already have solid placement on the search engines, anyone who visits will be exposed to your brand as well.

Use Hashtags Hashtags (#) have become the standard way to single-out talking points in social media posts. Whether you are posting #pictures on Instagram, #tweets on Twitter, or #statuses on Facebook, using popular keywords along with the right trending topics can help your content get noticed. Search engines such as Google have been forced to pay attention to things trending on social networks ever since they became up-to-the-minute sources for news. By tagging your posts with not only what is #trending and relevant to your content, but also adding tags in the form of #keywords you would typically use for search, you can help take your posts beyond the social realm and into the organic search listings. This tactic works especially well when you have lots of people re-sharing it, so offering additional incentives, such as a coupon or promotion, to get people to redistribute your content is always recommended. ■ Ben Stewart has an extensive background in web development and design for large-scale e-commerce companies. Before launching Social Rebate, Ben was head of creative media and web development for DDC Internet and director of development for Out of Pocekt Films at Sony Pictures.


Why Children PL AY the Way They Do PART 4 Gender Differences After Age 3 by Nancy Zwiers, CEO, Funosophy Inc.


n Part 1*, the Funosophy Play Theory described how biologically based play drive is nature’s way of helping children wire their brains optimally for survival, as they progress through three age-based stages of play. Part 2** examined core play patterns of children ages 0 to 2 years, and Part 3*** examined kids in the primary toy-buying years—ages 3 to 7—when play interests largely diverge by gender. Here, Part 4 focuses on exploring gender differences in more detail and covers how play evolves yet again at about the age of 8.

Gender Differences in Play Among Children Over 3 Years As kids approach 3 years old, their play diverges along gender lines. As discussed in detail in Part 3, while boys play

out empowering fantasies of physical power and prowess, girls seek feelings of empowerment through nurturing/social and beauty play.

Evolutionary Pressures These stereotypical “gender-ized” play patterns may make today’s enlightened adults squirm, but they are biologically based, having evolved over the 4 million years since we diverged from apes through natural selection: • Procuring Food: In the eons of human history dominated by hunter-gatherer societies, division of labor was the norm. Survival depended on the physically stronger males honing their hunting ability as females nurtured their young and also gathered edible plant-based food. • Finding a Mate: Mating strategies, central to survival of the species, differed among genders as well. Males physically competed with each other for mates and sought out females who demonstrated fertility and good health through outer physical cues we have come to associate with beauty. Females, for their part, chose their mates based on their perception of the male’s ability to protect and provide, given the heavy investment of energy required for child rearing.

Different Play Styles • In addition to the fantasies that drive imaginative play discussed in Part 3, the genders differ in style of play too, as shown below. Think about how these differences



have arisen in evolution based on the role definition of each gender in hunter-gatherer societies. What’s most important to hunting? What’s most important to those who are not as physically strong? What skills support the finding of nuts and berries? What skills are needed for effective childcare?



How does it move?

What does it look like?

Color and texture not that important Color and texture very important


Cooperation and connection

Clearly established social heirarchies

Emotional intimacy among equals

Fighting to vanquish evil

Kindess to convert evil or to rescue

Sound effects

Verbal exchanges

Play centers around action and risk taking

Play centers around relationships and beauty

Nature vs. Nurture Given how important food and reproduction/child rearing are to survival, nature ensured that each gender would be well equipped to succeed in its respective role. Through thousands of generations of natural selection and the influence of hormones, male and female brains thusly came to be wired differently. Despite the fact that our lives have changed dramatically since the birth of civilization 5,000 years ago, nature moves slowly and the evolutionary-based differences in our brains still exist. Our biological nature is why the core play patterns we see today transcend time, geography, culture, and form factors (e.g., digital). And certainly, while culture can exert influence, the younger the age, the weaker culture’s influence is in overriding deep-seated biological dispositions.

Children Ages 8 to 12+ Years At about age 8, children start to move away from imaginative play and start to experiment with all forms of selfdiscovery and self-expression against the backdrop of the real world. There is a return to the core play patterns of exploration,


discovery, and mastery (especially gameplay). But now, armed with a strong sense of gender identity, these once genderneutral play patterns often become nuanced with gender preferences. For example, boys and men often prefer games involving fighting more than girls and women do. As far as imitation, children will never be as extreme in their gender preferences as they were during the ages of 3 to 7, when hyper-masculine and hyper-feminine cues dominated their attention. Instead, both genders naturally move toward the center. Their drive to imitate continues, but is focused on real world role models, such as celebrity sports stars and pop stars. Culture celebrates certain qualities and children inevitably aspire to those same qualities. To the extent that adult culture produces and celebrates physically empowered females (think The Hunger Games and Nerf Rebelle), little girls will also be motivated to be physically empowered, and vice versa. For example, with the advent of cooking shows headlined by men, more boys aspire to learn how to cook. To the extent that “geek is chic,” children will aspire to be smart, and so on. As we seek to model a more diverse array of behaviors for both genders in our journey toward gender equality, our focus should be on impacting adult culture, which children will always seek to imitate. In the fantasy-rich years of ages 3 to 7, however, children are fairly immune to well-meaning efforts to shape non-stereotypical gender behaviors. It’s best to honor the way these young children naturally want to play. ■ 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 at Mattel, including senior vice president of worldwide marketing for Barbie. For more information on company research or consulting services, call (562) 243-2909 or email *To read Part 1 of this article, see page 50 in the December/January 2014 issue of The Toy Book. **To read Part 2, see page 242 in the February 2014 issue of The Toy Book. **To read Part 3, see page 26 in the March/April 2014 issue of The Toy Book.













Private equity firm Propel Equity Partners has acquired the assets of Summit Products LLC, which include backyard Safari, zillionz, Covert force, Test Pilot, and Stink bugzzz brands. in a separate transaction, Propel Equity Partners also acquired Citiblocs, a line of high-quality, precision-cut wood construction blocks. These lines will be incorporated into the Alex brands family of toy brands. Citiblocs builds upon the presence of Alex brands in the construction category, which already includes ideal frontier Logs, Amaze ’n marbles, kinderblocks, fiddlestix, and the zoob line. Alex brands is a family of brands owned by Propel Equity Partners that includes more than 2,000 products spanning the categories of games, science kits, and the classic Slinky.


Ardian, a private investment company, has acquired toy manufacturer Schleich from European private equity investor HgCapital. The management of Schleich has acquired a substantial stake in the company as part of the acquisition, which is subject to antitrust approval. The transaction was done through Ardian’s EuR 2.4 billion LbO fund v, which the company closed last October. founded in 1935, Schleich is one of germany’s biggest toy manufacturers, as well as an international supplier of traditional figurines and realistic play world concepts that allow children to create their own unique toy landscapes. Currently, the company’s famous figurines are sold in more than 50 countries.




Alexandre Pariente has been promoted to the position of CEO at Safari Ltd. His promotion follows the retirement of CEO Ramona Pariente after nearly 30 years at the company. Alexandre Pariente, who was serving as acting president, is Ramona’s son. Their family started the educational toy company in 1982.








ASTRA’s N e w Strategic Initiatives


by Kathleen McHugh, president, American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA)

strategic plan is like a roadmap: It shows you where you are going and how you will get there. Last year, the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) Board of Directors, which is a mix of ASTRA members who are retailers, manufacturers, and sales representatives, launched an inclusive process to build ASTRA’s new strategic plan. The process was both exciting and frustrating, creative and methodical. The volunteer board members who committed hours evaluating emerging needs and those who provided thoughtful input have earned a resounding “thank you.” What we learned after months of input is that we agree on ASTRA’s purpose and mission. What we need to fast forward is progress toward specific strategic goals that will grow our industry and our members’ businesses. With that, ASTRA’s new strategic initiative was born. Your board has identified four key focus areas for ASTRA’s go-forward growth and member services. Here are some details on each goal:

Build the viability of the specialty toy industry by developing a plan to increase and stabilize the number of independent toy stores over the next three to five years.

The focus here is to imagine the toy store of the future. By leading the way to implementing that model and attracting a new generation of retailers who see the specialty toy industry as viable and worthy of their talents, current toy store owners can pass their businesses to the next generation or sell their businesses as they approach retirement.

Promote stronger cooperation and collaboration among ASTRA’s manufacturers, retailers, and sales reps to increase information flow, innovation, and efficiency among member segments.

There is no greater path to the industry’s future success than all of us working together. To achieve greater collaboration and participation, the board created an industry relations position on the ASTRA staff. This director-level position will be responsible for partnering with manufacturers, retailers, and sales reps to increase the flow of accurate information and to build innovative programs that will result in greater efficiencies and savings for all member segments.



ASTRA’s Four Key Focus Areas 1 The specialty toy industry Relationships among retailers, sales reps, 2 and manufacturers 3 Members’ business skills


Members’ use and leverage of technology

Increase the professionalism of the specialty toy industry by developing new certification programs that address technology, marketing, child development, healthy play, and other issues that contribute to the success of specialty toy businesses.

Increasing the overall professionalism of the industry will lead to greater viability for all segments. To accomplish this goal, the board will hire a curriculum specialist to create comprehensive educational programs in the areas of business, technology, marketing, retail, child development, and play. A new certification program will allow members to feature their expertise directly to industry partners and to consumers. The new curriculum will be made available online and on demand, and will become a featured track of the ASTRA Academy and Marketplace.

Provide tools that can help ASTRA members adopt technology to strengthen their businesses.

Technology is here to stay and businesses that embrace it will gain from efficiencies, as well as connect with their customers who have already embraced technology in their lives. The board will conduct a technology audit with ASTRA members to identify gaps and determine where strategies need to be developed. Starting now, ASTRA will be working hard to tackle these goals—driven, as always, by our members’ needs. We are moving quickly now to implement these new initiatives into our current programs. Join us at the ASTRA annual business meeting June 9 in Phoenix to learn more. ●


Artificially Intelligent & Genuinely Awesome Robots Dominate the Tech Toy Space

by Marissa DiBartolo

Robots were once a fictional model of the future highlighted in sci- ogy-related paths to meet the global demand,” says Norman. “Industry ence-fiction films such as Star Wars and I, Robot. But now, the likes of C- leaders, governments, and educators are all searching for solutions that will 3PO and his modern-day friends are moving from the fictional space to capture the technological interest of students—a call that we are trying to real-world toy boxes. The latest trend in tech, robots are fun and interactive answer by stimulating kids’ interest in STEM and unlocking their potential toys for kids with many educational aspects through the power of robotics.” and innovative features. Age of Recipient

Putting a Fun Face on Education

Some kids are reluctant to learn, and educational toys can sometimes be a tough sell. But roTechnology is integral to so many aspects bots that have adorable faces, perform fun tricks, of daily life, from simple appliances such as or are associated with a brand kids already know microwave ovens, to touchscreen tablets and and love can pique their interests. smartphones. Robotic toys help teach kids the “Kids are mostly attracted to things that look basic programming skills they need to have awesome. We look for toys that do something, success with the devices that surround them move around, and are interesting and fun to play every day. with,” says Josh Brechner, assistant retail manAndrew Quartin, CEO of science toy comager of the Brooklyn Robot Foundry in New pany Thames & Kosmos, says it’s important to York City. teach programming skills to kids at a young Chief Technology Officer of WowWee, age. “Children are like sponges, and they can Davin Sufer, says it’s important to make robots learn a foreign language when they are very entertaining and engaging for kids, with added young. Learning programming is just like educational benefits as a secondary bonus. “First learning a foreign language, so the earlier we 0-2 3-5 and foremost, we want our robots to be fun, becan introduce them to it the better,” he says. 9-11 12+ 6-8 cause if they’re not fun then no one is going to On a more scientific level, robotic toys Source: The NPD Group/Consumer Tracking Service buy them and they won’t get any type of adophelp spark kids’ interest in the fields of science, tion and then all of the great educational stuff we technology, engineering, and mathematics put in there will never go anywhere anyway,” he explains. (STEM). According to Tony Norman, CEO of Innovation First—the comWowWee’s latest robot, MiP, has fun play modes and can dance to pany behind Hexbugs micro-robotic creatures—robot toys engage kids in music, carry as much as its own weight, and teach kids programming science and hopefully inspire them to choose careers in the STEM realm. “At current rates there are simply not enough students choosing technol- through an integrated app.

Being a Kid in the Digital Age

Robotic/Interactive Playmates









Additionally, Thames & Kosmos’ Quartin explains that by making robot toys fun and interactive, it helps kids understand that science isn’t scary. “The biggest thing we try to do is to take the fear away,” he explains. “In elementary school, when you’re learning science the teachers are using big words to describe really simple tasks and ideas. For us, it’s about getting kids excited about it by removing the scary part of science and letting them learn through play and fun.” Thames & Kosmos’ latest additions to its line of robotics include the Vibrobot, the Smartcar, and the Gyrobot, which teaches kids about gyroscopic motors while also allowing them to build a robot that can perform fun tricks, such as walking along a tightrope. Innovation First will introduce its new Vex Robotics line to the mass market this year. Kids can use the included flexible, simple, snap-together pieces to create their own moving, large-scale Hexbug creatures and then program their movements. According to Norman, incorporating a brand kids already know and love will attract them to this new line.

Keeping Price Down and Innovation Up

Many companies try to pack fun and exciting features into robot toys to make them stand out on the shelves, but balancing innovation with a reasonable price point is a challenge. Brechner says price point is one of the most important factors in terms of making the products accessible to consumers. “There are a lot of kits that would be nice to have in stock, but they are just too expensive,” he says. “The highest price point of the standalone kits that we sell is under $40.” While some robotics kits can cost hundreds of dollars, there are a handful that fall in that perfect gifting price range, including WowWee’s line. Sufer explains that it is extremely important not to overload products with too many features, as this leads to higher price points. “Making the products fun and interactive comes naturally, but the pricing part is something that takes time, blood, sweat, and tears,” he says. “If we had limitless budgets for the products, my mind would just explode with all of the amazing stuff that we could do, but we have to live in the real world and that means costing it down and choosing exactly the right features and functions.” Similarly, Thames & Kosmos keeps each of its robotics kits focused and directional, which helps keep the prices low and the messaging clear. “We are teaching about very specific topics in each of the kits,” explains Quartin. “We don’t try and do too much in one kit.”

Gender Bender

While reverse gendering in toys—or toys primarily designed for boys that take on a few pink twists in an effort to appeal to girls—has been a re-



cent trend in the toy industry, many robot toys coming to market are truly gender neutral. WowWee’s MiP is available in both black and white with color-changing LED lights, staying neutral for all kids. Innovation First’s Hexbug products come in a full spectrum of colors, and just like the Hexbugs, the Vex line will also appeal to both boys and girls. “Just as all kinds of kids love bugs, all types of kids will love building Hexbug Vex Robots,” says Norman. “This product line is geared to both girls and boys, both of whom have aptitudes for STEM, robots, and creative, open-ended play.” Thames & Kosmos packages its products in gender-neutral colors, such as orange and yellow, to avoid stereotyping. According to Quartin, the gender neutrality of robots goes far beyond just toys. “The thing is, science in general is gender neutral. Science is for everyone. For us, we’re very careful to position and package our products so that they appeal to everyone,” he says.

Finding a Home in the Toy Aisle

Though there are a handful of specialty stores that focus primarily on robots, such as the Brooklyn Robot Foundry, other mass and specialty retailers do not have a specific home for robotic toys. Typically, they get lumped into the R/C, electronics, construction, or education aisles. While the market does have a wide selection of robotic toys available, it’s up for debate as to whether or not it’s enough to warrant its own section. “From our perspective, robotics is just another area of STEM, so I see it as an off-shoot and another discipline, but at some point it could have a segmented section within science,” says Quartin. Sufer says WowWee is working with major stores such as Target and Wal-Mart to establish a section for its robots as well as competing toys. “There are other robots out there, so we’d like that,” he says. “We think it’s just going to create a section that will make more sense in the toy department. We’re working within those confines right now, but we think something will emerge fairly soon. We’re hopeful.” These futuristic toys have lasting play value as well as educational components for kids of all ages, and though the category has a long way to go before it is fully developed, robots are taking off at lightspeed. ●


Additionally, Thames & Kosmos’ Quartin explains that by making robot toys fun and interactive, it helps kids understand that science isn’t scary. “The biggest thing we try to do is to take the fear away,” he explains. “In elementary school, when you’re learning science the teachers are using big words to describe really simple tasks and ideas. For us, it’s about getting kids excited about it by removing the scary part of science and letting them learn through play and fun.” Thames & Kosmos’ latest additions to its line of robotics include the Vibrobot, the Smartcar, and the Gyrobot, which teaches kids about gyroscopic motors while also allowing them to build a robot that can perform fun tricks, such as walking along a tightrope. Innovation First will introduce its new Vex Robotics line to the mass market this year. Kids can use the included flexible, simple, snap-together pieces to create their own moving, large-scale Hexbug creatures and then program their movements. According to Norman, incorporating a brand kids already know and love will attract them to this new line.

Keeping Price Down and Innovation Up

Many companies try to pack fun and exciting features into robot toys to make them stand out on the shelves, but balancing innovation with a reasonable price point is a challenge. Brechner says price point is one of the most important factors in terms of making the products accessible to consumers. “There are a lot of kits that would be nice to have in stock, but they are just too expensive,” he says. “The highest price point of the standalone kits that we sell is under $40.” While some robotics kits can cost hundreds of dollars, there are a handful that fall in that perfect gifting price range, including WowWee’s line. Sufer explains that it is extremely important not to overload products with too many features, as this leads to higher price points. “Making the products fun and interactive comes naturally, but the pricing part is something that takes time, blood, sweat, and tears,” he says. “If we had limitless budgets for the products, my mind would just explode with all of the amazing stuff that we could do, but we have to live in the real world and that means costing it down and choosing exactly the right features and functions.” Similarly, Thames & Kosmos keeps each of its robotics kits focused and directional, which helps keep the prices low and the messaging clear. “We are teaching about very specific topics in each of the kits,” explains Quartin. “We don’t try and do too much in one kit.”

Gender Bender

While reverse gendering in toys—or toys primarily designed for boys that take on a few pink twists in an effort to appeal to girls—has been a re-



cent trend in the toy industry, many robot toys coming to market are truly gender neutral. WowWee’s MiP is available in both black and white with color-changing LED lights, staying neutral for all kids. Innovation First’s Hexbug products come in a full spectrum of colors, and just like the Hexbugs, the Vex line will also appeal to both boys and girls. “Just as all kinds of kids love bugs, all types of kids will love building Hexbug Vex Robots,” says Norman. “This product line is geared to both girls and boys, both of whom have aptitudes for STEM, robots, and creative, open-ended play.” Thames & Kosmos packages its products in gender-neutral colors, such as orange and yellow, to avoid stereotyping. According to Quartin, the gender neutrality of robots goes far beyond just toys. “The thing is, science in general is gender neutral. Science is for everyone. For us, we’re very careful to position and package our products so that they appeal to everyone,” he says.

Finding a Home in the Toy Aisle

Though there are a handful of specialty stores that focus primarily on robots, such as the Brooklyn Robot Foundry, other mass and specialty retailers do not have a specific home for robotic toys. Typically, they get lumped into the R/C, electronics, construction, or education aisles. While the market does have a wide selection of robotic toys available, it’s up for debate as to whether or not it’s enough to warrant its own section. “From our perspective, robotics is just another area of STEM, so I see it as an off-shoot and another discipline, but at some point it could have a segmented section within science,” says Quartin. Sufer says WowWee is working with major stores such as Target and Wal-Mart to establish a section for its robots as well as competing toys. “There are other robots out there, so we’d like that,” he says. “We think it’s just going to create a section that will make more sense in the toy department. We’re working within those confines right now, but we think something will emerge fairly soon. We’re hopeful.” These futuristic toys have lasting play value as well as educational components for kids of all ages, and though the category has a long way to go before it is fully developed, robots are taking off at lightspeed. ●


LEGO’s Mindstorms EV3 set allows users ages 10 and up to create and command robots that walk, talk, and think. The set comes with building instructions to build one robot, and users can download step-by-step 3-D building instructions to create additional robots. In addition, bonus building instructions—developed by fans and endorsed by Lego—to create the Track3r, R3ptar, Spik3r, Ev3rstorm, and Gripp3r robots are also available. The set comes with three interactive servo motors, a color sensor, a redesigned touch sensor, an infrared sensor, and more than 550 Lego Technic elements. Users can control the robot using a smart device through a free app or with the included remote control. The robot can also take on challenging ready-made missions and has a USB port for WiFi and Internet connectivity. Kids can share their creations and view the robots that other kids have built on the Lego Mindstorms online community website.

Ozobot is the world’s smallest intelligent robot. It combines elements of both digital and physical games for users of all ages to play, and follows, recognizes, and reacts to more than 1,000 different digital codes and instructions. Ozobot is compatible with iOS, Android, and physical board games and can read different lines and colors across all of those surfaces. The robot measures slightly over one inch in diameter and height, is rechargeable, and works with the press of a single button. Four Ozobot games are currently available for download on iOS and Android devices with plans to allow third parties to develop their own apps for the Ozobot platform throughout the next year.

Boomer is the newest robo-pet from SPIN MASTER. The playful dino is designed for kids ages 5 and up. Boomer runs around balancing on two feet, chomps, and whips his tail. Kids can control him in autonomous mode through the sensors in his nose or with the control pod to send him into attack and put him in guard mode. Boomer also protects his friends and can bust out some dance moves. His different moods are shown by the changing color of his eyes.




The Gyrobot, from THAMES & KOSMOS, allows kids to build seven motorized robots with one kit. The models include the gyroscopic robot, a balancing personal vehicle, a gyro horizon, a gyrocompass, a balancing game, a tightrope walker, and a flight simulator. A motor-driven gyroscope—a rapidly spinning wheel mounted so that its axle can move in any direction—is at the core of all of the models. Kids can conduct hands-on experiments with the motorized gyroscope to understand the laws of physics. The kit is designed for kids ages 8 and up and includes a 24-page manual and 102 pieces to create the seven models. DiscoRobo, from TOSY, is an interactive robot that uses beat technology to match any song with 56 dance moves. Kids can play their favorite songs and dance along with the robot. DiscoRobo displays eight different facial expressions that light up and change as he dances. It is available in four colors: blue, red, pink, and purple. A new smartphone app is set to debut in October for iOS and Android devices. The app will allow users to program DiscoRobo’s dancing steps, which will allow the robot to mimic the movements of a beat with a shake of the phone or a swipe across the virtual DiscoRobo on the screen. DiscoRobo is designed for kids ages 4 and up.



The Super Solar Recycler Kit, from OWI, is an eco-friendly way for kids ages 8 and up to use their imagination with recycled goods. The kit is powered completely by natural light and includes a solar panel, a motor, and instructions. Kids can recycle a can to create the Street Roller and Walking Robot; a plastic water bottle to create the Bottle Yacht, Drummer Robot, and Flying Bird; and old scratched CDs to create the CD Racer. This kit teaches kids all about the power of solar energy, motors, engineering, and the importance of recycling.


Chatting with the Industry

Specialty Toys & Gifts spoke with specialty manufacturers and retailers about trends, product mix, holiday expectations, and strategies for success. Mark Carson co-founder, Fat Brain Toys

Tim Holliday owner, Children’s World Sarasota, Fla.

Michael Levins CEO, innovativeKids


How is the proliferation of technology for kids affecting specialty toy sales? Quartin: Technology today encompasses so many things, but whether it’s mechanical technology or digital technology, science is the basis for all of it. At Thames & Kosmos, “technology” and “specialty toys” aren’t necessarily exclusive— one doesn’t replace the other. But this balance relies on kids having a fundamental understanding of technology, rather than being completely dependent upon it. And that’s what we try to focus on: the how and the why of things. As complex technology becomes a bigger part of our lives, more parents will want toys that teach their kids how to survive and excel in our technologically advanced culture.

Towles: That one is hard to quantify. Certainly children are being exposed to gadgets at an alarmingly young age. But we don’t try to compete with that. There is a time and a place for everything. We think there are some educational advantages to things like iPads and tablets. But we also know how valuable play is, and we happily preach that to our customers. Like most everything, balance is key.

Pinsker: Broad access to technology has both positive and negative impacts on toy sales. On the plus side, many parents believe that their kids get enough screen time, so they seek toys that offer play patterns kids can’t get from technology. Specialty toys offer the best solution for parents who feel this way, and this is


something that manufacturers and specialty retailers should work together to promote. In addition, we’re seeing more toys add tech elements, providing a best-of-both-worlds opportunity to improve specialty toy sales. On the minus side for toy sales, the enticing nature of technology and the ease and speed of the delivery system, such as a download, mean that kids of all ages are using technology when they used to be playing with toys. We believe that specialty toys are competing for kids’ time, so time spent with technology decreases sales in the same way as time spent on sports, TV, movies, and other activities.

Carson: I’m not convinced that tech toys are hurting specialty toy sales at all. If anything, I’m seeing increased interest from parents and grandparents in alternatives to electronics and apps. No question, digital entertainment is here to stay, but there simply isn’t a suitable virtual replacement for physical play.

Levins: Technology has accelerated age compression in a significant way as more parents are happy enough to substitute technology like an iPad or iPhone for open-ended play, creativity, and discovery. As these devices get less expensive, this trend will accelerate. Any good retailer would probably agree with this statement based on their store experience. That being said, I believe this provides an opportunity for our company and the specialty industry to present a different view of what is best for children. We must continue to stress


the importance of play in the development of children, provide education, and do outreach to increase awareness. As a company we continually strive to bring a balance of fun and education to our product set, which can provide wonderful value not found in a screen-based experience. I believe there will be a backlash at some future time and a return to a back-tobasics approach to play and toys.

Holliday: Of course, technology has affected specialty toy sales, because kids are so involved with it that, oftentimes, they pick that over a traditional toy or game. That said, I’ve seen a pushback in the other direction with kids—and their parents—who want to do something that’s not technology-related: a good toy, pretend items, a great game, a puzzle. All of these things can give kids a break from today’s high-tech world. On the other hand, there are some great toys that use technology in a good way. Laser Pegs is one of them. While the concept of building bricks is nothing new, Laser Pegs combines that with LED technology to light up the bricks, taking the brick-building concept to a different level.

What are your top-selling toys or categories of toys? Have there been any surprise hits so far this year? Towles: Building toys are always strong. Regardless of the material they are made from (wood, plastic, magnets, etc.), many of our customers continue to see the value in the open-ended play of building. Magnatiles, plusplus, and Tegu are usually at the top of our sales totals.

Holliday: We sell a lot of crafts, and a lot of science items. Also, being in Florida, where kids play outdoors all year long, we sell a lot


of outdoor items. As for surprises, we recently found Uncle Bubble’s world record-holding bubble wands and bouncing bubbles. We brought them in, and they’ve been flying off the shelves. Another recent hit has been Waba Fun’s Kinetic Sand, which also just flies off the shelves. What is your distribution strategy for the specialty market? Pinsker: Our specialty and independent business is the primary focus of our distribution strategy. Because the Klutz brand is wellknown, and because it has such broad appeal, we can sell in a wide range of specialty accounts in addition to toy stores. This reduces our reliance on other channels. Also, we have spinner racks in many stores, so we can focus on maximizing our customers’ Klutz revenue in our existing space instead of having to try to sell in additional items. This focus on specialty shows up in our marketing programs; in addition to free spinner racks, we offer free education programs, play-day kits, and signage.

Carson: Our strategy is simple: Keep cranking out innovative toys and games exclusively for the specialty market. Innovation drives the toy industry and we want consumers to know that innovation begins in the specialty market!

Quartin: Supportive! We face many of the same competitive challenges that specialty is encountering: capital, inventory, terms, cost, etc. For us to compete and succeed, we need to create higher quality products with very high “real value” and a great user experience. We need better pricing and terms from our vendors. We need to offer perfect customer service and technical support to our customers. Understanding what Thames & Kosmos needs in order to survive and excel helps us main-


Jeff Pinsker president, Klutz

Andrew Quartin CEO, Thames & Kosmos

Claudia Towles owner, aMuse Toys Baltimore


Chatting with the Industry tain a focused policy to support specialty retailers. It’s our job to help support the areas where specialty excels and to provide balance in the challenged areas. It is crucial that we ensure that specialty is not at a competitive price disadvantage to big-box retailers, so we offer aggressive price discounts and free freight specials. Separately, many small businesses don’t have the capital to carry the inventory they need and still be able to re-order items that are selling fast, so we offer extended dating to help with the ebb and flow of the year. In addition, specialty can do things that many larger retailers can’t manage effectively, such as in-store playdays, birthday parties, and recognizing and responding to hot trends immediately. It is our responsibility to help support their business models and provide tools to execute their strategies. A good example of this is our In-Store Play Day Kit.

Levins: We clearly see the value of having a vibrant specialty retail market. This is why I believe in the work of ASTRA. I have learned that

asking good questions, coupled with good listening, is really quite effective in learning what our specialty retailers need to succeed. We will continue to make every effort to support the specialty channel with excellent product, superior customer service, and policies that strengthen our retailers, such as our MAP policy, not selling on flash sites, and providing terms that are vital to brick-and-mortar health. In this ultracompetitive age, one must be excellent in a myriad of ways to be successful and this is our goal in terms of supporting our customer base. How do you maintain a product mix that keeps your customers interested and excited to return? Holliday: That is one of the biggest challenges that we, and I would think any, toy store has. We have a lot of people who like the classic toys, or ones that are similar to them, so we like to have a mix of those. Of course, you always have to be looking for something new to show your customers too, otherwise your really good, frequent customers will get bored with you, only seeing

Children’s World



the same products. To combat that, we look all the time and everywhere. When we travel, we visit other stores. We use the ASTRA discussion boards. We use our sales reps. We use trade magazines and online information. Our biggest source for new products is the ASTRA Marketplace in June. And we have a secret weapon, too—our 10year-old daughter. She’s been going to ASTRA since she was a baby, and every year she finds a product that we would have overlooked if she hadn’t spotted it and shown interest in it. Another hard part of determining product mix is determining when you have a “new” classic that you can keep carrying, or when an item has run its course and it’s time to move on to something else.

Towles: Always being on the lookout for new things. New, smaller, less well-known vendors. Things that other stores may not have yet. Our regular customers have come to expect that when they come into aMuse, they will find some things that no one else has. Also, diversity is key (as it relates to country of origin). Yes, so many things in the world are made in China, and that is fine. But if you can also have a balance with toys made from other countries (they are certainly out there), your customers will love it and appreciate more options.

What are the major trends affecting your business in the year ahead? Levins: Without a doubt, the continued growth of online shopping is the most critical trend impacting our brick-and-mortar retailers and, by extension, our company. I anticipate more and more shoppers will move online before a plateau is eventually reached. As a company we have accepted this change and continue to adapt to it. Because of the nature of our products, we rely heavily on brick-and-mortar to be discovered by


Chatting with the Industry

aMuse Toys

consumers. Therefore, we have made a conscious choice of not supplying Amazon directly and working hard to enforce our MAP policy and providing as many creative solutions to our customer base as possible. We feel this is our best option for building our brand and loyalty among our customers.

Carson: The STEM/STEAM movement is aligning really nicely with our own product philosophy. Science, technology, engineering, art, and math have always been key ingredients in Fat Brain Toy Co. products, so it’s gratifying to see consumer demand moving in our direction. There are so many opportunities across the specialty toy spectrum for retailers to differentiate themselves from the same old mass merchandise.

Holliday: We are starting to see some more thinking about shopping and supporting local businesses. In our area, we do not have a real “shop local” program or anything like that. Even the chamber of commerce, in its feeble attempt to promote shopping local a year or so ago,


rolled out a program for it, but to participate, retailers and restaurants had to give a special discount. They totally missed the mark with that and, subsequently, the program flopped. Now we’re getting customers who are making the choice to support locally owned businesses on their own instead of online and big-box choices. Granted, it’s not a tidal wave movement, but at least it’s a ripple across the water of a start in a good direction.

Pinsker: We see five major trends that affect our business: 1. The increasing strength of the arts and crafts category: Kids are looking for ways to express their individuality and creativity, and making items they can wear or display is a great way to do this. Parents themselves are spending more time on crafts, which increases their interest in sharing the experience with their kids, and in buying craft and activity products. 2. Educational value: Parents have made it clear that they are seeking more from toys than just fun; they want toys that provide educational


and cognitive development too. There are plenty of toy products that include pre-reading skills, but not nearly as many that include reading for older kids. Since each of our products includes a book that encourages and engages kids, this trend has had significant positive impacts on our business. 3. Educated consumers: From online reviews to sharing their opinions with friends to recommendations from trained retail staff members, parents are spending more time collecting and assessing information before making purchases. 4. Time: Kids have less free, unscheduled time than ever before. We take this into account by making sure that every one of our products provides everything required for completion. If parents have to scramble around to find glue or yarn before their child can get started, they may have used up all the time their child had available. 5. Quality: Given the economic downturn, I would have expected to see consumers purchasing a larger number of lower-priced products so they would feel like they were giving their kids the same amount or more than in previous years. Instead, we’ve seen people saving to buy a smaller number of products they know will last.

Quartin: For us specifically, there are three trends that I can point to: 1. The transition from STEM to STEAM: Any skill that requires high-level thinking and intelligence requires the ability to tap into your creative cortex, so it’s no coincidence that words like creativity, experimentation, hands-on, innovation, discovery, exploration, and collaboration are part of the language that exists in both the scientific and artistic communities. As the dichotomy between science and art continues to shift to a more collaborative, inclusive approach, there will be so many more pathways for kids to


Chatting with the Industry find their way into either (or both!) fields. 2. Science is cool: We’re seeing a shift in kids’ attitudes indicating that more kids think science and science experiments are really cool— they’re not just for nerds and geeks anymore. Another way to look at this is that it’s cool to be a geek about something you are passionate about. We’re also seeing a general shift in parents’ attitudes toward science. Fewer parents see science, science kits, maker activities, and the like as scary, dangerous, or “too hard.” Parents are encouraging their kids’ natural curiosities in science. 3. Shift to more intelligent play patterns: So many parents are frustrated by the addictive nature of apps. Kids sit and play these apps for hours. It falls to the parent to set boundaries and offer up alternatives that will foster creativity, build life skills, and provide learning experiences through hands-on play. Parents are being much more intentional about when and how kids are allowed screen time. How do you engage customers in your store? How do you encourage customers to return? Holliday: We walk the fine line of providing personalized service while allowing customers the freedom to explore on their own as well. If you are on top of your customers too much, they won’t like it, and they won’t return. On the other hand, if you don’t engage them at all, you’re no different than a big-box store, where there’s no help to be found. Considering that many of the items we sell are ones that customers have not seen before, we really have to engage the customer to educate them on the features and benefits of our products. We also provide great suggestions for age-appropriate items, learning ability, and so on. If you’re not engaging with your customer, you can’t do that. For us, it’s really just getting to know them, so we can help them better. We have several things that we do to en-


courage customers to return. We offer free playdays and give a list of upcoming events to every customer in the store. We offer Birthday Basket registries, free gift wrapping, and phone orders so they can pick up a present on the way to a party that is wrapped and ready to go. We have a rewards program that we call the “Frequent Fun Club,” which encourages customers to shop with us to earn rewards. To stay connected with our customers, we publish an email newsletter in which we provide playday and other play information. Our email also sends information about our Birthday Basket registry a month before a child’s birthday, and sends a Birthday Bucks coupon on a child’s birthday. We also produce videos about our products and events that we post on Facebook and YouTube.

Towles: We really take the time to find out what they are looking for. Our staff has an intimate knowledge of the inventory so they strive to match a customer’s needs with an item they know they will like. If we have to show the entire store to them just to sell one gift, we gladly do it. Enthusiasm is contagious and we have people that like the products they sell. Personal services such as gift wrapping, delivery, and item assembly are always welcomed by customers and they remember that the next time they are in the market for a toy. What are your expectations for the upcoming holiday season? Levins: The brutal winter had a dampening impact on consumer confidence and spending through the first quarter of the year. As we continue to see job growth and greater awareness of the benefits of shopping locally, we will see gradual improvement and acceleration through to the fourth quarter. I am quite optimistic that we will ultimately see a solid year in the end.


Every year it seems that we doubt that consumers will return and every year they do.

Carson: We’re very optimistic about the upcoming holiday. With ASTRA just around the corner, we can’t wait to reveal a couple of new product surprises! We think it could be a breakout year for the specialty toy industry.

Towles: Based on sales so far this year, I think it will be robust. There is no doubt that large online sites continue to see improved growth, but so do we. There is still a large (and welcomed) percentage of the population that cherishes the local, independent shopping experience. Our goals of impeccable customer service and highly curated inventory go a long way in capturing and maintaining those customers.

Pinsker: We are expecting a strong holiday season, and we are building inventory to match our expectations. Klutz’s sales were well above our forecast during the last holiday season, and we’ve had a strong start this year. We’ve logged a significant increase in the number of active specialty accounts, and we expect this to continue throughout the year.

Holliday: We expect to have a good holiday season. We have shown increases in sales and activities during the past couple of years, and we expect that to continue.

Quartin: It’s always hard to predict what the macro-economic environment will be like in November and December, but we are extremely optimistic about this holiday. We have a strong line of kits, a growing demand for educational toys, and a dedicated team of retailers, bloggers, reps, and all-around ambassadors—we expect our best year ever! ●




Sands Alive!, from PLAY VISIONS, is a new moldable sand compound. It can be sculpted and squished, just like real sand. The sand compound is anti-bacterial, water-soluble, and never dries out. This 100-percent all natural sand provides hours of fun with easy clean up.

The Funky Chicken puppet, from FOLKMANIS, has feather soft plush, playful eyes, and a velvety comb on her head. Kids can animate the beak and wings to enliven this gregarious bird for pecking and flapping fun. Ready for mischief, the Funny Frog puppet has expressive eyes and a wide-open smile. Donned in Owlet in Tree Stump chartreuse fabric, this comical character comes to life with a moveable mouth and front legs. The Owlet in Tree Stump rests in its stump and pops out for a fun surprise. The owl features soft feathery plush, while the textured tree trunk is finished with fabric leaves.


NEAT-OH! INTERNATIONAL has new additions to its wooden House of Toys line. The Stow and Play Wooden Farm House is two-sided, has doors with magnetic closures, and comes with assorted farm-themed toys. Both Wooden Farm Animal Stringing Beads and Jungle Animal Stringing Beads come with 12 pieces and string so kids can build three wooden animals. Scratchy the Cat’s Moving Day 17 Piece Train Set is brightly colored and includes three magnetic, connecting train cars, as well as all of Scratchy’s possessions—even his pet fish. Suitable for kids ages 2 and up, the Scratchy the Cat & Friends 30 Piece Starter Train Set is a figure eight set consisting of a four-piece magnetic train, a bridge, a tunnel, road signs, and more. The Scratchy the Cat & Friends 50 Piece Wooden Block Set comes with friendly animals, flowers, and beautifully painted wooden blocks that let kids build a world of fun for Scratchy and his friends. With the Great Big City Train 58 Piece Set & Play Mat, kids can build a multi-level play environment. The set includes a magnetic wooden train with three cars, seven magnetic vehicles, road signs, 22 pieces of assorted track, a train station, a cityscape play mat, and more. For fans of multi-purpose toys, the Two-Sided Magnetic Marble Run and Chalkboard Set lets kids create their own marble run on wooden tracks in all sorts of variations, while the reverse side features a classic chalkboard. This educational toy includes eight magnetic wooden pieces as well as a magnetic musical piece. Okiedog Wildpack is a new line of children’s travel products available in nine animal styles, including Panda, Tiger, and Elephant. Now featured on backpacks, lunchbags, purses, trolleys, suitcases, pippa art cases, and luggage tags, each item has a 3-D design with soft plush ears and is water-resistant. The Wildpack line also features adjustable straps and interior mesh pockets. Neat-Oh! also has Beauty Cuties, a new bag concept featuring colorful girl characters, 3-D designs, and various fabric materials. Suitable for kids ages 3 to 6, these bags are easy to clean, lightweight, water-resistant, and available in many different characters, including fashionista, fairy, ballerina, and mermaid. Two-Sided Magnetic



Marble Run and Chalkboard Set



ADORA’s new SnuggleTime Blooms are a blend of sweetness and love for kids of all ages. Available in three colors, their removable flower hoodies are made of soft, cuddly microfiber plush. Their vinyl heads and soft, squeezable bodies weighted with beans make them great cuddly companions. BathTime Babies each come with a washcloth and a removable animal-themed bathrobe. When the robe is taken off, the babies have swimsuit-printed bodies, making them a fun friend for the bath, pool, BathTime Babies Bear or any water fun. The 100-percent machine-washable dolls have exclusive QuikDri bodies. Each Adora Friends 16-inch doll has its own unique style. Kids ages 6 and up can unlock the magic of friendship with their own Adora friendship bracelet. Each bracelet has a special meaning. Lola, the newest Friend to join the group, features two-toned hair. Adora’s ToddlerTime Babies look and feel like toddlers, featuring hand-painted faces, baby powder fresh-scented vinyl, and handsewn costumes. The Circus Fun baby has polka dot leggings and a white T-shirt with bright ruffles, both in soft jersey knit. Her brown hair is held in place with a pink headband and an oversized pink and turquoise bow, so kids ages 6 and up can bring the fun of the circus home.



Artistix, a new arts and crafts kit from FOXMIND GAMES, features colored wooden pieces in seven different shapes. The wooden shapes are designed to interlock perfectly, making it easy for kids to create beautiful, artistic designs while learning about geometry. Suitable for kids ages 4 and up, each kit includes 200 pieces—enough to make intricate mosaics during free-form play— as well as a booklet full of designs. A new party game for the entire family, Fingo is also a fun way for young kids to learn numbers and develop their observation skills. The rules involve taking 10 cards and laying them out on a table. Each card illustrates two hands, each with between zero to five fingers raised. On the count of three, each player raises his or her hand and shows any number of fingers, while with the other hand, he or she picks up as many cards as possible that match any two raised hands among the other players. A fastand furiously paced game, Fingo is suitable for two to five players ages 5 and up. The object of Last Mouse Lost, a new strategy game, is to help the mice scurry into their holes. Two players take turns pressing down any number of mice in a single row, but whoever presses down on the last mouse loses the round. Whoever wins three out of five rounds is the winner. A mathematical game for kids ages 6 and up, Last Mouse Lost includes a waterproof, washable rubber disc for its game board.



GUND will introduce its newest dinosaur plush, Rex. Rex is a cute and huggable dino that stands 13 inches tall and is made of super soft and cuddly fabric. He features a fun and lighthearted expression. Prancy is an ultra cuddly new kitty character from the babyGund brand. Featuring ultra soft pale pink fabric, Prancy comes in 13-inch plush, plush with a chime, Satineehug, or Comfy Cozies styles. The newest line of My First Teddies was created in soft light brown and is designed for newborns. This ultra cuddly teddy bear features a satin paw pad embroidered with “My First Teddy.” My First Teddies are available in five different sizes. Gund has teamed up with the Curious George brand this year. The Gund 13-inch Curious George Fireman is perfect for hugging. He is made of ultra-soft fabric and is surface washable.




In Doodle Quest, from BLUE ORANGE GAMES, players dive below the sea where there’s fish to gobble, treasure to discover, and divers to save. Players complete each quest with the power of the pen, drawing through underwater scenes on the quest cards. Players draw on separate transparent sheets and must trust their eyes in order to meet targets and avoid obstacles. This unique drawing game includes 36 illustrations and two levels to master. Spot it! Splash is a durable, waterproof version of Spot it!. Surf and sand are no match for the waterproof playing cards, so kids can play all five game variations anywhere. Kids must spot the match between the most card combinations to win. Then they can stash the cards in the waterproof travel bag and soak up the excitement on the go. Spot it! Freeze pits players against an electronic timer and heats up the match-fueled frenzy with three new games. Players race against the clock to spot matches between temperature-charged symbols while looking for a chance to freeze their opponents. Depending on the game, the timer can grant an advantage or cause a hair-pulling drawback. Players must beat the freeze to win. The handy timer opens up to store the playing cards. Opposing sheep herds go head-to-fluffy-head in Battle Sheep, a strategy game for the whole family. The goal is to occupy the most pastures with your sheep. On their turn, players split a stack of their sheep and move a portion as far as it can go in a straight line to a new pasture. Players must watch out for sneaky sheep and plan moves carefully to fence out their foe. A different playing board is assembled before every game, so Battle Sheep is full of new challenges every time it’s played.



The Imaginista Mix ’n Mesh, from THE ORB FACTORY, allows kids ages 8 and up to fill mesh tubes with sparkling jewels, sequins, beads, and more. Kids can mix and match contents, and pour them into the tubes to make unique jewelry. Kids ages 6 and up can use the stylus and follow a numbered legend, adding funky fabric pieces to complete the XOXO Pillow. The leopard print and sparkling fabric creates a pretty piece of room décor. With the Sparkling Sun Jewels Crystal Cuties, kids ages 5 and up can add sparkling jewels to shimmering sun catchers then hang them in the window and watch them glitter.


EDUSHAPE introduces two new items that stress open-ended play. Chickey Puzzle Fun, the fourth puzzle in the Edushape toddler puzzle lineup, doubles as both a puzzle and a sensory balance-type toy. Featuring open-ended construction that places no expectations or pressure on kids, Chickey Puzzle Fun starts as an 11- by 11-inch puzzle with rounded shapes to match, and then progresses to a patterned balancing toy. Chickey Puzzle Fun is designed to build reasoning and logic abilities, fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and visual sensory development. It can also be used in the bath or pool. Shapes ’n Shadows builds on the fun of simple shadows with enchanting shadow visuals. The set includes a self-standing 13- by 11.5inch Shadow Theater Screen, as well as 24 pieces that snap together in different ways to form ever-changing shadow puppet creatures. There are no rules to follow, and kids have the freedom to both invent and discover as they play. Shapes ’n Shadows uses any available type of illumination, such as a window or a flashlight, and encourages role playing, storytelling, creativity, building skills, and more.



ASTRA MARKETPLACE & ACADEMY 2014 REEVES INTERNATIONAL REEVES INTERNATIONAL expands its Breyer Animal Creations line, partnering with tween fiction author Jessica Burkhart on a collection of books and model sets based on the popular Canterwood Crest series. The first book, Charm with Canterwood Crest’s Take the Reins, centers on Sasha Silver and her horse, Charm, as they begin their adventures at the elite riding school Canterwood Crest. In the second book, Aristocrat with Canterwood Crest’s Chasing Blue, Sasha gets new competition from Heather Fox, a self-proclaimed It girl who is assigned as her riding partner. Each book is suitable for kids ages 8 and up, and includes a Classics scale model horse. This summer, Reeves will partner with Basic Concepts on new Aero Force and Hydro Force lines. The Aero Force Glider features precision wing design and technological components that make it glide farther, as well as memory foam wings, a soft EVA foam tip, and a carbon graphite shaft, which makes it super light for extended flight times. The glider becomes airborne when kids use the launcher or simply throw it into the wind. Suitable for kids ages 5 and up, it comes fully assembled in one of six wing designs and doesn’t require batteries. Hydro Force The Aero Force Rapture DLX is a deluxe set that includes a Pro Launcher, an ergonomic hand launcher that makes it possible to achieve low or high altitude launches with the included Aero Force Stunt Glider and Aero Force Glider. Suitable for kids ages 5 and up, it also lets kids perform tricks such as loop-de-loops using the Stunt Glider. The new Hydro Force line features water blasters that can fire up to 30 feet away, as well as pre-pressurized water cartridges that hold a charge for more than 24 hours. The Hydro Force Side Winder has an easy release mechanism that makes it simple to refill with another water cartridge, while the Hydro Force Rapture holds two cartridges at once with synchronized pump action and three adjustable nozzle functions. For the Tolo Toys brand, Reeves introduces the First Friends Stable, which includes a stable and a pony. Suitable for kids ages 1 to 5, it is compatible with First Friends Fences or House.




PLASMART’s Wonky Wheels take the fun of toy cars to a whole new level for kids ages 3 and up. Kids can steer Wonky Wheels easily with one finger and watch how they wobble, rotate, and create new moves. Wonky Wheels help kids enhance fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Kids ages 5 and up can have bathtime fun by turning water into goo and then back into water again. Goo forms when Gelli Baff powder is sprinkled evenly over the surface of bath water. When the fun is done, add dissolver and the goo disappears. Gelli Baff is safe for skin, clothing, and the environment. Wonky Wheels


MaxSport Lazer Pitch Baseball, from DIGGIN ACTIVE, is a pitching machine that allows kids to control the timing of each pitch. Kids ages 5 and up just press the button on the handle of the remote control bat to activate the pitch. Lazer Pitch Baseball includes the pitching machine, a radio control 26-inch bat, and five balls. Lazer Pitch Baseball features adjustable pitching angles that range from normal fastballs to softball lobs to 90-degree pop-ups for beginners. The pitching machine shoots pitches up to 25 feet, and a red light confirms that a pitch is coming. For kids who want to use their own bat, the machine has an auto mode that shoots pitches every eight seconds.



Lil’ Troops, from PARTY ANIMAL INC., are officially licensed U.S. Army action figures. These poseable, 3-inch action figures are safe, durable, and fun for kids ages 4 and up. A portion of each Lil’ Troops sale is devoted to the U.S. Army Morale, Welfare, and Recreation programs. The Alpha Squad will launch this spring with five unique figures, including the Urban Unit Trooper, Rescue Pilot, Infantryman, Desert Trooper, and Recon Scout. More figures will be introduced in future series. With the TeenyMates Touchdown Starter Kit Playset, kids ages 4 and up can play and trade TeenyMates. The play set includes four exclusive American Football League/National Football League figures, a 16- by 11inch football field, 64 playing cards, and two packs of NFL TeenyMates.


The Zano Bow, from ZING TOYS, is a bow-and-arrow combo about one-third the size of the Z-Curve Bow that still uses the patented Zing launch-system technology. While the Zano may be small, it still wields a powerpacked punch. Combined with new mini Zartz arrows and a wall target, kids ages 4 and up will have a complete indoor archery set that is safe and parent-approved. The bow can launch arrows more than 30 feet. Zing’s X6 Zoom Rocket is a multi-rocket launch tower with six soft-foam rockets loaded in a rapid fire, air-powered auto-rotation system. With the X6 Zoom Rocket, kids can launch rockets in succession into flight more than 100 feet into the air. Zing delivers the aerodynamics and kids ages 8 and up deliver the power. The harder they stomp, the higher the rockets fly. Sky Gliderz are soft foam stealth planes that loop and glide more than 120 feet in the air. 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 soaring 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 amazing stunts and loop-deloops at different Zano Bow launch angles.


USAOPOLY celebrates its 20th anniversary with a lineup of new board games. Treasure Trax is an all-in-one scavenger hunt game for kids ages 3 to 5 that makes every day an adventure. Treasure Trax is an active play-and-learn game where kids search for clues to find hidden animal cards. In just minutes, parents can set up the cards around the house and even hide a surprise at the end of this fun and fast journey. Reverse Charades provides a classic twist on the game of charades by allowing more players to get involved. Instead of one person acting out a clue for a team to guess, a team acts out clues for one person to guess. This family friendly game is designed for players ages 6 and up. USAopoly will also expand its line of licensed games with The Game of Life: My Little Pony. Fans of the brand can choose from four collectible ponies and journey through Equestria to the Summer Sun Festival. On this quest that starts in Ponyville, players ages 8 and up will overcome challenges, find supplies, and learn about friendship. The classic dice game Yahtzee will get a science-fiction twist with Doctor Who-inspired versions. Yahtzee: Doctor Who Dalek and Yahtzee: Doctor Who Tardis are great for play or display, and each features a collectible dice shaker cup and custom dice. Munchkin: Adventure Time brings players ages 10 and up into the Land of Ooo. Kids can play as Finn, Jake, Marceline, and other favorite characters who know a thing or two about looking for trouble and scoring sweet loot. With help from pals including Tree Trunks and Susan Strong, foes like the Ice King don’t stand a chance.





With the pieces included in SMART TOYS AND GAMES’ Mega Ball Run set, kids can build water parks, jungle gyms, and more. They can build anything they imagine with a slide; colorful small, medium, and large magnetic bars; bright-colored tubes; and metallic balls. The Home Sweet Home kit allows kids to create decorative houses or imaginative buildings with the flowers, windowsills, shutters, bars, and balls. Masters of construction can build DNA strands or a tripod with the new Tripod Set. The set’s Y-shaped bars and balls allow kids to build unique 3-D structures. SmartMax vehicle and building sets collide with the new Factory with Car and House with Car sets. A yellow truck with friendly eyes, wheels, and a bed for storage accompanies the Factory with Car set. Additionally, tubes, bars, and balls can connect to create mazes. House with Car includes a friendly-eyed four-wheel vehicle that is green and features a cockpit. Shutters, windowsills, and bars unite to build houses, garages, and more.


CREATIVITY FOR KIDS, a Faber-Castell brand, has expanded its Creativity Can family. Six new themed cans, including Art, Build, Critters, Music, Stories, and Motion will join the Big Creativity Can at retail this year. Each Creativity Can includes unique hands-on craft materials that develop imagination, problem solving, and critical-thinking skills in kids ages 4 and up. With the Bright Bead Bracelets Mini Kit, kids can combine unique flower beads and stretchy beading cord to make three super bright bracelets. Kids ages 7 and up can wear one at a time or stack them all together. Tassel Bracelets is a trendy jewelry set that includes everything kids ages 7 and up need to make seven tassel bracelets. With multiple colors to choose from, kids can match their mood or their favorite outfit. Designer details include cat’s eye and sparkle beads, silver finished charms, and faux suede tassel accents. Kids ages 6 and up can cuddle up with a cute kitty or favorite puppy pal with the Pet Talk Pillow. This 12-inch square, two-sided decorative pillow comes ready to personalize with dozens of peel-and-press fabric and felt stickers. Kids can record their own bark, meow, or secret message with the included mini recorder. The photo-realistic pillow features a puppy on one side and kitty on the other, and kids can decorate both sides with fabric bows, glasses, mustaches, crowns, and other fun accents.




The latest addition to DAYDREAM TOY’s SkyTrix line is SkyTrix Birds of Prey, a flying toy that glides like a plane, soars like a kite, performs tricks like a yo-yo, and can be caught like a flying disc. The concept is a plane on a tether, but the design and performance are highly responsive, and no batteries or gyroscopes are needed to keep it in flight or balanced. Adults and kids ages 8 and up can use SkyTrix Birds of Prey for long-distance games of catch, but it also works for games of boomerang for kids on their own. As users adapt to the feel of the tether, they 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.



THAMES & KOSMOS introduces its new Geek & Co. Science line, a set of 12 project kits that use hands-on activities to teach about chemistry, engineering, and electronics. For each one, kids construct a tangible, keepsake item that they can display afterwards as evidence of their scientific exploits. The Glow Stick Lab includes non-toxic phosphorescent substances that make three different colored glow sticks, while the Crystal Nightlight lets kids grow a big crystal from alum powder and then wire it up as a nightlight. The Neon Light Writer allows names to be written with vibrant electroluminescent wire and a pegboard, and teaches about electric circuits and lighting technologies. Other kits include Slime Time, which lets kids explore electrochemistry by constructing a working clock powered by slimy goop; DIY Solar System, a kit for crafting the solar system with yarn planets; Giant Mars Volcano, a buildable, erupting model of Olympus Mons, the largest volcano in the solar system; and Crystal Jewelry, which allows kids to grow beautiful jewelry, including a pendant and a ring. Even more chemical reactions are possible with the Plasma Reactor, which yields an oozing, bubbling liquid lamp. With Musical UFO, kids can build an electronic musical device that works like a theremin, controlling the pitch through hand movement. Grass Head can be used to grow a shaggy green friend with grass for hair, while Ultralight Airplanes have different wing configurations for exploring lift and flight. Finally, with Wind Racer, kids can build four wind-powered models and learn about both wind energy and motion.


SAFARI LTD. Safari Ltd.’s new line of products features animal friends for kids of all ages to collect and love. The Good Luck Minis Duckies are authentically detailed and hand-painted for added realism. The soft and squeezable figures are 0.75 to 1 inch tall, and are recommended for kids ages 5 and up. The pink Incredible Creatures Piglet is 4.75 by 3 inches, and features a hand-painted sculpt. This realistic squealing piggy is appropriate for kids ages 18 months and up. The blue-eyed Good Luck Dragon blesses kids with everlasting luck. Sized at 8 by 2.75 by 3.75 inches, this hand-painted sculpt is appropriate for kids ages 4 and up. The Best in Show Dachshund stays true to this small dog’s long body and short legs. This toy is authentically detailed and hand-painted, so children can engage in hours of fun and imaginative play. This sculpt measures 3.5 by 2 inches and is appropriate for kids ages 3 and up.

The Gloss Party, from SENTOSPHERE, lets kids create lipsticks and creamy lip balm using natural waxes. The kit provides kids with materials for four lipsticks and four small jars of balm. Arts and Creations kits let kids ages 5 to 9 build on the board with images, birds, or buildings, attaching them with self-stuck foam blocks to create a 3-D picture. With Bracelet Chains, kids ages 10 and up can create six bracelets using gold or silver chains braided with cotton threads or translucent beads. The new Aquarellum “Paris by Night” set lets kids create a masterpiece, thanks to a special masking technique on vellum paper. The picture appears as kids stroke the brush within the design area. The intensity of the colors can be blended together in the palette or on the board, and kids have the freedom to choose whichever colors they like.

Best in Show Dachshund





Sew Cool, from SPIN MASTER, encourages kids to start sewing in a safe and easy way. The Sew Cool Sewing Machine, recommended for kids ages 6 and up, is a threadless way for kids to create purses, pouches, characters, and more out of the included patterns and pre-cut shapes. Refill kits are also available. Wackytivities Kinetic Sand Pack is squeezable sand that can be packed, pulled, and shaped into anything and never dries out. It oozes, moves, and melts like a liquid, but it keeps hands dry and doesn’t stick. The 6-ounce Kinetic Sand Neon Hourglass kit is available in green, pink, blue, orange, red, and purple. With the Kinetic Sand Beach Box Set, kids can craft a sandbox full of sculpts that features seahorse, turtle, fish, and sand Sew Cool Sewing Machine castle molds. Kids can build and rebuild the Meccano Evolution ATV off-roader, featuring functional front and rear suspensions that allow it to handle any terrain. Recommended for kids ages 8 and up, the 4x4 comes with tools and instructions to turn it into a three-wheel bike. Spin Master’s next generation of pets now features the Zoomer Dino Boomer, which runs and balances on its two feet. Boomer can be played in autonomous mode, which allows him to use the sensors in his nose to play, or users can pick up the control pod to send him on attack or put him in guard mode. Boomer chomps, whips his tail, and changes his eye color based on his mood. Spot Five: Beat the Bell is a fast-paced family game that mixes fruit with fun. To play, flip over fruit cards one at a time and be the first one to ring the bell once five of the same fruit cards are facing up on the table to earn the cards. The player to earn the most cards wins.


CREATIVE TOY CO. brings the Clementoni line of blocks to the U.S. Made in Italy, these soft, safe, and colorful blocks can be safely chewed, stepped on, sat on, or squashed. The line offers bigger blocks for stacking or smaller blocks for constructing, and stimulates both creative play and manual skills. The Clemmy Shape Sorter is a soft block shape sorter that includes 18 blocks in six different shapes. The sorter helps to develop manual and sensory skills for kids ages 6 to 18 months. The Clemmy Turtle is a pull-along turtle with rolling wheels and a shell that opens up and holds 15 soft blocks inside. Kids can close the shell and stack them on top. The Clemmy Plus Train Station is a 30-piece set, which includes a colorful train that moves around a track and has real train sounds. The set features three characters, three train cars, and accessories. Creative Toy Co. will also introduce Clementoni puzzles, each of which has added value beyond just the puzzle. The Animal Shaped Puzzle includes two fun animal puzzles in one box without a rectangle border, while the Double Fun Growth Chart Puzzle (Boys) includes glue for sticking it together and then hanging on the wall to measure kids’ heights at different dates. There is also a spot for adding pictures. The Sweet Princess Jewel Puzzle has packaging in the shape of a little girl’s purse, and includes gem stickers for decorating the completed puzzle.


The Original Super Spirograph, from KAHOOTZ TOYS, lets kids ages 8 and up create their own unique pattern shapes with the classic interchangeable SpiroTracks. This 72-piece set comes in a durable storage case with a work surface, and features a real metal die-cast No. 50 Spirograph wheel to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the original Spirograph.

Clemmy Turtle





Teen dreams will be even sweeter with the new Dreamz to Go Groovy Globes, from CLOUD B. This new collection of lights features graphics of hearts, flowers, and peace signs. Available in pink or blue, these glowing globes add a stylish touch to teen décor as they project a dazzling light show of shapes. Perfect for home or sleepovers, the lights automatically shut off after 45 minutes to create the complete darkness for sleeping recommended by pediatricians.


SPEED 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


ALEX BRANDS has new additions to both its Poof and Alex Toys brands. With the StratoSlam Rocket Super Set, kids slam the blast chamber to send rockets soaring up to 200 feet. It includes two foam-tipped rockets, a launching dock, an air hose, and a blast chamber. The Strato-Slam Rocket Battle Blast is a deluxe dueling set that invites kids to see whose rocket can soar the highest. It includes six foam-tipped rockets, a pair of launching docks, hoses, and blast chambers. Both are suitable for kids ages 5 and up. Sketch It Nail Pens—Hot Hues lets kids use two-tip nail pens to paint and sketch nails in five bright colors. The set includes professional grade nail polish. The Sketch It Nail Pen Salon lets kids sketch and paint their nails with five different colors of two-tip nail pens, one tip being the nail polish brush and the other being a precision tip for intricate detail. Nail designs are created with color-in appliqués that kids fill in using the precision-tipped pens. Both kits are suitable for kids ages 8 and up. Metallic Hair Chalk Pens transform hair to punk in minutes. The five mess-free, vibrant chalk pens glide smoothly onto hair and wash out easily with shampoo. The Deluxe Hair Chalk Salon lets kids color their hair 12 colors, including metallic ones, and add shimmering beads. It includes washable hair chalk pens, beads, a plastic storage case, a beading tool, and hair elastics. Both sets are suitable for kids ages 8 and up. The new Gigantic Racket Set features two giant rackets that are lightweight and have soft foam grips. For kids ages 3 and up, it includes a foam tennis ball and an oversized birdie. Kids can easily create intricate mandala designs in chalk with the new Sidewalk Sweet Stuff Mandala stencil. For kids ages 5 and up, it includes a large plastic stencil, six colors of jumbo chalk, and a drawing guide. The new Color a Backpack comes in Cutie or Pirate, and includes brightly colored markers so kids ages 4 and up can design and color them in.




ASTRA MARKETPLACE & ACADEMY 2014 HOTALING IMPORTS Zooblock, from HOTALING IMPORTS INC., is a range of heavy-duty construction toys made from wood, rubber, metal, and plastic. Suitable for kids ages 4 to 8, each vehicle is enclosed with a special tool made for small hands, and can be put together in different ways. New Observation Puzzles feature graphics on 54-, 100-, and 200-piece selections for ages 6 and up. Once each puzzle is complete, kids can try to find all the items shown around the border inside the main graphic. A full-size poster of each puzzle is also enclosed. Zooblock is introducing Djeco games, a new line that includes Tombalo, a game for kids ages 7 and up that requires balancing sticks, beavers, and logs across a pond without anything falling into the water. The other Djeco game is Tortuboom, which involves rolling dice and falling turtles. Tortuboom is suitable for kids ages 5 and up. New art products include All My Beautiful Dresses, a Djeco art kit that involves rubbing. A total of 16 scenes are included, along with 12 texture plates and five colored pencils. Another kit, Fish Rainbows, combines glitter art and sand art, while Rose Is Inspired puts spiral drawings into artist’s backgrounds to create new patterns.

MADAME ALEXANDER DOLL CO. MADAME ALEXANDER DOLL CO. has partnered with Isaac Mizrahi in New York for a doll collection featuring limited-edition collectibles and 18-inch play dolls. The Isaac Mizrahi Modern Iconic—Limited Edition 21-inch collectible doll is in a modern iconic dress inspired by one of Isaac’s recent designs. She also comes with accessories to complete her head-to-toe look. The Isaac Mizrahi Classic Iconic—Limited Edition 16-inch Alex doll is dressed in a white ribbed T-shirt and a long “Isaac pink” taffeta ball skirt. Both dolls come with an illustration card drawn by Isaac Mizrahi. The Isaac Mizrahi 18-inch play dolls feature soft, huggable bodIsaac Mizrahi 18-inch play dolls ies and trendy Isaac Mizrahi-designed outfits. Dolls in the collection include Isaac Mizrahi Glamour in Lace, Isaac Mizrahi Hooray, Isaac Mizrahi Cutie, and Isaac Mizrahi Wild About Leopard. Madame Alexander also introduces new baby and newborn collections. New Born Nursery Babblebabies look and feel like a real baby and act real with babbling and cooing noises. The six new dolls include boy and girl Babblebabies and will be available this fall. The My First Baby collection includes My Baby Brother and My Baby Sister, featuring soft, cuddly bodies with molded heads and limbs and cotton knit onesies. The Baby Peekaboos collection comes in four styles: a dog, a kitty, a bear, and a bluebird. These babies entertain little ones with hats that move up and down for a game of peekaboo. The My Sweet Lovies collection features Bubble Gum Ballerina, Very Berry Ballerina, and Cotton Candy Ballerina. The washable cloth dolls all have taffeta tulle ballet skits and matching ballet flats. Madame Alexander will also feature two new Steam Punk collections. The Wizard of Oz collection includes Limited Edition Steam Punk Dorothy, Limited Edition Steam Punk Wicked Witch of the West, and Limited Edition Steam Punk Glinda the Good Witch. These 16-inch dolls are characters inspired by the 19th century science-fiction and fantasy look. The second collection features Alice In Wonderland Steam Punk Doll and Mad Hatter Steam Punk Doll in 10-inch, bent-knee doll form. These re-imagined characters are inspired by the classic looks of Alice in Wonderland characters with a new twist.






The Playful Chef Deluxe Cooking Kits, from Mindware, feature 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. The kits teach hands-on lessons in kitchen safety, science, measuring, nutrition, seasonings, and cleanup. One kit is designed for kids ages 3 and up and the other is designed for kids ages 6 and up. 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. Kids and adults can ovenbake 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. Seek-a-Boo helps kids ages 1 and up learn the names of colors, shapes, animals, foods, and more while seeking and finding each match. Seek-a-Boo! includes 36 large, round “Seek Me” photo cards to scatter face down around the room, and 36 matching “Find Me” cards for a parent or teacher to call out. 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. Keva Brain Builders sparks an interest in STEM in kids ages 7 and up. Full-color cards include a 2-D building challenge on one side and the solution on the other. Kids must manipulate the Keva planks to successfully duplicate the balance, proportion, composition, and geometry featured on each card.


Each new LASER PEGS kit is multiple toys in one. The 8 in 1 Car Runner kit comes with a motorized power base that can send creations zooming in any direction, and has two speed and four light settings. The eight models include the Micro Tuner, Speed Runner, Mini Truck Runner, Patrol Runner, and more. Each kit also comes with four laser pegs and 24 tinted construction bricks. The 8 in 1 Tank Runner kit has a motorized power base with two rubber tracks that carry creations anywhere they need to go. The eight different models include the Small Crane Runner, Tank Runner, Duel Cannon Tank Runner, Recon Runner, and more. Each kit includes a runner power base with two speed and four light settings, two laser pegs, and 24 tinted construction bricks. The Zippy Do 3 in 1 kit lets kids build an airplane, car, or helicopter, and the Zippy Do power base lights them up for bright and colorful adventures. The kit also includes a stunt ramp and 18 construction bricks. With the 30 in 1 National Geographic Landmarks and Archaeology kit, kids can build models such as the Colosseum, Big Ben, and the Lincoln Memorial, and then light them up. Each kit includes a sound-activated 3-D Lite Board with storage bin, 32 laser pegs, and 244 construction bricks. The Power Block line of 8 in 1 kits includes the Power Block Sports Car, Power Block Truck, and Power Block Bulldozer. All three can light up as part of the play experience. The Power Block Sports Car features models of the Rally Car, F-1 Racer, Modified Racer, and Land Speed Record. Each kit includes a power block power base, two laser pegs, 83 construction bricks, and four tire pegs. The Power Block Truck Kit features Jeep, Humvee, Pickup Truck, Truck Rod, and more models. Each kit comes with a power block power base, two laser pegs, 100 construction bricks, and four tire pegs. The Power Block Bulldozer Kit includes models of the Claw Crane, Excavator, Dump Truck, Bulldozer, and more. The set comes with a power block power base, two laser pegs, 100 construction bricks, and four tire pegs.




The new Berg Compact Sport and Berg Compact Pink are designed for pedalers ages 4 to 12. These new karts from BERG are equipped with the BFR hub—pedal forward, stop, and pedal in reverse—so that kids can drive their kart with dexterity. As with all Berg pedal karts, adjusting the seat is simple and quick, so they can easily be shared with family and friends. The karts have fun swing axles that keep the tires—which are designed specifically for compacts— on the riding surface, and the tires are infatable.


The MANHATTAN TOY CO.’s imagine i CAN line consists of colorfully designed tins, each containing a game, craft, or role-play activity that requires only imagination. Joining the line are four themed adventures that include fashion design, temporary tattoos, and more. Character Mix-Up includes 101 magnetized pieces, four paper background scenes, and endless combinations of characters and creatures. Kids simply place a background scene on the inside of their tin box and then select which magnetic pieces to add. When play is done, everything goes back into the sturdy case. With Fashion Friends, little fashionistas can make their own statement 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 a variety of colors and choices. The kit also includes a fashionable tin case with a handle for easy storage and portability.

Berg Compact Sport

PATCH PRODUCTS PATCH PRODUCTS announces two new additions to its preschool toy line Mirari, which consists of back-tobasics play with a unique twist. The 5.5-inch durable myPhone play phone features a touch screen with 12 colorful light-up icons that kids ages 6 months and up can press to hear the ABC song, a lullaby, a “snapshot” sound, and more. The phone also features a record and ring ability so adults can record a message on the phone for children. Using the included remote-control heart, adults can activate the phone ringer from up to 25 feet across the room and kids can hear the message. The Bouncy Bop Shape Sorter is a classic shape sorter with added bouncing fun. Kids ages 1 and up can enjoy fitting the six colorful shapes into the coordinating holes on top of the 8-inch-tall sorter. When the shapes fall inside, they bounce on the bouncy surface, and once all of the shapes are inside, kids can push the side handle to activate the paddle and watch the shapes bounce. Patch Products is also the exclusive specialty distributer of the Perplexus line of 3-D maze games. This year, it offers the latest design, Perplexus Warp. The warp-shaped maze game also features Warp Drive, an external slider used to manipulate the ball inside, which is crucial to a certain section of the maze track. Perplexus Warp features nine internal cups that act as “baskets” when the marble is manuevered to leap into them, and a new internal pivot that gives the illusion of a magnet sticking to the ball, defying gravity, as it travels across a bridge with no rails. Designed for kids ages 6 and up, Warp has six flagged check points and 80 challenging events.





DREAMS USA Coink! Rich, from DREAMS USA, is the latest and largest in the company’s series of piggy banks for kids. The bank is available in a variety of colors and sizes, including mini, big, and rich. The Projector Rocket clips onto kids’ backpacks or can be used to keep keys handy. Each Projector Rocket has a push-button-activated light that projects an image of an alien on the wall. It is available in three colors and projected images. Hunting Trophy/Locker Lights are sculpted animal heads that light up when they are touched or moved. Kids can attach them to a door, wall, refrigerator, or other surface with three magnets or through a keyhole slot. The light stays lit for about 15 seconds and then goes out. It is available in three styles, including yellow deer, pink elephant, and blue water buffalo. Earth Light is a nightlight for kids that stays illuminated for approximately one hour. The accurately sculpted model of the earth measures about 4.5 inches in diameter and is available in blue and green or multicolor. Projector Rocket


The Nursery Trampoline, from GALT TOYS, will help develop confidence and encourage coordination and balance in kids ages 1 and up. It is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use with a tubular steel frame, a padded cover, an easy grip handle, and rubber feet. Marble Racer is a construction set for up to four players ages 4 and up. The set features three special racing pieces, including a starter gate, a racing vortex, and a podium. A variety of chutes and wheels are also included for a fascinating race.

In GoldieBlox and the Dunk Tank, the newest set from GOLDIEBLOX, Goldie has to find a way to get her dog Nacho clean, but Nacho hates water and loves being a dirty dog. After many tries to get him clean, Goldie comes up with the perfect contraption. As kids ages 4 to 9 read along, they help Goldie build a dunk tank to get Nacho clean while learning about hinges and levers. This set builds spatial skills, engineering principles, and confidence in problem-solving. It comes equipped with three design ideas and, since it is compatible with all other GoldieBlox toys, it provides endless building possibilities.

KID O This year, KID O introduces new miniature vehicles and animals for everyday play. Mini Air Planes have rolling plastic wheels and easy-to-grasp bodies, while Mini Go Cars have curved roofs that double as handles, as well as plastic wheels that roll along any path. Both Mini Air Planes and Mini Go Cars come in red, blue, and green. For bath time, both Mini Tug Boats and Mini Ducks are available in a variety of colors. The Mini Ducks, a smaller version of Kid O’s larger Floating Ducks, fit in the palm of kids’ hands and have solid seams that prevent water leaks.

Mini Air Planes

Nursery Trampoline




ASTRA MARKETPLACE & ACADEMY 2014 UNIVERSITY GAMES WizzWorx, from UNIVERSITY GAMES, allows kids to mold and bring their own toy creations to life. The line includes Alien Slime Jumpers, Wind-Up Walking Zombies, Wind-Up Walking Gobblers, and Wind-Up Walking Dinosaurs. The products are made of air-dry dough, which hardens in 24 hours, and they feature a wind-up function, which allows the creatures to walk. Kids ages 3 and up can put together the 36-piece Pete the Cat 2-Sided Floor Puzzle Suitcase. Based on the children’s book series, this puzzle features a fun shape and a carrying case for on-the-go play. Man Bites Dog Board Game has new words and is more outrageous than before. The object of the game is for players to create the craziest headline using the cards in their hand. Kids ages 8 and up can play with two to six players. In The Very Hungry Caterpillar Lunch with Friends game, players flip over cards one at a time and race to be the first one to place a token on the corresponding picture on the game board. The game comes in a lunchbox tin for easy travel. Kids ages 12 and up can play the Truth or Dare card game, which makes sleepovers and parties fun with embarrassing dares. The more questions players answer correctly, the quicker they can get rid of the Truth or Dare cards in their hand.


Two to six players ages 7 and up can explore interesting and exciting places around the world with Explore the World, from OUTSET MEDIA. Players will learn facts about both the natural world and the man-made world in this family-friendly board game. For a twist of fun, action cards can advance a journey or steer players off course.



Kids ages 4 and up can learn the basics of programming with THINKFUN’s Robot Turtles. This game requires one to four players, an adult, and no computers, as the grown-up acts as the computer, following the kids’ commands. The goal is for kids to get their turtle to a matching colored jewel, and to laugh along with all of the goofy bops and beeps along the way. Gravity Maze is a gravity-powered logic maze that challenges kids to build a path that will carry their marble to its target. This game tests visual perception, reasoning skills, and kids’ abilities to think carefully. With Move & Groove, toddlers are encouraged to move, laugh, and learn through game play without the pressure of competition. Kids toss the plush cube to determine color, choose a matching colored card, and then perform the given move on the card. Zingo Time-Telling teaches young players to tell time as they read the hour and minute hands on an analog clock and translate it to a digital time. There are two levels of play for kids who want even more of a challenge. Both beginner and experienced readers can play Zingo Word Builder. With two levels of play, kids can slide the Zinger and claim tiles to fill their Zingo card with threeletter words.




With SMART LAB’s It’s Alive! Slime Lab, young scientists can explore the messy side of science. The motorized Slime-O-Nator and custom lab equipment allow kids to make the slime recipes, and then watch as the slime appears to grow, dance, and mutate. A goop-scoop measuring spoon, mixing cup, dropper, slime stick, and graduated cylinder are also included. Kids ages 8 and up can turn cell phones and tablets into science labs with Smartphone Science. Point, click, and share discoveries using a smart device as a scientific instrument. The set includes a smartphone/tablet mount, a 40x microscope, two polarizing filters, two color filters, a slide with three microscope specimens, and a carrying case. The Inhuman Squishy Zombie challenges readers to follow the steps of the scientific method to try to solve the case of a zombie outbreak. As kids read the 24-page graphic novel, they will have to use their brains and examine their zombie model for clues to the mysterious zombie plague. It’s a race against time to diagnose the symptoms and stop the contagion.


Poinsetta Tutu Mouse, from DOUGLAS, is a dancing mouse ready for holiday fun and frolic. A swirl of red tulle with silver sparkles, she has a matching ear bow, red ballet slippers, and a delicate embroidered necklace, and stands 9 inches tall. This holiday season, Douglas will introduce the Polar Bear Family, the Penguin Family, the Pig Family, and the Husky Family. These animal groups make great collective or individual gifts and stand 11, 15, and 22 inches tall. The lush and beautifully soft Barker Husky is almost life size at 30 inches lying down. Douglas now has a partner for Grace White Horse. The 27-inch Filomena Horse is a soft, graceful, dreamy, big white horse. The Spotted Pig Family features soft fabrics and expressions that give these 7-, 10-, and 13-inch sitting pigs personality. Spotted Pig Family


It’s My Biz, from FASHION ANGELS, empowers tween girls to become female entrepreneurs by doing activities they already love. The activity box includes all the essential items for tweens to complete finished products as well as tips and tools to help create and run their own businesses. The line includes four Biz kits: Cup-Cakery Bakery Set, Vintage T-Shirt Shop, Bead Boutique Jewelry Design, and Lacquer Lounge Nail Salon. It’s My Biz kits come with a useful guide about how to run a business, such as tips on bookkeeping, merchandising, advertising, and marketing. There are also tools included with each business kit that girls can design themselves, such as receipts, business cards, price tags, and order forms. The line also has the Ultimate Business Guide Book, which provides more information and inspiration for girls to start their own business based on their interests, run a charity event, and much more. Style.Lab is a new brand by Fashion Angels with ready-made tween and teen lifestyle products. The line features the hottest trends in jewelry, room décor, watches, scarves, handbags, cell phone cases, sunglasses, hats, and journals. Style.Lab has a product for every girl no matter what her style is—boho chic, sporty, glam, or rocker. Style.Lab was created to help build and develop fashion sense, self confidence, and personal style in tweens and teens.




ASTRA MARKETPLACE & ACADEMY 2014 NATIONAL SPORTING GOODS NATIONAL SPORTING GOODS’ pogo sticks—Grom, Flight, and Condor—feature a concealed, low-friction spring that enables smoother, higher, and quieter bounces. Grom and Flight are designed with high-quality materials with comfortable foot pedals and handle bars for improved balance, control, safety, and durability. Grom is designed for kids ages 5 to 10 between 40 and 90 lbs. and is available in red or purple. Flight is for kids ages 9 and up weighing from 80 to 180 lbs., and is available in black or blue. Condor is engineered for a higher bounce (3 to 4 feet for an experienced rider). Features include a redesigned footplate with a flat underside and a replaceable, super-durable grind plate allowing for more tricks and stunts. It is recommended for kids ages 8 and up, with a maximum weight load of 200 lbs., and is available in black or white. The YBike Explorer 2.0 is a three-wheeled, pedal-powered go-kart with new wheels and an adjustable frame for a faster ride that grows with a child. New lighter, aerodynamic wheels made of puncture-proof material allow for better handling. The optional extension bar adjusts the length from the seat to the pedals up to 3 inches, allowing the Explorer 2.0 to expand from youth size to teen and adult sizes. It is recommended for kids ages 5 and up and is available in either black and green or white and orange. The YBike Evolve 3-in-1 Trike transforms from a classic pedal trike, to a three-wheel balance bike, to a two-wheel running bike. The bike is designed for preschoolers to develop balance and coordination and gain necessary skills and confidence to enjoy the thrill of pedaling a two-wheeled bike. Changing the bike from one form to another requires adding or removing a wheel and pedals, as well as changing a rear axle—very easy for an adult to do. The bike is recommended for kids ages 2 to 5.

MARK-MY-TIME now has a line of 3-D art bookmarks featuring a countdown session timer with an alarm, a cumulative timer to record and store 100 hours of reading time, a 60-second fluency time, and a time-of-day clock. Designed for readers of all ages, the bookmark helps track reading time for school reading logs or summer reading programs. The new 3-D artwork set is available in dinosaur, sea life, and wolf styles.

HOG WILD TOYS HOG WILD will introduce a new collection of its Poppers for kids ages 4 and up. The Sword Popper lets kids shoot and strike foam balls with this blaster with rapid-fire action. Kids load the foam balls into the barrel and pull back the handle to release them up to 20 feet. The Sword Popper comes with 12 foam balls. Kids can take Poppers on the go with Popper Key Chains. With a small squeeze, the string-attached ball pops out and never rolls away. The collection includes a pig, a sock monkey, a dog, a cow, a penguin, and a dinosaur. When kids squeeze the Squirrel Popper, he shoots acorns out of his mouth. The Love Popper is a pig who blows kisses out of its snout in the form of six foam balls with lips printed on them. By squeezing the Chicken Popper, kids unleash egg-colored foam balls up to 20 feet, while the Pony Popper horses around, launching foam balls from his mouth. When kids squeeze the new Zombie Poppers, their eyeballs or “brains” pop out, shooting more than 20 feet. The Zombie Popper comes with six soft foam balls and comes in boy and girl Zombie styles.

Penguin Popper Key Chain

YBike Explorer 2.0







HEDSTROM is set to debut new products to get kids moving this year. Kids ages 3 and up can bounce around on the Yellow Spring Hopper. The 18-inch hopper is made of durable vinyl and provides hours of active fun with exercise benefits. Kids ages 3 and up can bounce, throw, and collect their favorite characters from Nickelodeon, Marvel, and Hello Kitty with Sculpted Foam Balls. The Azteca Soccer Ball, for kids ages 4 and up, is a durable, 32-panel soccer ball that kids can play with outdoors. The ball is available in many colors and designs based on ancient Aztec artwork and heritage. Hedstrom’s line of sensory toys for babies ages 6 months and up will expand to include Sensory Light-Up Balls. Bright colors and lights will captivate babies while they bounce the balls. Each ball includes an LED light for visual stimulation as well as a scent that complements the graphics. Sensory Sportz is a cloth-covered sports ball, perfect for developing kids. Bright colors and bold patterns help engage a baby’s developing sense of vision and curiosity. The cloth exterior is soft and light so babies can bounce and roll the ball with ease. Kids can hop, step, and play with Sensory Stonez. The durable vinyl stones are great for helping children with balance, coordination, and gross motor skill development. Each stone Sensory Twistz has a different tactile feature that will keep kids engaged and entertained. Sensory Stepperz engage kids in play that helps to develop balance, coordination, and gross motor skills. Great for indoor or outdoor play, these durable vinyl Stepperz can be rinsed for easy cleaning. Kids can twirl and swivel Sensory Twistz to create shapes and designs with the colorful, connected foam balls. Sensory Stakkups allow kids to build, learn, and have fun. These versatile, stackable cups offer a safe way to develop coordination and gross motor skills. Kids can build a tower, play hide-and-seek, or nest cups together.



FAT BRAIN TOY CO. introduces Arx 2.0, a colorful magnetic building toy for kids ages 3 and up. Each set consists of 24 pieces and two bases, and can be used to construct gravity-defying towers on any flat surface. Flink is a puzzle suitable for kids ages 12 and up. To solve a Flink challenge, players set up the board, follow the directions on the game tiles, and then return the jewel pieces to their proper place. But completing all three steps may test even the most astute puzzle lovers. Another new puzzler is Hex-Hive, which includes 40 challenges suitable for kids ages 8 and up, and combines visual spatial thinking with simple math. The object is to cover up all spaces in the hive so each color totals the number seven. Moonscape calls on puzzle solvers to fill in all the craters around the entire moon. Kids ages 8 and up can spin the inner sphere around and shift the quadrants. In Peek-a-Doodle-Doo, two to four players collect 12 eggs and return them to the crate. Game pieces are in constant motion in this fast-moving game, which is designed to improve concentration and memory skills in kids ages 3 and up. A fast-paced combination of block play and skill building, Smarty Blocks gives players one minute to complete as many challenges as possible. Designed to boost reading, spelling, sequencing, math, logic, visual spatial skills, and more, the game offers 120 multi-level challenges for kids ages 3 and up. The push ’em together, pop ’em apart game play of Squigz returns in Squigz Benders. This time around, the fun suckers bend, twist, and loop for creative play. Available in a 24-piece set, Squigz Benders are completely interchangeable with the original Squigz, and come in 4-inch and 6-inch sizes. Teeter Popper is a bright, colorful new activity toy for kids who cannot get enough of bubble wrap and popping sounds. Measuring approximately 18 feet by 30 feet, it features 14 Squigzsized silicone suction cups.

Arx 2.0



CALLIOPE GAMES Roll For It!, from CALLIOPE GAMES, is a resource management game that blends the luck of the dice with decision making for two to four players ages 8 and up. Players try to score 40 points by rolling dice and matching cards of specific point values. Each roll presents players with new opportunities and fun decisions to make. The object of the game is to roll it, match it, and score it, but other players may steal the card another player is shooting for.



AREAWARE’s black and white Ninjabots are made of a powerful, hardwood frame that can endure generations of ninja battles. The Ninjabots can hold dozens of poses, while their elastic band muscles and beech wood limbs allow them to withstand breakage. These cube-inspired figures are available in two sizes: micro (4.2-inches tall) and small (6.25-inches tall).



PACIFIC PLAY TENTS PACIFIC PLAY TENTS’ Jumping Sacks is a set of four sacks featuring four different colored pockets on the outside so kids can engage in a variety of games. The 12-inch Kaleidochute Giant Parachute promotes group play and is best used at events such as parties, and picnics. Kids can play more than 100 different games with the Kaleidochute and it comes with its own carry bag so it can be taken anywhere. Girls can engage in imaginative play with the Flower Power Dome Tent. This tent can be set up inside or outside and features mesh ventilation panels at the top to allow air to flow freely through the tent on warm days. Kids can explore the ocean with the Ocean Adventures Dome Tent. This durable, washable tent can be played with inside and outside and features mesh ventilation panels for kids to see outside. The bright colors and fun designs will spark kids’ imaginations during playtime. The Come Fly with Me Tent features a fun plane design that takes kids on a learning adventure. Set up the tent inside or out in the backyard and allow kids to engage in imaginative and cooperative play. The mesh ventilation panels keep kids cool when they’re inside and allow parents to easily peek through. Kids can crawl through the Under the Sea Mesh Crawl Four-Inch Tunnel for an underwater experience. Kids have plenty of space to play and wiggle through as they curve around corners. The tunnel features interior padding for safety and comfort and the mesh fabric allows parents to keep an eye on kids. Kids can connect several tunnels together to create a giant maze.

Jumping Sacks


BUILD & IMAGINE introduces three new magnetic building sets for girls as part of the new Build & Imagine StoryWalls line. Theses illustrated building sets connect magnetically to inspire storytelling. Kids can build a scene in any configuration they choose, and then decorate their scene and the included dolls using magnetic accessories. The pictures on each StoryWall panel provide jumping off points for imaginative play. Build & Imagine will launch Malia’s Beach House, the SurfSide Café, and the Marine Rescue Center for this upcoming holiday season. Kids can collect all three and Marine Rescue Center look forward to additional themes and accessories in the future. Build & Imagine StoryWalls store and travel well, and help kids develop important skills, including spatial reasoning and problem solving.

ANAGRAM Mayflower Distributing has partnered with ANAGRAM INTERNATIONAL to study the needs of specialty toy retailers and present a new source of revenue designed just for them—AnagramExtra. Anagram Extra is a curated collection of ballons selected to help grow the business of specialty toy retailers. AnagramExtra offers different balloon designs, including Inflate-A-Fun balloons, giant AirWalkers, SuperShapes, Orbz, and AirWalker Balloon Buddies. Licensed characters include Disney, Hello Kitty, Thomas & Friends, and Sesame Street. Each balloon is equipped with the self-sealing reusable valve developed by Anagram. Automatic balloon-filling regulators make inflation easy. All of the accessories and merchandising tools for retailers are included with the program.



IMPROV ELECTRONICS IMPROV ELECTRONICS is set to release its Boogie Board Original 8.5 LCD eWriter in cyan and red this year. Putting a colorful spin on an old favorite, the new Boogie Board Original 8.5 LCD eWriters feature a red case front with a red LCD screen, or a cyan case front with a cyan LCD screen. The new LCD screens allow the same paperless writing as the original eWriters so kids and adults can write or draw with the included stylus or almost any other instrument—even fingers.

THE ORIGINAL TOY COMPANY THE ORIGINAL TOY COMPANY has two new items for kids ages 3 and up. The Giant Town Jigsaw is a chunky jigsaw play mat that includes 15 pieces, which can be combined to form a 33.6- by 27.4-inch picture. Part of the Orchard Toys Giant Road System, it can also be connected to both The Giant Road Jigsaw and On the Farm Jigsaw to form one extra large system. The Original See Saw helps children burn off extra energy and keep fit through outdoor play. It moves up and down, and around and around, and features easy grip handles, a heavy-duty steel frame, and a seat ground stopper. The see saw meets all federal government safety standards, and holds two children at up to 77.5 pounds per-child, or a combined maximum weight of 155 pounds. It retails in a fullcolor box with a product weight of 17 pounds, and is easy to store.

Original See Saw




ASTRA MARKETPLACE & ACADEMY 2014 ELF MAGIC ELF MAGIC will introduce the Elf Magic Playworld, which lets kids personally select their favorite elf, as well as pick up a four-legged elf pet, such as the Magical Reindeer or the Ho Ho Husky & Sleigh. This year’s additions include the Pom Pom Penguin, a baby penguin who was left out in the cold. The new Elf Magic Elf and 10 Play Accessories is a starter set for the holidays. Suitable for kids of all ages, it includes a Sleigh Express Travel Ticket for one 10-inch Magic Elf, as well as accessories, such as a keepsake box that doubles as a bed/table or workbench. The play set also includes a miniature snowflake blanket for the Elf, North Pole Magic snowflakes, a trifold fold-out play scene with removable stickers for decorating, and a letter from Santa on caring for an Elf. Additional scenes and accessories are available for download, further enhancing the play experience. Elf Magic also has new Elf fashions that complete any wardrobe. Pom Pom Penguin


DARICE 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 the No Sew Pillow Puffs Cat, kids can create their own stuffed animal friend using stickyback felt. Kid can decorate the bright and colorful cat with a sticky foam collar and a bow. The cat comes with its own toy mouse. The No Sew Pillow Puffs Dog is also available and comes with its own toy bone.

No Sew Pillow Puffs Cat


With the Lego Duplo School Bus, from LEGO, kids ages 2 and up can build a bus shelter, help the bus driver stop at the traffic lights, and drive to the shelter to pick up the kids. This set includes the bus driver and two children Duplo figures. Kids ages 4 and up can save the day with the Lego Juniors Knight’s Castle. They can ride out with the brave King’s knight on his white horse to stop the bad guy before he topples the castle walls with his catapult. Featuring easy-to-build models, this castle-themed set is specifically designed for first-time builders. The set also comes in a brick-shaped box that is ideal for storing and transporting, and includes three minifigures: the King, the King’s knight, and an evil black knight. Also from Lego is the Furry Creatures set. Kids ages 7 and up can move his whiskers, ears, and mouth to give the cat different expressions and adjust his legs to create different poses. This model can be rebuilt into a puppy or a rabbit for more animal fun. The Lego Friends Jungle Bridge Rescue set lets kids ages 7 and up save the baby bear from a rickety bridge. They can rush Matthew to the scene in his off-roader and hover Mia’s helicopter over the bridge to winch down the stretcher and rescue the bear. Later, Matthew and Mia can explore the cliffs and discover treasures. The set includes Matthew and Mia mini-doll figures and a baby bear. The Lego City line expands with the Arctic Outpost set, featuring a high-tech mobile laboratory. The truck’s engine and tires allow it to cope with tough conditions. Kids ages 5 and up can grab useful tools from the truck’s storage and attachment points. The detachable mobile laboratory contains computer screens, a microscope, and more equipment to support the explorers’ search for the hidden secrets in the ice. The set includes three Arctic explorer minifigures with assorted accessories. Lego Duplo School Bus






The Green Kids, Maya and Victor, go worldwide working with children from other cultures who also become Green Kids. THE GREEN KIDS CLUB was developed to teach kids the importance of protecting the environment and the animals that live in it. The first eight books address difficult environmental situations such as habitat encroachment, water issues, poaching, and threatened and endangered species, and they engage children through environmental adventures. The stories are also available in Junior and Spanish versions. A set of plush toys is available so kids can act out the stories or develop their own environmental adventures. Kids can add to the experience by joining the free Green Kids Club online, where they can engage the concepts they learn.

TOYSMITH has new items that challenge kids’ minds and imaginations through play and exploration. NightZone Light Up Hoops is a basketball set that includes a 9-inch hoop and a 3.5-inch foam ball, both of which light up to allow for play and practice at nighttime. The hoop has two lighting options to choose from: either a consistent light or a flashing effect. Talking Headz features 10-inch animal masks with elastic bands. The wearer has a trigger in their hand, which they can push to move the mask’s mouth up and down. The masks are available in monkey, hippo, tiger, and panda styles. Toysmith’s new Catchy Light Up Kendama offers a twist on the classic catching game. The user can switch on both the 6.5-inch pin, as well as the 2.5-inch ball, so they light up for either daytime or nighttime play. Similar to any Kendama, there are numerous tricks for kids to attempt.






BEAD BAZAAR lets kids discover creativity in weaving and take their custom designs to new heights with the Portable Wooden Lap Loom. Weaving helps kids improve manual dexterity and develop a sense of confidence in their ability to create. This kit includes a wooden lap loom, assorted bundles of colored yarn, warp string, two stick shuttles, a tapestry needle, and an instruction and design booklet to create up to three accessories. The Art of Creativity Safety Dance makes creating eyecatching jewelry simple. This kit includes an assortment of beads, chains, safety pins, and string to create multiple pieces of fashion jewelry. Easy-to-follow instructions include how to make a beaded elastic band bracelet and tips on how to attach chains to each other. Bead Bazaar’s ABC Peg Board comes with 26 chunky, colorful alphabet pegs, designed for kids ages 3 and up. The peg board helps develop fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and letter recognition. Kids can explore the alphabet while learning colors and memory skills.


THOUGHTFUL TOYS has reinvented the traditional toy car with its Modarri toy car line, which includes a Street Car “S1,” a Dirt Car “X1,” and a Track Car “T1.” Kids can create their miniature cars from the wheels up and then drive them with their fingers. Swap parts between cars using the included Hex Tool for a unique look and the ability to invent new tricks. Each modular car includes a chassis, hood/windshield, seat pan, seat, fenders and frame, four wheels, and front and rear suspension. Due to small parts, Modarri cars are recommended for kids ages 6 and up.

GEOCENTRAL Kids can learn and discover with GEOCENTRAL’s Excavate & Explore kit. A sculpted and hand-painted dig block, a digging tool, a dusting brush, a magnifier, a keepsake bag, and an educational booklet are included, so kids can feel like real archaeologists. The GPAN-Gold Panning Kit is a fun set that allows kids to pan for gold, while also teaching kids about the history of the 1849 Gold Rush. Kids will feel like real miners as they use the included magnifier, tweezers, and 7-inch miner’s pan to sift through the dirt and strike gold. An educational guide is also included. Little geologists can learn about rock specimens with the Rock Science Kit, while the Break-Your-Own Geodes kit comes with a set of 10 geodes in assorted sizes for kids to learn about and then break open. GeoCentral also offers Magic Message Pens for writing secret messages to friends and siblings, and a Bag of Jokes that contains five classic practical jokes that can be played on anyone: Snake Eggs, Flies & Spiders, Nail thru Finger, Fake Teeth, and Snapping Gum.




LOCKER LOOKZ LOCKER LOOKZ will introduce a new line of decorations and designs to spruce up lockers and show off individuality. The Wallpaper with Four Panels has die-cut perforations that punch out to accommodate hooks and locking mechanisms found in all school lockers. There are eight styles to choose from. Each set includes one door panel, one back panel, and two side sheets. The Peony Flower Magnets come in five colors. Each 4-inch decorative flower has a neodymium magnet with a gem centerpiece that sparkles. The Gem Magnets come in five different colors and are in the shape of gemstones. Locker Bins store small school supplies, such as pencils, erasers, paper clips, and more. Available in 12 prints and colors, these bins hang securely with three magnets. The Locker Shelf features two legs that can support the heaviest books, and its smart design has two side panels that slide out to fit the width of the locker before locking in place. The Acrylic Magnetic Locker Mirror is 9 inches in diameter with six prints available. The Acrylic Magnetic White Boards feature six colors and measure 8 by 12 inches. Locker Lookz also offers Acrylic Locker Frames to show off BFFs or crushes. For a cozy look, Plush Fur Locker Rugs come in three solid and two print styles this year. The non-skid backing secures the rug to the bottom of the locker. Kids can light up their lockers with Locker Chandeliers, Jewel Locker Lamps, and Locker Sconces. Locker Chandeliers have magnetic motion sensors so they’re only on when you open the door. Jewel Locker Lamps come in three pretty colors with bright LED lights to help find things in a dark locker. Locker Sconces come in a beaded or damask print. The hidden magnet attaches it to the wall or door.


With UNCLE MILTON’s wall decals, kids can bring the enchantment of Frozen to their bedrooms and playrooms. Olaf the Snowman—Wall Friends is more than 13 inches tall and lights up with synchronized phrases. Kids can interact with Olaf and use him as a trusty nightlight with adjustable high and low brightness. The auto shut-off feature controls when Olaf turns off, so he’s not on all night. Snowflake Light Dance creates a beautiful snowflake light show. The bright snowflakes dance on kids’ walls and offer six different light show programs. Also included is a large Queen Elsa decal. Olaf the Snowman—Wall Friends Kids can also decorate their rooms with the 10-foot Frozen Light Vines. These dancing, multi-colored lights come with attachable snowflakes and interchangeable light covers with Frozen character details.

AEROMAX The Youth Astronaut Helmet, from AEROMAX, allows kids ages 3 and up to pretend to be an astronaut. With a moving visor, NASA logo, and decorations, kids can dream big. Combined with the other Aeromax space products, kids can travel out of this world. 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 outside. 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” spelled out 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. Details include a solid black pack with red and yellow accents. The center focuses on fire rescue symbols such as a fire helmet, ax, ladder, and hydrant. Youth Astronaut Helmet

PEBBLE The colorful Organic Bear Rattles, from PEBBLE, are crocheted using 100-percent organic, hand-twisted cotton yarn and filled with 100-percent polyester. Each friendly face has a lopsided grin and a looped handle for easy grasping. Recommended for babies ages 3 to 12 months, the 7- by 4.3-inch crocheted toys have a soft rattle sound and are perfect for teething and fine motor development. Organic Bear Rattles are available in orange, soft purple, and petrol blue. Pebble’s Organic Giraffe Rattles are also new this year, featuring unique colors and whimsical designs. With big smiles, brightly colored hooves and horns, and a gentle rattle sound, these large toys measure 11.8 by 4.7 inches. Available in soft purple or petrol blue, crocheted Organic Giraffe Rattles are recommended for children ages 3 months to 5 years. Floppy ears, soft bodies, and happy hues make Pebble’s new Rainbow Bunny Rattle and Large Donkey fun, huggable companions for kids and babies. Both are crocheted using 100-percent cotton yarn and filled with 100-percent polyester. Great for teaching colors, the 8- by 6.7-inch Rainbow Bunny Rattle is recommended for ages 3 months to 5 years, while the 15.5- by 6-inch Large Donkey is designed for kids ages 1 to 6. The donkey features a smiling face and a bright green tufted mane accented with aqua, coral, and purple stripes on his soft, gray body. Large Donkey







With UKLOO KIDS’ Riddle Edition Treasure Hunt, kids ages 7 and up can solve the riddles to find the surprise. This new game is an engaging seek-and-find literacy game that combines reading comprehension and thinking skills with physically active fun. It encourages kids to call upon their logic and reasoning abilities to solve riddles to find a surprise. The game offers a riddle writing guide that encourages parents and kids to challenge each other with their own riddles.

Junior Alias, from TACTIC GAMES, is a word-explaining game for kids ages 5 and up. Players explain words and pictures to their teammates without actually saying the word that is being described. The team tries to guess as many pictures as possible before time runs out. Big Dice Game is a classic dice game that has been adapted for outdoor fun. Players ages 5 and up roll the five wooden dice and try to get as many categorized combinations as possible. The player with the highest score wins.





UNCLE GOOSE’s Nautical Blocks are made for kids who are interested in perfecting their basic seamanship—or those learning to tie their first sheepshank. This set of 26 1.75-inch cube-shaped blocks features 26 alphabet letters with their accompanying maritime signal flag, morse code, semaphore, and the NATO phonetic alphabet words. In addition, each block includes a beautifully illustrated knot. The set is designed for kids ages 2 and up.

POPAR TOYS The 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 the 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. Turn the skeletal structure sideways for 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 the tap of a finger, learn about the 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 Wonders 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.

VICKI LEWIS ORIGINALS Flipzles Farm, from VICKI LEWIS ORIGINALS, is an innovative barn puzzle that has thick, wooden double-sided pieces that form a 9.5- by 9.5-inch puzzle on one side, and a play set on the other. The puzzle is a challenging toy that brings out the imaginations of kids ages 3 and up. By flipping the pieces over, kids find various barnyard animals and characters that stand on their own for creative play. Another new puzzle, Flipzles Pet Mansion, is made for animal lovers ages 3 and up. It has 13 durable wooden pieces printed on both sides: The front of the pieces make up the exterior of the Pet Mansion, while the flip-sides have all sorts of pets, including kittens, puppies, guinea pigs, a hermit crab, and a chinchilla. Underneath the pieces is the inside of the Pet Mansion as a storytelling backdrop. Both puzzles come in a zip-and-take carrying case, which keeps the pieces together and makes storage and travel convenient. Each set includes the puzzle pieces and a board.



Flipzles Farm



Echo the Elephant is a multi-sensory plush toy from PLAYABILITY TOYS. Echo offers tactile, visual, and auditory stimulation. Echo not only captivates and holds kids’ attention, it helps promote cognitive development and gross motor skills. Buddy Puppet and Echo Puppet are multi-sensory puppets. Used by speech language pathologists and educators, Buddy Puppet and Echo Puppet promote enhanced communicative skills. Echo the Elephant

SMART GEAR With SMART GEAR’s Graffiti Smart Balance Bikes, kids ages 3 and up can design their own bike using dry-erase markers. The bikes promote the growth of individuality and independence of kids by encouraging them to create and customize their own designs right on their bikes. When they need a change, they can just wipe off and start all over again. These eco-friendly bikes have adjustable seat heights to grow with the child. Limited steering radius prevents jackknifing. The Graffiti Smart Balance Bikes are available in Ivory and Onyx. The Wonderworld Safari Track set is a new addition to the Trix Tracks line with safari-themed trix. Trix Tracks have specially designed bricks that are made from a combination of eco-friendly recycled saw dust and food-grade plastic so it is safe, durable, and good for the environment. This set can be combined with other Trix Track sets to create even larger tracks and more trix. Also part of the brand, the new Glow & Roll Trix Tracks set glows in the dark.

Graffiti Smart Balance Bike



Kids can wear fashionable earrings without the pain of getting a piercing with EarZings from ZINGULAR DESIGNS LLC. Its new pierce-free concept doesn’t rely on clipons, magnets, or temporary tattoos, but a coil design that keeps the EarZing secure to the ear. EarZings are comfortable, easy-towear, and feature fresh, cool designs.

WORDTEASERS WORDTEASERS’ Old Wives’ Tales is game that’s fun for the whole family. With more than 150 fun conversation starters, players are challenged to figure out which “tales” are true and which aren’t. Friends and family members will be shocked at all of the wacky facts, superstitions, legends, and tall tales this little turquoise box contains.


The 61-Piece Magnets in Motion Set, from MAGFORMERS LLC, includes gears that allow kids to bring their Magformers creations to life. The set also comes with gear accessories and Magformers geometric shapes that allow kids to make their magnets move. The Magformers 83-Piece Magnets in Motion Power Set comes with 15 different geometric shapes, a rechargeable power generator, and gear accessories that allow kids to make their creations move with just a click of a button.

PLAYROOM ENTERTAINMENT The Create Your Own Superhero Kit, from PLAYROOM ENTERTAINMENT, lets kids ages 3 to 7 design their own superhero look on the included sketch paper, then draw and color their designs or print them onto the heat transfer sheets using a computer and printer. With the help of an adult, kids can iron their work onto the cape. The cuffs, belt, and mask can be decorated any way kids like. The kits are available in red, pink, and blue cape styles. Herding Cats is a card game in which frisky felines have a mind of their own and only the Cowdog can wrangle them back up again. Cats are lassoed by a Cowdog of a matching color, and kids must capture a herd of three cats. Players ages 6 and up should beware of the stampede card, which will send the cats running to score points for other players. Be sure to watch for the Crazy Cat Lady, who may be able to help out in a pinch. In Pass the Pandas, players ages 6 and up must be the first to get rid of all of their dice by rolling pandas, bamboo, or water drops. A player who rolls pandas can pass those dice to other players. Bamboo is only beneficial if the roller rolls more bamboo than the previous player. Water lets the player discard those dice. A blank roll does nothing to help, and the player must keep those dice for his or her next turn. Players race one at a time to place their cards on three discard piles in Fusion. One pile is color matching, one is number order (higher or lower), and one is total Fusion, meaning the card must be completely different from the face up card—different color and shape, different number, and not one higher or lower. The first player to run out of cards wins.





The WAFF Combo, from KRISTIN’S GIFTS, is designed for both kids and adults. The silicone clips are removable and can be placed anywhere on the cover. Kids and adults can use them to close the book, or purely for design. The WAFF Combo features one large silicone notebook, two silicone clips, and 100 assorted cubes that can be used to design the notebook cover. The WAFF book is stylish, soft, and fun to touch. The notebook has 190 lined pages. The Combo is available in black, blue, red, green, purple, and orange.

BORGFELDT CANADA The LiteHawk Jr. Spike Monster Truck is the first R/C car in the LiteHawk Jr. series from BORGFELDT CANADA. With its rock solid chassis and rear suspension system, all vital R/C components are safely protected. The body is made from flexible, super-thin, under-painted plastic in vibrant colors and features oversized soft rubber tires. The truck is about 7.5 inches long and the radio has a 100-percent proportional throttle control with left-and-right steering and features an easy mechanical steering trim adjuster. The car can travel up to 150 feet away from the controller with the use of 2.4 GHz radio technology. The truck is designed for kids ages 6 and up.


ASTRA MARKETPLACE & ACADEMY 2014 KIDZ DELIGHT GROUP SALES INC./KIDZ DELIGHT has new tech toys that help kids learn basic mathematics, science, and more. The Tech Too Talking Calculator is a two-in-one talking calculator with educational content and four game modes, including discovery, simple quiz, and advanced quiz. The quiz mode teaches basic math using Q&A or fill-in-the-blank questions. The calculator also has volume control and is bilingual. The Tech Too Fun ’n Play Tablet is a tablet made for kids that includes a discovery mode and a quiz mode, and is bilingual. The Tech Too Tech Set Trio features kid versions of a smartphone, a key chain with a flip key, and a remote control, all in one realistic-looking set. With the Smithsonian Kids Creepy Crawler Tablet, kids can learn about 16 different insects. The tablet has 22 smooth touch icons. The Silly Sam, Pan, & Larry Combo is a talking broom, dustpan, and vacuum set intended to stimulate kids’ imaginations through role play. The Silly Sam Flashlight & Hammer Combo features a bowtie and red nose that trigger speech and sounds, while the flashlight has three faces and different colors to project onto a wall.

Tech Too Talking Calculator


Flickerz, from JUNGO TOYS, are flickable flying discs that kids can play with year-round both inside and outside. Flickerz are precision engineered to fly more than 70 feet and hit targets accurately. The new Flickerz Target Net Set comes with six Flickerz discs, a collapsible target net, a score pad, and a pencil.



WINNING MOVES G AMES ’ Aggravation, two to six players ages 6 and up

In WINNING MOVES GAMES compete in a classic race around the board from base to home. Players can take shortcuts, zip ahead, or try the super shortcut to shoot across the board. Connect 4 & More gives two or four players great Connect 4 play in a whole new way. There are three new Connect 4 games: Backwards Connect 4, Connect 4 any color, and Connect 4 Teams. Jenga Throw-n-Go gameplay is classic Jenga block stacking fun with a new colorful twist. Players ages 8 and up roll the die to determine which block they need to remove, or they can reverse the action and force an opponent to remove one or two blocks. Touring is the first, and original, car racing game. The first player to finish the “tour” wins. Opponents try to wreck each others’ journey with penalty cards, such as a flat tire. Splashcards are decks of cards that are waterproof, lightweight, washable—and they float. Players ages 10 and up can enjoy poker and other great card games in the hot tub or in the pool. Splashcards are available in Splash Jack, Splash Jack Royal, Splashimals, and Splash Pals styles.




ASTRA MARKETPLACE & ACADEMY 2014 EXPLORERS’ PLAYGROUND EXPLORERS’ PLAYGROUND introduces The Nimblets, a colorful set of plush characters that debut in the second hardcover book by Herbert Joel, Meeks and the Great Invention. These 6-inch, zany plush characters are based on the characters in the series and feature soft fabrics, fun textures, bright colors, and big eyes.

EDUCATIONAL INSIGHTS The GeoSafari My First Microscope, from EDUCATIONAL INSIGHTS, is a real tool that allows kids to get a close look at leaves, flowers, rocks, and more at up to eight times magnification. The microscope features two extra-large eyepieces that fit kids of all ages and eliminate the need to close one eye. It is designed to encourage hours of discovery and scientific exploration. Kids can design a boat, a robot, a race car, or a rocket with the Design & Drill Socket to Me, which makes real ratchet sounds. This kit includes a real, working socket wrench and rugged bolts for hands-on fun for preschoolers. With Frida’s Fruit Fiesta Game, kids can learn about letters while developing strategic thinking skills and social skills. Kids ages 4 and up can play in groups of two to four players to help Frida collect letters to feed her little ones. For educational and water fun, the GeoSafari Jr. Underwater Explorer Boat allows kids to see what lies beneath the surface. The boat features a clear, magnified floor so kids can explore in the water at the swimming pool, beach, lake, and more. Kitten Caboodle and Diggity Dogs Games combine card games with cute animals. The matching games allow preschoolers to develop counting and social skills, and learn good sportsmanship skills. Kids can solve more than 200 mind-bending puzzles with Kanoodle Genius. These 2-D and 3-D puzzles will challenge kids’ minds at home or on the go.




Mobil Math, from MINILAND, helps kids ages 3 and up develop an understanding of pre-math concepts. Mobil Math comes with 12 plastic activity cards and 12 soft and flexible plastic vehicles. Activities cover concepts such as shapes, numbers, color recognition, and basic map reading. Each card contains two starting points and two levels of difficulty. A teaching guide is included with the set. Preschoolers can make patterns with Activity Shapes. The colorful lacing game helps kids develop hand-eye coordination and practice color and shape recognition. Kids can match the patterns shown on the colorful activity cards. The 40-piece set includes 12 activity cards, lacing beads in a variety of shapes and colors, and five braided cords with plastic tips. The Activity Pegs set is a basic math game designed to boost concentration and attention, and helps kids develop color and shape recognition and hand-eye coordination. Kids will also develop skills such as vertical sequencing, spatial orientation, and logic. The chunky pegs come in blue, red, and yellow, and in circle, square, and triangle shapes. The set comes with 12 activity cards labeled with number, color, and shape outlines. Kids can place one of the activity cards on the soft foam mat, and kids can match the pegs to the appropriate spots in the illustration. For additional fun, kids can string the pegs on the lacing cords to create different patterns. The set includes 18 pegs, 12 activity cards, a flexible foam board, and three lacing cords.

ASTRA MARKETPLACE & ACADEMY 2014 INTERNATIONAL PLAYTHINGS The Aquabeads Starter Set, from INTERNATIONAL PLAYTHINGS, allows kids ages 6 and up to create bead art projects. The set includes templates to make the Aquabeads mascot Froggy, a pink fairy with blue wings, and a wise owl. Kids can also flip the templates over and design their own creations. The starter kit comes with more than 800 beads, a spray bottle, a bead case, a layout tray with a base, five design templates, and a bead pen. Kids ages 3 and up can cruise around with the Calico Critters Cherry Cruiser. The Cruiser fits up to five critters and features tires and a rotating steering wheel. The car includes a fold-out picnic table, a baby seat, meal trays, cans of juice, sandwiches, and baskets. Earlyears Monkey Basketball allows kids ages 9 months and up to shoot and score. Babies can discover rattle or crinkle sounds in each of the four colorful appliqued soft balls. The monkey’s head folds over and closes securely for easy storage. Kidoozie Royal Princess Playhouse is an easyto-assemble castle that is sized to fit two or more kids ages 3 and up. The playhouse features a flap front door and two mesh windows and includes a carry case.


With the new C91 Train with Rail Car Construction Set, from EITECH, kids can play as an engineer or a conductor, attaching the rail car loaded with cargo and transporting it down the tracks using the main train. More than 180 parts make up the steel locomotive after completion. The new C93 Robot Construction Set lets kids build a bionic person and bring it to life. Each set includes more than 120 parts for a minimum of two robot models made out of steel. A flashing LED light adds an extra robotic touch. This educational building block set exercises kids’ hands-on skills, imagination, and cognitive performance. With both sets, advanced builders can develop 3-D thinking and creativity while having fun. Each kit includes step-by-step illustrated instructions.

Kidoozie Royal Princess Playhouse


Lightning Football, from BRER RABBIT TOYS, is for year-round outdoor play. Thanks to its tail design and lightweight construction, this football can fly up to 100 feet. The Lightning Football is also available in a smaller version, the Mini Lightning Football. Both are suitable for kids ages 5 and up. With the Bowling Set, kids can play indoors and outdoors on any level surface. Along with sturdy pins, the set includes a ball with a finger hole, as well as a unique carry-all design. The 7ft. Jump Rope is a sturdy rope designed for hours of play. It has soft foam grip handles and a vibrantly colored rope. The 14ft. Jump Rope offers seven additional feet for Double Dutch play, and has an interactive and sturdy rope design. Soccer Set offers an introduction to the popular sport that is made for small feet. Grown-ups can help children learn the game with this starter set, which includes a ball and four cones. The Catchers Set is suitable for all ages and skill levels and can be played in the yard, at the beach, or in the park. It comes with a mesh carry bag that helps to store or transport the paddles and ball, and the smaller ball design makes play easy for younger children. The Badminton Set is fun for all ages, and has large racket faces, foam grip handles, and two shuttlecocks. It comes with quality fabric coverings in bold colors, and helps improve hand-eye coordination. A set of two extra-large Bonus Birdies is available. The Golf Set is a toy version of the real thing, and lets kids play alongside adults with their own bag, clubs, and golf balls. Suitable for ages 4 and up, it comes with a lightweight cloth bag for easy carrying.




PRESS MAN TOY . In this version, four in a

The classic game of Xs and Os goes extreme in Tic Stac Toe, from PRESSMAN TOY row on any level wins. Players place one of their pieces on the game base or on top of any piece that’s already been played. The game features 66 high-quality 2-inch playing pieces for two players ages 8 and up. The Deluxe Edition: The Elf on the Shelf Hide and Seek Game has all the features of the original set, but with more holiday music and a bonus Elf on the Shelf Make a Match game. When someone hides the Elf on the Shelf, the music helps kids find him. The first player that does gets to put a gift in his or her sleigh, and whoever gets three gifts first wins. There are five ways for two to four kids ages 3 and up to play. In the Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site Game, two to four kids ages 4 and up drop the dice through the building tower and move their construction vehicle along the site. During the game, the phases of the moon let players know how close the game is to ending. Everyone must work together to put all the vehicles to bed before time runs out. Dance Charades challenges kids ages 6 and up to dance while opening a present, playing an accordian, riding a horse, and more. The DJ plays 40 seconds of music while kids go through as many dance cards as they can, scoring points for as many correct guesses as they can get. Kids can use the included CD or crank their own tunes.




THE YOUNG SCIENTISTS CLUB The Magic School Bus Math Explosion, from THE YOUNG SCIENTISTS CLUB, lets kids ages 5 and up hop on board with Ms. Frizzle and discover science and math in an entertaining game. Players can customize math facts with a math fact creator so that kids of any age can play. The first player to get their math facts correct gets to explode the volcano. The two-sided game board includes both a speedy and an extended game, volcano facts, a volcano for the explosions, a bowl to catch the volcanic “lava,� and colorful measuring cups for game pieces. Bonus cards, printable math fact sheets, and an online math creator for unlimited math facts are also included. The Magic School Bus Engineering Lab lets kids ages 5 and up explore the world of engineering. Young scientists solve problems that lead to discoveries in the fields of chemical, electrical, mechanical, and civil engineering. Kids can build a solar oven, design a car, construct a bridge, create solar energy, and more. This bus-shaped kit comes with 33 experiment cards, a data notebook to record experiment designs, a solar panel, a motor, a buzzer, and electric wires. With the Clifford Animal Science kit, kids ages 3 and up can use the included lab tray, measuring cup, and magnifying glass to perform experiments in animal science. The 20-page manual guides kids through versatile experiments such as animal habitats, edible play dough, animal track cast, and more. The kit comes with reusable habitat stickers, a scavenger hunt chart with stickers, a bug house, 12 miniature animals, and more. The Clifford Food Science kit lets kids explore the science of food with tasty experiments such as rainbow ice, ice cream in a bag, homemade butter, rock candy, and more. The kit includes a lab tray, a measuring cup, test tubes, a funnel, and a pipette.


CREATIVE TEACHING PRESS The new KLOO Zoo Learning Game, from CREATIVE TEACHING PRESS, turns reading into a game. Two to four players compete to build a zoo with 10 animals, and they win rewards for the animals by making sentences with five or more words. Suitable for kids ages 6 and up, the game utilizes the KLOO Reader Cards color-coded system, and each set includes 74 color-coded reader cards, 30 animal cards, and 24 animal reward cards. The new KLOO Catch the Bug Learning Game is for two to four players and includes four games that support reading development in kids ages 4 and up. With four levels of play, kids go from reading words to making sentences, helping catch the elusive Reading Bug along the way. The levels include Animal Pairs for teaching word recognition, Jungle Memory for multi-word recognition, Catch the Bug! for structured sentence-making, and Jumble Jungle for independent sentence-making. Each game includes 32 color-coded Reader Cards, eight jungle friends, and one Reading Bug.

CREATIVE EDUCATION OF CANADA CREATIVE EDUCATION OF CANADA is set to launch its Great Pretenders Fun in the Sun Neon Collection. The collection includes hot pink, orange, yellow, and green bangles and hair accessories that will add a blast of summer fun colors to the line. The company will also show the Great Pretenders Rainbow Skirt and Rainbow Wings with matching wand. Additonally, the new Fancy Nancy dress up collection includes the Fancy Nancy ruffled dress, a matching purse, a feather boa, and hand mirrors. Great Pretenders Fun in the Sun Neon Collection



Kids ages 4 and up will have high-flying fun with the Disney Planes Sky Race Action game, from WONDER FORGE. Two to four players can soar the planes, or go solo to try and beat their best score. Included in this set are four soft foam gliders, eight race stage markers, eight race stage bases, nine flight control tiles, 12 bonus tiles, four scoring tokens, and a leaderboard. To win, fly the plane through the Wings Around the Globe Rally while avoiding surprising challenges such as changing flight conditions. Kids can get creative with how they toss the planes—try with eyes closed, while lying down, between the legs, and more.


Piperoid Linda & Doby, from MAGNOTE, allows kids to create a robot in less than 30 minutes using only scissors. This kit joins the Piperoid paper robot kits collection for kids and adults, which includes more than 25 styles. Play-Deco Work Vehicles are desk accessories made from wood that can be easily assembled without any glue. Kids can choose from a fire truck tape dispenser, a forklift note holder, or a dump truck pen holder. With the Play-Deco Greeting Happy Birthday, kids can take a single wooden greeting card, pop out the letters for “Happy Birthday,” and assemble them together to bring a robot to life. The package also includes an envelope kids can use to mail the wood before assembly. Piperoid Linda & Doby

BEGIN A Mixing eco-friendly materials with old-fashioned fun, BEGINAGAIN’s new toy line aims to teach kids through play with products including Counting Chameleon Puzzle, Alphabites A to Z Puzzle, and Balance Boat—Endangered Animals. Counting Chameleon Puzzle teaches kids about numbers in both English and Spanish in a fun, colorful way. The chunky, double-sided puzzle pieces have numbers one through 15 on one side, and on the reverse, the number is spelled out in both languages. The pieces are non-toxic and made from sustainably harvested rubber wood and child-safe stains. Kids ages 3 and up can engage in learning and role-play fun with the Alphabites A to Z Puzzle. Made from eco-friendly rubber wood, this puzzle features 26 pieces with food, condiments, and cooking tool pictures labeled with the item’s full name. From “apple” to “zucchini,” kids will learn about food and letters. With BeginAgain’s Balance Boat, kids can stack and balance the brightly colored endangered animals on the wooden boat. Kids can invent their own games and stories with the fun, pocket-sized animals, and store or display them on the included wood tray.





MINDTWISTER USA GREENPOINT BRANDS My First Plush Collection, a new line from GREENPOINT BRANDS, features plush characters with soft cotton velour in bright colors. The cuddly friends fit perfectly into kids’ arms, making them a fun companion. The collection comes in recycled gift boxes.

Ramps & Rails, from MINDTWISTER USA, is a board game incorporating the well-known Skateboard Madness characters, cocreated by pro skateboarder and X Games Skateboard Vert Gold Medalist Bucky Lasek. The game features colorful illustrations and an up-and-down race, where “ramps” send players forward, while “rails” set them back. Suitable for kids ages 4 and up, it accommodates two to five players and includes a game board, seven Skate Madness Crew character pawns (including Bucky himself), five pawn stands, and one die. Ramps & Rails’ game play is a mix between a chutes and ladders race and an educational tool, and is designed to help children better understand the relationship between numbers and spaces. Part of the proceeds from Ramps & Rails will be donated to Grind for Life, a cancer awareness foundation started by skateboarder and cancer survivor Mike Rogers.


Kids ages 3 and up can discover the magic of learning with THE LEARNING JOURNEY’s Mathematics and Phonics Bot. These friendly bots allow kids to play games, solve problems, and take quizzes using the bot’s colorful touch pad sensor panel and interactive LED face. Mathematics Bot’s games include Learn the Numbers, Find It!, Mathematics Quiz, and Calculator Fun, while the Phonics Bot’s games include Phonics Fun, Spelling Fun, Letter Quiz Fun, and Spelling Quiz Fun. Touch and Learn Electronic Keyboard and Electronic Drum are great starter instruments for kids ages 3 and up. The instruments feature more than 20 touch sensors, allowing kids to easily create fun melodies. With Techno Kids Marble Trax, budding engineers and architects can build tracks to run their marbles through. The set includes 3D towers, interlocking and intersecting tracks, light-up flashing marbles, and simple full-color building instructions. Pieces are chunky and easy to put together, making them perfect for small hands. Magnetic Make a Shape Board will engage kids in hours of interactive learning fun as they create new objects out of fun shapes on the magnetic board. The set includes 44 shape pieces and 17 puzzle cards for endless play. When playtime is over, the pieces can be put away in the board’s built-in storage compartment for easy cleanup. Jumbo Floor Puzzles introduce kids ages 3 and up to basic concepts in a fun, colorful way. Available puzzles include: Alphabet, Numbers, Animals, Colors & Shapes, Backyard Bugs, Fairy Tale Castle, and Fire Rescue. Each puzzle contains 50 pieces and measures 3 feet by 2 feet when assembled. My First Match It! Games contain 15 two-piece self-correcting puzzle cards that introduce kids to familiar topics in a fun way. These brightly illustrated cards will engage kids in this important pre-reading skill. Mathematics and Phonics Bot





PAPER PUNK is an Origami-meets-building sets hybrid that combines construction and craft with the intention of keeping people connected to the tangible world through the act of making. New sets include the Urban Fold kit, which allows kids to build their own paper block cities. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles collections allow kids to build their own heroes on a half-shell. These sets feature all four turtles: Donatello, Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo. Paper Punk also has buildable SpongeBob SquarePants sets, featuring SpongeBob and Patrick. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles


Kids ages 6 and up can see bugs up close with the rotating Nature Scope, from INSECT LORE. They can take this portable multi-chamber microscope along on their bug-

hunting adventures. The Nature Scope holds six clear plastic specimen pods that are easily removable for individual collecting. Snap them into place for insect 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 even removable for times when kids want to observe a bug without placing it in a viewing pod. The Nature Scope helps kids discover, understand, and appreciate the amazing world of insects. It’s ideal for classroom or field study, comes with a built-in handle, and folds flat for easy carrying and storage.

MAGICFOREST MAGICFOREST’s Moulin Roty’s Les Cousins toy line brings the essence of Paris, France to soft, endearing plush. Les Cousins du Moulin is a collection of plush farm animals, featuring Madame Pivoine (Hen), Monsieur Potiron (Donkey) and Mademoiselle Paquerette (Cow). Each animal has a cuddly round tummy, dangly limbs, and a patch of soft fur on his or her head. Inspired by the plush animals, toys for newborns are also a part of the line. Activity Donkey and Activity Cabbage can be fastened to strollers, car seats, and cribs for babies to play with. Monsieur Potiron holds a rattle and has ears with crinkly paper on the insides of them and shorts made of corduroy. The cabbage contains a crinkly paper carrot, a squeaky snail, a little worm, and a mirror inside the cabbage layers. Duck Ring Rattle comes with a yellow duck floatie and features chewable rubber feet to Les Cousins soothe babies’ teething gums, while the Hen Lovey is a soft cuddly toy that doubles as a rubber teething half-ring that can also be used to wean babies off a pacifier. Using the hen’s small Velcro strap, attach Hen Lovey to a baby’s pacifier, car seat, or stroller. For kids ages 1 and up, Wooden Stacking Hens, Pop Up Toy, and Pull Along Shape Sorting Garden Truck are also available. These brightly painted wooden toys encourage kids to learn about shapes and stacking, while the Pull Along Shape Sorting Garden Truck can help kids learn to stand tall and walk.





This year, KID O introduces new miniature vehicles and animals for everyday play. Mini Air Planes have rolling plastic wheels and easy-to-grasp bodies, while Mini Go Cars have curved roofs that double as handles, as well as plastic wheels that roll along any path. Both Mini Air Planes and Mini Go Cars come in red, blue, and green. For bath time, both Mini Tug Boats and Mini Ducks are available in a variety of colors. The Mini Ducks, a smaller version of Kid O’s larger Floating Ducks, fit in the palm of kids’ hands and have solid seams that prevent water leaks. Available in either blue or pink, the Tree Push Walking Toy is a gliding push toy that helps encourage the development of early walkers. By gently pushing the handle, kids can make evergreen leaves twirl up and spin around the solid tree trunk. For the Links Rattle, discs of varying sizes and colors are stacked together, bending and twisting while producing a soft clacking sound. With a little wiggle, infants can hold onto the smooth ring and shake the links for a lesson in touch and sound. Mini Air Planes


Girls ages 3 and up can choose from four themed colors ranging from light pink to mauve with LUNA STAR NATURALS’ All Natural Mineral Blush with Puff. All Natural Mineral Tinted Lip Gloss complements pretty pouts in colors ranging from nude to coral pink. All Natural Mineral Eye Shadow offers a dozen colors for girls to experiment with, from baby blue to sparkly yellow. With the Natural Mineral Makeup 4 Piece Kit, girls ages 3 and up can experiment with two colorful make up kits. Each kit includes two eye shadows, blush, and lip shimmer. The two applicators are sized for small hands. The Natural Mineral Makeup 7 Piece Kit includes a full-size bamboo brush, two eye shadows, blush, face and body shimmer, lip balm, and a mini water-based nail polish. It is available in two styles. The All Natural Mineral Makeup Play Kits come in six color palette choices and include two eye shadows, a blush, an organic lip shimmer, and two applicators. The All Natural Deluxe Kits provide girls ages 3 and up with makeup and nail polish for a head-to-toe makeover. Luna Star Naturals also introduces Klee Girls, a natural, non-toxic, 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.






Stork Babies, from THE FIAMMETTA TOY COMPANY INC., are mini beanbag matchbox dolls available in Spanish and Italian collections. Each Stork Baby is beautifully designed, has a unique name, and comes with an original, inspiring saying. The dolls engage kids in imaginative play, while also helping them build multicultural memories. As a new country is introduced each year, kids can collect them all or mix and match among collections. The dolls are packaged in an environmentally sustainable manner, and kids are encouraged to reuse the Stork Baby’s box as a matchbox-sized bed for the doll. In addition, a portion of the profits of each Stork Baby sold is donated to Plan Canada’s “Because I Am a Girl” charity.

Kids can put on a show with HABA’s fabric adjustable Doorway Puppet Theater. A convenient adjustable width bar will keep the fabric taut, while three wooden inserts ensure a nice flat display (even when kids are going in and out). Kids can introduce the play to the audience through the peephole at the top and hang a “tickets for sale” sign in the clear oval window beneath the curtains. Haba’s new German-designed line of products includes Wibble Wabbles, which are uniquely designed wooden toys that kids can scoot across floors and tables, and Lassig diaper bags, suitcases, backpacks, bibs, blankets, and more. Wibble Wabbles feature cute animal faces, including a puppy, mouse, and bird. Doorway Puppet Theater

PLAYMOBIL The PLAYMOBIL Furnished Shopping Mall contains all of the boutiques, shopping, and ice cream of a real mall, plus much more. Kids can try on different outfits, stop at the ATM for some cash, and relax in the café area. The set includes seven figures, five mannequins, various dresses, skirts, handbags, cash registers, full-length mirrors, and tons of other accessories. Outfits are interchangeable and can be switched with outfits from other Shopping Mall sets. Kids can defend the kingdom with the Secret Dragon Fort. The set includes two figures, helmets, shields, and assorted battle gear to protect the fort against enemies. Two blue dragons, a huge hinging gate, and flaming arrows make this fort nearly impenetrable. Upgrade this set with the Playmobil Great Asian Castle. Furnished Shopping Center Dive or take the slide into the Children’s Pool with Whale Fountain. Recommended for kids ages 4 and up, kids can play with this water toy on land. The set includes four figures, a pair of arm floaties, a beach bag, sunglasses, sunscreen, a cooler, a water bottle, and additional accessories. Fairy Island with Jewel Fountain is an enchanted set that encourages kids to engage in imaginative play. The set includes two fairies, an island landscape, a weeping willow, a flower trellis, flowers, and more accessories. Animals on Fairy Island include a unicorn foal, swans, and birds. This set is recommended for kids ages 4 and up and comes with a life-size fairy pendant with blue gem.




HANZ TOYS HanzMoto, from HANZ TOYS, lets kids create cars and futuristic designs. Based on the science of the smallrhombicuboctahedron, GeniusBlocks allow kids to create more than 500 structures and designs. The Inventor’s Lab uses science to teach kids about the principles of innovation. The innovation Superstar Training System is used by major corporations to teach engineers and product designers the latest methods of creative problem solving, collaborative innovation, and challenge-based innovation. The Robotic Inventor’s Lab is a flexible robotic design platform that is compatible with real fullsized robotic servos and can be used with a wide range of servo controllers, including the Arduino platform. The Car Design Studio lets kids create functional gravity racers with hundreds of designs. The three-piece design allows kids to create eco-friendly, lightweight vehicles that are fast and fun. Kids can create two small cars and compete with friends or go online and see what others are doing in the Hanz innovation community.



Mon Premier Bebe Calin Paris Party

BOMMERSCHEIM SISTERS CO. brings kids loveable cuddle toys that will outlast messy fingers and more with removable, washable, and uniquely designed covers. Original Bommerscheim Buddies are 15-inch, floppy-eared bunnies that are available in 28 retro designs. When a bunny is ready to be cleaned, adults can run the cover through a gentle wash cycle and lay it out flat to dry. Ittie Bittie Buddies are mini versions of the originals. Kids can choose from six patterns, including Teal Monkeys, Grey Construction Zone, Yellow Dinosaurs, Pink Teddy, and more. Also available is a super-soft Blankie that comes in six patterns, making it a great complement to a child’s nursery. One side features the same fun designs as the Buddies, while the other side is either a solid color or plaid flannel. New to the line are Animal Buddies, available in Owl, Bear, Dog, Elephant, Lamb, Lion, Monkey, and Pig. Kids will be able to pick their favorite animals and add them to their collection. Each Animal Buddie also includes a removable, washable cover.

COROLLE’s Mon Premier Diaper Backpack is the ideal accessory for any doll’s mommy ages 18 months and up. With soft quilted fabric with bunnies print, this lightweight sleeper makes it easy for little ones to tuck a favorite baby doll in at naptime or bedtime. The diaper backpack fits baby dolls up to 12 inches tall. Mon Premier Bébé Calin Paris Party is the ideal first baby doll for little mommies ages 18 months and up. This 12-inch baby doll is the right size to cradle in a young child's arms. She has a cuddly soft beanbag body so she can be posed like a real baby, brown sleeping eyes, and vinyl skin that is scented with vanilla—a Corolle signature.

Kids’ Flannel Buddies





BLUMBERG COMPANY’s line of kids’ art kits encourages creativity in a functional way. Each kit is portable, stocked with products that are made to last, and contains every accessory a kid needs to draw and write. The Carioca Tiny Box holds 24 writing and coloring products and doubles as a pen holder for kids’ desks at home or school. The kits are available in three “monster” designs and contain colored markers and a coloring book that includes stickers. Non-toxic Carioca Super Baby Markers are available in six-packs and feature a blunt safety tip, specifically designed for kids ages 2 and up. Older kids can create with the Double Decker Art Kit, a durable case full of art supplies from washable markers to gel pens. The Single Decker Art Kit contains fewer materials, but offers the same durability and portability, encouraging kids to create on the go.

PEACEABLE KINGDOM New Foil Art lines, from PEACEABLE KINGDOM, are Stand Up Dolls and Sticker Packs. Each pack of stand up dolls comes with two dolls and stands for kids to decorate with holographic foil. The dolls come in two styles: fancy gowns and ballerinas. With the sticker packs, kids can decorate the thick stickers with foil and then pop them out to create their own 3-D stickers. Foil Art Sticker Packs come in three designs, including fun stuff, boy, and girl.

Dino Single Decker Art Kit


GRIDDLY GAMES will debut a recreation of a classic game, 5 Stones. The game originated in Ancient Asia more than 4,000 years ago. Designed for one or more players ages 6 and up, the game can be played as a personal challenge or a friendly competition. 5 Stones requires hand-eye coordination and dexterity, as players progress through stages of quick reflexes, accuracy, and luck.




No Rules Jewels, from SUGAR LULU, lets girls ages 8 and up design their own jewelry. Kids can make necklaces, bracelets, rings, and more, and can embellish their creations with crystals and stickers. With Bling String Bead Kits, kids ages 8 and up can choose their favorite color and make jewelry for themselves or to swap. Each kit comes wrapped in a candy container and contains enough supplies to make three bracelets or several rings. Picture Perfect Pin Ups, available in Purple Twirl or Pink Paisley, unravel to 6 feet of shiny chain and six reversible patterned clips. Kids can display anything from magazine clips and hand-written notes to class pictures. Kids can collect and display their sticker collections with Sugar Lulu’s 8- by 10-inch Sticker Books. The albums are available in black argyle or pink scroll. Sugar Lulu’s pretty and portable tin cases with handles hold four different games for girls. This or That features 50 cards that might be ridiculous, disgusting, or funny. Kids 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, just 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 unlock the secrets of the future when they ask their deepest questions. The game includes 25 question cards and 50 fortune finding answer cards.


Sick! Science, from BE AMAZING! TOYS, is a new way to engage kids in science. The eight different kits use the Internet so kids can watch unique, proprietary videos that demonstrate the experiments—or “experiences”—and then watch additional videos that explain the science behind the experiences. Sick! Science does not tell kids how and why the experiences work on the first video. Instead, they are asked to show the experience to friends and family and discuss them. Only then do they watch the second video, which gives them an in-depth discussion of the science behind the experiences. Sick! Science encourages critical thinking in kids ages 6 and up and will be available in August. With the This IS Rocket Science kit, kids add water, snap the lid shut, and stand back. The bubbling action of the chemical reaction builds up pressure inside the can until the top pops and flies through the air. Kids can mix up a top-popping fuel mixture and put the snap cans to the distance test by attaching the foam rocket to the snap can and watching the rocket shoot into the air. The Gross Me Out! kit lets kids make boogers that wiggle, guts and goo that jiggle, and a fart bomb bag. Whether kids are launching rings of fog, making a quicksand clock, or defying gravity with anti-gravity beads, they will experience and engage with fantastic hands-on science in fun and creative ways with Brain Tickling Science. Mountain of Doom lets kids encounter volcanic eruptions, surprise blizzards, unstoppable avalanches, and perilous quicksand. The kit provides useful science and information for the perilous journey.




Minimum Advertised Pricing Policies

: P P MA I

by Ronald Solomon, CEO, MAPP Trap

Evening the Playing Field Between Brick-and-Mortar and Online Retailers

f you’re in the manufacturing/retail world, then you know all about Minimum Advertised Pricing Policies, aka “MAPP.” The standard rationale is that in order to better protect their brands from price erosion, and their brick-and-mortar stores from “free-riding” Internet sellers and dwindling profit margins, manufacturers are creating policies that state the lowest price at which their products may be advertised. Retailers may still sell the product for whatever price they want; they just cannot publish the price if it’s lower than the MAPP. If they do advertise it for a lower price (and get caught), they risk losing the right to sell the manufacturer’s products. The most common scenario used to justify MAPP is the one that describes the uneven playing field created by the proliferation of online sellers. The story goes something like this: Mr. Shopper enters a local specialty store looking for a birthday present. He learns about an amazing new product from the friendly and educated sales staff, the vendor-supplied signage, and the in-store demo. Mr. Shopper then whips out his smartphone and finds the product for 20 percent less on Amazon. Mrs. Brick-and-Mortar can’t compete with the online price and loses the customer. She then calls Mr. Manufacturer to complain. Mr. Manufacturer loses an account and scratches his head, saying “What can I do? I don’t know how the online seller got my product.” Or, in some cases, he says, “That’s capitalism! As long as I get my wholesale price, they can sell it for whatever they please.” Well, it seems that Mrs. Brick-and-Mortar has become tired of complaining and takes a new approach. Mrs. Brick-and-Mortar enters a booth at American International Toy Fair and learns about a product from Mr. Manufacturer’s friendly and educated sales team, catalog, and tradeshow


signage. Mrs. Brick-and-Mortar asks about MSRP, minimum order quantity, and wholesale price, then whips out her smartphone and goes to Amazon where, lo and behold, she finds 107 third-party merchants listing the product at 20 percent below MSRP. Mrs. Brick-and-Mortar tells Mr. Manufacturer that she wants a 20 percent discount in order to effectively compete with online pricing. Mr. Manufacturer refuses, saying he doesn’t have the margins. But wait, there’s more. Other scenarios are coming out the virtual woodwork. Here are some of them: Mr. Manufacturer artificially inflates his MSRP to be 20 percent above keystone in the hopes that the online discounting will keep the resulting price more in-line with his MAPP.


Ms. Online Retailer agrees to MAPP and buys from Mr. Manufacturer under one name, but then opens stores on Amazon, eBay, Rakuten,, and under different names. She reveals no contact information on her online stores and violates MAPP without any fear of being caught.


Mr. Manufacturer decides that because Ms. Online Retailer has asked him to drop-ship and he’s adapted his company’s logistics abilities to do so, he’s going to open his own online store (using a different name). He already has the shipping supplies, the workflow, and the “know how,” and when it comes to margins, nobody can possibly beat him.




Mr. Manufacturer selects a small group of online retailers and, in


spite of the risk of alienating other loyal customers, tells this group that they are the only ones authorized to sell his products online.

There are no winners in any of these scenarios. Business needs predictability and rules and without them everyone loses. The Internet has shaken the wholesale/retail model to its core and nobody seems to know what the new rules are. Specialty brick-and-mortar stores lose because they truly can’t compete with the deep discounts consumers find online. Manufacturers lose because the unfettered, hyper-discounting of their specialty brands makes them commodities. Finally, consumers lose because local brick-and-mortar stores can’t afford to offer new and innovative products. Not to mention, the inability to make a decent margin brings less innovation to the marketplace and causes manufacturers to compromise the quality of their goods in an effort to reduce costs and maintain profitability. MAPP may not be a perfect solution, but it is a very good start. It protects everyone in the loop by creating a baseline on which to stand. It respects everyone’s right to make a respectable margin, which is, after all, the goal of business. These principles were clearly recognized by the court in the Leegin Creative Leather Products, Inc. v. PSKS, Inc., 551 U.S. 877 (2007) case, wherein the Supreme Court overruled a century-old precedent and held that minimum resale price maintenance (RPM) is not technically illegal under Section 1 of the Sherman Act and should instead be subject to the antitrust rule of reason (which requires a case-by-case analysis). Here are some guiding principles to follow regarding MAPP:

MAPP pertains to advertising only. A MAP Policy should expressly state that the policy in no way limits a retailer’s right to set its own practices. There should be provisions that allow Internet retailers to communicate an actual sales price in a different way—such as “call or email for pricing” or “add to cart to see price.”


It is not an agreement. MAP Polices should expressly state that they are unilateral and do not constitute an agreement. Questions may come up when brick-and-mortar retailers encourage or support the adoption of an iMAP (Internet) policy, but manufacturers should resist the temptation to implement any policies in response to complaints from retailers about competitors.



Be clear. A MAP Policy should be user-friendly and easy to understand. Expectations and consequences should be well-defined. It should include a Frequently Asked Questions guide to clarify how the policy works.


Creating and monitoring a Minimum Advertised Pricing Policy allows a manufacturer to maintain its brand integrity and online distribution. The manufacturer should immediately let all of its retailers know the policy was implemented and make sure to let violators know they’ve been identified. Adhering to the MAPP is a way for all retailers to feel confident that the manufacturer has their back, and allows them to maintain healthy margins while continuing to sell high-quality, innovative products. Not only will taking these steps help the industry as a whole, it ● will cut down on the number of these types of scenarios.


Ronald Solomon is the CEO of MAPP Trap, a proprietary search engine created and administrated by The Creditors Network. The service automatically monitors more than 100,000 online sellers to find advertised price violations. It then “traps” the links to those violations and identifies the eMerchants so the manufacturer knows who to contact for policy enforcement. While many companies attempt to do the searching on their own, it’s a huge time commitment that incurs unbalanced labor costs, and it’s largely inefficient in comparison to a system that can perform millions of searches in seconds. For more information on MAPP Trap or The Creditors Network visit or call (303) 670-5111.



Tips for Inventors B

On Negotiating Licenses

by Richard C. Levy, president, Richard C. Levy & Associates LLC

usiness is about relationships, not transactions. Getting what you want does not have to be at another person’s expense. You can get what you want and still let your licensee come out ahead. Hopefully, you are entering into a long and mutually beneficial relationship. As our political process demonstrates, societies thrive best not on triumph in domestic debates, but on reconciliation. Compromise is OK. Unfortunately, not everyone you meet at the negotiating table believes in fairness and flexibility. Unless I am totally comfortable with the management and company, I walk. A bad deal is not worth it under any circumstances. Prior to discussing an agreement, I want to know: • Does the company license product? If so, I want to know which items and from whom. I will typically reach out to the inventors. If there is no inventor product, I need to find out why. Some companies appear to welcome submissions just to see what is available. If I am told an inventor list is confidential, I am out of there. • Is the company willing to pay a non-refundable advance and a fair royalty on net sales? There should be no problem informing you about the range of advances, royalties, and guarantees (if any). Many inventors suffer from “sellitus.” They will license to anyone that shows interest and under any terms. Not me. No amount of advance, royalty, or guarantee is worth making a deal with a company if I am not 100 percent confident in its honesty, stability, and ability to deliver. At the end of the day, contracts are only as good as the people that sign them. After negotiating licenses for 37 years, I have developed some guidelines; among them: 1. Negotiate yourself. No one will do it better. No one has more to gain or to lose. Have a lawyer as an advisor. 2. Thou shalt not committee: Any simple problem can be made insoluble if enough people opine. 3. Negotiate with executives: Try to negotiate with a decision-maker.


Lawyers do not make business decisions. They see themselves as protecting executives from themselves. 4. Two plus two is never four: Exceptions always outnumber rules. Established exceptions have exceptions. By the time one learns the exceptions, no one remembers the rules to which they apply. 5. If it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage: Confirm conversations with a memo to eliminate misunderstandings about who agreed to what and with whom. Save your emails. 6. When in doubt, ask: Asking dumb questions is easier than correcting dumb mistakes. 7. Keep agreements short and to the point: The length of a contract is inversely proportional to the amount of business. 8. Do not accept standard contracts: Treat boilerplate language as variable. Nothing is as temporary as that which is called permanent. 9. Think ahead: Not until a contract has been in force for six months will its most harmful terms be discovered. 10. Have fun: The moment I stop enjoying a negotiation, I pick up my marbles and go home. A license is a form of marriage. Both parties must be compatible for the relationship to succeed. It is the relationship that will sustain the partnership, not the contract. But falling in love and getting to the altar for the “I do” moment are two different things. ● Richard C. Levy, president, Richard C. Levy & Associates LLC, specializes in collaborative invention, product development, design, and licensing. In business for more than 35 years, Levy’s licensed products include one of the best-known and successful toys of all time, Furby (Hasbro). Levy and co-author Ron Weingartner have updated their critically acclaimed, seminal work, The Toy and Game Inventor’s Handbook as an e-Book for Amazon’s Kindle.




JOANIE LEEDS AND THE NIGHTLIGHTS have released their sixth children’s album, Good Egg, produced by grammy-winner Dean Jones. This soulful mix covers several musical genres, including funk, rock, pop, and jazz. The album kicks off with “Food Fight,” a song intended to get kids up and dancing, and ends with a calm and soothing number titled “I Love You.” Each track triggers different feelings as Leeds mixes beats, instruments, and vocal styles for a unique sound. Guest artists include Mista Cookie Jar and Jacob Stein from The Pop Ups, while a number of songs on the album were inspired by bands such as Sublime, The Clash, and The Ramones. Good Egg is appropriate for kids ages 2 to 10.

ENTERTAINMENT ONE brings Lara Jones’ Poppy Cat books to life in an 80minute direct-to-dvd series, Poppy Cat: Birthday Treasure and Other Adventures. The DVD breaks up by episode, telling the adventurous tales of Poppy, the endearing ginger tabby, and friends Zuzu the dog, Mo the mouse, Alma the rabbit, the knowledgeable Owl, and Egbert the stout badger. The series, which airs on Sprout in the U.S., is told through the eyes of Poppy’s young owner Lara, as she imagines her special cat leading the gang to unexpected experiences and discoveries. Intended for kids ages 2 to 6, the series enforces the importance of friendship, curiousity, and following one’s dreams. The voice cast includes Joanna Page, from Love Actually, and Teresa Gallagher, from Thomas & Friends and Cars 2.

Kids can find out what happens when two little doodles get ahold of a whole box of crayons in SIMON AND SCHUSTER’S hard cover picture book, The Crayon: A Colorful Tale About Friendship, written and illustrated by Simon Rickerty. The story begins with two little creatures holding a red and blue crayon. Hilarity ensues as the duo color on each other’s page until the red creature colors over the blue creature, turning him purple. Afterward, more colors are introduced into the story, creating chaos and fun drawings along the way. In the end, the colorful characters learn to share and become friends. Rickerty uses minimal text, which encourages interaction between parents and children reading this picture book.



DOO’S fourth album, The Per-

fect Quirk, celebrates the quirkiness of being a kid through hip-hop tunes spiced with Motown, reggae, club thump, blues, R&B, and rock music. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo encourages kids to accept their funky selves and to “dance like they’re crazy.” This album is designed to embrace the weird as Skidoo includes rave-sounding dance tracks, such as “Pillowfort Pillowfight” and harmonica-inspired blues songs, such as “PJs All Day.” Guest rappers include Skidoo’s daughter, MC Fireworks, who drops a beat on “Time Machine;” Adam Strange; Jack Forman; and Craig Griffith. The Perfect Quirk ends with “Nightlight,” a sweet song that features sparkling horn cascades and sultry strings.



Toy Licenses How Important Are They?

by Lutz Muller



Figure 1 he licensed toy segment is large and continuously growing. According to The NPD Group, the overall toy Positions License Licensor Product Manufacturer market in the U.S. declined by 1 percent last year, while 8 Frozen Disney Doll Mattel 2 Frozen Disney Doll Just Play toys carrying a license grew by 3 percent and now represent 1 Frozen Disney Coloring Book Easter Essentials about 31 percent of the U.S. toy market in value. 1 Frozen Disney Balloon Anagram 1 Frozen Disney Balloon Shindigz The reason why the licensed segment grows at the expense 1 Rapunzel Disney Lego Set Lego of all other products is that licenses provide a number of major 1 Super Heroes Disney Lego Set Lego 3 MineCraft Mojang Lego Set Lego benefits. A good license is a key that opens important doors. It 1 Chima Cartoon Network Lego Set Lego gets you into the major retailers and onto their shelves, which 2 Transformers TakaraTomy Action Figure Hasbro 1 Angry Birds Rovio Balloon Airswimmers you might not otherwise accomplish. It exploits consumer awareness of a movie or TV character, and hence, Source: Klosters Retailer Panel enhances the appeal of a product. It is also about 50 Figure 2 Trends in Age Group Share of Moviegoers percent more likely to lead to an impulse purchase in 25 the store. 20 While top licenses are expensive, they tend to produce 2009 sales, market shares, and profits for the licensee. Second15 2010 rate licenses tend to be more costly in the long run 2011 10 because they typically do not provide the same benefits; 2012 they do not necessarily get you into the right retailers, 2013 5 and they do not give you the same built-in sales and 0 market shares. 2 to 11 12 to 27 18 to 24 25 to 39 40 to 49 50 to 59 60+ Source: Motion Picture Association of America Inc. The benefit of a first-class license is best demonstrated by looking at Amazon’s best-selling toys. In late seen in Figure 2. April, 22 out of the top 100 toys were license-based, and of these The same cannot be said of cable. Cynopsis Media reports 22, 13 were for Frozen, the fantastically successful Disney audience numbers of the 2 to 11 age group, and these are its adaptation of the Snow Queen fairytale, as shown in Figure 1. statistics for comparable weeks in mid-February between 2009 What is not shown in this table is Jakks Pacific’s Frozen ice and 2014 for the top 10 basic cable ad-supported networks, as gown, which has been sold out since January. seen in Figure 3. This reinforces the view held by national buyers that the There is also considerable evidence suggesting that a TV main drivers for licensed toys are movies screened in cinemas. series will not produce the same toy sales volume compared to a One major reason for this is that audience numbers for kids ages single blockbuster movie—e.g. Transformers: Dark of the Moon 2 to 11 have held reasonably steady between 2009 and 2013, as in 2011 produced nearly three times more action figure sales



Figure 3

Top 10 Cable Channels

“1” after Captain America tells you that it is the first. This is relevant, since there are indications that the box office result of a movie tends to decline after the second entry in a series, while there is very clear evidence that this is also the case for the related toy sales. While a kid may want to see the third Hobbit movie, this does not mean that he or she will also want to get the action figures to go with it, because those from earlier movies are likely still sitting in their toy box. There is also considerable evidence that too many movies in the same time slot tend to cannibalize each other. Both factors are of concern to buyers this year, and their ordering patterns reflect this.

Kids ages 2 to 11, in thousands

5,000 4,000 3,000 2,000 1,000 0 2/11/09






Source: Cynopsis Media

than last year’s TV production of Transfomers: Beast Hunters, according to Klosters Retailer Panel data. Another way to look at this is by reviewing web searches, which suggest consumer interest levels. Figure 4 compares three licensed brands during the 12 months preceding April 12, 2014: The Hobbit [The Desolation of Smaug], released on DVD on April 8; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, shown on Nickelodeon; and Frozen on the big screen. It is therefore no surprise that toy licenses based on movies shown on the big screen are increasing in number, whereas those from TV movies and series are declining. While there were five TV offerings last year (Transformers, The Hulk, The Avengers, Max Steel, and Scaris), there is now only one scheduled this year— Slugterra. In contrast, there were 13 toy-related movies shown in cinemas last year, and 17 are scheduled this year, as seen in Figure 5. Note that the number after the title indicates that the movie is part of a series, counted from the year 2000. For instance, the “2” after Smurfs tells you that it is the second Smurfs movie since 2000, whereas the

Figure 5 Toy Co. Hasbro

2013 Date 3/28 5/17 7/26 11/18

Movie G.I. Joe 2 Star Trek 3 Iron Man 3 Thor 2

Toy Type Action Figure Action Figure Action Figure Action Figure

2014 Date 4/4 5/2 5/23 6/27 8/1 10/24 11/7

Movie Captain America 1 Spider-Man 5 X-Men 6 Transformers 4 Guardians of the Galaxy 1 Ouija 1 Big Hero 6

Toy Type Action Figure Action Figure Action Figure Action Figure Action Figure Board Game Action Figure


3/22 6/14 7/17 8/9 11/22

The Croods 1 Superman 2 Turbo 1 Planes 1 Frozen 1

Preschool Action Figure Preschool Preschool Fashion Doll

5/9 5/30 7/18 10/1

Oz Returns 2 Maleficent 1 Planes 2 Max Steel 1

Fashion Doll Fashion Doll Preschool Action Figure

Jakks Pacific

3/8 6/3

Oz the Great 1 Smurfs 2

Fashion Doll Preschool


Rio 2




Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Action Figure




Action Figure

Spin Master


How to Train Your Dragon 2

Action Figure


Hobbit 3: There and Back

Action Figure


Muppets 2


The Bridge Direct


Thinkway Toys


Interest Over Time

Frozen Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles


July 2013

October 2013

January 2014

Source: Google Trends


Action Figure

Just Play

Figure 4 The Hobbit

Hobbit 2 Smaug

Despicable Me 2

Action Figure

Source: Box Office Mojo

The Downside to Licensed Toys Apart from the possibility that licenses could, over time, become less effective as toy sales drivers, there are other drawbacks as well. One of them is cost. A top license typically goes for about 10 to 15 percent calculated on the manufacturer’s sales. There are also sales minimums to be attained, which, if not met, can be prohibitively expensive. Also, a license is given over a fixed period only and may not be renewed at the end continued on page 123





Disney Consumer Products

U.S. Release: August 1

Did you know...

• Peter Quill gives himself the superhero name of Star-Lord, since he thinks it sounds cool. • Star-Lord is almost always equipped with his 1980s cassette player and mix tape. • Although Rocket looks like a raccoon, he is actually from an alien species that just happens to look like raccoon, and if you call him a raccoon, he may get a little snarky. • Groot has a limited vocabulary, and only says “I am Groot,” but Rocket can usually understand what he means. • Gamora is the last surviving member of the Zehoberi species, and has earned a reputation of the “most dangerous woman in the universe.”


arvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is a new property unlike anything that has been seen on-screen before from Marvel. We want to celebrate this new film by having an equally exciting, innovative line of products. Anchored by amazing development in toys and apparel, our products highlight the ownable attributes of galactic gear, an unexpected team of underdogs, and—my favorite—’80s nostalgia. The retail response has been strong and we have placements across all retailers to correspond with the summer release of this film.” -Paul Gitter, senior vice president, licensing, Marvel at Disney Consumer Products

Hasbro Hasbro will bring the world of Guardians of the Galaxy to life with a new toy line featuring electronic figures, role-play items, and a galaxy’s worth of spaceships and aliens. Kids can recreate the excitement of the film with the Pursuit Spacecrafts set, based on spacecrafts from the film. Each of the three vehicles features a surprise reveal battle mode and comes with a 2.5-inch scale pilot figure from the film. The assorted ships are compatible with all of the 2.5-inch scale figures in the Battle Gear Two-Pack line. The Battle FX Star-Lord Action Figure stands 12 inches tall and is ready to lead the team with a light-up mask, authentic movie voice and sound effects, signature battle blasters, and accessories. The breakout character of the film comes to life in toy form in Big Blastin’ Rocket Raccoon, a feature-packed 8-inch electronic action figure. Rocket Raccoon’s signature weapon spins and lights up at the press of a button, and the action figure reacts with electronic movements, lights, voice, and sounds. Hasbro’s line of role-play items for the latest superhero flick includes a Galaxy StarLord Role Play set, which includes a mask and a blaster that fires Nerf darts up to 40 feet. In addition, the Galaxy Rocket Raccoon Action Mask features a mouth, eyebrows, and ears that kids can move themselves for a realistic look. Designed for kids ages 4 and up, these products will be available in July. Big Blastin’ Rocket Raccoon



The Guardians of the Galaxy Intergalactic Headphones will make any playlist sound out of this world. Kids can connect any audio device to the headphones to rock out at home or on the go. With a soft, comfortable fit, these headphones feature kid-friendly sound levels to protect hearing.

Funko Funko has created the main characters from the film in Pop! Vinyl Bobble Head Figure form. Fans can collect Star-Lord, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, Gamora, and Groot to complete the Guardians of the Galaxy collection. Each figure stands 3.75 inches tall and comes in a window display box. Additionally, Funko has created 7-inch Wacky Wobblers of StarLord and Rocket Raccoon.


Kids can prepare for an epic clash between the Guardians of the Galaxy and the ultimate villain Ronan with the Milano Spaceship Rescue set, from Lego. Ronan zooms into this epic deep-space battle in his personal Necrocraft, backed up by the Sakaaran, and holding his all-powerful Cosmi-Rod ready to strike. Luckily, Star-Lord is prepared to launch a counterattack with the equally potent Hadron Enforcer and two iconic space blasters. Kids can steer the mighty Milano Spaceship into battle with Gamora and Drax, firing the stud shooters and flick missiles to repel the evil threat to the Galaxy. The set is designed for kids ages 8 to 14 and includes Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Ronan, and the Sakaaran minifigures with assorted weapons and accessories.





hrough a co-branding partnership with Cartoon Network, global book publisher and brand owner Penguin Young Readers Group launches Adventure Time Mad Libs. The partnership also secured deals for Tshirts and drinkware with Bioworld and Backstage Pass Inc. Additionally, Penguin brings characters, including Llama Llama, Ladybug Girl, Otis, Corduroy, Spot, and Flower Fairies to life in picture books illustrated by artist Jan Brett. On the production side, partners are set to create plush dolls, games, apparel, and sleepwear based on the characters. In a newly finalized deal, Penguin has partnered with the NFL Players Association on a master publishing program, projected to hit shelves in the summer of 2016. The program includes brand-inspired Mad Libs titles, football-themed Choose Your Own Adventure titles, and other activity and biographical titles.


his year, Hot Wheels hands the keys to Toy State, a manufacturer of licensed and highly stylized lights and sound R/C toy vehicles. Under this agreement, which runs through 2016, Toy State will design and build a new line of high-octane, lights and sound R/C cars using custom versions of Hot Wheels iconic vehicle styles. Fashion Angels lets girls make the world of Ever After High their own with arts and crafts activity kits. These crafting products help girls to explore their imaginations while creating beautiful crafts to wear, share, or customize their rooms with. The Fashion Angels Ever After High line includes a Watercolor Portfolio, 3D Velvet Nail Art kits, Wrap Bracelets with story-themed inspirational message bars, Wish Bracelet kits featuring a high-quality molded Ever After High zinc alloy charm, Hair Accessory kits, and Make-Up sets. Sakar International, a vivitar company, has introduced a new collection of Ever After High electronics and accessories inspired by the dolls. The line includes mobile and smartphone cases, audio accessories, karaoke systems, computer accessories, and more. Huffy has partnered with Mattel for Barbie, Hot Wheels, and Monster High bikes and scooters available at Kmart and Sears. Launching this year, new series Dora & Friends: Into the City will introduce a new cast of friends and an enchanted city to explore for the preschool icon. Nickelodeon and Mattel will unveil a line of toys, including Dora & Friends 8-inch Dolls, a Magic Adventure Charms Assortment, a Talking Dora doll, and a Dora & Friends Smartphone. The series will continue to incorporate bilingual content and will focus on a new dimension of community and friendship for preschoolers. In addition, Mattel and Marvel have collaborated to introduce a line of co-branded Hot Wheels cars and play sets featuring the brand’s most iconic superheroes.

Llama Llama



Licensing Expo 2014 RUBIE’S COSTUME CO.


ubie’s Costume Co. has developed licensed costumes for top brands, including WWE, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT), Spider-Man, Captain America, Ever After High, and Batgirl. Kids can own the ring as John Cena, with an included muscle chest shirt set, championship belt, and wristbands, or fight crime turtle-style as Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, or Raphael. Available in kids’ small and medium, the TMNT Crime Fighting Costume Box Set includes the turtle shell chest with an attached shell and the character’s eye mask. In the superhero arena, kids can be just like Spidey from The Amazing Spider-Man 2 with a padded muscle chest jumpsuit and a fabric mask, available in kids’ sizes small through large, or Marvel’s Captain America in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. This costume includes a padded jumpsuit and a mask, available in kids’ sizes small through large. Girls can dress up as Apple White and Madeline Hatter from Rubie’s Ever After High Collection. The Apple White set includes a dress, a bolero jacket, and tights, and the Madeline Hatter set inRubie’s Spider-Man cludes a dress, tights, a neckCostume lace, and gloves. Each is available in kids’ sizes medium through extra-large. The Deluxe Leonardo costume includes a jumpsuit with an attached belt, elbow and knee pads, a mask, and a stuffed shell. This costume is available in kids’ sizes small through large and toddler sizes. Adults can dress as DC Comics’ Batgirl in a costume that includes a tank dress with a removable cape and an embellished Bat logo. The costume is available in adult sizes small through large.




ounded in 1984, Toy State continues to fuel the state of imagination in both children and adults 30 years later. Specializing in light and sound vehicles and the radio-control (R/C) toy category, Toy State’s portfolio includes its signature Road Rippers brand, as well licensed toys under the iconic Hot Wheels, Caterpillar, and James Bond 007 brands. “As we celebrate our 30th anniversary, we’re more focused than ever on growing through driving innovation and providing superior quality,” says Simon Cheng, Toy State CEO. “Licensed brands play a key role in Toy State’s growth, and we’re always looking to develop new, strategic licensing partnerships.” Toy State recently acquired Nikko, an international R/C company that has been in business since 1958. Nikko’s product line legacy includes Turbo Panther and Hercules, as well as current success VaporizR. Additionally, the brand boasts an extensive license lineup featuring automakers, Transformers, Hello Kitty, Angry Birds, and Fast & Furious, strengthening Toy State’s standing as a best-in-class licensing partner. “With the licensing strength in our flagship Road Rippers brand and longstanding Caterpillar program, as well as the recent momentum of our new Hot Wheels and James Bond 007 lines, we’ve enjoyed the effects these high-impact licensed properties have had on our company’s success,” says Andy Friess, senior vice president of marketing and general manager of the company’s U.S. operations. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to acquire Nikko and its licensing relationships. This move further illustrates Toy State’s commitment to raising our profile in R/C vehicles and elevating our presence in the toy industry as a whole.”

Toy State Hot Wheels


Licensing Expo 2014 KIDZ BOP

K The Kidz Bop Kids

idz Bop takes the stage this summer with its “Dream Big, Sing Loud!” tour. The Kidz Bop Kids will travel to various locations, performing kid-friendly versions of chart-topping songs in a high-energy, interactive show. The Kidz Bop Kids have been named Billboard Magazine’s No.1 Kids’ Artists for the fourth consecutive year and their most recent album, Kidz Bop 25, debuted at No. 3 on the Top 200 chart. Timed to the release of Kidz Bop 26, Kidz Bop and Sonic will launch a My Wacky Pack Kids Meal promotion, running from June 23 to July 31. Kidz Bop-themed premiums will be distributed at more than 3,500 participating Sonic restaurants nationwide. Kids Bop continues to roll out its content across LeapFrog and VTech platforms, and introduces kids’ musical toothbrushes with Church & Dwight Co.



he Filly brand, represented by Dracco, has sold more than 70 million figures with 250 individual characters in more than 50 countries, and has more than 40 licensees. Recent partnerships include Ravensburger to produce Filly puzzles and board games in the German markets, Central and Eastern Europe, and Russia; Alenio for wall decoration and adhesives; VTech for learning toys; and Amscan for party goods. This summer, McDonald’s will launch a Happy Meal campaign across more than 1,400 restaurants in Germany. The newest Filly series, Filly Butterfly, features a digital component that allows consumers to engage with Filly characters on The website also includes games, kid-safe social interaction, and specialized content for each global region, and each single-figure foil bag of the collectible horses includes an online code for a virtual gift. In addition, the Filly Photo Fun app blends real-life pictures with Filly artwork. A new Filly Butterfly version of the app was introduced earlier this year. Expanding the brand next year is a new 3-D animated TV series, Filly Funtasia, which consists of 26 half-hour episodes, and follows the adventures of Filly friends at a school for magic. A full range of merchandise and digital media will support Filly Funtasia, with publishing, toy, puzzle, and board game licensees already secured. However, many licensed product opportunities still exist. This year also sees the launch of a major campaign for Zombie Zity, a property that will play out across figures, collector cards, a magazine, and an interactive website with games. Consumers will be introduced to the brand through TVC campaigns, retail and point-of-sale marketing, and a wide digital presence that includes CGI-animated webisodes. Meanwhile, a second Zombie Zity app focusing on Bouncerz will launch this fall. Leomil will produce a line of Zombie Zity footwear and apparel, Herding will manufacture Zombie Zity home textiles, and P&L has attracted stationery and apparel deals for Latin America. More agreements are currently under discussion. Zombie Zitty Mayor



Licensing Expo 2014




aban Brands’ Power Rangers is licensed to more than 200 global partners across many markets, including toys, apparel, games, and party goods. Master toy licensee Bandai has created a line of Power Rangers Super Megaforce toys, available now in the U.S. with an international rollout to come later this year. Products include all-new Morphers, Ranger Keys, Megazords, and more toys inspired by this season’s Power Rangers series, which currently airs in 150 markets worldwide. Power Rangers Megaforce is available globally On Demand, and through Netflix, Hulu, Xbox, iTunes, and Amazon. The 21st season series, Power Rangers Super Megaforce, began airing in February on Nickelodeon in the U.S. and is set to air on Channel 5 and Nickelodeon in the UK this summer. Saban Brands’ animated preschool series Julius Jr. currently broadcasts on Nick Jr. in the U.S. and will premiere in international markets this year. The brand will also make its way to retail with its full consumer products roll out this year. Global master toy licensee FisherPrice has created a toy line for kids ages 2 and up, which features Julius Jr.-inspired play sets such as the Julius Jr. Rock ’n Playhouse Box, which features a 3-inch Julius Jr. figure, an art table, a keyboard, a microphone, a skateboard, a ramp, and a rocket. In a licensing deal with Random House Children’s Books, a full range of color and activity books, leveled readers, storybooks, and novelty books for preschool-aged kids is available now. A consumer products line featuring apparel, accessories, craft activities, and role play will follow.



o date, Activision’s Skylanders franchise has generated more than $2 billion in retail sales worldwide, making it the No. 1 kids’ video game franchise last year. This year, Activision has signed 175 global partners for its Skylanders brand. In addition to the core interactive game and action figure product lines, which are produced by Activision, Skylanders is currently represented in every major category. Partners include Hybrid, Mad Dog, MZB, and Isaac Morris for apparel and accessories; FAB for back-to-school products; McDonald’s as a restaurant partner; and General Millls for fruit snacks. Pressman Toy will provide board games, Mega Brands will offer construction sets and role-play items; and Rubie’s Costume Co. has signed on for costumes. Other Skylanders partners include BDA for gaming accessories; Franco, Northwest, and York for home décor; American Greetings for party goods; Penguin for publishing; IDW for graphic novels; Crayola for color and activity sets; Wish Factory for swim products; Street Flyers for sporting goods; and Trends for posters, calendars, and stickers. In addition to Skylanders, Activision has created a lifestyle merchandising program for its Call of Duty franchise. For Call of Duty, Activision has partnered with Mega Brands for construction sets, Turtle Beach for headsets, Trends for posters, BDA for mobile accessories, and Bioworld for apparel.

Skylanders Bedding, from Franco Northwest



Licensing Expo 2014 SAKAR


akar International has secured its newest license for the UK boy band Union J. The four-piece band rose to fame on the UK version of The X Factor in 2012 and has since enjoyed worldwide success. Sakar will create a line of electronics and accessories under the Union J brand, which will bring the members’ smiling faces to tweens’ and teens’ across a variety of products. The lineup includes USB drives, boomboxes, headphones, earbuds, walkie-talkies, karaoke systems, smartphone and tablet cases, and more. Union J Headphones




n a new partnership with Discovery Kids, Tek Nek has teamed up with the brand to create The Discovery Kids Talking USA Puzzle for kids ages 4 and up. This interactive puzzle identifies each of the 50 states’ names, capital cities, and nicknames. With 44 removable puzzle pieces, kids can learn geography and Discovery Fun Facts. A bonus poster to play a fun fact matching game is also included. The puzzle’s large 18- by 13-inch format is easy to read, while the easy-grip handle allows hands of all sizes to carry the toy around. The storage drawer makes for quick cleanup.

Discovery Kids Talking USA Puzzle



n support of Warner Bros. Consumer Products’ (WBCP) Batman and the Wizard of Oz brands celebrating their 75th anniversaries this year, WBCP will see global licensing support across a number of categories. Additional properties, including Looney Tunes, Scooby-Doo, Tom and Jerry, The Hobbit Trilogy, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, DC Comics, The Big Bang Theory, and Supernatural, also drives its licensing, merchandising, and retail businesses. Global licensing partners for Batman and DC Comics’ pantheon of Super Heroes include Mattel, Lego, and Rubie’s Costume Co., which are all creating core products. Animated property ScoobyDoo is slated to produce new content from Warner Bros. Animation with a new series, Be Cool Scooby-Doo! with licensed products to follow. With Tom and Jerry’s worldwide partnerships, WBCP will offer a fresh take on the original series. Bugs Bunny is also back in Wabbit — A Looney Tunes Production. WBCP and its licensing partnerships will support the new series. Hobbit fans anticipating The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies can expect a full product rollout from co-master toy partners The Bridge Direct and Vivid Group, among many other licensees. On the small screen, Warner Bros. Television’s (WBTV) The Big Bang Theory continues to attract a variety of licensees as TV’s No. 1 entertainment series. As The Wizard of Oz celebrates its 75th anniversary, licensing partners, including Mattel, Tonner, and Madame Alexander, are set to roll out product this year.


Licensing Expo 2014 UNIVERSAL


niversal Studios is behind film classics such as Jaws and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, as well as modern hits including Bridesmaids and The Fast & the Furious series. The studio has already announced its summer 2015 slate, which features plenty of new installments to popular franchises. Minions is a spin-off of the Despicable Me franchise that centers on the zany sidekick characters introduced in 2010’s Despicable Me. First teased during the ending credits of last year’s Despicable Me 2, the new film places the unpredictable Minions in unexpected settings, alongside human characters voiced by Sandra Bullock and Jon Hamm. Minions’ licensing program features a number of returning licensees from Despicable Me 2. Thinkway Toys, the company behind last year’s Talking Minion Action Figure, serves as master toy partner, while Hasbro and Hybrid JEM will provide games and apparel, respectively. It feels like a glacial period has elapsed since the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park last appeared on the big screen, but the wait is finally over. Steven Spielberg returns to produce the latest installment of the blockbuster series Jurassic World. Colin Trevorrow will direct from a screenplay written by Trevorrow and Derek Connolly. The original Jurassic Park still stands as one of Spielberg’s highest-grossing films ever, at more than $1 billion in box office receipts. Among the licensees for Jurassic World, Hasbro returns as the master toy partner, continuing the relationship enjoyed by Universal and Hasbro since the first Jurassic Park film, which was directed by Steven Spielberg and released in 1993.





ickelodeon Consumer Products’ (NCP) portfolio features popular shows and characters for preschoolers, kids, and adults. NCP is set to launch merchandising and promotional programs for Peter Rabbit, a CGIanimated preschool series based on the children’s books by Beatrix Potter. A toy line from Cartwheel will roll out this fall with plush, play sets, and role-play products. For Paw Patrol, 25 partners, including Spin Master, Rubie’s Costume Co., Raskullz, Random House, and Dora and Friends LeapFrog, have signed on with products that will hit shelves this fall. Dora and Friends is a new preschool series featuring the iconic Dora the Explorer character. NCP has teamed up with Fisher-Price to expand the Dora franchise with interactive dolls, play sets, and accessories. Timed with the August 8 release of Paramount Pictures’ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Nickelodeon will unveil customized merchandising and marketing programs with Playmates Toys, Rubie’s Costume Co., Activision, Insight Editions, Richard Leeds, Freeze, and MZ Berger. SpongeBob SquarePants has a refreshed roster of licensees, including master toy licensee Just Play, offering collectible figures, talking action figures, vehicles, plush, and role-play products. NCP also introduces two new preschool series. Blaze and the Monster Machines, premiering this fall, is a preschool show that features a curriculum dedicated to all areas of STEM. Shimmer & Shine, premiering next spring, is a 2D animated show that features an emotional-intelligence curriculum that highlights making mistakes as a path to learning and doing better next time. The retail programs for these series will hit shelves in 2015 and 2016 respectively.


Licensing Expo 2014




ind Candy’s Moshi Monsters remains a top gaming property for the company, with a new combat strategy game to launch this year. Moshi Monsters: Village expanded the brand’s reach in more than 100 countries after its release for Android on Google Play. Mind Candy also launched Moshi Karts and Talking Poppet apps. Moshi Monsters: The Movie launched in theaters across the UK and Australia, with the DVD available now. This year’s brand initiatives are centered on furthering product innovation and inking global partnerships.



ew additions to Delta’s Mickey Mouse line include the Mickey Mouse 3D Toddler Bed, which is lightweight, sturdy, and ideal for transitioning from a crib to a big boy bed. The new Mickey Mouse 6 Multi-Bin Toy Organizer keeps kids’ toys in order, offering uniquely sized storage boxes for all different toy sizes, and a design featuring classic characters such as Mickey and Donald Duck. The new Mickey Mouse Chair Desk has a seat that opens into a storage space for toys, books, and more. Both the Mickey Mouse Table and Chair Set and the Mickey Mouse Upholstered Sofa provide durable, Mickey-themed spots for little ones to study and relax in. Finally, the Mickey Mouse Figural Upholstered Chair is constructed with soft plush material and is designed with authentic Mickey Mouse colors. New to the Minnie Mouse collection is the Minnie Mouse 3D Toddler Bed, with many of the same features as the Mickey Mouse 3D Toddler Bed, as well as a cheerful Minnie Mouse-inspired theme. Other items include the Minnie Mouse 6 Bin Multi-Bin Organizer and the Minnie Table and Chair Set, which both feature Minnie and Daisy Duck, while the Minnie Mouse Chair Desk and the Minnie Mouse Figural Upholstered Chair offer comfortable spots for reading and relaxing. The latter is constructed with soft plush material and is designed with Minnie Mouse’s authentic colors. The Minnie Mouse Twin bedroom set is the newest addition to the company’s growing twin collection, which includes both Cars and Spider-Man twin beds, set to be released this holiday season. In addition, new Comfy Chairs will be offered in a range of characters, including Lightning McQueen from Cars, and includes an inflatable chair with a slip cover on top. The Spider-Man collection adds the Marvel Spider-Man Twin Bed, featuring a plastic and metal frame, removable guardrails, 3-D graphics, and colorful decals of the superhero character on its headboard and footboard. The Marvel Spider-Man Toy Box features a design in the theme of Marvel’s hit movie, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, as well as a hinged safety lid. The Marvel Spider-Man Chair Lightning McQueen Comfy Chair Desk with Storage Bin provides a place for kids to sit and work on projects, and has bold colors themed after Spider-Man to go with favorite characters. The metal Spider-Man Easel has a Spider-Man design, and can be used as either a black or white board. Delta also has licensed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) bedroom furniture for kids. The Nickelodeon TMNT 3D Toddler Bed boasts a cheerful, TMNT-inspired design on the headboard and footboard, and uses a standard crib mattress. The Multi-Bin Toy Organizers come in two bin versions, and have sturdy wooden frames and colorful illustrations. The Chair Desk features a TMNT-themed painted finish, a built-in cup holder, and a storage bin underneath.







ast year, Sony Pictures launched The Smurfs 2 merchandising program with retail placement and strong sales throughout North America. With more than 70 North American licensing partners covering every major category, the Smurfs brand has wide distribution. With a new animated film scheduled for release next summer, Sony looks forward to working with its existing and new partners to build a broad merchandising program for the Smurfs brand. In the children’s space, Sony looks to build on the success of the first Hotel Transylvania film in 2012 with another film in the franchise releasing in September of next year. The production company celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Ghostbusters franchise this year with new partnerships and marketing-related events. For 2016 and beyond, Sony will work closely with Scholastic on a new Goosebumps film merchandising program and with King Features on a program for allAmerican superhero Popeye.



esame Workshop has signed new licensing deals for the classic Sesame Street brand and The Furchester Hotel, the new children’s series featuring the furry friends kids have known for decades. Sesame Workshop has partnered with the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) to promote fresh fruit and vegetable consumption to kids, making healthier choices a little easier for families. First Lady Michelle Obama was onhand for the announcement. The agreement allows PMA’s community of growers, suppliers, and retailers to take advantage of the Sesame Street brand’s strength and the influence of the Sesame Street brand without a licensing fee—using iconic characters such as Big Bird, Elmo, and Abby Cadabby to help deliver messages about fresh fruits and vegetables. Sesame characters are expected to be on produce in stores by this fall. The Furchester Hotel has begun filming at BBC Children’s home in MediaCityUK, Salford. The Furchester Hotel is about a close-knit family of cheerfully incompetent Muppet monsters who own and operate an “almost” world-class hotel. The proprietors are Funella Furchester, the welcoming monster owner; her husband Furgus Fuzz; and their daughter Phoebe FurchesterFuzz. The Furchester family is joined at the hotel by Elmo, Phoebe’s cousin who is on an extended visit, and Cookie Monster, who has landed his dream job as room service and dining-room waiter. Sesame Workshop is currently in deElmo velopment on a comprehensive licensing program around this new series, which will debut in the fall on CBeebies. This year will see a whole new line of Sesame Street toys, including Playskool’s Let’s Imagine Elmo, which was unveiled at the American International Toy Fair in February. This 13-inch Elmo pal comes with three different hats that unlock different imaginary themes and play modes. Kids can place the crown on Elmo’s head to play a game of “Prince Elmo Says,” pop on the cowboy hat to learn about numbers in the “Countin’ Cowboy” game, or put on the sea captain hat for a fun “Sounds of the Sea” game. Kids can tickle his belly, squeeze his nose, or bounce him for a fun reaction.


the box





by Ted Mininni, president, Design Force Inc.


s a parent who has watched his kids and their friends grow up, I’ve made plenty of observations. Kids are more sophisticated today; they take to the latest technologies like ducks to water. They’re media savvy and are exposed to a lot earlier in life. As a result, they’re growing up faster than our generation did. Hence, marketers roll out more sophisticated marketing campaigns aimed at kids. Traditional advertising is still exploited, but kids are more enthusiastic about social media. There are so many platforms and opportunities to increase exposure with sophisticated messaging, games, and videos. The same goes for brand-centric websites. Sites that are interactive and entertainment-oriented are more likely to drive kids to engage with the brand. Young children can be taken in with these tactics because they’re trusting; they don’t understand the difference between entertainment and marketing, increasing the need for parental vigilance and guidance. Marketers want to entice kids for three reasons: they have plenty of discretionary income, they influence parental purchases, and they can potentially become fans of a brand for life. Because kids engage heavily in word-of-mouth marketing with their peers—exponentially speaking—the sky’s the limit. For tweens and teens, brands have to be authentic and honest. Slick marketing makes this group suspicious. As kids get older, their antennae pick up anything that smacks of phoniness or a hard sell. Sure, they love playing games and watching videos on websites, but if these are coupled with a hard pitch to sell products, they aren’t fooled. Nor can brands talk down to them. Brands that try to be something that they aren’t or try too hard to ingratiate themselves with kids raise a big red flag. Being an authentic, original brand


with a distinct personality resonates with kids. Like adults, kids aren’t interested in purchasing products; they’re looking for unique branded experiences. Research shows that there are eight cool brand drivers for kids: • A sleek, high-tech, or otherwise engaging design • Characteristics that make it stand out in its product category • Unique, highly differentiated branding • A sense of humor • Fluidity, ever-changing, delivering surprise and pleasure • Creativity; generating a buzz • Options for personalization and customization • Positivity; upbeat attitude No single attribute creates coolness or credibility with kids; it is a combination of elements. Delivering brands in interactive, social environments enables kids to share their favorites with their friends. They may be savvy consumers, but they’re still kids. Translation: Brands are not only expected to be cool, but also to be fun. Knowing all of this, is it any wonder that kids of every age embrace Disney, Nickelodeon, Apple, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Nintendo Wii, and Lego as cool brands? These are heritage brands with histories, so the fact that they stay true to themselves while also evolving to remain relevant is crucial. Of interest here is that design plays such an important role in engaging kids. Clever, innovative products presented in well-designed packaging with engaging websites and social media platforms work together to deliver these brands.

PACKAGE DESIGN MATTERS Children, like adults, respond to visual brand communication before verbal communication, and it’s simple to un-


derstand why. Do a simple test: Recall a favorite brand, such as Apple. No doubt, this has recalled a visual image in your mind first and then brand-related word associations, such as “innovation,” “high-tech ground breakers,” and “new category makers.” Well-designed products will enjoy strong sales if presented in well-designed packaging. Poorly designed—or even average—packaging will slow the sales of the hottest branded products, or worse. It cheapens and damages the image of the brand itself. Packaging must align with the brand in every respect and deliver the brand in a credible, authentic, and transparent manner. It’s obvious that kids’ favorite brands do exactly that when it comes to packaging. Hot out of the Marvel The Avengers movie is the Iron Man Mark VII 18-inch action figure in 1:4 scale, from NECA. The manufacturer pulled out all of the stops on both the figure and the packaging. The well-articulated, authentically crafted Iron Man figure features four LED lights in the eyes, chest, and both hands. What really makes the figure stand out is the packaging. A terrific structure and package design architecture mimics Iron Man’s powerful breastplate and the light on his chest panel. A cut-out shows almost the entire figure inside superimposed with high-tech graphics that point to the LED lights embedded in Iron Man’s body. The signature brand colors of red and gold pop out on the retail shelf. The Marvel Avengers brand identity appears toward the bottom of the front panel alone, without any other unnecessesary wording. The back panel of the package depicts the back of Iron Man’s suit. His updated story appears there for his fans, both young and old. This is collectible packaging worth keeping and adds significant value to the Iron Man figure. It matches the quality of the product and the classic brand. So what resonates about this Iron Man collectible with a suggested retail price of $99.99 that’s bringing in much more on Internet auction sites? Authenticity, a high level of engagement, and high-tech design. It is a stand-out in the action figure category, it’s buzzworthy, and it delivers pleasure. Kids (and adult fans) love this. Buzz continues to grow about a new toy that debuted at this year’s American International Toy Fair. Many analysts


Iron Man Mark VII Battle Damaged 18-inch action figure in 1:4 scale, from NECA

predicted that Robo Fish would be a blockbuster for the holiday season, positioned for kids ages 3 and up. The high-tech toy uses basic batteries and is activated when placed in water and swims and moves like a real fish, fin action and all. It comes with its own fish bowl, too. How terrific is it for kids to have pet fish that require no care? There are eight colorful fish available, encouraging kids to add more pet fish to their collection as they go along. To be deactivated, the fish are just taken out of the water and dried off. The colorful packaging tells the story by using visual cues supplemented by limited brand communication. Seeing two excited kids, a boy and a girl, tells consumers at a glance that the toy is gender neutral. A bright clownfish swims in its fish bowl and additional colorful fish are shown on the package. This packaging demonstrates the power of basic toys presented in a highly interactive manner thanks to robotic technology. Robo Fish is cool, original, and delivers surprise and pleasure. It boasts engaging and unique design, and lets kids choose varieties and make their own brand experiences. Both the product and the packaging deliver the brand well. For kids, and all consumers, packaging should authenticate the brand and support it with the right visual and verbal communication. It should make the product and brand a stand-out, engage consumer emotions, and create memorable experiences. Most of all, it should be authentic and unique. If it delivers these things, then it’s a cool brand. The ■ coolest part: It’ll give you the edge on competitors. Ted Mininni is president of Design Force Inc., the leading package and licensing program design consultancy to the consumer product and entertainment industries. Mininni blogs about package and licensing program design at He can be reached at (856) 810-2277.


International Toy Industry

ICTI CARE Process A Guarantee for Good Working Conditions in China by Jan Sinke, editor, Speelgoed en Hobby, the Netherlands


he International Council of Toy Industries (ICTI) CARE (Caring, Awareness, Responsible, Ethical) Process celebrates its 10 year anniversary this year. The inspection system has created a revolution for the well-being of workers in the toy industry. The Process has been implemented in China, and now there are many more countries where it has been applied. Christian Ewert, from Germany, is president and CEO of the organization. We sat down with him to better understand what has been achieved with the ICTI CARE Process.

Mission Statement The mission of the ICTI CARE Process is to enable the worldwide children’s products industry to ensure that its products are manufactured in an environment of the highest standards of safety and humane conditions. As a not-forprofit operation, the ICTI CARE Process works to share best practices in effective factory monitoring and capacity building in an open and transparent manner.

What were the original intentions of the ICTI CARE Process? “We have to go back 15 years,” says Ewert. “The toy industry was facing significant pressure from consumer groups and the press about alleged abuses in the toy factories in China. It was clear from the toy industry perspective that something had to be done. Several western producers began to define their requirements in terms of safety and working conditions at their Chinese manufacturers. Mattel and Hasbro were among the first manufacturers who began monitoring the factories, but every producer had its own demands. I was on the board of Zapf Creation and I had a supplier who was audited 64 times because everyone wanted to inspect his factory. There was a need for universal rules for the industry, with just one inspection, by ICTI. In 2002, at the general assembly of the ICTI, the global toy association members were comprised of 22 national toy


Christian Ewert, president and CEO, ICTI CARE Process

associations, which introduced the original Code of Business Practices. This was a standard checklist that factories had to follow. At that time, the requirements of major retail customers were not included. In 2004 we started by monitoring the factories. After two years, however, we had to conclude that it simply did not work, because the factories constantly deceived us. For example, they provided false documentation. The manufacturers were concerned with the working hours and the consistent use of overtime, impacting the factory workers’ working conditions. This led to a large number of improvements. We said to the producers, “We want transparency from you, and we will give you enough time to meet all of our requirements.” That meant, among other things, the payment of the minimum wage and overtime compensation at 150, 200, or 300 percent. After a three-year transition period, the working hours per week should not be more than 66 hours. In the interim, the ICTI CARE Process proposed this standardization: • Class A: up to 66 hours • Class B: up to 72 hours • The interim independent class of more than 72 hours, but within 12 months was reduced to Class B. • We proposed that for Class B, factories would have three years to achieve the 66 hours goal.


• A year ago, we established a new class of 60 hours. That is going be difficult to achieve, partly because the workers themselves don’t prefer this option.

Wage and Working Hours The Chinese government has a 40-hour workweek and, additionally, 36 hours per month for overtime. That means an average working week of 49 hours. I do not know one factory that uses this kind of working time. The workers also do not want that because they simply don’t earn enough. That is even the opinion of the younger generation. In February of this year, the minimum weekly wage in Shenzhen was 1806 RMB, which is about $300 U.S. If you work 60 hours, you will get $600. That is the minimum wage plus 20 hours paid double overtime. And if you work 66 hours, you’ll earn $700. Compare that with wages in countries such as Bulgaria, Romania, or Ukraine, and that’s not bad. All buyers complain about the rising labor costs. In countries like India or Sri Lanka workers earn $120 a week. During the next five years, the labor costs are just acceptable, but what will happen next? Change happens quickly! There is also a significant shortage of workers in China and the toy industry is not an attractive employer. Workers want to work somewhere 11 months in succession: from Chinese New Year until the next Chinese New Year. What does the toy industry provide? They are offered a job from May until roughly October. After that there is no more work for them. The seasonally related work is a killer in that context. The plants often have 250 percent more workers in the summer. We make great products, but they are far less sexy than products that are made by Apple, for instance. And then there is a lot of competition, not only within the industry itself, but also from the rapidly growing service sector. They attract a lot of people, especially because they have easier working conditions. Taxi drivers, maids, and waiters each earn 200 RMB per day. Well, if you have the choice to clean rooms in a hotel with the air conditioning on, or you have to assemble toys on the conveyor belt at a temperature of 36 degrees, what would your choice be? The average age of employees in a toy factory is now 36. Our workers are getting older and the younger generation wants a different quality of life.


About the ICTI CARE Process The ICTI CARE Process has become a great success. We now have a staff of 20 people: 14 in the Hong Kong office and six in our office in Shenzhen. If problems are discovered, I can send two people in a taxi directly to the factory to investigate. One of the most important developments in our program is the training and education of workers, managers, auditors, and even buyers. We have developed a card that will be distributed at each factory that accepts the ICTI CARE Process. On that card, we printed the workers’ rights and a free mobile phone number. On average we get 320 calls a month. Nintey-two percent are requests for information, generally about working hours or overtime. But some boys or girls at 16 years old live in a dormitory at the factory with six others, for example. Because they come from different villages, they can barely understand each other, and they suffer from homesickness. So, we have to cover some psychological issues. Eight percent of the calls are about real problems with working conditions. We can take action immediately when a worker is bullied by a manager or when they are paid too little. The factory owners are already familiar with that, and they know we can also prevent worker strikes. We talk with both parties to solve problems.

Geographic Expansion In the beginning, when I was knocking on factory doors to talk about the ICTI CARE Program, managers said, “Oh no, not another control! I already had 20 this year.” The turning point came when Mattel said it would support the ICTI CARE Process and within three years would stop its own audits. Hasbro followed soon after, creating a snowball effect. Now we are recognized by more than 1,000 different brands and accepted by the majority of retailers. Approximately 1,100 factories accepted the code. We are present in 12 countries, with only one country outside of Asia: Tunisia. We are working hard on geographic expansion. We are now looking at Latin America, Brazil, and Mexico in particular. Brazil is the most important, with at least 200 factories. In India, we have only two factories working with us, but even there we are growing rapidly.” ■


Setting Up International Distribution The RODVANS Approach

by Steve Reece, brand marketing and product development consultant


ne of the biggest mistakes North American companies make is wandering into international distribution. Companies that normally operate with highly structured, thorough processes sometimes fail to apply the same decision-making patterns to export business as they do for everyday domestic operations. There are a lot of international opportunities. The U.S. toy market, while huge, is only about 25 percent of the global toy market. The other 75 percent is one simple, easy distribution channel. Alas, if only it were that simple. There is a huge degree of fragmentation, as well as cultural, commercial, and regulatory differences to consider. And so, before considering international opportunities, it’s prudent to have strongly performing products domestically (because if it doesn’t sell in your own market, why would it sell elsewhere?). Moreover, once you have hit products, why would you hand them over to any old company in other markets? Surely you need distribution partners who will

“There are a lot of international opportunities. The U.S. toy market, while huge, is only about 25 percent of the global toy market.”


cherish and nurture your golden eggs, versus indifferent distributors who may slash and burn to make a quick buck. It’s surprising how many companies sign a deal with the first overseas company they happen to meet, rather than proactively finding the right partners. When we work with North American companies to help them find distribution partnerships overseas, we work through a process, RODVANS, to identify the right potential partners, the right products for each market, and the best sales process to maximize success. We recommend a RODVANS approach to increase your chances of international success:


The logical starting point is research. These days, there is an embarrassment of material available for researching markets, companies, retail channels, and more. Between Google, LinkedIn, and other public domain search facilities, you can find much of what you need to know with little effort. There are also company and buyer databases for which you can buy memberships to access (some of which are better than others). You can also, with a little effort, find international distribution reps (such as our company) which can be a good starting point.

Open Up Lines of Communication

Once you understand your target markets and have a list of potential distributors, get in touch with them. Bear in mind that, just like you, these companies are actively en-


gaged in a hectic business with more to worry about than just your inquiry, so grab their attention early and fast by highlighting cool products you have, relevant sales figures (which should look impressive, as your home market is somewhere from 3 to 20 times the size of theirs in most instances), and other salient information.

Dating Potential New Partners

You wouldn’t marry someone you only just met, so why would you jump straight into a long-term commitment with someone you know nothing about? A thorough dating process can save pain on messy divorces later on.


We always recommend a visit to potential key partners— or at least a face-to-face meeting—to maximize your understanding of their business, market, and competence.


Review potential partners you looked at and all the information you received from them, then identify preferred partners.


Negotiate a good deal. Are you willing to offer auto renewal rights if they sell enough product? How will you contractually manage which territories they can sell in? What’s the right pricing?


Make it happen! But remember to take an active approach to managing distributors, don’t leave them to do it. There’s a whole world of opportunity out there, but just remember—it pays to look before you leap! ■

Steve Reece runs a leading toy and game industry consultancy offering product and concept representation into Europe and beyond; strategic consultancy; reliable cost-saving sourcing services; and consumer insight. For more details, visit


continued from page 101 of it, so a manufacturer may find itself in a position where it has built a large part of its business around a license that then gets taken away. In short, the licensor is in the driver’s seat and the licensees pay for it. There are two exceptions to this rule: Lego, in the construction toy category, and Hasbro, in board games. Both have such a dominant position in their markets that they are in the driver’s seat and it is the licensors that come calling. As a result, these companies can pick and choose, and the terms under which they accept a license are much less onerous than what would otherwise be the case. With these two exceptions, toy licenses based either on TV or movie series may have whiskers on them, and there is little doubt that some toy companies are actively working on lessening their dependence on them. Mattel is a case in point. The toy manufacturer bought HIT Entertainment, a move that not only brought Thomas the Tank Engine, previously licensed by Mattel, into its portfolio, but also added a slew of characters such as Bob the Builder, Mike the Knight, and Sam the Fireman, which will allow future product developments without the need for in-bound licensing. Mattel also created the successful Monster High brand, followed by the Ever After High line extender, which again lessens its dependence on outside licenses. Mattel also bought Mega Bloks, which will allow it to roll all of its own brands into the rapidly growing construction toy category. With American Girl, Mattel went one step further—it not only created the brand, but built its own stores in which to sell the products. Some companies, such as Melissa & Doug and MGA Entertainment, do not enter into any licensing relationships at all. In essence, while licenses have a place in toy marketing and will not go away, they may often be a Trojan Horse gift to be treated with great care and circumspection. ■

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 contacts 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.




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The Toy Book Volume 30, Number 3 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.



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: //

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.


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Advertiser Index Adora..............................................................................................S27 Adventure Publishing Group .........................................................127 Anagram International ...................................................................S25 Ball, Bounce, Sport ........................................................................S64 Bananagrams ..................................................................................S15 BERG Toys ....................................................................................S55 Blue Orange Games .........................................................................S2 Cloud B ..........................................................................................S31 Daydream Toys ..............................................................................S57 Delta Childrens Products ...............................................................107 Diggin Active .................................................................................S43 Dracco ............................................................................................105 Duncan Toys ..................................................................................S71 Eastcolight ........................................................................................17 Eitech America...............................................................................S65 Elf Magic .......................................................................................S39 Fashion Angels...............................................................................S59 Fat Brain Toys................................................................................S35 Finch & Associates.........................................................................124 Folkmanis.......................................................................................S13 Foxmind Games .............................................................................S49 Forum Publishing ...........................................................................124 Galt.................................................................................................S45 Goldieblox......................................................................................S67 GUND ............................................................................................S61 International Playthings .................................................................S23 Jonny Hawkins ...............................................................................124

Kahootz Toys .................................................................................S51 Madame Alexander ........................................................................S63 Maisto.............................................................................................128 Mindware .......................................................................................S69 Nut Island.......................................................................................S70 Ollie’s Bargain Outlet ....................................................................124 Pacific Play Tents...........................................................................S47 Patch Products................................................................................S37 PlaSmart .........................................................................................S29 Playtime Sales & Marketing ..........................................................124 Play Visions........................................................................................7 Reeves International.......................................................................S21 Rubies Costume Company .............................................................115 Safari Ltd. ......................................................................................S41 Smart Toys & Games .....................................................................S53 Speed Stacks ..................................................................................S33 Tek Nek ..............................................................................................5 Thames & Kosmos.........................................................................S19 The Orb Factory.............................................................................S66 Tiggly ...............................................................................................19 TOMY ............................................................................................2, 3 TOSY ...............................................................................................S7 Toy State.........................................................................................2, 3 UL.....................................................................................................24 Universal.........................................................................109, 111, 113 Worx Toys ........................................................................................13 Zing Toys .......................................................................................S17





Flashback: June 1994 1.

2. Licensing News Mattel Will Make Nancy Kerrigan Doll

This fall, Mattel will introduce a line of fashion dolls in the likeness of U.S. figure skater Nancy Kerrigan through a licensing agreement with ProServ, the sports marketing firm that represents Kerrigan.


1. Warner Bros.’ Steven Spielberg Presents Animaniacs-licensed products hit retail shelves this spring. Warner Bros. considers the animated series, airing on Fox Children’s Network, one of its hottest properties. Animaniacs stars Yakko, Wakko, and Dot Warner and each episode has its own theme and is comprised of three or four cartoons. 2. The Puzzleworks is scheduled to air starting January 1995 and features puppet people who try to bring positive, cooperative, and self-esteem-building approaches to life. The series is the first major daily preschool series to be funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in 23 years. 3. Live-action TV finds a new role in licensing with The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. It all started when Rita Repulsa, the wicked intergalactic sorceress, sent evil space aliens to conquer the Earth. The only force mighty enough to stop them are five average teenagers.

News Brief

TMA Shortens Toy Fair by Two Days and Announces Next Hall of Famer The Toy Manufacturers of America has announced the American International Toy Fair will be an eight-day show beginning in 1995. Toy Fair, which has been a 10-day event since 1952, will now be held the second Monday of February through the following Monday. The 1995 dates are February 13 to 20, with Javits Center exhibits open February 17 to 20. TMA has also announced that John W. Amerman, chairman and CEO of Mattel Inc., will be inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame during the 11th Annual Dinner-Dance, which will be held on February 17, 1995 at the Marriott Marquis in New York. Amerman received unanimous approval by the Association’s board of directors and will be the 19th inductee.



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