Posted by Barry Silverstein on December 21, 2009 11:08 AM
It's a changing world in the toy business. Kids are focusing more of their attention on visual pursuits -- not just television and movies, but increasingly, video games and online entertainment. That means toy makers are scrambling to reinvent their brands and keep up with the times.
Hasbro, the second largest US toy maker behind Mattel, is making a big Hollywood push to remain competitive. "We actually reorganized the company to focus on our brand. Now we've become more consumer-centric," says Brian Goldner, Hasbro CEO, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.Continue reading...
Posted by Stephanie Startz on December 4, 2009 06:44 PM
Call it a sign of the times. The hottest toy this holiday season is a $9.99 hamster.
But they’re not just any hamster. Zhu Zhu Pets are artificially intelligent hamsters, made by Cepia.
The battery-powered plush hamsters respond to touch and environment with 40 different sounds and roam freely, or rather, “Zhu-oom, zhu-oom, zhu-oom” on wheels.
Zhu Zhu Pets' popularity has caused them to become nearly extinct from store shelves, available from price-gougers on Amazon and eBay. Naturally, and sold separately, the hamsters come accompanied with life’s necessities: an Adventure Ball, Fun House, Wheel and Tunnel and Car and Garage, all ranging in price from 11.99 to 21.99; they have sold as swiftly as the hamsters.Continue reading...
Posted by Stephanie Startz on November 20, 2009 05:30 PM
Sesame Street better watch out. There's a new kid on the block -- who makes Elmo look like a dinosaur.
Now in its second season, Nickelodeon's children's show Yo Gabba Gabba! has won accolades and become an overnight sensation for children and adults alike. Mixing live-action segments hosted by DJ Lance Rock and a cast of puppets along with animated sketches and pop, hip-hop and rock dance sequences, the series plays frequent host to a cast of high-profile celebrities like Elijah Wood, Jack Black, Tony Hawk and The Roots among many others.
The crew of characters -- Muno (a red cyclops), Foofa (a pink flower bubble), Brobee (a hairy green monster), Toodee ( a blue cat-dragon) and Plex (a yellow robot) -- have not only won the hearts and minds of pre-schoolers and their "hip" parents but have made the brand a media darling. Touted by Slate as "the best preschool programming" on television, the show is poised for widespread appeal with its irreverent sketches, educational and family values messages, and captivating imagery.Continue reading...
Posted by Stephanie Startz on November 10, 2009 06:40 PM
Sesame Street is 40! It doesn’t look a day over six... but then again, felt hides a multitude of sins.
Sesame Street began airing episodes on this date in 1969, intending to captivate children’s attention and educate them through music, comedy and fun.
The 40-year mark has been celebrated over the past week and a half by Google, with the muppets taking their own star turn in the Google “doodle.”
With the rapidly accelerating pace of nostalgia, columnists and commenters have come down from the mountains to offer up their opinion of the show after four decades on the air. Critics have complained that the essence of Sesame Street has changed too drastically since the beginning. Originally an ensemble cast, parents believe the show has become dominated by Elmo. Yet, Elmo himself has been a boon to the brand, driving sales of toys and licensing agreements, and wholly embraced by a new generation.Continue reading...
Posted by Sara Zucker on November 10, 2009 08:22 AM
It is an established fact that kids just don't understand what a recession is, nor would they care if they did. Trust me, scientists have proven it. Little girls, in particular, love their knick-knacks, and dolls are no exception.
The New York Times recently noted the influx of fashion-"minded" dolls. The Moxie Girlz, along with four Liv dolls and the Barbie Fashionistas, were all introduced this past August. Barbie and her accessories still took in about $3 billion last year. The Liv and Moxie lines are each expected to generate $30 to $40 million this year, according to Jim Silver, editor of industry journal Timetoplaymag.com. Not too shabby for a pile of plastic, wouldn't you say?Continue reading...
Posted by Abe Sauer on October 26, 2009 03:37 PM
Disney has found itself in a bit of a bind as it attempts to handle a major blow to its Baby Einstein brand. But in trying to shore up the baby education video line, is it sending a confused message?
Established in 1997, the Baby Genius brand became the most successful of the booming baby education industry, exemplified by products such as multilingual talking dolls, videos, flash-cards and books -- all with names based on words like "Mozart," "Galileo," and "Shakespeare." It's estimated that as many as one third of all American families own a Baby Einstein video, and that the brand controls the majority of the market.
Meanwhile, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended children under the age of 2 watch no TV whatsoever. Can you start to see the conflict?Continue reading...
Posted by Sara Zucker on October 15, 2009 03:43 PM
It seems that consumers have discovered quite a taste for collaborations between designers and mass retail outlets. You'll notice that for the most part, the younger generation has been slighted.
Stella McCartney will change all that with her children’s line for Gap Kids and Baby Gap, which will hit stores next month. W magazine's first preview of the collection reveals mini hoodies, jackets, and other wardrobe staples.Continue reading...
Posted by Jennifer Wright on October 5, 2009 12:41 PM
Childhood. American history. The danger of tripping over small, overly excited children lost in play. All things that might come to mind when you think of Mattel's American Girl dolls. One thing that probably doesn’t? The glaring specter of homelessness.
This is set to change with Gwen, the brand’s first, highly controversial homeless doll. Like all American Girl dolls, Gwen comes with a storyline, but hers is about how her father walked out on the family, her mother lost her job and they ended up living in a car.Continue reading...