School Zone Publishing Announces World Teachers' Day Giveaway
In honor of World Teachers’ Day, School Zone will give away 10 School Zone bundle packages to early education teachers in the U.S. The initiative kicked off on October 5 to further spotlight the importance of providing educators with additional resources to motivate young minds.
Educators who teach preschool, kindergarten, or first grade can enter to win one of the 10 prize packages through October 29. The bundled prize includes a 2015 Little Scholar learning tablet with bumper and protective carrying case, 25 Charlie & Company coloring books, Charlie & Company DVDs and plush toys, a Start to Read! Early Reading Program 18-book set, 25 32-page workbooks, and a 4-pack of alphabet flash cards. Winners will be announced on School Zone’s social media channels on October 30.
World Teachers’ Day is an annual event that highlights the need to mobilize support for teachers, and to ensure that the needs of future generations will continue to be met.
Fourth Annual HoliDAY of Play Lets Adults Be Kids Again
The Toy Insider, in partnership with Woman’s Day magazine, hosted the fourth annual HoliDAY of Play event on Friday, October 16, where more than 100 digital influencers and members of the press met face-to-face with some of the top companies in the toy industry to get hands-on experience with the best toys on the market.
Guests were treated to a gourmet brunch while enjoying sweeping views of New York City during this exclusive 3-hour event. Toy Insider Mom Laurie Schacht greeted guests with the one and only Darth Vader, reinforcing the strength of the Star Wars force this year. Schacht then gave guests a full presentation on the Toy Insider’s Hot 20, Top Tech 12, and STEM 10 picks, as well as the top toy trends for holiday 2015.
Schacht closed out the presentation by announcing the dates and location for the third annual Blogger Bash conference for digital influencers. Known for bringing digital influencers a unique and interesting new experience, Blogger Bash will be held on the Majesty Yacht on July 13 and 14, 2016. The boat will be home to two days full of parties, discussions, panels, and a full-fledged expo like never before.
Click here to read more about The Toy Insider’s top toy trends of 2015 and the HoliDAY of Play event.
Hasbro Announces 2016 Yo-Kai Watch Lineup
Hasbro is launching a new line of toys and accessories based on the Japanese franchise Yo-Kai Watch. The toys will include a watch similar to the one that the main character uses in the show, collectible items, and plush toys. The Hasbro line will launch in January, and the animated series recently launched in the U.S. on Disney XD.
In addition, kids can discover the world of Yo-Kai Watch in the Yo-Kai Land app. They can bring the Yo-Kai characters to life, register their toy medallions to unlock bonus features in the app, explore Yo-Kai character bios, and play games. The app will be available on iOS and Android systems.
The story of Yo-Kai centers around a young boy who gets a special watch empowering him to discover and summon mysterious Yo-Kai that help him solve problems in his daily life, usually caused by other trouble-making Yo-Kai.
WIT Wonder Women Awards 2016 Nominations Now Open
Women in Toys, Licensing, & Entertainment is now accepting nominations for the Wonder Women Awards, an annual tribute to the industry’s top female executives and entrepreneurs. Honorees will be celebrated at the 2016 Wonder Women Awards Gala on February 14 at the Grand Hyatt New York during the North American International Toy Fair in New York City.
The Wonder Women Award winners will be recognized for their excellence across eight categories: Retailer of the Year, Manufacturer, Designer/Inventor, Licensing/Entertainment, Rising Star, Marketing/Advertising, PR/Social Media, and Social Responsibility. Nominations are open until January 10. To nominate a Wonder Woman, visit WomenInToys.com.
WIT’s Wonder Women Awards is a prestigious recognition program honoring the contributions and accomplishments of women in the toy, licensing, and entertainment industries. This year’s gala will commemorate WIT’s 25th anniversary and honor its founders Anne Pitrone and Susan Matsumoto with a special Founder’s Award.
Colorforms Contest Allows Fans to Name Logo
Through October 25, Colorforms fans on Facebook and Twitter have the opportunity to compete for the chance to name the “Colorforms Guy,” who serves as the company's logo. Fans will also have be able to vote on the finalist names for a chance to win new Colorforms sets and a $250 gift card to Toys "R" Us.
Colorforms Brands is producing an animated series that will bring the newly named logo to life. The Colorforms animated series is being developed by Out of the Blue Enterprises.
Fans wishing to participate in the contest can visit the Colorforms Facebook or Twitter page.
Amazon Introduces New Original Music from The Pop Ups and Lisa Loeb
Amazon customers and Amazon Prime members in the U.S. and U.K. now have access to original children’s music with the debut of two new children’s albums—Great Pretenders Club by The Pop Ups and Nursery Rhyme Parade! by Lisa Loeb.
Both albums are available for exclusive, unlimited ad-free listening on Prime Music for Amazon Prime members. Both albums are also available for purchase in download and CD format.
The Pop Ups’ Great Pretenders Club marks the Brooklyn duo’s fourth full album with a collection of 11 original songs. The album looks to engage children in imaginative play as a means of exploration and learning with their environment and others. Guest artists include Grammy-nominated multi-instrumentalist, composer, and lyricist Jarle Bernhoft.
Lisa Loeb’s fourth children’s album, Nursery Rhyme Parade!, is a collection of more than 30 nursery rhymes and songs. The album includes guest artists, such as singer-songwriter Renee Stahl.
Chicago Toy & Game Week Announces Fourth Annual PlayChic Fashion Show
The Chicago Toy & Game Week announced that the fourth annual PlayChic Fashion Show will take place on November 19 at the Alhambra Palace at 7 p.m. Fashion designers Peach Carr and Michelle Tan will show off their toy-inspired designs at this year’s show. The PlayChic Fashion Show allows fashion designers to work with toy and game brands that will be featured at the Chicago Toy & Game Fair.
Patch Launches Two New Stratego Games
Patch Products is introducing two different versions of its Stratego board game, Stratego Waterloo and Stratefo Conquest.
The Stratego Waterloo version is more intricate than the original and involves re-enactments of real historical battles. In Stratego Conquest, up to four players can participate in the game as opposed to two players. The game is in the style of “capture the flag” with a twist—players can win their flags back if there are other flags that remain on the board.
Random House Children’s Books to Publish First Stampy Cat Book
Random House Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, has acquired and will publish Stampy’s Lovely Book by Joseph Garrett, known as Stampy Cat on YouTube. Egmont released the book today in the U.S.
Stampy Cat is one of the biggest names in online gaming and family-friendly content, with more than 6.5 million subscribers and 4.1 billion cumulative views on YouTube. The book captures the essence of his personality and adventures, and includes games, activities, jokes, and information about Stampy and his friends.
Jackie’s Outlook for 2016
After attending Fall Toy Preview in Dallas a couple of weeks ago, I feel confident that 2016 is going to be an even better year for the toy industry. While the show floor seemed quieter than in years past, the majority of companies that I met with were upbeat and excited for holiday 2015 and the year ahead. A number of my meetings were cut short due to drop ins by Walmart, Amazon, Target, and TRU buyers, which is always a good sign.
Q&A with Ernst Kick, CEO of Spielwarenmesse eG
Marek Jankowski, president of Baby Care Magazines International, recently spoke with Ernst Kick, CEO of Spielwarenmesse eG, about the growth of Spielwarenmesse eG, toy fairs throughout the international community, and more.
Moose Co-CEO Awarded Australian EY Entrepreneur of the Year
Manny Stul, co-CEO of Moose Toys, has been named 2015 Australian EY Entrepreneur of the Year at an awards ceremony held in Sydney. A panel of independent judges awarded Stul the award based on six core criteria: entrepreneurial spirit, innovation, personal integrity and influence, financial performance, strategic direction, and national and global impact. Stul will now go on to represent the country at the World event in Monte Carlo in June.
EY Entrepreneur of the Year is a prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The program encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential, and recognizes the contribution of people who inspire others. The EY Entrepreneur of the Year program launched in Australia in 2001, recognizing more than 1,400 leading Australians for their entrepreneurial business success.
Mattel Reports Third Quarter 2015 Financial Results, Declares Quarterly Dividend
Mattel Inc. reported worldwide net sales down 4 percent in constant currency, an adjusted operating income of $321.6 million, and an adjusted earnings per share of $0.71 for the third quarter of 2015.
In North America, third quarter gross sales decreased by 4 percent in constant currency, and 5 percent as reported. Internationally, gross sales decreased by 2 percent in constant currency, and decreased 19 percent as reported. Adjusted gross margin decreased 170 basis points and 140 basis points as reported. Adjusted other selling and administrative expenses decreased $30 million. Adjusted operating income for the quarter was $321.6 million, compared to prior year's adjusted operating income of $434.5 million.
For the third quarter, worldwide gross sales for Mattel girls and boys brands were $1.12 billion, down 5 percent in constant currency versus the prior year. Worldwide gross sales for the Barbie brand were down 4 percent in constant currency. Year-to-date retail sales for Barbie are up slightly on a global basis. Worldwide gross sales for other girls brands were down 20 percent in constant currency. Worldwide gross sales for the Wheels category were up 19 percent in constant currency. Worldwide gross sales for the entertainment business, which includes Radica and games, were down 4 percent in constant currency.
Third quarter worldwide gross sales for Fisher-Price Brands were $625.3 million, up 1 percent in constant currency versus the prior year. Third quarter gross sales for American Girl Brands were $109.9 million, down 2 percent in constant currency versus the prior year. Third quarter gross sales for Construction and Arts & Crafts Brands were $118.5 million, up 2 percent in constant currency versus the prior year.
Halloween Spending Expected to Shrink After Last Year’s Record High
Halloween spending is expected to decline 4.1 percent in 2015, mostly due to lower participation in Halloween festivities as estimated by the National Retail Federation (NRF). Despite the holiday falling on a Saturday and improved consumer confidence levels, total Halloween spending is expected to shrink this year, following record-high sales in 2014.
According to the NRF, just under a third of Halloween shoppers plan to purchase costumes and decorations from pop-up stores this year. Discount stores, pop-up stores, and mass-merchandisers such as Walmart will remain the largest retail channels for Halloween products in 2015. According to a survey conducted by the International Council of Shopping Centers, online sales are expected to account for just 7.0 percent of holiday spending this year.
Fewer households are expected to purchase candy for trick-or-treating this year, in contrast to record-high participation levels in 2014. Overall, candy sales are expected to reach $2.3 billion during this holiday season, down slightly from $2.4 billion last year.
As with all other categories, spending on costumes and decorations is expected to decline this year, following record-high spending last year. According to the NRF, 66.5 percent of consumers plan to purchase decorations this year, down from 68.8 percent last year. Furthermore, households who plan to decorate their homes for Halloween are expected to spend less on decorations this year than in previous years. Overall spending on costumes, including sales of adult, children, and pet costumes, is expected to decline 11.5 percent to $2.5 billion this year.
Just over a third of Halloween shoppers are expected to purchase greeting cards in 2015 (according to the NRF survey), down from a 38.9 percent share in 2011. Overall, greeting card sales are expected to decrease 7.9 percent to $332.0 million in 2015.