Author: Guest Blogger

Talkin’ Toys: Auldey North America

The Toy Book caught up with Adiran Roche, president, Auldey Toys North America. Tell us about The Alpha Group and how it has grown over the last 10 years. The Alpha Group originated as a toy company under the Auldey brand name in 1993. At the time, Auldey toys were distributed solely in the China market and quickly became a top toy brand known for its high-quality, innovative toys. With the chairman’s foresight and understanding of the relationship between entertainment and toys, Auldey established the animation side of the business and the company was renamed Alpha Animation and Toys....

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WIT Announces Empowerment Day Speakers and Industry Experts

Women in Toys, Licensing, and Entertainment (WIT) announced the speakers and experts who will be participating in its annual WIT Empowerment Day event, to be held on Sept. 26, the day before Fall Toy Preview in Dallas officially begins. Held in collaboration with Walmart and the Toy Industry Association (TIA), the day includes informational sessions and panels to help WIT members with their businesses. This year, WIT has gathered industry experts, buyers, speakers, and panelists from the toy industry to help woman-owned start ups, entrepreneurs, and small business owners grow their businesses. Throughout the day, attendees can expect to hear from the following experts: Alice Brooks, Play Monster/Roominate Anne Marie Kehoe, Walmart Avi Levine, Star Funding Belinda Gruebner, Moose Toys Ben Dermer, Spin Master Carlos Lopez, Toy Backer David Gifford-Robinson, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) Deb de Sherbinin, Kidsmart Jamie Cygielman, Madame Alexander Jeff Pinsker, Pressman Games Jerry Welch, Bambini Partners Joan Lawrence, Toy Industry Association (TIA) John Lee, Bambini Partners Karen Kilpatrick, JazWings Kelli Couchee, UBM Kim Mosley, American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) Laura Zebersky, Jazwares Marian Bossard, Toy Industry Association (TIA) Maureen McHale, McHale Design Nancy Zwiers, Spin Master Patti Becker, Becker Associates LLC Paul Solomon, Moose Toys Phil Sage, Hasbro Sarah Wilson, Walmart Stephanie Pottick, Pottick Law Stephanee Synnott, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Steven Heller, Esq., The Brand Liaison Sue Warfield, American...

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Board Games Continue Down a Winning Path

by Mary Couzin, founder, SMG Leisure Many game industry experts consider this the golden age of board games. History will decide if the moniker sticks, but one thing is for sure: Games and puzzles were the fastest-growing toy category last year, climbing 11 percent to $1.6 billion, according to The NPD Group. This year, game sales continue to grow at 24 percent, more than three times the growth of the toy industry overall. And that number could be even higher if you consider all the crowdsourced board games, a category that has become a major player (pun intended) in the publication and manufacturing of board games. Platforms such as Kickstarter allow independent game designers to reach thousands of consumers, and retailers are tuned in to this trend, which will only continue to rise. Though lots of games sell at retail for less than $20, and some fall into the impulse category at less than $10, other more complicated games are selling for more than $50, contributing to the overall rise in game sales. During a recent trip to Target, I spotted 10 games selling for more than $50 each. Target.com has 67 titles selling for more than $50, including multiple strategy games. There is a perfect storm of many trends contributing to strong game sales. Below are the top trends from my research. We could meet over signature cocktails...

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Construction Toys Build Up Success

by Sean McGowan, founder, SMG Leisure The construction category accounted for about 10.5 percent of total U.S. toy industry retail sales in 2015, according to The NPD Group. The category rose 9 percent in 2015, on top of a rise of 11 percent in 2014. Over the past 15 years or so, construction toys have been the most consistent growth segment of the U.S. toy industry. Growth has been so strong and so consistent that if you were to exclude construction toys from total industry sales, there would have been essentially no growth in U.S. toy industry sales from 2003 through 2014 (prior to the massive surge in action figure sales last year), especially excluding the effects of inflation. It is the only one of the NPD toy industry super categories not to show at least one year-on-year annual decline during this period. It is notable that not only does the category not owe its strong and steady growth during this period to the increased use of technology (electronics, Wi-Fi connections, apps, etc.), but also that the growth is actually in spite of an explosion in consumer interest in video games and smart gadgets. The category’s best years actually came after the introduction of the iPhone. (A side corollary here is that the biggest gains in Lego’s profitability came at a time when its main raw material—plastic resins—were undergoing a...

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Fresh, Fierce, and Fabulous: Innovative and Classic Dolls to Spur Sales Through Q4

by Kristin Morency Goldman, communications specialist, Toy Industry Association This spring, The NPD Group reported a 16 percent uptick in doll sales for the first quarter of the year, and industry experts at BMO Capital Markets predict that doll sales will continue to grow by about 10 percent overall this year, thanks to a slew of innovative, licensed, and classic dolls hitting store shelves through the holiday season. “The initial launch of Hasbro’s version of the Disney Princess dolls, the introduction of the curvy Fashionista Barbie from Mattel, and a new line of DC Super Hero Girls action dolls, also from Mattel, appear to be generating strong sales at retail,” says Gerrick Johnson, toy analyst at BMO Capital Markets. Johnson said this could be the strongest year for dolls since 2009, when Mattel introduced Barbie Fashionistas and the I Can Be… Barbie line; MGA Entertainment brought Moxie Girls to market; and Spin Master introduced its Liv dolls. In 2010, Mattel introduced Monster High, “adding even more firepower to the category,” says Johnson. “The doll segment went from being a negative trending category for the five years prior, to one of the strongest categories for the next five years,” says Johnson, adding that he is expecting a similar reaction this year. “We’ll see in the fall if kids keep up the momentum.” Innovations and new licenses in the category are...

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