Vol. 29, No. 6
Make It, Wear It, Share It
ummer camps, lunchrooms, sleepovers: the birthplaces of grade school fads. Kids love to create, show off, and trade the latest new thing year after year, whether itâ€™s braided lanyards, beaded animal key chains, or friendship bracelets. But while the bracelets are nothing new, the timeless do-it-yourself (DIY) accessory took a new, stretchy turn this year, with kids replacing the traditional colored string with miniature, vibrant rubber bands.
The Global Toy Perspective: Today and Tomorrow page 20 page 63
How Are You Improving Customer Service in 2014?
Recycled Toys: More Trash Becoming Kidsâ€™ Treasure
s s e m n e r a w l e i Sp page 14
table of contents
December/January 2014 Departments Editor’s Viewpoint Page 5
Industry Update Page 10
Volume 29, Number 6 www.toybook.com
Why Children Play the Way They Do: Part 1 Page 50
Make It, Wear It, Share It: DIY Tradeable Accessories Top the Activities Category Page 52
International Toy Industry: Guangzhou International Toy & Hobby Fair Page 76
Just the Facts: What You Need to Know About Toy Safety Regulations
The Big Toy Book’s Holiday Event Page 11
5 Questions with Zing Toys Page 12
TIA Happenings Page 13
A Look Inside: The Beatrix Girls Page 58
TIA Perspectives Page 60
P UBLISHER Jonathan Samet firstname.lastname@example.org
Stat Shot Page 6
Published by Adventure Publishing Group, Inc.®
Industry Marketplace Page 80
Flashback: December/January 1994 Page 82
S ENIOR E DITOR Marissa DiBartolo email@example.com A SSOCIATE E DITORS Phil Guie firstname.lastname@example.org
Page 78 Ali Mierzejewski email@example.com
14 15 Licenses Reloaded: Ernst Kick Discusses Licensing at Spielwarenmesse 16 How to Organize an International Toy Fair: Part 2 18 Spielwarenmesse Stats, Facts, and Figures 19 Doing Toy Business in Europe 20 The Global Toy Perspective: Today and Tomorrow 24 Spielwarenmesse Product Showcase
Raising the Bar Page 73
E DITOR - IN -C HIEF Jackie Breyer firstname.lastname@example.org
Specialty Toys & Gifts: Page 63
sights ASTRA’sgeIn S2 Pa
Activities Show ca
ore Recycled Toys: M Kids’ g Trash Is Becomin Treasure Page S7
Eco-Frie Showcasndly e Pag e S8
A SSISTANT E DITOR Christine Duhaime email@example.com E DITORIAL A SSISTANT Kara Faulk firstname.lastname@example.org E DITORIAL I NTERNS Deanna Atkins Anisha Robertson P RODUCTION D IRECTOR Anthony K. Guardiola email@example.com C ONTROLLER /O FFICE M ANAGER Robert Forde firstname.lastname@example.org U.S. Corporate Headquarters Laurie Schacht, President email@example.com
Adventure Publishing Group, Inc.® 307 Seventh Ave., #1601 New York, NY 10001 Phone: (212) 575-4510 Fax: (212) 575-4521
Member, International Toy Magazine Association
It’s Show Time Jackie Breyer editor in chief
Predicting Success in 2014
ome on, admit it. This is your favorite time of year. The hectic holidays are behind us and we get to start fresh with a new slate of toys and playthings. As trade journalists, we, too, see the same products for months on end, so by the time we actually get to Christmas and the commercials are running non-stop, nothing seems new anymore and we are craving new toys to play with (we’re all just big kids, honestly). People were complaining about the lack of a “hot” toy in 2013. Perhaps one of the booths at this year’s trade shows holds something that will spark the demand the industry is craving. The youth electronics category was up more than 30 percent last year, and my prediction is that 2014 holds for us even more tablets and appcessories. I’m waiting for this category to hit its saturation point, but it appears we have a bit more time before we get there. Rainbow Loom was certainly hot earlier in the year and provided traffic to specialty retailers. As you’ll read on page 52, it was Rainbow Loom-specific traffic—people were not settling for other types of crafts when Rainbow Loom was sold out—but it created awareness for these local toy retailers, who will hopefully continue to see these new customers throughout 2014. And while the demand was indeed for Rainbow Loom only, some consumers who never thought their kids would be interested in something as traditional as bracelet making were surprised to see their tablet-toting, video game-playing kids concentrating on how to make new designs on their Rainbow Loom. Hopefully, this will result in more activities sales down the road. While retailers are traveling the world this month to source new products, manufacturers are looking to expand their distribution. The bulk of this issue is dedicated to Spielwarenmesse, featuring columns and stats from global
toy experts, as well as new products from manufacturers near and far. Our coverage begins on page 14. If you haven’t visited www.toybook.com lately, or our consumer site www.toyinsider.com, be sure to take a few minutes to check them out. Heading into the holidays (and all year long when we’re not quite so buried in Toy Fair issues), we spend a lot of time playing with and reviewing new toys. Our main goal is to spread awareness for great new products. If there’s a new toy or plaything you’d like to see reviewed, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. ■
THE TOY BOOK • 5
S TAT S HOT HOW FIRST-TIME PARENTS USE TABLETS
percent play games
TOTAL UNIT SALES
Year-to-Date November 2013
percent download apps
percent email and visit websites
percent watch videos
There have been more new items this year. Source: Experian Marketing Services
Source: The NPD Group/Retail Tracking Service
Top 10* ARTS & CRAFTS PRODUCTS for 12 Months** Item
Crayola Digital Light Designer
Doodle Pro Assortment
Orbeez Soothing Spa Set
The Maya Group
Play-Doh Assorted Colors 10-Pack
Play-Doh Classic Colors 4-Pack
Play-Doh Candy Cyclone
Play-Doh Disney Prettiest Princess Castle Play-Doh Fridge 24-Pack Sketcher Projector
Source: The NPD Group/Retail Tracking Service
6 â€¢ THE TOY BOOK
Reusable Compounds Reusable Compounds
Hasbro Hasbro Hasbro Hasbro
Crayola *in alphabetical order, ending October 2013 **excludes retail exclusives
european market UPDATE Innovative Toys, Classic Brands Set to Boost European Toy Market During Holidays
etween January and mid-October 2013, toy sales in Europe were flat compared with the same period in 2012, which is due to the combination of declining sales in the UK and Italy, as well as growth in France and Germany. Meanwhile, Spain seems to have stabilized at least for the first nine months of the year. The UK’s decline might come as a surprise since the country’s economy is in rather good shape compared to the Euro zone. But post-Olympics sales declines, poor outdoor toy sales (due to bad spring weather), and the absence of a big summer movie blockbuster to compensate for some failing licenses all contributed to a slight decrease in consumer spending. That said, Europe is expected to stay flat or even slightly up for the full year as an array of new, exciting products are coming into the market. “Thanks to strong innovation in the hightech sector, as well as solid performances in more traditional segments, we expect the year to end on a positive note for the toy market,” says Frédérique Tutt, global toy analyst for The NPD Group. “The increase of ‘special occasion’ toy spending combined with the growth of sales in the more expensive categories are great news for the sector, and should have a positive impact this Christmas.’’ Furby, from Hasbro, illustrates this trend perfectly. The
furry little icon has only just been introduced in continental Europe, and, after making it to No. 1 in the UK in December 2012, it is already in a strong position in several other countries. No. 1 in both Spain and the UK again this year, and No. 2 in France for week 46, Furby is competing with Storio 2/Innotab, from VTech, for the most coveted European toy of the year spot. Christmas 2013 leaned toward the tech side and tablets for kids ages 18 months to 10 years were piling up under the trees. Connected toys that link and share content with tablets are slow to take off (aside from Furby). Sales of Spin Master’s Flutterbye Fairy, Manley Toys’ Teksta, and Spin Master’s Zoomer are comparable to what we’ve seen in the U.S. Classic European brands and play patterns are doing equally well. Lego and Playmobil are as popular as ever with boys and girls alike. The extended range of Lego Friends is further growing the brand and Playmobil is enjoying the success of its City Life brand thanks to the new City Life Shopping Centre, its best-selling item in week 46 behind the Advent Calendar. The roll out of the line in the rest of Europe during 2014 is likely to create a stir in the girls’ category. All in all, we expect the last three weeks of the year to beat all previous records for a late Christmas. ■
TOP 10 TOYS WEEK 46 (THROUGH NOV. 17)
TOP 10 TOYS WEEK 46 (THROUGH NOV. 17)
RANK 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
TITLE Storio 2/Innotab Tablet, VTech Furby Hot & Cool, Hasbro Cicciobello Bobo, Preziosi New Xoomy Maxi, Ravensburger Kidi Secrets Diary, VTech Storio 2/Innotab Games, VTech Big Hotel, Playmobil Chima Lion Chi Temple, Lego Chass Fantomes, Megableu Advent Calendar, Playmobil
Source: EuroToys Retail Tracking Service
RANK 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
TITLE Advent Calendar, Playmobil Storio 2/Innotab Tablet, VTech Technic Mobile Crane, Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar, Lego City Life Shopping Centre, Playmobil Tiptoi Starter Set, Ravensburger Friends Yacht, Lego City Advent Calendar, Lego Furby Hot & Cool, Hasbro Star Wars Republic Gunship, Lego
Source: EuroToys Retail Tracking Service
THE TOY BOOK • 7
SALES THROUGH NOVEMBER 2013
QUARTERLY TOY SALES
Dollar Sales Change vs. Prior Year
-1.6 percent YTD ‘11
U.S. toy sales have grown about 1 percent.
*adjusted for the extra week in January
Source: The NPD Group/Retail Tracking Service
Source: The NPD Group/Retail Tracking Service
BRANDED & LICENSED TOY SALES
Dollar Sales Change vs. Prior Year
Dollar Percent Change vs. Prior Year 4.8
Arts & Crafts
All Other Toys
Outdoor & Sports
Action Figures -5.7
Youth electronics have outperformed all other super categories.
Source: The NPD Group/Retail Tracking Service
8 • THE TOY BOOK
Games & Puzzles
Infant & Preschool
Sales were down 1.6 percent and .5 percent in the first and second quarter respectively, but have since recovered.
-4.7 percent percent of toy sales:
All Other Toys
Brands have underperformed in 2013. Source: The NPD Group/Retail Tracking Service
The Rubik’s Cube will celebrate its 40th anniversary this year. The Cube has been an inspiration for architecture, design, apparel, merchandise, apps, and more. This truly universal toy crosses language barriers by not requiring written instructions. It has been covered by top-tiered media outlets, ingrained into pop culture, and played by more than 1 billion people. To celebrate the 40th anniversary, Rubik’s Brand Ltd. has launched a new Cube in the U.S. The new Cube features molded plastic tiles (no more stickers or cheating), an internal mechanism for smoother turning, and new packaging. A global traveling exhibition, “Beyond Rubik’s Cube,” will launch at the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey in April. The exhibition will include a working Rubik’s Cube made from $2.5 million worth of diamonds and gems, a Cube artwork installation, Cubesolving robots, a glowing 35-foot Rubik’s Cube that can be controlled by smartphones, and interactive features courtesy of Google, the exhibition’s lead sponsor and creative partner.
The new Rubik’s Cube
10 • THE TOY BOOK
SONY CELEBRATES GHOSTBUSTERS’ 30TH ANNIVERSARY WITH NEW LICENSING PROGRAM With Ghostbusters celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, Sony Pictures Consumer Products (SPCP) has launched an all-new program in categories including toys, apparel, construction, collectibles, and publishing. The global toy licensees supporting the anniversary include Diamond Select, Mattel, World Tech Toys, and Factory Entertainment. Funko and Underground Toys will produce collectibles and novelty products.
WOMEN IN TOYS COLLABORATES WITH WALMART AT TOY FAIR 2014 Women in Toys (WIT) and Walmart will once again collaborate to help womenowned businesses pitch children’s products and brands to Walmart buyers at the 111th annual American International Toy Fair in New York City in February. Scheduled for February 18, the second annual WIT-Walmart Women’s Global Economic Empowerment Initiative will kick off with a morning panel discussion featuring Raquel Taylor and Kelly Deimel of Bobo Buddy. Immediately following the panel presentation, by-appointment-only pitch meetings between women-owned toy companies and Walmart buyers will take place in Room 1C01 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. More information is available through Patti Becker at email@example.com; (203) 321-6813.
SENATORS INTRODUCE NATIONAL TOY WEEK RESOLUTION As reported by the Toy Industry Association (TIA), Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR) and John Boozman (R-AR) sponsored a bi-partisan resolution to designate December 22 to 28 as National Toy Week in recognition of the value of toys and play. The resolution, which was passed by the U.S. Senate on December 20, encourages people to observe by coming together to play with toys and games. It also recognizes the toy industry’s importance for the national economy, noting that it supports more than 600,000 fulltime jobs and had an economic impact of more than $75 billion this past year.
SPIN MASTER’S PAW PATROL HELPS BOOST NICKELODEON’S RATINGS Spin Master’s Paw Patrol has helped make Nickelodeon the children’s TV network leader, according to a report on Bloomberg News. Nickelodeon cited Nielsen data that reported it averaging 918,000 viewers a day among kids ages 2 to 11 in the fourth quarter through December 15, compared to The Disney Channel’s 874,000 viewers. According to Bloomberg News, the ratings shift is accelerating ad sales for Viacom, which posted its best quarterly growth in at least two years last November.
Get the latest toy industry news delivered straight to your inbox each week for free! Subscribe to The Toy Book’s Toy Report. Send an email request to firstname.lastname@example.org, and add that address to your address book to ensure delivery. For up-to-the-minute news, follow The Toy Book on Twitter: twitter.com/ToyBook, and like The Toy Book on Facebook: facebook.com/TheToyBook. Visit our blog at www.toybook.com.
he Big Toy Book held its annual Holiday Event at the Hearst Tower in New York City in partnership with the Toy Insider and Woman’s Day magazine on October 23. Overlooking Central Park and the New
York City skyline, close to 100 prominent journalists and bloggers from Philly to Boston got a sneak peek at the hottest toys from the holiday season and had some fun testing out new dartslinging crossbows from Zing Toys, battling robots from Tomy, a learning tablet from LeapFrog, and tons of Doc McStuffins toys from Just Play. Toy Insider Mom Laurie Schacht and her good friend Big Hugs Elmo greeted guests while they enjoyed a gourmet lunch. Schacht gave the guests a brief overview of all the companies exhibiting this year’s hottest toys, while also stressing the importance of a “well-balanced toy box.” She explained that choosing just the right toys helps children gain a full play experience. To demonstrate this idea, the Toy Insider also displayed its picks from the Hot 20 and Top Tech 12 lists, which help shoppers effortlessly find the perfect toy for every child on their holiday shopping lists. Social media was abuzz with bloggers posting tweets, photos, and more using #HotToys13. Trending on Twitter during and after the event, #HotToys13 has amassed more than 5 million impressions and counting. All of the lucky guests left with swag bags overflowing with the hottest toys from the sponsors to review and share with their families. Plans are already underway for The Big Toy Book’s second annual Baby Palooza event and the fifth annual Sweet Suite event in New York City, where hundreds of bloggers will get up close and personal with the hottest toys on the market. If you’re interested in learning more about these events, contact Laurie Schacht at email@example.com.
THE TOY BOOK • 11
Josh Loerzel, national sales manager 1. What is the history and mission of Zing Toys? Zing was founded in 2006. The basic philosophy of the company, which still holds true today, is that kids spend too much time indoors watching TV or playing video games. We wanted to create a company that focused on developing innovative, exciting products that would compel kids to get off the couch, put down their smartphones, and get outside and play. At first, we started selling primarily to the specialty toy and gift market, but as we developed new and even more highperformance products, our distribution expanded. Today, in addition to selling to specialty retailers, we sell into the massmarket chains as well.
3. What factors do you consider when developing a new product? First and foremost, we consider whether or not the product concept is exciting and fun. Will it compel kids to get up and play? Do we like playing with it? If not, then it’s not worth our time to develop. If the product is exciting, the next question is, can we package and market it so that the concept is clear and understandable to the consumer when they see it on the shelf? Is it a great price value for the item? 4. What have you learned from your successes during the past year? You don’t always need a hot license or huge TV marketing budget behind a product for it to be successful at retail. The latter certainly helps, but if a product really performs at an amazing level, is genuinely fun to use, and is clearly defined and explained at retail, it will be a success. It’s still all about the product. Sky Ripperz was an example of that this year. They launch 300 feet high and sold very strongly in the specialty markets and mass market with no TV promotion and no license behind the product.
2. Zing Toys is constantly expanding its line of bows and other kid-powered toys. What’s next for you? This year, we took our best-selling item, the Z-Curve Bow, and gave it a pink and purple makeover to appeal to girls and fans of recent movies that feature bows and arrows, such as The Hunger Games and Brave. For Zing, most of the colors in our products are considered Air Huntress Z-Curve Bow, gender neutral—blue, green, orange, from Zing Toys etc.—but as we found out with the movie releases last year, there was a strong demand and a new 5. Is there anything special planned for the upcommarket to tap into: young girls who want to shoot bows too. ing release of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire? We advertised our Z-Tek Bow, our newest bow design The reaction to the Air Huntress has been terrific, and that we launched this fall, across 3,600 movie theater we’ve recently introduced a compact version of the product called the Air Huntress Z-Bow, which has a lower price point screens during the weekend that The Hunger Games: Catchthan the Z-Curve, but packs nearly as much punch. And, ing Fire debuted in theaters. It was a 30-second advertiselike the Z-Curve, kids can only launch the soft-foam arrows ment before the movie to help share the excitement and and darts through the innovative loops system; no sticks, performance of our bow and arrows—which actually funcrocks, or harmful objects can be launched, making it parent- tion similar to real archery—to fans who are already crazy about Katniss and archery. n approved for indoor and outdoor use.
12 • THE TOY BOOK
Toy Fair ’14 Toy Industry Association
RAISING THE BAR AT
by Kristin Morency Goldman, communications specialist, Toy Industry Association he Toy Industry Association (TIA) is planning a show filled with new and improved programs that will make the 111th American International Toy Fair better than ever for the 30,000 play professionals expected in New York City this February. A few highlights of the many business, educational, and networking opportunities available at this year’s show include:
new educational sessions will bring programming for child-focused licensors, brand owners, and entertainment executives to the next level. A Licensing 101 session to uncover fundamental licensing issues, and a specialized workshop, will allow participants to create a hypothetical licensing program. More information is available under “TIA’s Licensing Content Connection” on ToyFairNY.com.
E-Commerce Innovation for Buyers & Sellers
Expanding Your Mind, Growing Your Business
TIA has partnered with Balluun, a business-to-business tech firm, to introduce ShopToyFair365, an e-commerce platform for exhibitors and buyers that is accessible online and via mobile app. A year-round online marketplace and virtual social network, ShopToyFair365 enables buyers to search companies by filter, browse product lines and images, create shareable “lookbooks” of products they are considering, and, most importantly, purchase orders. Similar to social networking websites, retailers can also follow exhibiting companies to receive up-to-the-minute updates—as well as comment on, share, and like product images.
A vital component of TIA’s yearround Knowledge Network, Toy Fair’s educational programming will include several favorites and many new additions: • Toy Fair’s Creative Factor, a learning series for the creative community, will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year. Inventors and designers can attend complimentary seminars about starting a business, negotiating agreements, protecting intellectual property, and more. • Independent Thinking sessions will be held to provide independent and specialty retailers with the tools they need to grow their businesses and attract shoppers to their stores. • The Digital Kids Conference (February 18 to 19) will once again take place onsite at Toy Fair, targeting the business needs of professionals seeking to engage kids online and via digital devices. Additionally, the Digital Kids Toys, Learning & Play Summit (February 17) will offer
Catering to the Licensing Boon With licensed toys consistently capturing nearly 30 percent of total industry sales, Toy Fair has become an important hub for the licensing and toy industries to conduct business. TIA’s
insights into effectively adding educational components to toys, games, mobile apps, and websites. Toy Fair attendees can attend the conference and summit at a reduced rate. • New this year is a series of market research presentations from TIA designed specifically to help small- and mid-sized toy companies consider whether Brazil and China are possible new export markets; some of these sessions are for TIA members only. • Also for the first time this year, TIA’s annual Toy Safety Compliance Update, which brings businesses up-to-speed on important toy safety standards, laws, and requirements, will be complimentary for all interested attendees. This session immediately follows the TIA Annual Business Meeting, which covers industry and TIA-specific updates and developments.
Toy Trend Insights For the first time, TIA’s annual trends session, previously only open to media, will be open to all Toy Fair attendees. This introduction to the year’s trends will take place in the afternoon on February 17. ■ The 111th American International Toy Fair will take place February 16 to 19 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. Visit ToyFairNY.com for show information and updates.
THE TOY BOOK •
h t 5 6 l a u n n A
TOY FAIR 2014 NUREMBERG
by Ernst Kick, CEO, Spielwarenmesse eG
very business economist has it drummed into
them are Australia, Europe, Russia, and the U.S.
them: the product life cycle of development and launch,
Can you hear the buzzing? Maya the Bee is taking
off again. Since last March, she has been buzzing across
shrinkage, and degeneration. But is that the end of it?
TV screens in a new season of 78 episodes in Germany,
Some products prove the exception to the rule, including
now in a slimmer 3-D look. Back in 2012, she celebrated
the ever-popular licensed characters. Occasionally they
her 100th anniversary as the book heroine from the
disappear out of the limelight, yet still bring in handsome
novels by Waldemar Bonsels. Since 1976, she has been
revenues. Then they take the market by storm again—
a busy bee causing a stir as a cartoon figure, and in her
anniversaries, cinema films—and although destined to
current reincarnation, clever little Maya the Bee has
due oblivion, they defy fate and make a comeback.
given herself a new lease on life.
Incidentally, The Smurfs have been doing this best
These individual character revivals are awesome—yet
since 1958. The Smurfs made its cinema debut in 1975
more awesome still than this current phenomenon is its
(1976 in Germany), took some time off, and then
unprecedented extent. Activision has successfully paved
celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2008 with an
the way for a new generation of licensed heroes:
exhaustive European tour through 20 countries. Since
Skylanders. The Skylanders brand has blended real toy
2011, it has pursued a strict regime of appearances with
characters into a virtual game environment. Players build
three cinema films in a two-year rhythm. On the launch
of the film The Smurfs 2, it topped the world charts on
Skylanders to find their place as heroes in the hearts of
the first August weekend in 2013. Although not quite
children. Another media group, Disney Interactive
matching the record of the first film, the Smurfs brought
Studios, chose this path, too, and has succeeded in
in $70.7 million (U.S.) in 44 countries.
bringing its entire portfolio of licensed characters back
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles celebrated its
into an unending game of licensed themes with Disney
25th anniversary in 2009 with the film Turtles Forever.
Infinity. With this game, Disney Interactive Studios draws
As the title suggests, the next film is already in the
on the repertoire supplied by the Walt Disney Co. The
works and will run in the U.S. this summer. I am struck
relationship to famous Disney figures already exists, and
by the global potential of the Ninja Turtle universe,
in the game, players can conquer and shape a new
which is also reflected at the Toy Fair. In the
gaming environment with their favorites. All the star
International Trend Selection, which we put together
brands are featured: Monsters University, Pirates of the
every year for toy market license themes, five out of our
Caribbean, Cars, Toy Story, The Incredibles, and The
10 media partners rated the Turtles as one of the top
Lone Ranger. It’s a smart move: Adieu product life cycles;
three licensed themes in their country last year—among
hello infinitely reloaded licenses.
THE TOY BOOK • 15
ORGANIZE HOW TO
AN INTERNATIONAL PART 2: FROM THE INITIAL SPARK TO THE MARKET The Toy Fair annually attracts the toy industry’s main players worldwide to Germany. The organization team of Spielwarenmesse eG spends the whole year preparing for the occasion to ensure that the fair is a memorable experience. In a three-part series, The Toy Book takes a look behind the scenes at the Toy Fair 2014. The first part focused on project management activities. Part 2 is devoted to the marketing team and its preparations.
ust a few weeks after Toy Fair 2013, the 40-strong organization team of Spielwarenmesse eG started brainstorming for the 2014 fair, taking place from January 29 to February 3. Now it’s time to turn the results into reality. This is not an easy task by any means, as key themes have to be defined and implemented for not one, but two target groups: exhibitors and trade visitors. As Christian Ulrich, head of marketing for Spielwarenmesse eG says, “Thanks to our longstanding experience and worldwide network, we have our finger on the pulse of global markets. Luckily the industry trusts our intuition.” And he’s right. The reattendance rate for Christian Ulrich, head of marketing, exhibitors is 90 percent. Spielwarenmesse eG
16 • THE TOY BOOK
Visitor figures are quite steady—a sign of how well the industry and fair makers work together. The Toy Fair team establishes cooperation at an early stage by involving its exhibitors and visitors in the process of choosing themes. “During the current fair we conduct surveys to find out where the toy industry’s interests lie. It’s the only way to provide effective support,” says Ulrich. This is a huge undertaking given a fair area of 170,000 square meters, 2,700 exhibitors, and 72,500 visitors. The latest survey revealed that manufacturers and retailers were interested in trends, so the fair team will stage the TrendGallery to display the toy trends for this year, as spotted by the global TrendCommittee. With its promotional areas, know-how offerings, and events, Spielwarenmesse eG demonstrates that it is capable of more than allocating exhibitor booths. The organization team has continuously developed the fair program and has created both a network and know-how program with which it can provide support to exhibitors and visitors year round. “We keep in touch with retailers and the industry after the fair by means of newsletters, mailing campaigns, or personal visits,” says Ulrich. His team of 12 also manages several websites, two Facebook accounts, a Twitter page, and a YouTube channel. The marketing pros also take care of the daily industry news bulletin and the YourToyCom global network. “Our social media activities keep the industry up-to-date with what’s going on in the global market, and help us to keep in touch with one another. If you like, it’s an all-year extension of the fair,” says Ulrich. “Networking is vital in any industry
and the life blood of a B2B platform like the Toy Fair.” A huge amount of work goes into the toy fair’s versatile ToyKnowHow offering. “Editorial work has increased to such an extent that we now work together with three trend experts,” says Ulrich. They give talks during the fair together with other experts at the Global Toy Conference or Toy Business Forum, and post contributions on the ToyBlog at YourToyCom. However the Toy Fair has not only made a name for itself as an information pool, but it is also regarded as a promoter of the industry and acts as an interface between manufacturers, retailers, and end consumers. The coveted ToyAward, bestowed at every toy fair, serves as a reference for retailers and consumers alike. “When companies submit their products for the ToyAward, our headquarters turns into the colorful toy town familiar to everyone who knows our ads,” says Ulrich. “All the offices are jam-packed with toys and the team meets to assemble and try them out. We have been known to play the night away.” By the time the fair comes around, the organizers are in top game form. It is therefore no accident that the fair nights are as big a hit as the fair days. This is illustrated by the many events, such as the opening ceremony and ToyNight, which both take place during the Toy Fair. Ulrich says, “The icing on the cake is that they are great fun as well,” says Ulrich. “And what better an atmosphere
to cinch business deals over a glass of good wine?” More about the organization team’s complex move to the fair grounds and the final preparations at the Nuremberg Exhibition Center will be featured in the next issue of The Toy Book. ■ The GLOBAL TOY CONFERENCE at Spielwarenmesse 2014 takes toy retailers on a journey into the future to find out who their cus-
tomers of tomorrow will be. Only brick-and-mortar toy traders can
offer their customers a unique shopping experience by inspiring all senses. Meeting customers face-to-face in the shop gives retailers
the perfect opportunity to advise them professionally and person-
ally. The Global Toy Conference shows them how to strategically
control the core marketing tools of their trade: pricing strategy,
product presentation, and sales methods. Visitors only interested in one or two of these topics can book each module separately. The
complete program is available at www.globaltoyconference.com.
Readers of The Toy Book, which is a member of ITMA (Inter-
national Toy Magazine Association), can exclusively buy tickets at a special price. See ITMA coupon below for more details.
THE TOY BOOK • 17
Spielwarenmesse STATS Number of International Exhibitors—Top 10 Countries
Number of International Visitors—Top 10 Countries
percent of all exhibitors interviewed were satisfied with their results at Spielwarenmesse 2013
Visitors from all over the world
Total number of visitors: International visitors: Number of countries: International share:
72,595 40,653 113 56 percent
76,055 41,734 120 55 percent
percent of the visitors will visit the Spielwarenmesse again (86.6 percent last year) 3.4 percent Department/mail order store
percent will certainly or probably exhibit again at the Spielwarenmesse 2014 (92.2 percent last year)
3.6 percent Media (press, radio, TV, etc.) 4.5 percent Craft trades 6.6 percent Industry
39.2 percent Retail/toy trade
9.9 percent Services/freelance/ institutions
percent of the exhibitors only attend the Spielwarenmesse (29.1 percent last year) Source: Spielwarenmesse eG
18 • THE TOY BOOK
19.5 percent Wholesale/ foreign trade
13.3 percent Other sectors
TOY BUSINESS DOING
by Steve Reece, brand marketing and product development consultant
orth American toy and game companies can prudently and effectively expand into Europe by paying close attention to a few important factors. A frequent mistake encountered by manufacturers looking into European distribution is having an almost megalomaniacal drive to get products into every single market as soon as possible. While this ambition is understandable, the reality is that much of the opportunity can be achieved in just a few major markets. The 80/20 rule definitely applies, meaning out of 45 European countries, 80 percent of business can be done in the major five to 10 markets. It is important to focus on the markets offering the biggest returns. In a rough order of priority, that’s the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Scandinavia, Italy, and the Benelux region. The UK is not always the biggest market, but it normally offers the most attainable low hanging fruit, since the language is similar to the language in the U.S. France is quite difficult culturally, commercially, and in terms of language, but has the most similar retail structure to the U.S. Germany is easier to approach because the retail market share is fragmented, so there’s no retailer that can hold your forecast to ransom— however, they have a different product culture, so licensed plastic products are less appealing (although still present) in that market. Another practicality to consider is route to market. Due to the fragmented nature of the region, even major corporate players have only established their own subsidiaries in every market of any size relatively recently. Setting up direct-to-retail distribution in all 45 countries would be lunacy. It’s better to focus on one market first and work with distributors for the rest. The UK normally offers the most synergistic “beachhead” for
direct distribution into Europe for obvious reasons. It’s important to build a strategically constructed distributor network versus selecting the first company that says “yes.” Because the European Union is founded on the basis of free movement of goods, a distributor in one country can legally sell into other countries in Europe under the Treaty of Rome—whether you like it or not. This can cause issues, as pricing strategies vary across countries. It’s generally best to look at a distributor that can deliver pan-European coverage first—albeit normally in cooperation with other partner companies—because they have a vested interest in not muddying the waters. Agents are another important factor to consider. Under European Union law, commercial agents are heavily protected, meaning if you decide to terminate their services, you are obliged to pay them commission on customers/business they originated for up to 2 years after termination. In most cases, distributors offer opportunity with less risk, however, there are circumstances in which an agent may be the right course of action. Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair provides a great place for getting started in the European market. This is the largest toy fair in the world, with more than 2,700 exhibitors. For many countries in Europe, this event is the toy fair, where all their buyers and many suppliers can be found. ■ Steve Reece is a brand marketing and product development consultant to the toy and game industries covering the UK, Europe, and beyond. For more information or to contact him, visit www.stevenreece.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE TOY BOOK • 19
The Global Toy Perspective: Today and Tomorrow
by Lutz Muller
oy sales throughout the past decade, particularly in the U.S., have been buffeted by a variety of negative factors. One is Kids Growing Older Younger (KGOY) syndrome; the second is the decline in retail prices, triggered by the migration of production to lower-cost countries such as China; and the third is the advent of the use of Internetbased technology by kids. This is how sales have developed over the past three years:
While the picture in the U.S. does not look particularly encouraging, the reality is not quite that bad. According to national buyers at large retailers, the KGOY syndrome has pretty much run its course and age compression has stabilized. In addition, sales in units, as opposed to dollars,
20 • THE TOY BOOK
went up by a fraction during the three years shown above— pretty much in line with population growth of kids ages 10 and younger. Since manufacturing costs have begun to rise in China (the leading provider of toys to the U.S.), retail prices in the U.S. are likely to increase in the future as a consequence, and hence, so are sales. International sales have risen even more sharply, driven by population growth and an expanding middle class. However, even though the short-term outlook worldwide is not too forbidding, major toy manufacturers are facing critical decision points. There are two major factors that are expected to drive the toy market over the next decade or so, and the manner in which the multinationals tackle these will ultimately decide whether they prosper or fail. One major factor is technological change. Ever since the first iPhone was unveiled, marketers have asked whether and to what degree the use of this device by children will affect play in general, and toy usage in particular. First, the good news: According to a recent study by Ellen Wartella, a professor at Northwestern University’s School of Communication who researches the effect of media on children and teens, toys continue to trump smartphones in kids’ entertainment. The study concludes that “the parents were much more likely to use books, toys, or TV than mobile devices to keep their kids busy. For example, while making dinner or doing chores, nearly 90 percent said they’d give their son or daughter a toy to play with, 79 percent said a book, and 78 percent said they'd turn on the TV. By
comparison, 37 percent said they’d give their young child a smartphone or tablet. Likewise, more parents said they were likely to give their child a toy or coloring book while out at a restaurant than a phone or tablet device.” The bad news is the 37 percent where smartphones are replacing toys. Another study, conducted by family advocacy organization Common Sense Media, found that 38 percent of kids under the age of 2 have used a mobile device for playing games, watching videos, or for other media-related purposes—up from 10 percent in 2011. In addition, the amount of time spent using these devices has tripled: This year, kids ages 0 to 8 spent an average of 15 minutes per day using mobile devices—up from five minutes per day in 2011. By age 8, 72 percent of kids have used a smartphone, tablet, or similar device. So far, I have not seen any evidence of a direct causal link between the use of smartphones by kids and their playtime with toys, but I have no doubt that it is taking shape and that toy usage, and hence toy sales, will gradually begin to be affected as a result. Toy manufacturers are well aware of this and are making attempts to use it to their advantage. Their preferred approach is to introduce apps for wireless devices that mimic the play experience of toys. So far, only two companies have managed to successfully marry toys with Internet-based technology: Activision and Disney Interactive. By creating a link between toys and video game consoles, Activision entered the action figure market with its Skylanders range in 2011 and created a totally new play experience. Disney Interactive followed with Disney Infinity in the middle of last year with similar technology, but targeted at both the action figure and preschool toy categories. There is little doubt that most of the other major toy categories—dolls, vehicles, electronic learning, etc.—will see similar entries in the very near future. As Activision has shown, this new technology has all the muscle to completely change the traditional toy market, and this is a factor that U.S. toy manufacturers must take into account. Another—possibly totally disruptive—new technology affecting toys is 3-D printing. Quoting an article in the Robin Report written by Nick Graham, the CEO of NGO Inc., this
technology is expected to enable consumers to create their own toys in their kitchen with a printer that costs $1,000. According to Graham, “CNN [recently conducted] a study that compared buying 20 items that included orthotic insoles, an iPhone case, garlic press, safety razor, perogi mold, and spoon holder. They found that printing all 20 objects took about 25 hours and cost a grand total of $18 in plastic and electricity. The savings came out to between $294 and $1,926, depending on the quality of the comparable retail products. And that is in 2013. Imagine in 2020 when, if we are to take Moore’s Law into effect, it will take one hour and cost $5. “Rather than one factory producing 10 million toys a month, there could be 10 million factories producing one toy a month, and those factories will not be overseas, but in your kitchen, your garage, or wherever you feel like putting your 3-D printer... Mattel may eventually never produce toys, but simply sell the format to print Ken and Barbie. Consumers would pay a fee to download and print the renderings, much as they do with songs. Putting this in perspective, according to some estimates, 10 percent of all consumer products by the year 2025 will be made by the 3-D process.” The implications of this are quite staggering, as this new technology could fundamentally change toy manufacturing and distribution as we know it. The second factor is geography with a demographic twist. The least-developed economies also have the highest population growth rates and the lowest penetration levels by Western toy makers. For instance, Africa has about 23
THE TOY BOOK • 21
percent of the world’s 15-and-under population, represents about 3 percent of the world’s toy sales, and about 5 percent of the world’s per capita income. In contrast, North America has a mere 2 percent of the world’s kids population, nearly 30 percent of the world’s toy sales, and 20 percent of the per capita income. This is best demonstrated by the chart on page 21. Most of the promise for future toy sales is among the children in the third world, particularly in Asia and Africa. However, the major U.S. manufacturers have not yet capitalized on this. The chart below demonstrates this. For example, more than 90 percent of LeapFrog’s sales are in North America and in Europe, even though these two
locales represent less than 10 percent of the world’s child population. Mattel and Hasbro are in a similar position, but they are striving to increase their sales outside of Europe and North America. They have succeeded in Latin America, but their presence in Asia and particularly in Africa is still minimal. The three main markets to be conquered are Japan, India, and China. Between them, they represent nearly 40 percent of the world’s population and nearly 20 percent of the world’s toy market. They are also very difficult places in which to do business. One example of this is the fate of Mattel’s Barbie Palace in Shanghai, which was shut down
22 • THE TOY BOOK
after two years and very significant investments. The other is Hasbro’s joint venture with Funskool India, which has been very rocky for a fairly long time, so much so that Funskool has turned to a German competitor of Hasbro’s to obtain board games. The third is Walmart’s 6-year-old joint venture with the Indian Bharti Group, which just fell apart. Also, both China and India have large Muslim populations, complicating interactions between Westerners and adherents of Islam. Hasbro is tackling this by going the joint venture route— not only with Funskool in India (their relationship issues notwithstanding), but also with Takaratomy in Japan, and lately in China with Guangdong Alpha Animation & Culture Co. This makes a lot of sense in that Hasbro, in a true joint venture, does not have to re-invent the cultural wheel, instead relying on its partners for marketing and distribution and advice on how to design toys appropriate for the cultural setting in which they are sold. Mattel does it differently. The company relies heavily on the local knowledge of its native executives located in these countries. The result is pricing that is more in tune with what the consumers expect, toys that take into account cultural mandates existing there, and marketing and distribution practices that blend in with the norms of the country. Entering new toy markets is a little bit like drilling for oil. All the easy places have been exhausted and the new ones are becoming increasingly difficult to access. As the charts above demonstrate, progress is being made, but there is still lots of opportunity for those that dare to go where no one has gone before. ■
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.
Hall 6, Stand A-22, B-23
Eastcolight Magnifies Scientific Exploration Hall 12, Stand D-11-1
Get Artsy with Alex
lex Toys has three new arts and crafts products that will be available globally early this year. The Paint a Canvas allows kids ages 6 and up to paint a real stretch canvas with six acrylic paints and three natural brushes. The set includes a preprinted stretched canvas featuring either a cat, a sailboat, a horse, or a flower vase; six tubes of acrylic paint, three paintbrushes, a mixing palette, and a full-color painting guide. Alex’s Tots Art Gallery will have kids sticking, scribbling, and collaging their way to 12 simple works of art while learning their shapes and colors. The set contains three collage-by-shape peel and stick boards; two pre-printed paper frames; six Tots crayons; two shredded tissue peel-andstick activities; three sticker pictures; two peeland-stick collage boards; doilies; tissue, crepe, corrugated, and colored papers; stickers; google eyes; buttons; and an easy parent guide. The kit is for kids ages 18 months and up. Duct Tape Tech lets kids ages 7 and up design their own tablet and smartphone case out of duct tape. Kids can wrap the pre-sewn padded cases with five duct tape colors, including metallic pink, then decorate with 55 pre-cut duct tape stickers. The kit includes 15 feet of duct tape, 55 duct tape stickers, and pre-sewn tablet and smartphone cases. This set makes a case for an iPad and an iPhone, or similar-sized devices.
24 • THE TOY BOOK
he 3D Digital Microscope, from Eastcolight, features multi-angle objective viewing. The 360-degree, all-direction microscope has a two-way light source and a big depth of field. With convenient rotation speed control, 2-D and 3D images, and video and capture capabilities, this microscope will have little scientists exploring in no time. The microscope also features a 2 megapixel image sensor, 35x to 100x magnification, and a USB interface. The product will be available in April.
Hall 5, Stand A-3
Worx Toys Partners with Haynes Manuals to Re-invent Kids’ Learning
orx Toys will partner with Haynes Manuals to bring the ultimate DIY manual to kids. The Haynes Manual has been a staple for DIY mechanics for more than 50 years, and Haynes will now expand its offering to kids, with unique interactive vehicles packed together with a specially produced Haynes Manual. The accompanying interactive Haynes Manual allows kids to learn about each component of the vehicle and how it works. When the coded buttons are pressed, the translucent vehicles come to life with real motorized lights and sounds.
Hall 5, Stand A-30, B-31
Kids Can Get Wild with Safari Ltd.
afari Ltd. introduces hand-painted and sculpted animals. All Safari Ltd. products are phthalate- and lead-free. New items include the Best in Show Dachshund for kids ages 3 and up, and squeezable Good Luck Minis Duckies for kids ages 5 and up. New from Safari Ltd.’s Incredible Creatures line are the Incredible Creatures Hedgehog, Piglet, Piranha, and Gouldian Finch. Incredible Creatures are for kids ages 3 and up. The Dragon King and Mythical Realms Icarus will both be available in the fall. The Dragon King is 6.25 inches by 4 inches, while Icarus measures 4.25 inches. Both toys are for kids ages 3 and up. The Safari Farm line introduces the hand-painted Brahma Bull, featuring a distinctive hump, for kids ages 3 and up. The Wild Safari Sea Life Bowhead Whale is hand-painted and is 8.25 inches long by 2.75 inches wide. Other new animals from the Wild Safari Sea Life 2014 line include the Dolphin, Pilot Whale, and Thresher Shark. The Wild Safari Hippopotamus measures 5 inches by 2.5 inches and is suitable for kids ages 3 and up. The Wild Safari North American Wildlife Peccary measures 3.25 inches long by 2 inches high, and is suitable for kids ages 3 and up. Other North American Wildlife for this year includes the Gila Monster, the White Buffalo, and Jim the Park Ranger. The Wild Safari line also features hand-painted sculpts of Wild Safari Dinosaurs Ammonite and Wild Safari Dinosaurs Pachyrhinosaurus, both recommended for kids ages 3 and up. Safari Ltd.’s Fruits and Vegetables TOOB teaches kids ages 3 and up about healthy food. Packaged in a reusable acetate tube, this set contains oranges, bananas, apples, pears, carrots, broccoli, corn, and artichokes. Dragon King
Hall 6, Stand B-36, C-39
Radio Flyer Offers Fly Rides
adio Flyer will introduce several new products this year. The Glide & Go Balance Bike helps kids ages 2 to 5 learn how to balance to prepare for pedal bikes. The bike is pedal-free, and features road-hugging Traction Tread tires, a lightweight steel frame, an adjustable comfort seat, and a bell. My 1st Scooter Sport is designed for kids ages 3 and up to develop balance and coordination. The scooter has an extra-wide base, two front wheels for stability, and an easy-touse foot brake. The specially designed turning radius provides safety without compromising mobility. The Classic Red Dual Deck Tricycle sports steel construction, spoked wheels, and rubber tires for durability. Kids ages 2 to 5 can give a friend a ride on the double-deck rear step. The adjustable seat grows with kids, and a controlled turning radius prevents tipping. The tricycle is classically styled with chrome handlebars, streamers, and a ringing bell.
Classic Red Dual Deck Tricycle
THE TOY BOOK • 25
Hall 7, Stand E-71
Hall 8, Stand C-24
Diamond Trust Knows Outdoor Play
he new Outdoor Metal Swing Set and Outdoor Water Slide, from Diamond Trust, are both available globally beginning in January. The three-unit Outdoor Metal Swing Set is compact for safety and provides play for up to 4 children. It includes a glide ride and two single swings. The Outdoor Water Slide is 250 centimeters long by 100 centimeters high, allowing kids to have a theme park slide right at home.
Uni-Fortune Toys Unveils Die-cast Replicas
MZCity, from Uni-Fortune Toys, is a collection of authentic die-cast vehicle replicas. Each replica features a sculpted body, painted and detailed interior, and imprint.
Outdoor Water Slide Hall 7, Stand 50-59
May Cheong Group Zooms into Spielwarenmesse
aisto Power Builds, from May Cheong Group, are motorized do-it-yourself model kits that are fast and easy to build. Kids can snap it together, power it up, apply the labels, and play. Movement is controlled by a forward-off-reverse switch. Up to 16 players can drive at a time with Maisto Tech Extreme Beast. Extreme Beast features 2.4 GHz, a 229foot control range, hobby grade TPE tires, proportional speed control, spring suspension, and a rapid electronic battery charger. The 1:16-scale Tech ReCon Rover features a spring mount that accommodates a smartphone or other camera device to capture the action. Full-function radio control and steering alignment adjustment make for easy maneuvering. The Maisto 2015 Ford Mustang GT is available in 1:18 scale, 1:24 scale, and 1:64 scale, with opening doors and hood in the two larger sizes. All are made from die-cast metal with plastic details and will be available worldwide mid-year. Muscle Machines Garage are 1:64-scale caricature vehicles with big tires, big wheels, and plastic bodies, available in six styles with two colors each. They will be available worldwide mid-year. Muscle Machines Garage Bburago Go Gears Super Spin Speedway features banked highspeed curves, a super-spin clear tunnel, a sticker sheet, and a car. Kids can pull back the car and watch it zoom around inside the transparent tube. The car exceeds 322 kph, and travels more than 14 meters. It will be available worldwide early this year.
26 â€˘ THE TOY BOOK
Hall 7, Stand A-16
All Aboard Jungle Gym’s New Play Frames Hall 5, Stand D-36
Imperial Toy Gets Sticky
ids can launch the ultimate challenge in distance and accuracy with SplatX Thumb Shooter, from Imperial Toy. Splat X is a brand new way to play, launching ammo up to 75 feet. It features two types of unique ammo: Sticky Strike Shotz and Performance Strike Shotz. The green Sticky Strike Shotz have a sticky texture and can crawl down targets. Performance Strike Shotz launch with speed and force to knock down targets and whistle when they fly. Kids control the distance of the launch based on how hard they pull back the ammo. SplatX fits easily into a pocket for on-the-go play for kids ages 8 and up.
ungle Gym will introduce two new adventurous wooden play frames that will be available this spring: the Boat Module and the Train Module. The modules allow kids to transform their favorite play frame into a boat or train. Aboard the Jungle Boat, pirates, marines, and comfortable cruise passengers can experience the adventures of the high seas. All future train conductors, backpackers, and cowboys can climb aboard the Jungle Train for a ride through the desert or jungle. With climbing possibilities, different vantage points, steering wheels, and train wheels, the modules stimulate all five senses.
Boat Module Hall 3, Stand B-25
Franck & Fischer Up to Monkey Business
odern Scandinavian design with a humorous edge helps characterize Franck & Fischer’s products for kids ages 8 and younger, which include toys, nursery products, and bags. Franck & Fischer products are made from organic and eco-friendly materials and meet the European Union standard for safety, functionality, and play value. The company will show off a wide selection, including new additions to its line of cuddly monkeys, Frida and Frederik. It will also launch a re-designed and stylish activity rack for babies.
28 • THE TOY BOOK
Hall 6, Stand C-11
Kids Can Get Techy with Silverlit
ilverlit’s Nano Falcon holds the Guinness World Record title for the Smallest R/C Helicopter. With a size of 65mm and weight of just 11 grams, this three-channel indoor helicopter flies up and down, forward and backward, and left and right. A built-in gyro stabilizer makes flying easy. A precise variable speed rotor delivers excellent flying control. The helicopter features a pre-selected tri-band system and a slim design for the transmitter. Also from Silverlit is i-Fido, an interactive pet for i-Devices. Equipped with a high-end Bluetooth speaker and interactive features, i-Fido streams kids’ favorite tunes while the multi-color LED lights flash to the beat. A free app can be downloaded for more interactive fun. iFido responds if kids pet him or tap his paws and nose. If they put on his headphones, he dances to the music. When i-Fido has the microphone, he becomes a voice changer. i-Fido
Hall 8, Stand A-14
Squashed Keeps Players on Their Toes
quashed, from PlaSmart, is a 3-D board game of strategy and chance. Two to four players ages 6 and up eliminate other players by squashing one pawn at a time—or they can flip the cube for a total wipeout—but players must be careful not to squash their own pawns. The player with the last pawn on the Squashed cube wins.
Hall 5, Stand B-22
DuneCraft Offers New Growing Kits and Expands Lines
uneCraft will introduce several new items at Spielwarenmesse. Product offerings include the new Sea-Quarium create-your-own underwater adventure, two new Message Beans, two new styles of Notchsters, and a new Mushroom Kit that lets kids grow their own oyster mushrooms. Kids can grow an underwater adventure with the Sea-Quarium and watch it come to life through the magnifying portals. Incubating the included eggs brings the SeaSauruses to life. The tank has five magnifying portals on the front curved pane and LED lights that have blue, red, and mixed settings. It also includes an exclusive Notchster Sea Friend. Kids can express themselves in new ways with Message Beans. New styles include the Peace Out Bean and the OMG Bean. These beans sprout in five to seven days, with their message inscribed on the bean and on the first set of leaves that emerge.
THE TOY BOOK • 29
Hall 7, Stand B-24
Kids Can Soar with Kiddieland
he Dusty Activity Ride On, from Kiddieland Toys Ltd., features Dusty Crophopper from Disney Planes. Kids can hear Dusty talk and play his favorite songs with flashing lights. The propellers rotate and change to different light-up patterns. Kids can also press and slide buttons for realistic liftoff and landing sounds and flashing lights, and become pilots as they steer the wheel and honk the horn for a “flying adventure.”
Hall 5, Stand D-60
B kids Takes a Spin on the Ferris Wheel
ebee’s Ferris Wheel, from B kids’ bebee’s garden collection, lets kids spin the wheel over and over, while watching bebee and his friends fefe and zuzu whirl around independently. Rattle beads inside bebee add even more interactive fun for infants, and the enclosed roller ball creates an alluring clicking sound when spun. A suction cup attachment ensures that it will stay in place on any smooth surface, including high chairs and stroller trays. The ferris wheel is recommended for kids ages 6 months and up.
Hall 6, Stand B-36, C-39
Uncle Milton Brings Science to Life
ncle Milton will expand its Marvel Science and Star Wars Science lines next year to further connect kids to scientific concepts through popular licensed characters. With the new Hulk Smash Lab, part of the Marvel Science line, kids can calculate trajectories and determine the right force to launch Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. into villains and buildings. The line expansion also includes the Iron Man Repulsor Ray Tech Lab. New Marvel Science products will be available in North America and globally beginning Force Lightning Energy Ball in the spring. Under the Star Wars Science brand, kids can harness the power of Force Lightning like Jedi Master Yoda while learning about plasma energy with the Force Lightning Energy Ball. New Star Wars Science toys will be available globally in the fall.
Hall 5, Stand A-31
Magnet Ltd. Teaches Lessons That Stick
agnet Ltd.’s new Life Cycles Magnetic Wall Sticker helps kids learn the life cycles of four species. It provides kids with a fun, hands-on learning experience and is great for teachers and parents as well. It is made with flexible and light-weight material that mounts easily and removes cleanly from most surfaces. Also from Magnet Ltd. is the Photo Wall Magnetic Wall Sticker, for kindergarteners to record basic information for classes. The set comes with four pieces of wall sticker, 30 magnetic pieces, and mounting instructions. It allows teachers and students to clearly see who is the teacher, who is on duty, and who is absent. The little photos and pictures get students excited about being hands-on. Photo Wall Magnetic Wall Sticker
30 • THE TOY BOOK
Hall H5, Stand A-79
Popar Toys Shows New Interactive Charts
Hall 12, Stand C 18-4, D 11-3
Thinkway Toys Brings Film Favorites to Life
hinkway Toys will release several new R/C and real flying planes based on the upcoming Planes Fire & Rescue film scheduled for release on July 18 in North America. The company has also partnered with Disney to produce a line of R/C vehicles based on the Cars franchise. The line will feature several scales of R/C vehicles featuring Lightning McQueen, along with other new items. Several new items and Minion characters from the company’s Despicable Me 2 line will release in 2014. These items offer new features and will release globally throughout the year. For the fall, Thinkway Toys will introduce a new range of role-play toys featuring Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. In North America, an all-new line of R/C vehicles based on the film will be released as well.
opar books, puzzles, and now charts bring stories and facts to life with interactive animations, games, videos, in-depth readalongs, and 3-D augmented reality. Currently available exclusively at Costco, Popar products will be available at specialty and other mass retailers beginning this year. The Human Anatomy 3D Chart comes to life when used with the free app on any Android or iOS smart device. Kids can see and zoom in on muscle structure, the skeleton, and organs, and go down the throat to see the digestive system. With the Periodic Table of Elements 3D Chart, kids learn about the elements and how they interact and bond with each other. For example, the app lights up all the elements that hydrogen works with, and kids can pair up hydrogen and oxygen and the app will show how it makes water. The Solar System 3D Chart makes the planets leap off the wall and spin around, and explains their moons, orbits, distance from each other, and more. Kids can watch videos and play games on the chart.
Human Anatomy 3D Chart
Hall 1, Stand C-25
High IntenCity Charms Teens and Tweens
igh IntenCity has added new styles to its Charm It! collection of detachable charms. New arrivals include a Popcorn Charm and Sparkling Pink Purse, which add pops of color to any of the brand’s charmable bracelets, necklaces, or earrings. In addition, the Frog Heart Locket holds two photos, and the Kitten in a Cup gives new meaning to a tea party. The Charm It! collection is designed for girls ages 5 to 14.
32 • THE TOY BOOK
Hall 10.0, Stand C-11
Joodix Offers New Takes on Classic Games
oodix offers a whole new experience based on classic games with QuadroChess and QuadroCheckers. Up to four players can play QuadroChess at the same time, and there are sure to be interesting draws and new variations thanks to more squares than the usual chess board. Meanwhile, QuadroCheckers is the equivalent of Checkers, featuring eight game pieces that allow up to four players to duel with one another. Chess and Checkers is water-resistant fun for all ages. It’s a chess and checkers game made out of EVA (high-quality, isolating, tear-proof, and anti-slip foam) and comes with extra large chess figure pictures. The 3-D version has large plastic chess pieces that are ideal for chess players of all ages. It’s also the perfect size for day care facilities. Joodix will also show Chess: More Than a Game, which tests players’ knowledge concerning the history, the rules, the board and its pieces, and much more about one of the most popular board games in the world. The game features four levels, eight categories, 32 significant chess locations, and a total of 512 questions.
Chess and Checkers
Hall 4, Stand F-34
The Orb Factory Offers New Crafting Kits
he Orb Factory has two new kits for young crafters, and both will be available at the beginning of next year. With Imaginista Tassel Jewelry, kids ages 8 and up can tie, bead, and decorate trendy tassels. They can even loop neon tassels to create fierce-colored fashion accessories. Each kit includes 100 yards of embroidery floss, 1.5 yards of chain, 20 jump rings, two earring hooks, two claw hooks, 12 large beads, 400 small beads, and an instruction and inspiration booklet. With the PlushCraft Fancy Fish Pillow, kids ages 5 and up use the stylus to punch oversized fabric pieces into the included pillow. The results are high-quality fabric-bynumber creations that require no sewing. Each kit contains a Fancy Fish pillow, a stylus, more than 160 fabric pieces, an eye piece, and two velcro pieces.
Hall 6, Stand A10, B11
Ameurop México S.A. de C.V. Is Cooking with Barbie
Hall 12, Stand 05-3
The Learning Journey Has Puzzles Aplenty
he Learning Journey International has new puzzles set for release this month. Each of the company’s Big Floor Puzzles has 30 pieces, measures 24 by 18 inches, and features a theme that engages children ages 3 and up in an interactive learning experience. The titles included in the series are Journey to the Past, Journey to the Farm, Journey to the Jungle, and Journey Under the Sea. When assembled, each Jumbo Floor Puzzle measures 3 feet by 2 feet. The titles in the series include Alphabet, Numbers, Colors & Shapes, Animals, Backyard Bugs, Fairy Tale Castle, and Fire Engine Rescue. Suitable for kids ages 3 and up, these puzzles foster an interactive learning experience between parents and children as they discuss the beautifully illustrated images. Two new titles join the Puzzle Doubles Glow in the Dark line: Glow in the Dark Wildlife and Glow in the Dark Sealife. Each puzzle features 100 pieces, has a black-and-white line drawing on the back, and measures 3 feet by 2 feet when assembled. After building the puzzle, kids ages 3 and up can turn off the lights and see a whole new image in the dark. For kids ages 2 and up, My First Match It includes 15 pairs of self-correcting puzzles. The large, chunky pieces are perfect for beginning puzzle learners. Every title in the My First Match It series teaches an early educational subject through the matching of two puzzle pieces. Eight new titles include All My Toys, At the Ocean, Colors and Shapes, Dinosaurs, Heads and Tails, On the Farm, Things I Eat, and Things That Go!
34 • THE TOY BOOK
meurop México S.A. de C.V. has added Barbie real cooking products that let kids make their own goodies. The Barbie Ice Cream Maker prepares real ice cream and is totally safe, so kids can play and enjoy their homemade snacks. Accessories are included. With the Barbie Bake Oven, kids can make real cakes. The many safety features ensure that it’s perfect for young bakers. This is a 110vv or 240vv electrical device. The Slushy Machine prepares smoothies, frozen pops, and milk shakes. It has safety mechanisms so kids can never reach the blades or start the machine without the blender lid being on. The battery-operated Barbie Smoothie Maker makes real smoothies, ice pops, and milkshakes. It includes a chocolate maker that melts chocolate, which can then be transferred inside spheres with different molds. Now kids can create their own chocolates without coming into contact with anything hot. The Barbie Smoothie Maker is batteryoperated. The Hand Mixer helps kids prepare cake batters or milk shakes. Operated by batteries, it is totally safe for kids. A new set of cookie molds includes all the necessary cookware so that kids can prepare and decorate cookies in their favorite shapes, and decorate them as well. A new set of cake molds and chocolate molds include all the necessary cookware so that kids can prepare treats in their favorite shapes.
Barbie Ice Cream Maker
Hall 3, Stand A-43
Winland Furnishings Introduces New Wooden Toys Hall 10.0, Stand I-16
ThinkFun Makes Science Fun
aser Maze, from ThinkFun, is a beam-bending logic game. Though lights and mirrors make the game feel magical, kids use science and a good dose of brain power to direct the laser beam through this series of mind-challenging mazes. Kids will get a satisfying mental workout as they flex their strategic thinking muscles and ignite the light both on the grid and in their minds. Designed for kids ages 8 and up, Laser Maze is a single-player game available for worldwide distribution in January.
Hall 6, Stand A-03
Triqo Constructs the Dutch Way
riqo, a new construction toy company, has launched a line of multi-model kits for kids ages 5 and up. Each Triqo construction kit consists of parts that click together by way of bulges and holes. Along with triangles and squares, the different parts consist of flexible rods of varying lengths, arches, wheels, tires, hinges, and connectors. Each part is produced in 10 different colors, making the sets appealing to both boys and girls. The multi-model sets are based on different themes, including speed, works, family, robots, and animals. The youngest Triqo fans can build easy structures from smaller starter kits, while older boys and girls can use the multi-model sets to create cars, scooters, dinosaurs, and more.
36 • THE TOY BOOK
inland Furnishings Co. Ltd. debuts a line of toys that will be available globally this spring. The School Bus Play Center with Table & Chair serves multiple functions. The tabletop play table features a handpainted cityscape and 11 handmade transportation-themed accessories. The play tabletop can even be removed so kids can play with it on the floor. The school bus door pulls out and functions as a chair, and when kids remove the accessories, the play center serves as a child’s chair and desk set. Inside, the school bus has a seat where kids can sit, “drive” the bus, and honk the horn. A stop sign folds out from the side of the bus for safe crossings. The Dollhouse features three levels of fun, imagination, and make believe. The rooms are open without walls to allow a convenient and easily accessible playtime experience. The hand-carved, 3D pink furniture includes pieces for the kitchen, living room, bedroom, and bathroom. The dollhouse is FSC-certified, environmentally friendly, made from quality wood, and hand-painted. It is designed for kids ages 3 and up with some assembly required. When it’s time for a doll sleepover, the Doll Bunk Bed with Ladder is made for 18-inch dolls, such as American Girl, Madame Alexander, and Our Generation. The Bunk Bed is built for two dolls and includes a ladder. The Wooden Play Kitchen features an oven that opens for pretend dishes, a dishwasher, two burners, a sink, and a storage space for hanging utensils. The kitchen is designed for kids ages 3 and up. Also for kids 3 and up is the Fire Station Play Set. It is durable and child-safe with a paint finish. The vibrant colors and detailed features will help to spark imaginations. Wooden Play Kitchen
Hall 4, Stand F-81
Dracco Company Ltd. Launches Zombie Zity
n the quiet town of Zombie Zity, from Dracco Company Ltd., two sides have drawn their battle lines. Mayor Miserly has turned every “zitizen” into a zombie in hopes of controlling them, and it’s up to Diesel Dan and his fearless friends to stop the Mayor and his minions—while avoiding their fiendishly cunning traps. The Zombie Zity story plays out across two different kinds of zitizen figures, collector cards, a bi-monthly magazine, and an interactive website featuring games and an app. Zombie Zity includes more than 70 characters, figurines, and play sets. The toy range features two innovative categories of Zombie Zity zitizens: Swobblerz, 12 bobble-headed figures with interchangeable body parts, and Bouncerz, 48 micro-sized, megabouncing figures that spring nearly 3-D Dan, from Zombie Zity 30 feet high. Each Swobblerz comes with an exclusive zombie ID card listing the figure’s attributes and an activation code to unlock interactive games on the Zombie Zity website. The product line also includes play sets with actionpacked game play that replicates the online gaming experience: two trap sets and a large tow truck. Dracco’s line of Filly toys is a fantasy world of royal horses made with velvety flocking, Swarovski Elements crystals, and golden crowns. The Filly Unicorn line includes more than 20 characters to collect. The story line and character profiles offer consumers a magical and wholesome world to explore. Filly Unicorns live in Crystalia, a world that consists of six crystal-shaped islands connected by glittering rainbows that allow for travel between them. The Filly.com website includes games, kid-safe social interaction, and specialized content for each global region. Kids can take Filly on the go with the Filly Photo Fun app that blends pictures with Filly frames, icons, and graphics. The new HD 3-D animated series Filly Funtasia consists of 26 half-hour episodes. The series follows the adventures of Filly friends at a school for magic and draws on the history and diversity of the brand.
Hall 8, Stand C-13
Grow’n Up Has New Ways for Kids to Get Creative
he Grow-With-Me-Easel, from Grow’n Up, easily transforms into an easel, a tabletop, and a foldaway. The doublesided dry-erase and chalkboard surfaces give kids options, and the easel includes storage for art supplies and paper clips to hold paper. The Magnetic Double Easel ups the ante with magnetic dry-erase and chalkboard surfaces. Each board includes a clip to hold paper and is easy to clean. There are four detachable storage containers, and it folds for easy storage. An eraser and 77 magnetic letters and numbers are included. Kids ages 3 and up can get creative with the Play ’N Fold Art Studio. The two-in-one art desk converts to an easel, and features a chalkboard surface and large paper clip. Kids can get comfy on the sturdy seat, and can store their supplies in the elevated storage area. The Creativity Play Station provides storage inside each table leg and features a large chalkboard surface. Two stools, three paint cups, three brushes, a fabric pocket, and an eraser are included.
Creativity Play Station
THE TOY BOOK • 37
Hall 1, Stand F-35
Craftstone Group Ltd. Produces Licensed Plush
raftstone Group Ltd. is the plush toy licensee for The Jungle Book CGIanimated series in South America, Asia, and Europe. For kids ages 3 to 8, Craftstone has produced key chain plush, pillow cushions, story book pillows, bean bag plush toys, and flat plush toys based on the series. The company is also the plush licensee in the U.S. and Canada for Rainbow Magic, a publishing series from Scholastic. Craftstone Group Ltd. has produced a Rainbow Magic plush doll based on the property for kids ages 3 to 8. Rainbow Magic plush dolls The Jungle Book pillow cushions Hall 5, Stand B-05/3-C-33
TCG to Show Star Wars, Grumpy Cat, and More
omega skill toys, from TCG, help strengthen hand-eye coordination and are suitable for kids ages 8 and up. The Yomega Star Wars String Bling line consists of high-performance, Fireball yo-yos that are decorated with Star Wars characters. They also feature a sculpted character ring that protects fingers from tight strings. The four Star Wars characters available are Boba Fett, Clone Trooper, Darth Vader, and Yoda. The Star Wars Yo-Men Action Stands consist of a Fireball yo-yo customized with a popular character from the Star Wars universe as well as a collectible action stand. When yo-yo play is done, players ages 8 and up can place the yo-yo on the stand to complete the Yo-Men character. Clone Trooper, Darth Vader, General Grievous, and Yoda are available. Kendama! Pro is a traditional skill game that challenges players’ hand-eye coordination through tossing and catching. A bright star ball is tethered to the handle by a string, requiring players ages 8 and up to land the ball on two different-sized cup surfaces—or for a real challenge, on the peg at the end of the handle. The wooden construction gives the Kendama! Pro a competition size and weight, allowing for all manner of tricks. Through a licensing deal with Grumpy Cat Ltd., TCG and Ganz will bring the social media feline sensation, Grumpy Cat, and her brother, Pokey, from computer screens to retail shelves with the introduction of plush toys and puzzles. Grumpy Cat 5-inch Plush is a cute, giftable little plush that wears a hangtag featuring one of her four favorite grumpy phrases. The Grumpy Cat 10-inch Plush is a mid-size plush that comes in a fashionable T-shirt featuring one of her four favorite phrases. Grumpy Cat The Talking Grumpy Cat makes memorable sounds when her paw is squeezed—but purring isn’t Midsize Plush one of them. Instead, there is authentic meowing, hissing, or growling from the actual Grumpy Cat. All three Grumpy Cat plush toys are suitable for kids ages 4 and up. The new line of Grumpy Cat 100-piece puzzles includes four different puzzles for kids ages 12 and up to piece together. Each features Internet meme-styled images of Grumpy Cat and her favorite phrases.
38 • THE TOY BOOK
Hexbug Battling Spiders
Hall 12.0, Stand I-02
Innovation First Expands the Hexbug World
he Hexbug Strandbeast, from Innovation First, is a complex robot that features an eight-legged walking mechanism. Its two-channel infrared remote control can be used to operate each side of the Strandbeast’s legs independently. The Hexbug Strandbeast is available in five translucent colors. Hexbug Battling Spiders are the first mechanical Hexbugs designed for two-person play. Each battling robot with two-channel infrared remote control is fuelled with a futuristic voice, sound effects, a unique battle-hardened deco, and a high-tech life-sensor that measures each hit. Innovation First has expanded the line of Hexbug Aquabots. These water-born micro-robotic creatures with smart fish technology have expanded to include two new body styles, the Hammerhead Shark and the Angelfish. Aquabots now feature LED lights that blink in coordination with the movement of the tail. VEX Robotics is a collection of high-tech, tool-free robotics kits that allow Hexbug fans to build and program their favorite jumbo-sized Hexbug. VEX robots can run in autonomous mode or driver-controlled mode.
Hall 1, Stand B-05, 3-C-33
Folkmanis Shows Off Cute Critters
he Wolf Pup Puppet, from Folkmanis, is more cuddly than fierce and is fresh from the den with fluffy, soft, brown and white fur. His sweet expressive face features perky ears, bright blue eyes, and a movable muzzle. Not the lone wolf type, this gregarious little guy will prey on kids for lots of love to surely become a leader of the puppet pack. The Perched Eagle Puppet is regally perched and ready to swoop. The puppet is realistically rendered with keen, piercing eyes and a plumage of dark brown with white head and tail. The strong, hooked beak and powerful talons are featured in gold-hued leatherette. The Standing Lop Rabbit Puppet is ready for the next harvest. The rabbit features distinctive long, lop ears and cashmere soft, creamy white and broken brown patterned fur. Scottish Fold Kitten The Saw-Whet Owl Puppet is small in stature and has a cream and reddish-brown streaked and spotted, feather-soft body perched upon tan leatherette claws. Kids can insert a hand into the wings and small beak and witness nature come alive. Lastly, the Scottish Fold Kitten puppet represents the newly popular and distinctive breed. This puppet features unique folded ears and a rounded face with large, broad-set eyes that convey this kitty’s need for affection. Kids can play with the moveable mouth and front paws of the white and blue-grey kitten. All of these puppets will be available worldwide in the spring.
40 • THE TOY BOOK
Hall 10.1, Stand A-05
Identity Games Challenges the Voice and Mind
ans of the TV series The Voice can now enjoy the singing challenge whenever they want with The Voice Sing & Coach Game, from Identity Games. The microphone is connected to a smart device and works with The Voice: On Stage app, specially developed by StarMaker. The app features songs performed in the international editions of The Voice. When players sing, it’s not just the app that judges the performance—other players use special coaching cards to rate the talent. The Find It hidden object game is a brightly colored, educational game that contains hidden items for players to find, conveniently listed on the top of the game. Objects inside range from everyday items to custom-designed shapes and images, depending on the theme of the particular version. Spin it, twist it, and shake it to play. Also from Identity Games are Miffy Hide and Seek and Dora Hide and Seek. Players look closely at the pictures to try to find Miffy or Dora. If they listen carefully, they can hear the characters making little sounds. This educational game can be played with kids of all ages—parents just need to apply the technique suitable for the child’s age.
Hall 10, U.S. International Pavillion, D-05
It’s Fun Learning from the Outset
ids can travel the U.S. and learn all about the world of horses with new games from Outset Media. With Professor Noggin’s Fifty States Special Edition, players explore Maine to Hawaii and all points in between, with topics that include history, geography, and culture. In addition, this special-edition version of the game has double the cards for double the fun as kids enjoy an informative journey across America. A galloping good time is ready to be had in Professor Noggin’s Horses, a new card game. Topics include horse anatomy and behavior, and kids can learn interesting facts about horse history and popular breeds. Both games are available worldwide.
Hall 4, Stand A-97
Creative Educational Aids Combines Fun and Learning
reative Educational Aids Pvt. Ltd. introduces new educational toys that are available worldwide. Practice Math At Home—Addition is an entertaining game that helps kids develop conceptual understanding of addition and an activity book with engaging activities to reinforce the subject. Kites of the World is a kit that contains enough material for six unique kites, including a box kite, a tetrahedral kite, a butterfly kite, a Rokkaku kite, a diamond kite, and a delta kite. The Read & Practice Pack is a fun way to learn beginning sounds and letters of the alphabet. It includes 50 alphabet and word cards. This pack helps teach skills such as letter recognition, letter sounds, and new vocabulary. The Bright Buttons Discovery Pack includes math games for learning pre-number and number skills, shapes, colors, creative design, and problem-solving skills. The Beginning Sounds and Ending Sounds Consonants packs challenge kids to identify and match cards that have the same beginning or ending sounds. Kids can play traditional snap, fish, or concentration games and solve activities to practice phonics skills.
THE TOY BOOK • 41
Hall 7, Stand A-26
The Chillafish Co. Introduces New Bikes and Ride-Ons Hall 4, Stand F-25
Breyer Rides into Toy Fair
reyer Animal Creations’ English Doll and Horse Set tells the story of Colleen, who decides it’s time to start getting her horse ready for the trail riding competition that she’s entering with her friends from Pine Acres Farm. Colleen is saddled up and ready to go, while her horse Sundrop has his ears perked as he eagerly watches for obstacles. The set includes a 6-inch articulated rider, a Classics horse, a saddle pad, an English saddle, and a bridle. The English Rider and Accessories set depicts Abigail, another student at Pine Acres Farm. She has been practicing her skills for weeks with her trainer, and even brought her English saddle and bridle home to make sure all the parts are clean and in working order. She also has a new pink-accented riding outfit and a matching saddle pad. The set includes a 6-inch articulated doll, a riding helmet, an English saddle, a bridle, and a saddle pad. Discoveries are afoot in Breyer Animal Creations’ New Arrival at the Barn, which tells the story of Maggie, the new kid in town who has been making friends at Pine Acres Farm where she has started taking riding lessons. While cleaning stalls one weekend, Maggie finds out that Espresso, her favorite mare, has foaled a chestnut colt. Along with a mare, a foal, and a 6-inch articulated doll, the set comes with a halter, a foal blanket, fencing, a rake, a shovel, a bucket, and a water trough. The winner of the Rolex Kentucky Three Day, Badminton Horse Trials, and Burghley Horse Trials in 2003, Pippa Funnell and her mount, PrimEnglish Rider and Accessories more’s Pride, are depicted in Pippa Funnel’s Primmore’s Pride: The Event Horse. A seven-eighths Thoroughbred gelding, Primmore’s Pride also inspired Funnell’s children’s book, Pride and Joy.
he Chillafish Co. will debut new bikes and ride-ons this year that will be available worldwide. The Bunzi Twoin-One Gradual Balance Bike can be switched from three-wheel mode to twowheel mode in just a few seconds. Kids can learn balance in a fun, step-by-step way and switch back and forth as many times as they want. The seat position in three-wheel mode is low to the ground for comfort, while the seat position in two-wheel mode is higher for more speed. The Bunzi is light and easy to carry by the handgrip, and it has silent indoor and outdoor TPE wheels and a storage trunk in the seat. It is made of high-quality ABS material and is wrapped in a unique bunny-style design. The Quadie four-wheeler features a simple and functional first ride and a clean and stylish look. It is lightweight for carrying and handling, and offers various customization options. The seat adjusts to the child’s height and the handgrip makes it easy to take along anywhere. The BMXie balance bike is a lightweight BMX-styled bicycle frame with oversized tubing. It features cool designs, an adjustable seat without tools, a removable footrest, a detachable front number plate, and various stickers. Designed to be kids’ first balance bike, the Jack & Josie Balance Bikes allow kids to push off and roll with their feet on the footrest. This foot-tofloor ride-on helps kids find their balance and steer at the same time. It is available in white with flowers or black with flames. Jack Balance Bike
42 • THE TOY BOOK
Hall 10.0, Stand C-10
Replogle Shows the World, Day and Night
he 12-inch Day/Night Globe, from Replogle Globes, provokes the imagination in new ways. The Day Globe shows the colors of a blue ocean political map when not lit. When the light is turned on, the Night globe names and displays 88 constellations and more than 35 of the brightest stars. This unique globe can be used as a night light and features a black base and pewter-plated die-cast semimeridian. The globe will be available for distribution worldwide in May.
THE TOY BOOK â€˘ 43
Hall 3, Stand A-39
Bigjigs Toys Launches Two New Ranges
B Hall 12.0, Stand B-07
Tech 4 Kids Introduces Something for Everyone
his fall, Tech 4 Kids will introduce Lite Friends, soft and squishy licensed character night lights. Available characters include My Little Pony, Hello Kitty, Transformers, Despicable Me, Disney Planes, Toy Story, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Spider-Man. Also available this fall are Charmlites, light-up charms that can go anywhere, featuring Disney Princess, Toy Story, Despicable Me, Disney Planes, My Little Pony, and Hello Kitty characters. Both products are for kids ages 3 and up. For kids ages 8 and up, Tech 4 Kids introduces Tek Recon, its line of high-performance blasters that feature real trigger and recoil barrel action, high-capacity quick load cartridges, and the ability to blast up to 75 feet. To optimize the real battle and team experience, the free iOS and Android apps use GPS technology to give kids a video game-like experience in real life. Fash’ems Style Packs are soft, fashionably fun characters for girls ages 4 and up who like to dress up and play with their favorite characters. Style Packs include a Fash’ems character and two fashion accessories, with characters including My Little Pony, Disney Princess, Minnie Mouse, and Hello Kitty. Kids ages 4 and up can battle with the Transformers Fists and Spar Bag. The oversized soft play Bumblebee fists come with motion-activated sound effects for realistic action. Kids can practice their moves with the Spar Bag, complete with a full-size Optimus Prime graphic and a water-filled Tek Recon base. These items are sold separately.
44 • THE TOY BOOK
igjigs Toys will be launching two new ranges for this year, including Bigjigs Baby and Tatiri Alphabet Letters. Both will be available for distribution in North America this spring. The Bigjigs Baby range offers high-quality educational toys for kids up to age 3. With bright colors, shapes, sounds, and tactile textures, this range of toys will helps little ones discover the world around them. The range comprises of my “first” stackers, sorters, puzzles, and soft plush toys from the Bigjigs Bella and Bruno collection. The Crazy Animal Tatiri Letters are decorative, colorful, wooden alphabet letters that can be used to personalize bedrooms, toy boxes, and playrooms. Each letter is based on popular animals including dogs, cats, birds, and frogs. There are two variations of each letter to ensure plenty of mix and match variations. Bigjigs Toys has more than 50 new products from existing and new ranges hitting the shelves, including a bustling City Train Set and Table complete with high-rise buildings, a heli-pad, bridges, and a unique metro train; new pink rail accessories including a bridge, tunnel, engine shed, and accessory pack; a red-brick Fire Station Play Set complete with wooden fire engine and figures; and a host of hand-cut jigsaw puzzles.
Hall 10, Ground Floor Foyer, Stand 10
Wentworth Puzzles Adds New Designs
entworth Puzzles will introduce several new puzzle designs. Hummingbird Garden, a wooden puzzle, is vibrantly colored and features hummingbirds flying amid colorful flowers. Alice In Wonderland is a wooden jigsaw puzzle for kids and adults that depicts Alice with the characters from the story, with select quotes placed around the scene. Riverside Home in Bloom features a classic thatched roof cottage at water’s edge, and is a traditional wooden puzzle. Noah’s Ark is a kids’ puzzle with an image of the ark with the animals. Some puzzle pieces are in the shapes of animals. Noah’s Ark puzzle
Hall 4, Stand F-81
Everyday Princess, Everyday Storage from Neat-Oh!
ew Go Sport Backpacks, from Neat-Oh! International LLC, will be available globally in April. Neat-Oh! is introducing three new themes to the lineup—football, hockey, and soccer. Each Go Sport Backpack features two zipper pockets and even has a space that can be customized with the number of the wearer’s favorite player. The Full Throttle Village Green Storage Trunk will be available globally in April. Like the traditional storage trunk, users can store wooden trains and track, die-cast vehicles, and more inside it. The trunk also opens up into a town in which all the toys inside can be used for play. No crown or suit of armor is required for the Knights Lifesize Play Castle and the Everyday Princess Lifesize Fairy Castle. Both cardboard castles are fully printed and stand over 4 feet tall when assembled. The pieces can be configured in multiple ways, and multiple castles can fit together for easy expansion of the user’s kingdom. The Hot Wheels Racing Ramp Storage Trunk looks like a traditional trunk, but can store Hot Wheels tracks, cars, and more inside, and can open into a race track. The Barbie ZipBin 40 Doll Beauty Basket is a traditionally shaped basket with handles for easy storage and mobility. However, it also unzips at the corners to become a playmat for use with Barbie dolls and accessories. Whenever play is done, kids can zip it back into a basket for quick and easy clean up. The Barbie ZipBin Glamour Shoe Doll Carrier looks like one of Barbie’s shoes and can be worn like a wristlet, but it unzips to reveal a play area for dolls and accessories. When play is done, it zips back up for easy storage or transport. The Barbie Fashion Mansion Storage Trunk has space to store Barbie, her friends, and accessories inside. But it also opens up into a Barbie Fashion Mansion that serves as a play set for all the toys inside. Knights Lifesize Play Castle
THE TOY BOOK • 45
Hall 4, Stand C-81, D-80
Mega Bloks Has More Ways to Have Fun
M Hall 7A, Stand A-169
Toy State Debuts Infant Toys
oy State introduces Papillon toys, which are high-quality toys for kids ages 0 to 2. The Flower Teething Rattle and Forest Teething Rattle, both for kids ages 3 months and up, are easy to grasp and feature soft textures and clicking sounds when twisted. Stacking Flower Cups includes six flower cups ready for stacking and nesting for kids ages 6 months and up. The letters on the bottom of each cup can be used for imprinting. Each cup has sprinkler holes for different pouring effects and can be used in the bath. Pop-Up Forest Friends, for kids ages 1 and up, lets kids press, flip, slide, and turn to make forest friends pop out of the flower pot.
ega Bloks First Builders introduces new themes and characters to its preschool construction line, which will be available at all major retailers in the fall. Little builders can create rescue scenes with the Mix ’n Match City Rescue Center, featuring the Mega Bloks First Builders Fast Tracks Rescue Squad, which includes 100 pieces with three buildable cars and adjustable tracks. Mega Bloks First Builders Learning Train and Learning Cubes sets feature number and picture stickers for mixing and matching, along with different themes, blocks, and accessories to help toddlers identify objects with words, numbers, shapes, and colors. The Fold ’n Go Musical Farm plays 24 farm songs and animal sounds for children to enjoy as they build and play. The set includes a Farmer Block Buddy, two animal Block Buddies, a tractor, and 15 First Builders blocks with storage and a fold ’n go feature. Mega Bloks Junior Builders themed bags, for kids ages 2 to 5, include blocks, special parts, and a figurine in each set. They feature a storage bag and fun themes, such as Mega Bloks Junior Builders Fun Farming Day, Cool Construction Site, Firestation Rescue, and the Pretty Pony Stable. Mega Bloks Hello Kitty—Fun at the Fair set includes more than 200 pieces and two Mega Bloks Hello Kitty figurines, a moving merry-go-round, and a ferris wheel. The Mega Bloks Barbie Fab Mansion features five rooms and a patio to build and decorate, and includes Barbie and Skipper mini-fashion figures. Mega Bloks Skylanders Swap Force—Skylands Spinner Assortment lets kids choose their hero and build, spin, and smash their way to victory. Kids ages 5 to 7 can assemble the spinner, choose a battle tip, and launch their hero into the Frost Guard Battle Arena. Mega Bloks will introduce the new SpongeBob SquarePants construction line, which features collectible micro action figures, buildable vehicles, and play sets. The main battle tank of the Mega Bloks Call of Duty Heavy Armor Outpost is a direct fire, heavy armored vehicle. Designed for kids ages 14 and up, it comes with a heavy machine gun and main cannon on a rotating turret, and tracks that spin.
Papillon Flower Teething Rattle SpongeBob SquarePants
46 • THE TOY BOOK
Hall 12, Stand D-10, Hall 12.1, Stand P-24
Spin Master Brings Hyper Fun
Hall 3, Stand D-09
Boikido Wooden Lines Build Imaginations
oikido introduces a line of new products that are available worldwide in January. The Wooden Flying Saucer Luna and Comet Pull Toys will help young children take their first steps. These toys promote balance and encourage walking. The flying saucer’s head and the comet’s tail move up and down as they are being dragged along. Also, the moon balances and the star turns on the Luna Pull Toy. Kids can join in the circus parade with the Wooden Boikitrain Circus. They can stack the 15 wooden shapes on the train or floor, challenging their creativity and imagination. The train helps to develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. It is also a pull toy that helps young children with balance and encourages them to take their first steps. The 12-piece Animal Puzzle comes with a sturdy, wooden box to play with and store the puzzle. Kids can assemble six animals on the box lid or mix the pieces to create their own unique characters. This puzzle helps to develop shape and color recognition, fine motor skills, and imagination. Wooden Boikitrain Circus
48 • THE TOY BOOK
ir Hogs Hypertrax, from Spin Master, lets kids ages 8 and up drive over any obstacle with this double-sided, high-speed, all-terrain vehicle. The Hypertrax’ tread gives maximum grip for high performance and uses 2.4Ghz communication to race, jump, flip, and drive as the independent suspension system navigates the toughest terrain. With the Ionix Dragons Mini-Figure Assortment, kids ages 4 and up can build, train, and battle with all of their favorite dragons from the world of Berk. Each dragon is built using shapeshifting bricks from Ionix. All of the heroes from DreamWorks Dragons are available in mini-figure form. Flying TinkerBell magically flies, gracefully gliding guided by the palm of kids’ hands. She launches from her display stand and stops with the push of a button. Flying Tinkerbell is for kids ages 5 and up and will be available in the spring. Kids can discover the mechanics of a helicopter with the 12 Models Set—Helicopter. Kids ages 8 and up can make both rotators move, then rebuild it into other vehicles and engines to discover new movements. The set builds 12 models and includes tools and more than 240 parts. Minecraft Vinyl Figure Assortment are 6-inch tall vinyl figures. Kids can collect all three: Steve, Diamond Steve, and Creeper Vinyl. Each figure has a ball-jointed head. Ionix Pokémon Mini-Figure Assortment allows kids to create Pokémon characters using Ionix bricks. Pokémon characters can be built using innovative new shapeshifting bricks, including the Pokémon-inspired shapeshifting sphere brick. The motion-triggered Dart Trap launches darts when a target walks by. Darts launch 6 feet in the air, and can be placed on the ground or hung from above. Dart Trap is for kids ages 6 and up and will be available in the fall. Zoomer is an interactive dog that is all of the fun and none of the responsibility of a real dog. Kids can easily play with Zoomer because he listens and learns. Zoomer features a flexible tail for real wagging action, a rotational core that allows him to roll over, LED eyes with blinking and tracking capabilities, a voicecommand receiver for intuitive play, and chest sensors that track objects and belly scratches. Zoomer is for kids ages 5 and up.
Hall 6, Stand C-30
Modular Toys Ltd. Lets Kids Build in 3-D
odular Construction Toys, from Modular Toys Ltd., takes a new and unique approach to educational development construction toys by allowing kids to build 3-D, fully modular race track sets, highways, castles, railways, cars, and characters while cultivating abstract thinking, 3-D perception, and creativity. The Modular Highway Kit includes 72 construction pieces, three cars, decorative stickers, and other accessories. The Modular Express Kit includes 101 construction pieces, a locomotive, four train cars, decorative stickers, and accessories. Both kits are designed for children ages 4 and up, and are available now in North America, Israel, Spain, Czech Republic, Romania, Austria, and the UK. The products will be available worldwide this year.
Hall 8, Stand A-16
Waboba to Kids: Get Out!
aboba has a new collection of fun items intended to get people active and make them Get Out! The set, available worldwide this month, includes the company’s most popular sports innovations: the Waboba Surf Ball that bounces on water; the Moon Ball that bounces high on land; the Flyer, which is a mix of badminton and hacky sack; and a Playbook that includes 25 ways to play. Each item covers a different playing environment, meaning plenty of ways for kids to get out and have fun. Waboba’s Moon Ball creates a unique sound, and its craters make it easy for kids’ hands to grip and catch. Now also available in blue, it will come in an assorted pack of 10 yellow and 10 blue Moon balls starting next January.
Hall 8, Stand E-05
OgoSport Lets It Rip and Zipp
ero Zipp, from OgoSport LLC, features a unique catapult action and soft and safe projectiles that give incredible distance and movement with just a flick of the wrist. Aero Zipp travels more than 200 feet and has a controllable curved flight. Kids can have fun as they develop accuracy, distance, height, and curved flight skills. Aero Zipp does not require rubber bands or springs that store energy and suddenly release—all of the power is derived directly from the throwing action. Aero Zipp is now available in the U.S. and will release worldwide this month.
THE TOY BOOK • 49
Why Children PL AY the Way They Do PART 1 So You Can Make Toys That Kids Find Irresistible by Nancy Zwiers, CEO, Funosophy Inc.
fter decades in the play industry, we veterans have observed patterns in the way children play and noted that these core play patterns transcend time, geography, and culture. Successful innovation is a matter of tapping into these stable core play patterns in new ways—not trying to invent new play patterns.
Marketplace observation reveals the existence of core play patterns. Play patterns are segmented by age. Those of us who have been in the industry for a long time see a clear, indisputable age segmentation naturally emerge. While I will define the segments using discrete ages, note that every age break is a continuum, with some children moving through the play stages more quickly and others more slowly than average.
There are clear play pattern differences between boys and girls. Infants and toddlers enjoy fairly gender-neutral play; however, at about age 2, gender preferences start becoming apparent. In the 3 to 7 age range, these genderbased preferences dominate play. While gender differences will continue to exist, the distinctions are greatest among kids ages 3 to 7. (Note that some children do not demonstrate stereotypical gender traits, and this is natural given that “gender” is a continuum from masculine to feminine and individuals of either sex can be anywhere on this continuum.)
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Why? Seeking to understand why these core play patterns exist, I began a journey of exploration and discovery about the nature of play. In this multi-part series, I will summarize the big picture insights gained from my foray into the disciplines of anthropology, evolutionary biology, neuroscience, and child development.
Play is universal. Play and playthings (toys) are included in a list of approximately 400 “Human Universals,” first published by noted anthropologist Donald E. Brown in 1991. Human universals are concepts, objects, traits, and behaviors that have been documented in every single human culture ever studied. There are no known exceptions across the span of time and geography.
Play is an inner biological drive. If play is universal, it stands to reason that there is a biological basis for play versus merely cultural influences. In addition, numerous studies document play behaviors in primates and other mammals, which further reinforces the biological basis of play. In evolutionary theory (the ultimate big picture understanding of all living things), when a trait is as broadscale as play is, scientists conclude that the trait is adaptive. In other words, in some way, play must help us survive and reproduce. But how? Sifting through mountains of data looking for clues, I found that no scientist had yet cracked this code. However, with access to empirical data from the market (i.e., what sells), I have developed an intriguing theory that both explains and
predicts the behavior of the market and is consistent with scientific theory and data.
Funosophy Play Theory: Play is nature’s way of ensuring we learn how to survive, and our inner play drive allows us to wire our brains in a predictable, systematic fashion. Just as animals evolved from simple reptiles to significantly more complex humans on a macro level, our individual brains develop according to the same sequence on a micro level. Our brains develop from the bottom up throughout childhood and well into adolescence in a way that mirrors evolution, as illustrated below through the Paul MacLean Triune Brain Model:
Reptilian: Somatosensory/sensorimotor system • Monitoring inner states, sensation (the five senses) and initiation of movement impulses Mammalian: Limbic system (“emotional brain”) • Socio-emotional system (feelings, motivation, relationships) Primate: Higher order cognitive system • Thinking, conscious memory, symbols, planning (neo-cortex) • Inhibition of impulses, or judgment, develops last (prefrontal cortex)
By combining our understanding of core play patterns with insights from neuroscience on brain development, a theoretical model emerges in which each of the three age segments in the play landscape corresponds to the three phases of brain development (see The Funosophy Play Theory chart on the right). This model suggests that play appears to be the primary engine for forging the brain connections we will ultimately need to survive and reproduce. The axiom “Play to Learn” is even
more valid than we perhaps realized. With this insight, we can impact the troubling trend of less and less time being devoted to unstructured play in children’s lives. As an industry, we have the opportunity to help wellmeaning parents understand just how crucial play is to their child’s well-being, now and for the rest of their lives. Further, as we get smarter about aligning our toys with the inner play drives of children at every age, we will improve the play value of the toys we bring to market. As play value improves, perceived value goes up. Higher perceived value of toys is good for everyone. It’s a virtuous circle all the way around. To that end, Part 2 of this series in the February issue of The Toy Book will explore the core play patterns by age and gender, as shown in the Funosophy Play Theory, in greater detail. ■ Nancy Zwiers is CEO and chief funosopher of Funosophy Inc., a brand-building consulting firm in the play industry. Founded in 2000, Funosophy conducts extensive research in the area of kids and play and has advised more than 150 clients ranging from start-ups to established companies. Prior to founding Funosophy, Zwiers held top executive positions with Mattel, including senior vice president of worldwide marketing for Barbie. With more than 20 years in the kids’ toy and entertainment space, Zwiers has deep expertise in kids and their play, and is broadly acknowledged as one of the world’s leading experts on girls. Zwiers’ theory of play bridges the disciplines of neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and child development with empirical data from the toy marketplace.
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Make It, Wear It, Share It DIY tradeable accessory kits top the activities category
by Marissa DiBartolo
ummer camps, lunchrooms, sleepovers: the birthplaces of grade school fads. Kids love to create, show off, and trade the latest new thing year after year, whether it’s braided lanyards, beaded animal key chains, or friendship bracelets. But while the bracelets are nothing new, the timeless do-it-yourself (DIY) accessory took a new, stretchy turn this year, with kids replacing the traditional colored string with miniature, vibrant rubber bands. Rainbow Loom, from Choon’s Design LLC, is an affordable DIY accessory kit that includes rubber bands, C hooks, a loom, and a weaving tool that kids and teens can use to make colorful friendship bracelets. With more than 1 million Looms sold at specialty retailers such as Learning Express and Michael’s, the rubber band bracelet kit has revved up the activities category.
Spanning Genders and Generations William Meredith, owner of a Learning Express store in Cary, N.C., says the activities category is typically geared toward girls, but Rainbow Loom has changed that. “What’s been cool about the Rainbow Loom is that it gets boys doing crafts, which in the 20 years I’ve been doing this, I don’t think we’ve
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ever really had,” says Meredith. According to Rainbow Loom creator Cheong Choon Ng, the activity kit not only appeals to both genders, but also spans generations. “Mom is getting into it as well,” he says. “I see that many more creative bracelets are made by moms and dads, where they make characters for their kids. And moms use more beads, making it more into a piece of jewelry.” With such a wide appeal, Rainbow Loom has dominated the activities category in the last year. Meredith says that his Learning Express store usually dedicates about 10 percent of its inventory to activity products, but with Rainbow Loom, the activities inventory has risen to about 15 percent. The store dedicates 8 feet of wall space to the kits, rubber band refill packs, and other accessories, which, according to Meredith, is the same amount of space that Lego products occupy. “Traditionally, arts and crafts is a small section compared to toys, but because of our product sold in their stores, arts and crafts has become a very strong category,” says Ng.
Inspiring the Trend The massive success of Rainbow Loom has inspired a DIY accessory trend, resulting in similar products such as the Shimmer ’n Sparkle Cra-Z-Loom, from Cra-Z-Art, which is a Toys “R” Us exclusive rubber band loom kit. Imaginista Twist & Loop Jewelry, from The Orb Factory, includes thick silicone rings kids can loop around metal jump rings to create fashionable accessories. Boho Bands, from Alex Toys, doesn’t involve rubber bands, but does include a loom for kids to weave beads and charms onto colorful twine. Though there are now similar products to Rainbow Loom on the market after a year of hot sales, creator Ng isn’t worried about a crowded marketplace. “I think the competition should be fair and consumers will be the ones who decide who will be the winner, so my focus is on making fun and high-quality products. That’s my formula to compete,” he says.
All Good Things… According to The NPD Group, arts and crafts sales were at about $322 million as of October 2013. Though the activities category as a whole is on the rise due to sales of Rainbow Loom, Meredith says sales of other activity kits with the same audience are down. “You can show people all types of craft products, but what people want right now is the Rainbow Loom,” he says. “It’s making it harder to pick the arts and crafts that are good because it might still be a great item but it’s not selling because of Rainbow Loom.” However, Meredith is being careful not to stop carrying other activities products going into next year, since sales of the Rainbow Loom are expected to decline as the trend fades over time. “We are being careful not to discontinue arts and crafts kits that aren’t selling because of Rainbow Loom, because that doesn’t mean that once Rainbow Loom slows down that those kits that are great won’t pick back
up,” says Meredith. While sales of Rainbow Loom are still going strong, even Ng knows that fads don’t last forever. He says the next steps for Rainbow Loom include international expansion, licensing, and new product development. “I know that this product is a fad and the sales for the product will come down next year, so our focus is going to be on the international market, but at the same time, I will be launching new products to refresh our product and get into a wider market,” says Ng. Even with new looms for more intricate designs on the horizon, Ng says the Rainbow Loom brand will likely be entering the toy space, instead of just staying in the activities category.
The Specialty Benefits With exclusive specialty distribution, Rainbow Loom has opened many consumers’ eyes to the world of specialty stores, and in turn, the specialty experience helps boost sales of the product. “We do not sell our product to online-only stores, like Amazon. We provide exclusives to our current retailers and we keep them apart from each other. Our best partner is the one that is demoing our product,” says Ng. Learning Express, which refers to itself as “Rainbow Loom Headquarters,” demos the product and also holds free Rainbow Loom classes once a month, where kids can come and learn how to make the bracelets. “It encourages people who normally don’t know or don’t shop with us to come seek us out, so that’s the biggest benefit from it, because you can’t get people to do that stuff any other way,” says Meredith. Although DIY accessories have been around for years, Rainbow Loom has revolutionized the activities category, turning a craft into a fad that spans gender and generations, while boosting awareness of the specialty market. ■
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Activities Basic Fun, in collaboration with Hasbro, has added Lite-Brite to its line. Lite-Brite, the toy that lets kids color with light, has been illuminating children’s imaginations since 1967. This fall, Basic Fun will reintroduce the Lite-Brite brand with fresh new features and enhancements, including character pegs. Along with these updates, the pegs will take the classic play pattern to a whole new level for a new generation.
Moose Toys is set to expand its Glitzi Globes line next spring with the Glitzi Globes Mega Dome Pack. This kit includes one mega dome and one mini dome, plus everything girls need to assemble their globes, including four small characters, one large character, three deco shapes, two small glitter tablets, one mega glitter tablet, and a display stand. Available in two assortments, Underwater Treasures and Princess Castle, girls ages 5 and up can create globes, collect characters, and swap their creations with friends.
New from Tara Toy is the Disney Stick-on Styles Light Up activities line. With the Sofia the First Stick-On Styles Light Up Tiara, kids can design their very own Sofia the First tiara with gem stickers. The sparkling tiara includes a vinyl Sofia character graphic. Kids can press on the character to watch it light up. Easy to design, assemble, and wear, the set includes a light-up tiara, a headband, and more than 100 gem stickers. With the Minnie Mouse Light Up Fashion Purse, kids design their own Minnie Mouse purse with sparkle stickers and gems. The purse features a full-color graphic design with a glitter background. The set includes a light-up purse, gem stickers, and graphic stickers. The Princess Stick-On Styles Light Up Activity Journal lets kids design their own activity book with sparkle stickers and gems. This activity book features a graphic scene with a glittery background and an image of Disney’s Ariel that lights up when kids press on it. Kids can use the stickers, gems, crayons, and character stickers to decorate the activity pages inside. The set includes a 60-page light-up activity book, a bookmark, six crayons, gem stickers, and graphic stickers. All three activity kits are designed for kids ages 3 and up and will be available in the fall.
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Activities Mini Spring Inkoos Plush, from The Bridge Direct, make creative play portable. With the included washable marker, kids ages 4 and up can draw, design, and decorate Hoppy Bunny or Cutie Chick. Inkoos come clean in the wash, so kids can create new designs on their plush pals.
Glitter Petz, from Artsi, are tiny pets kids can decorate with stickers and sparkling gems. A key chain is included in each kit so kids can take their Glitter Petz with them on the go. Dixie the pony and additional Glitter Petz are designed for kids ages 5 and up and will hit retailers in the fall.
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The Marvel Creativity Studio Stylus and App, from eKids, lets kids express their creativity digitally through an iPad. The free app teaches kids to draw, color, and animate their favorite Marvel superheroes and villains from Avengers Assemble, The Ultimate Spider-Man, and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., while the stylus adds special effects and enhanced play value. Kids can add their own flair to professionally illustrated coloring pages using an extensive color pallet. With the stylus, kids can unlock special tools, such as the “reveal” tool to flawlessly color in the pages. An interactive grid system that includes specialty drawing aids, such as a side-by-side drawing canvas, trace lines, and a unique “Drawing Scope,” allows artists of all levels to successfully learn how to draw these characters. Kids can even build their own animated scenes with character stickers, sound effects, speech bubbles, and backgrounds.
Edible Sweet Art Ice Cream Maker, from Amav Enterprises, lets kids design ice cream-like creations using sweet, edible dough. The set includes the safeto-eat dough, modeling tools, the ice cream maker machine, and a stand to display completed creations. With no baking involved, kids ages 6 and up can simply paste the dough pieces together using water and eat and share their colorfully sweet creations.
Orbeez, from The Maya Group, are soft and squishy, wet and wacky, fun and funky, bouncy and beautiful. Combining lights and movement, Orbeez start off hard and tiny but grow to more than 150 times their original size when kids add water. New to the Orbeez line is the Orbeez Swirl ’n Whirl, which lights up and swirls Orbeez down the side. The elevator lifts the Orbeez to the top and the Orbeez roll down the ramp and back up again. Designed for kids ages 5 and up, Orbeez Swirl ’n Whirl will be available in the spring.
Style Me Up! Sequin Stackers, from Wooky Entertainment, is a trio of kits for girls ages 8 and up. A first in the Style Me Up! line, this patent-pending jewelry maker takes haute couture design to new heights. Girls ages 8 and up can make their own bracelets, necklaces, and other accessories to enhance their personal style. Each set features differently shaped sequins—round, rectangle, or eye-shaped—in a range of colors and containers, as well as a special sequin maker tool, a variety of stylish beads, clear elastic thread, a needle, and color instructions.
The Mini Dot ’n Doodle, from Tech 4 Kids, allows kids ages 4 and up to create unique artwork by using magic pens that dispense colorful dots onto a magnetic Dot ’n Doodle studio. Once complete, kids can use the Shake ’n Sort system to reload their pens and design all over again. With the new portable design, kids can take their Mini Dot ’n Doodle everywhere.
RoseArt’s all-new Washable Sidewalk Chalk Paint allows kids to create big artwork outdoors. Kids can just add water, mix, and paint right from the convenient paint containers. Sidewalk Chalk Paint can be painted or rolled onto sidewalks and driveways. Watch the colors brighten as they dry. It’s easy to use and washable with water. Designed for kids ages 3 and up, the product is set to launch in February at retailers nationwide.
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Sherry Gunther Shugerman, CEO, Popstar Club Where did you get the idea for Beatrix Girls? Ultimately the approach was to create a multi-platform brand that really reaches kids everywhere, recognizing that kids are not just watching TV, playing with dolls or toys, playing online games, or being social, they’re doing all of the above. A forward-thinking property really needed to have presence in all of those mediums and integrate all of those formats. The Beatrix Girls is a real pop star band; we’re creating real music written by a platinum-winning writer/producer and mixed by a Grammy-winning engineer. The medium that we used felt so much more current and fresh and innovative and it felt much more fitting to the brand itself. It allows us to play up that real factor for them, and the scale gives us a lot of humor opportunities for 12-inch dolls interacting in a life-size world. Tell me about the deals you’ve signed with iTunes and Pandora. We’ve put the music on iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon Music. With Pandora we created our own channel and we’ve targeted moms and kids in the correct age groups. We’ve targeted pop stars that we know kids love to listen to—Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and One Direction—and so Pandora will guide you to Beatrix Girls songs and then to our channel. The Beatrix Girls channel is beautifully designed and visually and graphically on brand, and it has all of those stars’ music, with our music interspersed in it. It will actually deliver 50 million commercials for us, that will drive kids to retail. Are there any plans for 2014 that you can share at this time? In 2014 we are going to go mass and global. We’re clos-
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ing deals daily for mass retailers in the U.S. as well as global distribution in Europe, South America, South Africa, etc. We intentionally launched small in order to really brand it and put the story forward, so it would be a different kind of product rather than just another doll on the shelf. All of our licensees have provided us with designs and have started to go out and sell them to retailers for 2014 in various categories. Can you tell me about your licensing partners? We have Jay Franco & Sons for bedding, Peavey for musical instruments, Playa Vista Designs for footwear, Children’s Apparel Network for apparel, Hanover Group for jewelry and accessories, Skyhigh International for backto-school and stationery, Fast Forward for backpacks and bags, AME for pajamas, and Berkshire Fashions for outerwear. The instruments match the ones that we created for the dolls so they look very unique. Brayden’s guitar looks like a butterfly with a flame design on it, Lark has a very geometric-shaped bass, and the drum set is sparkly pink with a picture of the band on it. The Beatrix Girls is about girl empowerment. What made you design a brand with that message? I have two daughters. If there’s one message I always focused on imparting on them it’s dream big and go after your dreams. You can do anything you set your mind to doing. I’ve personally overcome some hardships and always kept my eye on the ball moving forward. It’s the one theme or lesson that I personally feel very strongly about and that is a powerful tool to navigate through life. ■ Visit toybook.com/beatrixgirls to read the full interview.
Toy Industry Association
The Intersection of Toys, Play, and Technology by Kristin Morency Goldman, communications specialist, Toy Industry Association
n light of the upcoming Digital Kids Conference being hosted at the 111th American International Toy Fair this February, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) reached out to a number of experts in the field of digital play for some insight into the hottest new technologies, the enduring popularity of traditional toys, and what’s in store for the future of play. Here’s what they had to say:
What’s Next in Tech? From the cutting edge to the practical, the latest tech toys are in step with what both kids and parents want. Robin Raskin, founder of Living in Digital Times, a team that produces technology lifestyle conferences, says that curated kids’ content—in the form of “best of breed apps” and kids’ tablets with built-in content— are high on the list for most parents. “Sometimes, finding a good app is like looking for a needle in a haystack,” says Raskin. “If you search ‘dinosaurs’ in the iTunes store, for example, you get something like 1,200 apps. How is a
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parent supposed to know what’s good, bad, or otherwise? Curated collections from companies such as Scholastic, Fingerprint Play, Speakaboos, Toca Boca, and others, have more than one app, often times from different vendors… Some tablet vendors such as Kurio and Nabi have also curated the apps for parents so that they can buy the tablet and know that they’re getting appropriate content without having to hunt for it.” Raskin adds that the kids’ tablet and mobile market is “poised for explosion,” listing Samsung, Vivitar, Polaroid, Techno Source, LeapFrog, and VTech as some of the frontrunners in the field. Dr. Warren Buckleitner, editor of Children’s Technology Review, predicts that kids will be drawn to technologies that make toys “smarter,” such as augmented reality, which allows kids to “alter” the world in which they live, and radio frequency identification (RFID), which allows toys to “remember” and “recognize” how they are being played. He also believes that “outdoor digital playgrounds” will become prevalent, such as “huge
There's so much room for “ leadership and vision right now in this space... We’re only just starting.”
screens—like the kind you can run and/or jump on, and play with in a group.” Three-dimensional printing is one innovation that has the potential to completely revolutionize the toy industry and how kids play. “I think 3-D printing is going to be gigantic for the toy world,” says Dr. Michael Cohen, a developmental psychologist, market researcher, and expert in the field of children and play. “That kids can design and print their own toys is just extraordinary… I think it’s just the most wonderful move in terms of having the digital world engender creative free play.” “It’s still not clear how much impact the 3-D printing world will have on kids, but I’m guessing it will be substantial,” adds Raskin. “The notion of making things from kits has been around as long as toys have, but this year we’ll see digital versions of the maker mentality. Companies such as GoldieBlox and little Bits, and the new programmable robots, from Play-i, all embody the love of making stuff.”
The Big Debate: Traditional vs. Digital Toys Both e-connected and unplugged toys topped the holiday wish lists of kids this year. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF) 2013 holiday consumer survey published in November, children asked for “timeless items, like Barbie and dolls or Lego and toy cars,” in addition
The Original Spirograph, from Kahootz Toys
to “tablets and iPads, smartphones, and game consoles.” “No one type of play is going to meet all [of a child’s] needs,” says Cohen. “Playing online or digital games is great, but not all day long… It’s part of [a parent’s role]… to ensure that [their kids] are having a variety of experiences.” “Children derive great benefit from a well-rounded day of play,” adds Stacy Leistner, vice president of strategic communications at TIA. “This can involve a combination of many types of toys, including both traditional and digital playthings.” One thing’s for sure: Retro, vintage, and nostalgic toys and packaging were a huge trend last year, and are expected to maintain their popularity through the coming year. Beloved classics, from board games to building blocks, have made a comeback due to their inherent play value and ability to offer unstructured, “free” playtime that enables children to exercise their imaginations and explore new possibilities. Experts say that the next wave of successful digital playthings will take their cue from the open-ended structure of many traditional toys. “Up until now, the digital [toys] being made were more prescribed, but I’ve seen some things recently that really open it up so that the digital world becomes as free as what traditional toys have been,” says Cohen. “Now you can create avatars—you can create [a virtual] world… We’ll see an explosion of digital toys, but the ones that are going to make it are the ones that offer extraordinary play value, and that will be used over and over.” Raskin agrees that dynamic toys that provide children with free reign when they play will stand the test of time. “Two of the biggest games this holiday season, Disney Infinity and Activision’s Skylanders, combine the physical aspect of buying collectibles with the massive world of online play,”
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says Raskin. “Disney, in particular, took a bold step by liberating its intellectual property and letting kids imagine what it would be like to have Cars interact with the Pirates of the Caribbean [characters].” Adds Buckleitner: “Any way a toy or tech experience can help a child explore, play with others, drive something, paint, make a mess, or wreck something—it will have a better chance of being successful.”
Tips for Toymakers For the toy industry, being able to close the gap between traditional and tech toys is paramount. Russ Crupnick, senior vice president of industry analysis at The NPD Group, says there is a “real opportunity” for toymakers to educate families about the benefits of toys that blend a variety of creative, educational, and tech-forward elements. “If I were to look into the future, one of the challenges [the toy industry faces] is building more of a bridge between traditional toys and toys that have technology built into them. I’m not talking about tablets, but games, dolls, plush, and so on,” says Crupnick. “Because I’m not sure we’ve quite explained or convinced parents and kids of the applications and benefits of these [traditional toys with tech components].” Scott Traylor, CEO and founder of 360KID, a kid-focused content and technology company, adds that he has been “impressed with how the industry has evolved” over
Safe Play – Online
The TIA offers guidance for toy companies that are examining and evaluating the risks and opportunities related to their app initiatives. Information about an expanding array of laws and policies, as well as reports addressing privacy and data security, are available from the TIA (contact Stacy Leistner at (646) 520-4858; email@example.com).
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the last decade, but has noticed toymakers struggling in the midst of the mobile app explosion over the last two years. “The industry has had a difficult time trying to capture the magic with apps/mobile, but I think it’s just a matter of time before they get it right, or form partnerships that get it right,” says Traylor. “I think the press is down on the toy industry about their attempts with mobile and apps and sure, there’s a learning curve, and a huge challenge about monetization. But I think they’ll crack it. I really do.” “There’s so much room for leadership and vision right now in this space,” adds Buckleitner. “We're only just starting. The winners will be the folks who understand traditional play patterns, and can map them onto the emerging affordances of the new platforms.”
Safety First Keeping kids safe—whether they are playing offline or in virtual worlds—is the top priority of the toy industry. TIA and its members strive to educate families about making informed choices about the toys and games they bring into their homes. “Kids are digital natives and expect to be ‘wowed’ when they play, but parents and caregivers still need to be crucial partners in their child’s play and learning,” says Leistner. “Parents are ultimately responsible for selecting the playthings that are appropriate for the child’s age, interests, and abilities.” ■
The eighth annual Digital Kids Conference will overlap with Toy Fair on Tuesday and Wednesday, February 18 to 19. Visit DigitalKidsCon.com for more information. For details about the American International Toy Fair (February 16 to 19), including information about additional educational sessions for licensors, brand owners, specialty retailers, independent designers, and more, visit www.ToyFairNY.com.
T HE D EFINITIVE I NFORMATION S OURCE
G IFT M ERCHANT
HOW ARE YOU
g n i v o r Customer Service p Im IN THE NEW YEAR?
by Kathleen McHugh, president, American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) ith the rush of the holiday season behind them, many specialty toy store owners use the new year to pause to take stock (often literally!) and assess their business strategy for the coming year. If you are like many members of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA), one area of focus will be your employees. Do you have the well-oiled, customer-focused team you need for success? Front-line customer service is a tough job. Yet it is one of the most critical factors for the success of your business. The ninth annual Accenture Global Customer Pulse Survey, which researches customer expectations and frustrations, reports that customers have ramped up their expectations over the past year. The latest study, released in October, says that 77 percent expect faster service, 75 percent expect it to be easier to get service, and 62 percent want more knowledgeable customer service personnel. In the U.S., 71 percent of customers say that providing service in a way that respects their valuable time is the most important part of customer service. What kind of impact can your service have on your business? Plenty, according to Accenture. Eighty-two percent of customers who have switched brands say this could have been prevented through better service. When customers are asked the top three factors that influence their choice of a brand, 64 percent say price, 60 percent say service, and 49 percent say the product. Accenture estimates that inadequate customer service costs U.S. businesses $83 billion per year. You’ll have a chance to explore this issue more in depth at ASTRA’s 2014 Marketplace & Academy (June 8 to 14 in Phoenix), which will feature an opening session titled Everyday Excellence: Creating a CustomerFocused Team. Other educational sessions will address this critical topic, and, of course, the ASTRA event is a great place to network and learn how other successful toy retailers have addressed the customer service challenge. In the meantime, keep these customer service basics in mind as you plan your 2014 business strategy: • Hire the right people. It’s the quality of your staff that determines the qual-
SPECIALTY TOYS & GIFTS
ity of your customer service, and it’s a lot easier to hire the right personality than to train it into an employee. “You want problem solvers,” says Phil Wrzesinski, owner of the Toy House & Baby Too in Jackson, Mich. “Of course they should be caring, kind, friendly, and outgoing. But they must be willing and able to step up and take the initiative to find out what the customer needs and address that.” • Ensure your staff has the knowledge they need. Training, training, training—it’s the specialty store mantra. Customers expect staff to be knowledgeable about the products you carry and they expect efficient service and quick resolution to any problems. You are the neighborhood experts on toys, and you need to deliver on that competitive advantage. But why stop there? Show your community that you are also the experts on play. You can find lots of information to use in training staff about how play is essential to healthy child development on ASTRA’s website (www.astratoy.org), and you can use it to help train your employees to become excellent providers of customer service. • Go beyond what’s expected. While face-to-face service is the most important kind, your commitment to service can extend beyond interpersonal interactions. Does your signage throughout your store proactively answer questions a customer might have? Do you use Facebook and Twitter to provide information about sales, events, and even return policies? Better yet, are you maximizing the potential of digital and social media to suggest holiday shopping lists, toys that fit certain age groups or budgets, or how to use specific toys to help kids learn? With all the technology your customers have at their fingertips and all the options they have for buying the products you carry, service is truly a key competitive edge. One thing you can be sure of: Your customers will expect even better and even quicker service in 2014 than they did last year. Are you ready? ●
Activities The Original Spirograph Art Studio, from KAHOOTZ TOYS, is the ultimate spiro-art design set, featuring tons of artistsâ€™ supplies as well as all of the iconic wheels and rings of the original Spirograph, re-engineered and updated for today. The precisionengineered Spirograph gears work with the included retractable ballpoint pens, design markers, and colored pencils, as well as with most standard pens, markers, and pencils. The kit features a high-quality, durable carrying case for storing all of the supplies and a full-color design guide, which explains the fundamentals of drawing with Spirograph as well as step-by-step instructions for creating original designs. The included SpiroPutty holds the Spirograph pieces securely so that kids can create beautifully intricate designs without putting holes in the paper. The set also comes with a 25page drawing pad, 20 sheets of Spirograph design paper, pattern scissors, a self-inking stamp, a glue stick, a pencil sharpener, and two sticker sheets. The set is designed for kids ages 8 and up.
PotholderPRO, from HARRISVILLE DESIGNS, allows kids and crafters to weave a potholder that is practical and detailed. The custom-sized cotton PRO Loops and the large metal loom help kids create a potholder that is professional, large enough for adult hands, and useful in the kitchen. The kit includes a sturdy metal loom and the custom cotton loops, which are available in more than 30 colors from three different palettes: bright, pastel, and designer. The PotholderPRO is made in the U.S.
ALEX TOYS is set to launch new jewelry kits this year. With I Heart Charm Bracelets, kids can make two bracelets loaded with beads and charms. Kids can make 24 of their own unique styles of beads using five colors of magic air dry clay and add sparkle with the included gems and glitter. The kit also includes a molding tool, which makes it easy for kids ages 7 and up to shape the beads. With BFF Jewelry, kids can make eight accessories to wear and share. The kit includes two half-heart charms and six name plates with stickers, and kids can add a dome sticker for a polished look. BFF Jewelry also comes with two buttons, colored cord, 112 stickers, two ball chain necklaces, eight jump rings, and four sets of bracelet closures. The set is designed for kids ages 7 and up. Kids ages 8 and up can create 10 boho bracelets using a weaving loom with Boho Bands. The included sparkling beads and metal charms will complete the boho look. The set includes the loom, seven colors of beads, silver-colored beads, three colors of twine, three colors of thread, and a sewing needle.
CREATIVITY FOR KIDS has added new colorful kits to its line. Tooby Loops Jewelry lets kids ages 5 and up transform Tooby Loops into fun jewelry accessories such as rings, necklaces, and bracelets. The kit includes pipe cleaners, beads, rhinestones, and scissors. Origami, for kids ages 7 and up, includes vibrant neon paper and fun sticker embellishments to rev up the art of paper folding. Kids can create fish, snakes, frogs, and more fun animals with the easy-to-follow instructions.
SPECIALTY TOYS & GIFTS
Tattoo-rific!, from MANHATTAN TOY, lets kids design their own temporary tattoos. Kids ages 6 and up can use crayons to draw or trace a design onto transfer paper, apply the tattoo magic glue to skin, place transfer paper design face down on skin, and hold for two minutes to transfer the design. Kids can use pearlized body writers to further decorate the tattoo and fix any mistakes with a damp sponge. Tattoos remove easily with soap and water. Each kit includes 20 tattoo design templates, one bottle of tattoo magic glue, eight crayons, 30 transfer paper sheets, four colored pearlized body writers, a sponge, and a portable tin.
Paper Weaving: A Kit for Kids, from POMEGRANATE KIDS, is based on Paper Weaving for Little Folks from the Diana Korzenik Collection of Art Education Ephemera at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. The kit features 14 color sheets to weave with more than 200 weaving strips. Kids can make thousands of different designs with the kit and included booklet, including patterns of squares, triangles, zig-zag lines, diamonds, and more.
The Ocean Charms Jewelry Making Activity Kit, from BEACH AND NATURE CO., is a do-at-home craft activity kit that comes with everything kids need to create three beach-themed necklaces, including premeasured plaster to create three charms, assorted seashells, and colored sea glass. Kids can keep the necklaces for themselves or give them as unique, handcrafted gifts using the included blue crinkle paper. The kit is designed for kids ages 8 and up.
Activities THE ORB FACTORY will expand its line of PlushCraft with the Fancy Fish Pillow. Kids ages 5 and up can use the special stylus to punch oversized fabric pieces into the pillow. The special glitter pieces ensure that kids are left with a beautiful piece of room dĂŠcor. This no-mess, no-sew craft is great for introducing kids to fabric crafts. My Studio Girl, a new specialty activities line from UNIVERSITY GAMES, lets girls get creative. The Sew-Your-Own series includes My Best Friend Dolls, Cupcakes, Mini Pillows, and Sew Cute Pets. Each kit includes pre-cut holes and materials for easy sewing with a kid-safe needle. Sew-Your-Own My Best Friend Dolls includes a birth certificate with each kit, while SewYour-Own Cupcake comes with a cupcake stand for easy display.
Reusable Sticker Totes, from PEACEABLE KINGDOM, can create hours of imaginative play for kids. Each tote includes two fold-out scenes and removable vinyl cling stickers. The New York Reusable Sticker Tote includes both a fold-out map of Manhattan and a fold-out city street scene. Kids can place landmark stickers such as the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty and create a scene of New Yorkers in their daily lives. The Ninjas Reusable Sticker Tote includes a ninja training dojo and a dragon boat sunset. The vinyl cling stickers feature all sorts of stealthy ninjas and their ninja accessories. Reusable Sticker Totes are designed for kids ages 3 and up.
More Trash Is Becoming Kids’ Treasure by Phil Guie
ore products that would have once ended up icals, or additives. Also, that it’s made in an environin the garbage stream are now being recymentally safe way.” cled into toys. Manufacturers are taking maFurlong has noticed an increasing number of toys terials that were formerly considered to be waste and made out of recycled wood pulp or scraps left over from creating new playthings from them. processing, as well as a trend toward rubberwood, which One of the best-known recycled toy producers to is timber from rubber trees after all the natural latex has date is Green Toys. The California-based company grinds been extracted. In 2010, PlanToys, a Union City, Calif.up discarded plastic milk jugs, melts them into pellets, based company that has long used rubberwood, introand then uses injection molding to turn them into vehiduced PlanWood, a new material consisting of cles, teethers, and more. Along with the environmental rubberwood debris created from toy production. Instead benefits that come from recycling the containers, which of throwing it away, the debris is reclaimed, mixed with are made of high-density polyethylene, the milk jugs organic pigments, and exposed to pressure and heat. make for sturdy, dishwasher-safe toys. PlanToys’ current toy lines are made from a comAccording to Robert von Goeben, who co-founded bination of solid wood and PlanWood, and the company Green Toys in 2007, there has been a noticeable shift in intends to utilize the latter in its future products. Kosin the values of parents, who are more discerning about toys Virapornsawan, president of PlanToys, says the overall My First Green Toys First Keys than before. “The trend nowadays is parents shop for toys response to PlanWood has been very positive. “Our fans the way they shop for food,” says von Goeben. “Safety, locality, things know that we have been green since the beginning,” he says. “Producing that have good impact on the Earth. Parents take that same buying criteria PlanWood just made us more sustainable as a manufacturer of toys.” and apply it to toys.” Virapornsawan says consumers realize that toys are becoming a large This kind of eco-consciousness has been beneficial to makers of re- source of waste, which bodes well for toys made from recycled materials cycled toys. Green Toys began as a small, three-person enterprise, but now and other sustainable processes. “More and more people see that we need its products are carried by 1,500 specialty retailers, as well as on ama- to think about what the future will look like for our children,” he says. zon.com. Meanwhile, more companies are making toys out of recycled “We need to take the steps now and teach our kids to have an appreciation materials than ever before, and base materials have grown beyond plastic and awareness of our fragile planet, and why not start with what they love to include recycled paper, glass, and wood. to play with?” l Breah Furlong, the store manager of Planet Happy, a toy shop located in Seattle that specializes in green, natural, and socially responsible products, has seen the increased demand for recycled toys first-hand. When parents approach her about purchasing toys made from reused materials, many of their initial concerns have to do with how the items are made— especially for plastic. “A lot of people ask, right off the bat, ‘Why is this plastic?’ ‘Why are you carrying it in the first place?’” Furlong says. “Then we explain that [in the case of Green Toys], there’s no BPA, PVC, chemPlanToys Hand Sign Numbers 1-10
SPECIALTY TOYS & GIFTS
Eco-Friendly Toys Box Creations Puts a Happy Face on Recycling
BOX CREATIONS’ Happy Stand is a versatile, Earthfriendly play set that kids can decorate to fit any number of themes. Made in the U.S. from sturdy, recycled cardboard, the stand is easy to assemble and features a cut-out happy face in front for kids to peek through. It also includes four non-toxic, washable markers to help make a bright, colorful space.
It’s the Express to Sustainable Fun
The next stop on this recycled cardboard train: kids’ imaginations. The Metropolis Train Set, from URBAN CANVAS, features cars with sliding doors so kids can pretend to let passengers on and off. In addition, the train car can be folded inside out, becoming a brand new train with a blank canvas for decorating. Each train set is suitable for kids ages 4 and up and includes two linkable cars, four passengers, and stencils.
PlanToysÊ Marble Run Is Marble-lously Green
Green Toys Goes from Plastic to Playtime
PLANTOYS’ Curvy Click Clack is a marble run made out of recycled materials for kids ages 3 and up. The marbles, which are made of lead-free recycled glass, produce a pleasant click-clack noise as they ride the curves and wind down the tracks. Speed bumps keep the marbles steady, and grooves at the base form a place to hold them. The Curvy Click Clack is made of PlanWood, PlanToys’ own material that combines sawdust and wood chips left over from the production of other toys.
With the GREEN TOYS Tractor, little farmers can harvest and haul imaginary organic product to the local market. This bright orange vehicle is made from 100-percent recycled plastic milk jugs that save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The tractor is BPA-, phthalate-, and PVC-free. With no metal axles that rust or external coatings that chip and peel, this tractor is safe, versatile, and suitable for kids ages 1 and up.
SPECIALTY TOYS & GIFTS
Salvaged Trees Are on the Up-Swing
Play from Scratch, Build from Recycled Parts
The Original Bench Swing, from THE ORIGINAL TREE SWING, helps kids create new memories from trees that would typically end up in the dump. Each swing is crafted from a solid piece of 1.75inch-thick ash or elm wood, cut and milled from trees that the city of Minneapolis chops down for disease, construction, or weather reasons. Every 24-inch-long, 8inch-wide swing comes with 20 feet of hand-spliced rope for a strong, safe play experience.
YOXO (pronounced “yockso”), from PLAY FROM SCRATCH, is a set of colorful links shaped like Ys, Os, and Xs. Made from 100-percent recycled wood fiber, the links connect to each other as well as items around the house, including paper towel tubes, cereal boxes, and silverware. The outer layers are coated with soy-based inks and water-based coatings.
SweatertoysÊ Repurposed Animal Kingdom Grows
CalafantÊs Cardboard Toys Help Develop Imagination
The majestic Meerkat and Manatee are the latest cuddly animals from SWEATERTOYS, which specializes in plush toys made from recycled material, including repurposed lambswool and cashmere sweaters. Their eyes are hand-stitched with wool yarn and their bodies are stuffed with hypoallergenic polyfil. The meerkat stands 12 inches tall, while the manatee is the biggest animal doll from Sweatertoys yet, measuring 2.5 feet long. Oh, the huge manatee!
CALAFANT’s play sets provide a blank canvas on which kids’ imaginations can roam free. Each set features an outside made of new cardboard, while the backsides and middles consist of recycled paper, resulting in a light—yet sturdy—toy. These play sets are easy to build with some grown-up assistance, and are available as a castle, teepee, pirate ship, and tree house. After construction is finished, kids can decorate them as they see fit. Calafant Castle
SPECIALTY TOYS & GIFTS
Eco-Friendly Toys Uncommon GoodsÊ Eco Dough Is All-Natural, Handmade
TeguÊs New Set Is Still Earth-Friendly
TEGU magnetic wooden blocks help kids develop imagination, problem solving skills, motor skills, and more. The new entry-level, 14-piece set features columns, two sizes of planks, cubes, and parallelograms that inspire open-ended play. Like all Tegu magnetic blocks, these are made in Honduras from eco-friendly, sustainably sourced hardwoods and painted with non-toxic, water-based lacquers. Tegu donates a portion of each sale to reforestation efforts in Honduras through a partnership with the NGO Trees for the Future.
Eco Dough, from UNCOMMON GOODS, provides kids with handmade, wholesome fun that’s also environmentally friendly. Eco Dough, for kids ages 3 and up, is entirely natural and recycled, and consists of fruit, recycled material, banana fiber, and other all-natural ingredients. The coloring comes from dyes derived from beets, spinach, paprika, carrots, purple sweet potato, red cabbage, blueberries, and tomatoes. None of the ingredients are store-bought. Each set comes with five containers, and kids can add a few drops of olive oil to the dough if it gets left out and becomes dry.
Renewable Rubbabu Blocks Bring the Fun
Smart Gear Introduces a Greener Way to Play
RUBBABU building blocks are made of 100-percent safe, natural rubber foam that is biodegradable, renewable, and comes from the sap of the tree, meaning no trees are cut down or harmed during the toymaking process. Rubbabu’s process minimizes waste by reusing and recycling leftover rubber. The company’s line includes brightly colored Rubbablox, which have a soft, velvety texture that provides tactile stimulation and safe fun for kids ages 18 months and up. They can pick up after themselves with some help from the Rubbablox Truck, a pick-up that comes with two large and two small Rubbablox.
The Click ’n Play line from SMART GEAR offers a new twist on traditional, eco-friendly wooden play. Each transforms from one character or vehicle into a whole new form with just a click. The new line includes Monkey, Boy Rider, Brockie, and Piggy, and each features a 360-degree joint system. These moveable, transforming, interactive toys are made of natural hardwood with non-toxic, kid-friendly paints, and are hand-finished with eco-friendly natural oil.
Smart Gear Click ’n Play Monkey
SPECIALTY TOYS & GIFTS
Smart Gear Click ’n Play Brockie
When Is an Agreement Not an Agreement? A toy inventor goes head-to-head with Marvel for royalties he says he is owed—a claim Marvel adamently denies. by Howard N. Aronson
ven Spider-Man himself couldn’t untangle the legal web enmeshing Marvel Entertainment and the inventor of a spider web-shooting toy glove. It may take a jury—the second one in a very protracted legal contract—to decide what a written agreement between the parties actually determines.
The Making of a Legal Mess The Federal Court of Appeals in California recently ruled that an Arizona District Court was wrong when it decided the aforementioned agreement was unambiguous, reaching the opposite conclusion. Because it is the focus of years of costly litigation, this web-shooting glove toy litigation is a classic example of the need to spell out the business terms as clearly as possible in agreements, considering not only the facts that apply at the time, but also what may occur in the future. It all started 23 years ago, when lawyer and inventor Stephen Kimble filed a patent for a toy spider web-shooting glove, a roleplaying toy that kids use to mimic Marvel’s Spider-Man character by propelling foam string. With the glove, kids pretend to generate spider webs by shooting the foam out of their hands— just like Spidey. In 1990, Kimble took his invention to Toy Biz, the predecessor of Marvel Entertainment. As the Arizona District Court later explained, there was a verbal agreement whereby “Toy Biz agreed to not use the ideas disclosed by Kimble without first negotiating a reasonable royalty payment for their use.” Toy Biz subsequently made and sold a Web Blaster toy, the Court related. In 1997, Kimble sued Toy Biz for patent infringement and breach of contract based on the 1990 alleged oral agreement. The Court found against Kimble on the patent infringement
claim, but Kimble prevailed at a trial on his claim for breach of the oral agreement. The Court award was for a 3.5 percent royalty payment based on the net product sales. Both sides appealed. Pending the outcome of the appeal, Marvel and Kimble negotiated a written Settlement Agreement that superseded the judgment of the Court. This 2001 Settlement Agreement provided for purchase of the patent and payment of royalties for toys that otherwise would have infringed the patent and also for the specific Web Blaster toy that was the focus of the lawsuit. The Settlement Agreement also included Paragraph 9, which reads: “Except for the obligations undertaken by Marvel in this Agreement and except for those obligations under the alleged verbal agreement that was the subject of the Action, the Patent Holders hereby release and discharge Marvel… from all… claims and demands whatsoever… from the beginning of the world to the date of this Agreement.” as well as Paragraph 12: “This Agreement contains the entire agreement among the parties with respect to the subject matter hereof and supersedes all prior and contemporaneous arrangements or understandings with respect thereto.” The written agreement served until 2006, when Marvel licensed copyright and trademark rights for Marvel characters—including the toy web-shooting glove—to Hasbro. As the District Court explained, Hasbro refused to sign a sublicensing agreement with Marvel requiring Hasbro to pay Kimble royalties under the Settlement Agreement. Marvel did continue to pay royalties to Kimble, including royalties on its Web Blaster kits that included “extra value” items, until 2008. That was when Marvel informed Kimble that he was not entitled to royalties on the “extra value” items and
THE TOY BOOK • 73
that it had, in fact, overpaid Kimble by more than $250,000. When Kimble brought a new lawsuit against Marvel in 2008, Marvel took the position that all its obligations under the Settlement Agreement would end in 2010, with the expiration of the patent.
Setting the Stage The stage was then set for a super-fight surrounding the snarled written agreement. The case was referred to a magistrate judge to decide whether the Settlement Agreement provided for royalties as long as Marvel received revenue for web-blaster toys— as Kimble maintained—or whether Marvel owed no web-blaster royalties after the patent expired. The magistrate judge added to the tangled legal web when he found that the 2001 Settlement Agreement meant something different from what either of the parties said it meant. The magistrate determined that the 2001 Settlement Agreement did not transfer the non-patent rights (for web-blaster toys that did not infringe the patent) derived from the 1990 oral agreement. But Kimble still would not receive royalties on the non-patent rights because they were indistinguishable from the royalties for the patent rights, according to the magistrate. The Arizona District Court adopted the magistrate’s recommendations. Meanwhile, Marvel asked a U.S. District Court in New York to declare that Kimble had no claim under the oral agreement. The New York Court transferred that case to Arizona. Thereafter, the parties agreed to dismiss the 2008 lawsuit. In the transferred action, now pending in Arizona, Kimble argued that the Settlement Agreement specifically ensured that if Marvel made a toy in the future, Kimble still would have the right to maintain that the new toy was not covered by the Settlement Agreement—either because it did not infringe the patent, or because it was not the toy that was litigated leading up to the Settlement Agreement. Whereas Marvel maintained that it owed Kimble no royalties on a new toy, such as the Ultimate Web Blaster toy, Kimble said that such new toys were exactly what Paragraph 9 was supposed to protect. But the Arizona District Court found that the 2001 Settlement Agreement ended all Kimble’s claims, including any claims under the 1990 oral agreement, and was unambiguous: “A contract provision is unambiguous where it has ‘a definite and precise meaning, unattended by danger of misconception in the purpose of the contract itself, and concerning which there is no reasonable basis for a difference of opinion.’… A contract is not ambiguous merely because the parties argue for different interpretations, nor where the interpretation urged by one party strains the contract language beyond its reasonable and ordinary meaning.”
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Web Blaster patent The District Court said that the “history of the 2001 Settlement Agreement reflects that the parties entered into the agreement to settle all issues, patent and contract, in order ‘to avoid the further expense and distraction of litigation.’… In other words, the Settlement Agreement covered Web Blaster toys, infringing or not—not any specifically identified Web Blaster toy.” Because the 2001 Settlement Agreement was unambiguous, the Court could decide what the Settlement Agreement meant—and the Court agreed with Marvel that Marvel did not owe Kimble anything. But in the recent decision in July, the U.S. Court of Appeals vigorously disagreed, finding that: “[T]he Settlement Agreement is ambiguous.” So Kimble still cannot demand royalties under the 2001 Settlement Agreement, because the patent has expired. (Kimble could appeal that decision, to add yet more tangles to this
convoluted tale.) The Court of Appeals also kept alive Kimble’s claim for breach of an oral agreement back in 1990. That may allow Kimble to receive compensation for new versions of the toy, such as the Ultimate Web Blaster, that are not covered by the patent. Quite the super mess after two decades of litigation, with no resolution in sight.
Moving Forward The case now goes back to the Arizona District Court, where the parties will have a chance to present more evidence on the meaning of the 2001 Settlement Agreement. Depending on whether such evidence supports either Marvel or Kimble, the District Court judge will be able to decide in that party’s favor. However, if the evidence does not clearly support one side or the other, the case will have to go to a jury for further direction. Things could have been simpler, faster, and far less expensive. The Settlement Agreement could have clearly spelled out either what Marvel asserts it says, or what Kimble wants it to mean. Instead, it was deemed legally ambiguous. The Web-Blaster case
might have been resolved more easily if the parties had further considered how someone else might see the terms after several years and under evolving circumstances. It makes sense for toy companies to indulge in some business-like role-playing—imagining various future scenarios—to weave agreement language that elucidates, and does not ensnare, the parties. Future business developments and business plans and scenarios should be disclosed and considered—not kept secret—to negotiate a successfully clear and longstanding binding agreement. It may turn out that what Peter Parker’s aunt told him is true: “Secrets have a cost. They’re not free. Not now, not ever.” ■
Howard N. Aronson has provided legal counsel to toy industry companies for the past 30 years. He is the managing partner of Lackenbach Siegel LLP, an intellectual property law firm recognized for its nine decades of handling toy company issues. Contact Aronson at haronson@LSLLP.com or (914) 723-4300.
THE TOY BOOK • 75
International Toy Industry
Guangzhou International Toy & Hobby Fair
Get to Know the Spring Carnival of the Toy Trade Industry by Lanny Lin, editor, Toy Industry Magazine
ocated on China’s southern coast, Guangdong has been an economic power engine for more than 30 years, and it was the country’s first mainland region open to foreign investment. The province is home to the world’s largest toy production and export base, encompassing more than 70 percent of the toy products in China. Thousands of outstanding toy manufacturers, imaginative design concepts, and fine products at competitive prices are present in two fairs: the Guangzhou International Toy & Hobby Fair and the Guangzhou International Stroller & Baby Product Fair, both held every April in Guangzhou, China. With 26 years of experience in the toy trade industry, the Guangzhou International Toy & Hobby Fair has a reputation as the greatest and most influential annual toy event in domestic China. The latest session, which will run concurrently with the fifth Guangzhou International Stroller & Baby Product Fair, will take place at the Poly World Trade Expo Center in Guangzhou from April 8 to 10. With abundant resources and advantages, these fairs are set to wow the world.
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What makes this trade show worth attending?
The location of the fair offers quick access to production bases. As a leading production and export region for both China and the world, Guangdong enjoys an extremely favorable position as an industrial cluster with a great number of manufacturers. It is the origin point for more than half of China’s famed brands of toys, strollers, and baby products. Thanks to this unique edge, the Guangzhou International Toy & Hobby Fair, set in Guangdong’s capital city, attracts renowned companies from production bases of toy, stroller, and baby products in Zhejiang, Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, and more. The fair grows each year, and there is always a wide range of exhibitors covering nearly all toy categories, including electronic toys, plastic toys, plush, dolls, hobby goods, wooden and paper products, learning systems, inflatable items, rideon toys, baby strollers, cribs, and preschool outdoor play sets. Given the proximity of the production base, it is also very
convenient for trade show visitors to see the factories after attending the fair. In the context of the professional toy trade industry, the
fair in Guangzhou is larger and has more exhibitors than the toy hall at Canton Fair, also known as the China Import and Export Fair. Based on this year’s statistics, the Guangzhou International Toy & Hobby Fair had 921 exhibitors and covered an area of 47,200 square meters, while Canton Fair had 25,000 square meters for roughly 700 toy exhibitors. Additionally, the fair date helps cut down buyers’ overall cost, but still helps them achieve their goals effectively. The Guangzhou International Toy & Hobby Fair is held in the spring when Chinese toy enterprises return to operations after Spring Festival holidays and the market becomes active. It is a key moment for manufacturers to make a yearly plan and release new items, yet transportation, accommodation, and food in Guangzhou still keep their normal prices, without being driven up. The decision to attend the fair in Guangzhou will assure you of a fruitful trip with relatively low overall cost. Act now, and let’s get ready for the Guangzhou of spring. ■
Just the FAQs
What You Need to Know About Toy Safety Regulations by Tina Blazer, technical director, children’s products, softlines, and hardlines, TÜV Rheinland of North America
ll toys must be tested to comply with a great number of regulations, but many American manufacturers do not know what those regulations are or what actually happens to toys during testing. Along with federal and state regulations, the picture grows more complex as manufacturers move to access overseas markets. This article will answer some frequently asked questions about toy testing. Before contacting a testing laboratory, manufacturers should consider the following factors that will greatly influence the scope and cost of testing: Markets and countries where the product will be sold: Many new entrepreneurs want to access as many markets as possible. However, it can be expensive to test products according to the standards and regulations of multiple countries. Although some tests overlap, product safety regulations and standards vary from country to country and can be quite complex. Selling over the Internet: The product must comply with the regulations of all countries where it will be sold or distributed. For example, if a consumer in the UK purchases a toy over the Internet from a U.S. manufacturer, and the toy is shipped to the UK, the product must comply with UK, European Union, and U.S. regulations. Selling the product to a large-format retailer: Largeformat retailers, such as Target, Walmart, or Toys “R” Us, have their own specific testing protocols and lists of authorized laboratories for their vendors to choose from. Before producing any product, manufacturers must contact the retailer to ensure that they have the test plans as well as protocols for compliance. Here are some frequently asked questions toy manufacturers have for laboratories: How do I select a testing laboratory? The laboratory must be accredited to ISO/IEC 17025:2005 standard, which confirms its competence, and its accreditation must be accepted by the Consumer Product
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In this laboratory setting, a flammability test is administered.
Safety Commission (CPSC). Manufacturers can go to the CPSC website to access the list of accredited laboratories: http://www.cpsc.gov/cgi-bin/labsearch/Default.aspx. How do I decide which tests are needed? The three most important factors that will determine country, federal, and state regulations for product testing are the classification (toy, non-toy, or general purpose), age for which the product is intended, and the market(s) where it will be sold. What kind of federal and state regulations does my toy have to meet? Federal: All toys designed for children ages 12 and younger must meet the U.S. federal safety requirements. In 2008, Congress signed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) into law, mandating the ASTM F963 Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety. Federal regulations limit the amount of lead and phthalates allowed in children’s toys and child care articles. State: Many states have testing requirements for toys sold in those states. For example, a stuffed plush toy sold in Pennsylvania would be subject to the state’s stuffing clean-
liness and labeling laws. If a company is looking to substantiate quality, performance, or eco-friendliness claims, additional testing will be required. Products should work as intended and claims need to be substantiated and verified according to the Federal Trade Commission.
business days. However, some tests may require more processing time; for example, microbiology or toxicology tests may take up to 20 business days. Many testing services are eligible for expedited processing, including same-day services. If a manufacturer submits an order for the first time, a laboratory may need additional time to process new client documentation. Additionally, shipping time for the sample must be factored in.
When is third-party testing necessary for a toy? If the toy is designed for children 12 A battery-operated car is tested to see years and younger, third-party testing is re- whether it meets safety standards. What do I do after testing? quired for CPSIA and specific sections of After a product has been tested for comthe ASTM F963 Standard as well as other applicable federal pliance with the mandatory toy standard, the manufacturer, and state regulations and standards. However, there are some private labeler, or importer must issue a children’s product exemptions for small batch manufacturers. certificate, which will certify the toy’s compliance. Do all sections of the ASTM F963 toy safety standard require certification? Only the sections outlined by the CPSC for third-party testing are required under certification. However, all applicable sections of the ASTM F963 are to be reviewed. Manufacturers, retailers, and distributors are expected to test each product or ensure that it has been subjected to a reasonable testing program. What does the laboratory need to provide a quote? In most cases, a laboratory can provide a preliminary quote based on a photo or a link to a website. The quote may change upon a physical examination of the product as not all materials, components, or construction can be viewed in a photo. An official quote will be issued after an expert reviews a physical sample. Standard turnaround time for a quote is 24 to 48 hours. Does the laboratory need to test either the toy labeling or the packaging? Yes, product and packaging must be labeled properly for its age grading, contain appropriate warning labels and date and place of manufacture, and be traceable back to the manufacturer. If packaging is not available, it can be sent later to complete the testing. How long does testing take? Standard turnaround time for most tests is five to seven
What kind of tests are performed on my toys? Tests will depend on the kind of toy, material, and testing requirements. Generally, the following types are employed: Chemical: Toys are tested for the presence of heavy metals, such as lead, and for phthalates. Traditionally, every material on the toy is scraped, chemically digested, and run through machines. In addition, some laboratories use the High-Definition X-Ray Fluorescence (HDXRF) methodology that allows for rapid and precise screening and quantification of toxic elements. Flammability: All toys are tested for flammability. Electrical and Electronic: Where applicable, toys are tested for electrical requirements of 16 CFR 1505, in addition to the Federal Communications Commission regulations. Physical/Mechanical: Toys are exposed to use and abuse tests such as drop, torque, tension, and compression. They are examined for sharp edges, points, and small parts. Laboratory personnel will also review toys for finger entrapment openings, strangulation, choking, and similar hazards. n
Tina Blazer, technical director for children's products, softlines, and hardlines at TÜV Rheinland, has 27 years of experience in consumer product testing and standards with an emphasis on toys and children’s products. She is an expert in design evaluations, testing plans, and interpretations of global regulations, including the U.S. federal and state, Canadian, and European standards.
THE TOY BOOK • 79
BUSINESS DIRECTORIES 2014 Trade Show Directory $39.95 Independent Sales Rep Directory $69.95 Toy Wholesalers & Manufacturers $29.95 We carry Salesman's Guides to Find Buyers and Trade Show Exhibitor Lists for Toy Fair and others! 1-800-635-7654 • firstname.lastname@example.org www.Forum123.com Free Magazine: www.RFmagazine.com
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• 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: email@example.com // firstname.lastname@example.org
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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THE TOY BOOK •
Flashback: December/January1994 1.
Industry News The 1994 New York Toy Fair Sells Out Completely
4. 1. The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Action Figures, from Bandai America, emerged as the No. 1 toy nationwide and sold out at retail just weeks after hitting the shelves in September. 2. Talking Whiz Kid Plus electronic learning aid, from VTech, teaches math, spelling, reading, music, and more with 22 built-in activities and more than 800 vocabulary words. 3. Atari Corp. announces the availability of Jaguar, the world’s first 64-bit interactive multimedia home entertainment system. 4. Tyco and Joey Lawrence launch holiday shopping season at New York City’s FAO Schwarz.
82 • THE TOY BOOK
The 1994 American International Toy Fair is sold out, announced show director Doreen Guerin of Toy Manufacturers of America. More than 1,000 companies have contracted to fill the entire lower level of Javits Convention Center, which encompasses more than 150,000 net square feet of exhibit space, according to Guerin. More than 22,000 buyers from the U.S. and 95 foreign countries are expected to attend the ’94 show. This is the earliest sell out in history, noted Guerin.
Video Game Manufacturers Head Off Government Intervention On Thursday, December 9, shortly before a joint meeting of the Senate Judiciary and Government Affairs committees were to hear testimony about the adverse impact of violent-themed video games on youngsters, a coalition of video game manufacturers, publishers, dealers, and retailers announced an industry-wide initiative to establish a uniform rating system on the contents of interactive video games.
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Here is your latest digital edition of The Toy Book. This issue takes an in-depth look at the international toy industry and features compre...