Here’s a sneak peak at some of the exciting new toys I’m showcasing during my satellite TV tour (which starts today)!
LEGO DUPLO | Lego
This year LEGO DUPLO celebrates 50 years! DUPLO bricks were created for toddlers to develop their motor skills with chunkier LEGO bricks that are designed for their smaller hands. It doesn’t get any more iconic than this great DUPLO Fire Station that invites kids to build and play with something they recognize in a safe and fun way. There are male and female firefighters, a cute dog and this really fun light and sound brick that adds an authentic touch to their play. Whether learning to stack, build or role play, DUPLO offers a wide variety of skill sets for every learning stage.
Visit Lego.com for more information!
HYDRO STRIKE | Goliath Games
Goliath Games is known for their family skill and action games, with a twist! Get ready to make a splash with Hydro Strike! In this head-to-head pinball game, you’ll need fast fingers to shoot the ball into your opponent’s goal. Score, and your opponent will get sprayed in the face with water! Since a sprayer is aimed at both players, strike quick or you’ll get wet! The first player to score 5 times wins. The water feature adds excitement and a surprise twist to the game play. Fun for the whole family.
Visit Goliath Games to learn more!
PAIBOTZ | Pai Technology
Pai Technology introduces PaiBotz, a new coding robotics kit for kids ages 4 and up, that helps children grow, develop, and play by turning screen time into playtime. Kids can program and code 6 different pre-designed PaiBotz or create their own robot! It can be taught to move, dance, make sounds, and light up using the free app. Over 150 uniquely shaped, easy-to-grip blocks with rounded edges will inspire kids’ imagination with tangible hands-on learning, the most natural way for younger kids to learn. And with the 30 interactive Augmented Reality puzzles, they learn even more coding concepts with visual cues.
Available this Spring at https://www.pai.technology/, for use with selected iOS 11 and Android devices.
SPACE ODYSSEY | Sharing Land
With the Space Odyssey Playhouse, by Sharing Land, kids can explore the entire galaxy with their imagination and some great wearable space gear. Constructed of durable cardboard, this eight-sided play environment and sturdy space accessories will blast kids into new realms, no batteries required. Everything is made from 80% recycled materials to reduce the accumulation of space junk, and kids can customize their spaceship with washable markers. When the mission’s complete, the foldable design breaks down in seconds to store until the next inter-galactic mission.
Visit www.sharindland.com for more information.
I hope you all enjoy this sneak peak!
The 15 finalists for the ToyAwards were announced on Jan 24, 2019, and last night was the award ceremony where the five final award winners were announced. Press releases are linked below:
Kids at Play Interactive (KAPi) Award Winners from CES 2019
By Reyne Rice, Juror for KAPi Awards and Global Trend Hunter
These KAPi (Kids at Play Innovation) awards were created 10 years ago, to celebrate and honor the most innovative games, software, devices and apps for educating and entertaining today’s digital generation.
Celebrating the 10th annual KAPi Awards program, at CES 2019 in Las Vegas in January 2019.
More than 500 children’s technology products were evaluated for the 2019 KAPi Awards, all released in 2018. The products were evaluated by an independent jury of industry and editorial experts under the direction of Warren Buckleitner, editor of Children’s Technology Review, and co-chaired by Robin Raskin, president and founder of Living in Digital Times.
“We’re seeing an effort by the kids’ community to develop more open-ended, low-cost opportunities for play, and that’s a good thing. Of special note this year is the use of technology that has ‘no screens’ attached and uses voice as an input device.” said Robin Raskin, president and founder of Living in Digital Times.
The 2019 KAPi Award winners:
Lifetime Achievement: Fred Rogers (Posthumous)
Pioneer: Jesse Schell,
Teacher, author and speaker, Jesse Schell is a “VR-aholic” who teaches in the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University. Schell Games, his Pittsburgh-based studio, has been the force behind many noteworthy products including Happy Atoms, a 2016 KAPi winner.
Best Hardware: Echo Dot Kids by Amazon. This device puts 300 Audible books, like Beauty and the Beast and Peter Pan, thousands of songs, kid-favorite games and COPPA compliant kid skills, all awaiting your child’s verbal command.
Best Overall Tech: Nintendo Labo by Nintendo.
Nintendo Labo merges maker play with screens. Jurors called it “a gutsy, slightly insane merger between concrete and abstract that reminded us all how screens can support any type of play.”
Best Maker Spirit: Itty Bitty Buggy by Microduino.
This CPT (Code Programmable Toy) lets you program a vehicle to trace lines on a map and recognize colors and voice commands via bluetooth, using your own device as a remote.
Best Robot: JIMU Overdrive Kit by Ubtech.
This year’s jurors liked the possibilities offered by the most recent addition to the JIMU line, with 400 parts, speedy servo motors and a variety of sensors for light and motion. STEM learning empowered with a very relevant robotic play format.
Most Novel Tech: When In Rome by Sensible Object.
When in Rome is an engaging trivia game for the whole family that relies on Alexa to provide clues, guide game play and add real-world information. Moreover, because the game can be continually updated, it’s different every time it’s played. Jurors liked the ability to keep the game different every time it’s played.
Best Mixed Reality: Untamed/Battle ARena by WowWee and Happy Giant
In 2017, the mini WowWee Fingerling robotic pets were a stand-out winner in the toy world. This year, Untamed Dinosaurs take the play further with the ability to step into Augmented Reality, thanks to an accessory app, called Untamed ARena. Jurors liked the new play possibilities added onto an already solid toy, at an affordable pricepoint.
Best Educational Product: Snap Circuits BRIC Structures by Elenco.
The classic Snap Circuits have been mixed up with a compatible set of construction bricks. Jurors were impressed by the diverse projects and open-ended potential of the play.
Best Physical Play: Nerf Laser Ops Pro by Hasbro.
The sophisticated design allows players to blast an IR beam as far as 300 feet. Add a smart device for real-time battle “intel,” solo play mode or GPS tracking of teammates and opponents. This encourages active, play & fun on the run.
Best Video Game: Starlink: Battle for Atlas by Ubisoft.
This is a deep, narrative-based, open world game that combines physical toys with the story. Connect pilots and ships to the game controller to see changes in the game instantly. The combination of physical and digital play is well done and very much on trend for today’s kids.
The 2019 KAPi Award Honorable Mentions:
StoryBall: Jurors liked the physical and digital open-ended story play that uses games, stories and challenges to encourage children to play using their bodies instead of a computer screen.
NovelEffect: This great new literacy product brings families together with reading, storytelling magic and sound effects.
The judges for this year’s KAPi Awards consisted of a panel of leading journalists and publishers:
- Warren Buckleitner, Children’s Technology Review
- Amanda Gummer, Fundamentally Children
- Ahren Hoffman, ASTRA
- Christopher Byrne, Independent analyst and author, aka The Toy Guy®
- Mary Couzin, Chicago Toy and Game Group
- David Kleeman, Dubit
- Dan Nessel, Dad Does.com
- Robin Raskin, Living in Digital Times
- Reyne Rice, International Toy Trade Magazine Association, Global Trend Hunter
- Mark Schlichting, Noodleworks; creator of Broderbund’s Living Books
- Tonda Bunge Sellers, Living in Digital Times
- Valerie Vacante, Collabsco
(Originally posted on Spielwarenmesse.de)
This Holiday Season 2018 is certainly shaping up to be an interesting one, not only across North America, but across many international markets. Some retailers are opening new doors and revealing creative options with pop-up shops, stores-within-stores, a diverse product mix and increased toy department footprints.
The resurgence of FAO Schwarz Stores across the USA is a perfect example. The new 20,000 square foot Flagship store opened in New York City, at Rockefeller Center, on November 16th, 2018, with a great expected fanfare. The store is an experiential, featuring FAO’s iconic life-size piano, magic shows, a baby adoption center, a grocery-shopping area for kids, and a station to construct a remote-controlled car.
FAO Schwarz opened a store at New York Airport LaGuardia.
Airport FAO Schwarz locations will be included in Hudson Airport shops, across the USA, with the first location at LGA Airport in New York. The well-respected David Niggli, the original buyer for the iconic and original FAO Schwarz stores, is back in the buyer’s seat, and it is expected that his well-honed experience will continue to steer the product selections. An FAO Schwarz international pop-up has opened in Selfridges, in the UK, and although it just recently opened, reports are that it is expected to fare well for its first UK Holiday season. FAO is also planning to open pop-up shops in department stores across the world, including Hudson’s Bay in Canada, Myer Australia in Australia, and El Corte Ingles in Spain. Another full store will open in Beijing, China, in 2019 in partnership with Kidsland China, and is expected to occupy 27, 000 square feet.
Mass market retailers have increased their toy footprints for the fourth quarter, adding more toy categories, and building depth within certain thriving categories. They have stepped up their exclusive retailer offerings in order to grab consumer’s attention and drive traffic to their toy departments.
The multinational retail corporation Walmart has partnered with key manufacturers to ensure foot traffic in their toy departments, by offering exclusive merchandise. The retail giant announced in early September that it would expand its toy assortment by 30% in stores and 40% online this Holiday season. Walmart also introduced a new collectibles section in the entertainment department of more than 3,500 stores starting from mid-October. This new destination will features exclusive brick-and-mortar merchandise from the subscription service Loot Crate for collectors.
The department store retailer Target has expanded their home delivery shipments and their click-and-collect features, driving quicker product delivery to consumers. Their recent purchase of a 3rd party shipment fulfillment service, Ship is driving this new delivery service. The acquisition will accelerate Target’s digital fulfillment efforts, bringing same-day delivery services to approximately half of Target stores by 2018. The service is now offered from the majority of Target stores, and in all major markets. By the end of 2019, same-day delivery will include all major product categories at Target. Target stores have also re-vamped their in-store toy department footprint, and increased selections in their Adult Games section, collectible toys, and more.
Specialty retailers and department stores are broadening their mix
Nordstrom Department Stores has added a range of specialty type products, such as special LEGO exclusives and selections from the Tech Will Save Us portfolio of relevant, hands-on tech projects that inspire kids and delight their gift-givers.
Some stores in the Learning Express franchise have reported an uptick in sales of collectibles, tangibles (think slime offerings, compounds and putty), Harry Potter merchandise, and more. With Kid Focus (a division of MGA Entertainment, USA) now offering L.O.L. Surprise and other highly coveted brands, specialty stores are reporting an unexpected early lift in holiday sales.
Amazon has gone old school, and has released its first Holiday printed catalog, with an expanded Toy, Game, Tech Toys and STEM Toys range of products. The e-commerce giant made $4.5 billion in U.S. toy sales during 2017, up 12% over 2016, according to One Click Retail. In comparison, for the same 2016 annual time period, Amazon grew in the UK, 10% YoY; in Germany, 42% YoY; and in France, 78% YoY.
eBay has launched Toytopia, as a new section of its site dedicated to toys for the holiday season. Toytopia claims to include millions of toys for all ages, including action figures, dolls, STEM toys, family games, trains, and more. According to eBay, they have more than 1 billion listings and 175 million buyers worldwide. They claim that eighty-one percent of eBay merchandise is new, and 89 percent of items are “buy it now,” with no bidding required. They are making a big play for more of the online market dollars.
Even Toys R Us private label branded goods, marketed under the brands of Journey Girls, Animal Zone and Imaginarium are re-surfacing at retail stores such as Krogers (they have 600 nationwide USA locations) for Holiday 2018. This Geoffrey Toy product range is spear-headed by Richard Barry, the ex-Toys R Us executive, and his team, who have re-imagined these once-exclusive Toys R Us brands and are offering them as continuing brands for consumers across America.
Franchises such as Five Below, Party City and Hobby Town have increased their toy departments and even Farm and Fleet stores: Blain, Fred Meyer’s and Meyers have re-energized their offerings, in the wake of a new retail expansion.
All in all many new retail models have emerged. Retailers are devoting more shelf space than ever to toys as they compete for a bigger chunk of sales.
Visit the Toy Business Forum at the Spielwarenmesse® 2019. Reyne Rice shares a whirlwind view of the newest trends and products found across the toys, games and technology spectrum, as we enter 2019, and beyond. Listen to her at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, 30 January 2019. Read the program of the Toy Business Forum.