November 24, 2009

The Big Toy Book Premieres as Online Shopping Destination

The Big Toy BookA new online shopping destination for consumers, TheBigToyBook.com, has debuted. Shoppers can go to the website and find the best current deals on toys and games sold at mass, specialty, online, and independent toy retailers. On the website, consumers can shop for products by type, brand, age group, company, and “what’s hot.” Products are also grouped by gender and then by various age ranges, including babies ages 0-24 months, preschoolers ages 3-5, older kids ages 6-8, tweens ages 8-12, and teens. 
Categories on TheBigToyBook.com include arts & crafts, games & puzzles, educational, tech toys, eco-friendly, construction, electronics, Web, and more. TheBigToyBook.com was founded by moms Laurie Schacht and Reyne Rice. For more information, visit www.TheBigToyBook.com.

2010 TOTY Awards Nominees Announced

TOTY 2010The nominees for the 2010 Toy of the Year (TOTY) awards have been announced.  The ballot will be sent to TIA members who will vote for the winners of the twelve categories. The winners from those categories will be the nominees for the overall Toy of the Year category, although a product can be named Toy of the Year via a write-in vote by TIA members.
The 2010 categories include:  Activity Toy of the Year, Boy Toy of the Year, Educational Toy of the Year, Electronic Entertainment Toy of the Year, Game of the Year, Girl Toy of the Year, Infant Toy of the Year, Most Innovative Toy of the Year, Outdoor Toy of the Year, Preschool Toy of the Year, Property of the Year, and Specialty Toy of the Year. Nominees were selected by members of the TOTY Nominations Committee, a group of industry professionals such as major retailers, academia, toy journalists, and inventors.
The TOTY nominees and more information about the event can be found on The Toy Book’s website at www.toybook.com/2010-toty-nominees.

NRF Announces Top 2009 Toys

The National Retail Federation has released its top toys list based on the NRF’s 2009 Top Toys survey. For boys, video games took the top spot for the second year in a row followed by Transformers. Barbie held the number one spot for the sixth year in a row for the most popular girl toy, while dolls and Hannah Montana toys followed behind.
The 2009 top toys for girls in consecutive order are: Barbie, dolls (generic), Disney Hannah Montana, video games, Disney Princess, Dora the Explorer, American Girl, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, and Zhu Zhu Pets.
The 2009 top toys for boys in consecutive order are: video games, Transformers. LEGO, cars (generic), Nintendo Wii, trucks (generic), Bakugan, Hot Wheels, Nintendo DS, and Fisher-Price Toys.

Poll: More Americans to Buy Toys This Holiday Season

According to a Harris Interactive poll, more than half of Americans (54 percent) will buy toys as gifts this year. Last year, 47 percent of those surveyed planned to buy toys. Nearly seven in ten consumers (69 percent) who have children in their home, and 46 percent of consumers who don’t, will buy toys this year.
Just under half of toy purchasers (45 percent) plan to buy children’s books this year. The figure rises to 48 percent for those who have children in their household. Almost half of those with children in the household (47 percent) will buy video games. Other top toy categories for shoppers will be board games (30 percent), dolls (29 percent), arts and crafts (28 percent), building blocks and bricks (21 percent), sports equipment (21 percent), and handheld electronic games (20 percent). Twelve percent of those surveyed said they will purchase game consoles this year.
For those who have children in their household, 45 percent say they will be spending less on toys this year compared to last year, 37 percent said they will spend the same amount, and 17 percent will be spending more. In total, 16 percent said they will spend more on toys compared to last year, 41 percent will spend the same amount, and 39 percent will spend less compared to last year.

First Products Certified Under TSCP

TSCPThe Toy Industry Association (TIA) has announced the first round of products that have been certified under the Toy Safety Certification Program (TSCP). The first certified product is the Push, Pull, and Ride—a combination push walker, ride-on, and pullwagon—by Radio Flyer, Inc. Other products that have been certified include The Magic Card Game Assortment and Tripoley Diamond Edition by Cadaco, Inc., and the Flip & Grip 2 Pack, Sensation Station, Hello Baby! Phone, Carrier Mirror, and Fascination Station by Sassy, Inc. The TSCP was launched on October 1.

 

Hidden City Games Joins ASTRA

Hidden City Games, Inc., publisher and worldwide licensor of Bella Sara, has joined the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA). Bella Sara products are available at several independent retailers, equestrian stores, at Shop.BellaSara.com, and at other retailers such as Target, Wal-Mart, and Toys “R” Us.

California Orders Products Off Shelves for Excessive Lead

California Attorney General Jerry Brown has ordered Target, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, TJ Maxx, and other retailers to pull products from their shelves immediately after the state said it found illegal amounts of lead in items. Brown said that seven toys and other products tested by the Center for Environmental Health were found to have more than the maximum lead amount of 300 parts per million (ppm) allowed by California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act.
The items in question include the Disney Fairies Silvermist's Water Lily Necklace sold by Walgreens and manufactured by Playmates Toys, which was found to have 22,000 ppm; the Barbie Bike Flair Accessory Kit sold by Tuesday Morning, licensed by Mattel, and manufactured by Bell Sports, which the state reported had a lead amount of 6,196 ppm; and Dora the Explorer Activity Tote sold by TJ Maxx with 2,348 ppm. Spokespersons from Disney, Bells Sports, and Mattel told the L.A. Times that the items were previously tested for lead and passed applicable standards at the time. The discrepancies will be investigated.
The Center for Environmental Health tested the toys by using a grant from the Public Health Trust. The Public Health Trust hands out funds California received after a 2008 settlement with toy companies for excessive amounts of lead in products.

DBG Signs New License

Discovery Bay GamesDiscovery Bay Games has been granted a license to manufacture board games, jigsaw puzzles, and game play with cards for Scientific American. The deal is for the United States.

 

 

 

Study: Phthalates Can Affect Boys Play

A new study by the University of Rochester found that young boys exposed to high levels of phthalates during their mother’s pregnancy may be less likely to play with male-typical toys such as trucks and toy guns. The study divided pregnant women in their 28th week into four groups by the concentration level of phthalate metabolites in their urine. Once children reached ages 3 to 6, researchers assessed their play behavior by asking parents to describe their favorite type of toys and play. Each child was then given a score reflecting masculine-typical play or feminine-typical play.
Mothers in the highest concentration group were five times more likely to have a boy with a less-masculine score than mothers in the lowest concentration group. The study is published in the International Journal of Andrology.

Toys “R” Us Announces Early Hours for Black Friday

Toys “R” Us announced it will start its Black Friday sales at stores nationwide starting midnight on Thursday, November 26. A sneak peak of unadvertised deals will be granted to Facebook users at Facebook.com/Toysrus. On the webpage, consumers can submit an application for a chance to view the more than 100 “Mystery Deals” beginning November 25 at Toysrus.com.
The retailer also announced that it will give the first 100 customers in line at each store on November 26 a ticket to purchase a Zhu Zhu Pet. Also, Toys “R” Us will give away a box of Crayola 64 crayons with each purchase, while supplies last.

Alex Opens New Stores

Alex Toys has opened three new retail stores worldwide. The company debuted a store in Beirut in August, opened a store in Vivo City, Singapore this month, and will premiere a shop in Mexico City next month. Alex currently has store locations in Guatemala, Peru, and Jordan.

LEGO, Toys “R” Us Sign Up for Free Shipping Day

Free Shipping DayMore than 300 merchants have signed up for Free Shipping Day, a one-day online shipping event on December 17. On that date, participating merchants such as Toys “R” Us, Babies “R” Us, Sears, and Petsmart will offer customers free shipping and guaranteed delivery by Christmas. Other participating merchants include JCPenney, Kmart, LEGO, FAO Schwarz, Meijer, and Buy.com.
According to the most recent e-Customer Service Index (eCSI), 93 percent of people intend to surf the net for presents this holiday season and more than 71 percent plan to complete at least half of their holiday shopping online. For more information, visit FreeShippingDay.com.

 

NRF: Shoppers to Spend Less on Gift Cards

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), holiday shoppers plan to spend less on gift cards and recipients can expect cards with lower monetary values. The study by the NRF, part of the 2009 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, reported that holiday shoppers will spend an average of $139.91 per person, compared to $147.33 last year. The average value per card, stated the survey, would be $39.80, compared to $40.54 in 2008.
Most surveyed, 22.1 percent, would not buy gifts cards as presents because they feel they are too impersonal. Other reasons include concerns about expiration dates or fees (12.6 percent), they would rather buy sale items (9.1 percent), aren’t sure which company to buy from (6.6 percent), concerns that the company will go out of business (5.6 percent), and concerns that the recipient would lose it or never use it (5.3 percent). For more survey results, visit www.NRF.com.

Craft and Hobby Show Returns to Illinois

Craft & Hobby AssociationThe Craft & Hobby Association (CHA) 2010 Summer Convention & Trade Show and the CHA Craft SuperShow will return to the Donald E. Stephens Convention and Conference Center in Rosemont, Ill. The CHA Summer Trade Show will run from July 27-29, followed by the CHA Craft SuperShow for consumers from July 30-31.Last year, the shows were held in Orlando. To learn more about the shows, visit www.craftandhobby.org.

Cookie Jar Appoints New VP, Distribution for South Korea

Cookie Jar Entertainment has appointed CJ Lee to the position of vice president, distribution for South Korea. Lee, who will report to CPLG Asia/Pacific’s Managing Director Hideki Kunugiyama, will handle television sales and develop licensing programs in the territory. The new VP will focus on production and development opportunities in Asia, oversee licensing and merchandise programs for the company’s properties, and seek to expand CPLG’s portfolio of brands.
Lee previously served as managing director and consultant for GIMC. He has also served as managing director and co-owner of Starburst Animation Company and manager of the Multimedia & Animation Division at Yoon’s English Academy.

Target Announces Third Quarter Financial Results

Target Corporation has reported its fiscal results for the third quarter ending October 31, 2009.  The retailer reported net earnings of $436 million, compared with $369 million for the third quarter in 2008. Earnings per share in the third quarter increased 18.6 percent to $0.58 from $0.49 in the same period in 2008.
Sales increased from $14.6 billion in the third quarter of 2008 to $14.8 billion in the third quarter of 2009. Retail segment earnings before interest expense and income taxes (EBIT) were $791 million in the third quarter of 2009, a 2.4 percent increase from $772 million in 2008.
Credit card segment profit in the quarter increased to $60 million from $35 million last year. The company attributes the increase to an improved portfolio performance that more than offset the impact of lower floating interest rates. Target’s pretax return on invested capital (ROIC) from its investment in the credit card segment increased to 9 percent in the third quarter from 4.3 percent in 2008.

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