By Michael Rielly
Children prefer simple objects over toys because they’re “not limited” to being a single thing
For kids, versatility might be the way to go — as far as toys are concerned, anyway.
May 2, 2019
by Alexandru Micu
I have it on reasonable authority that kids are very likely to ignore a particular toy and make a starry-eyed beeline for the box it came in. I haven’t got any of my own, so I can’t attest to the accuracy of that, but I do have a cat — so I can relate to how confusing such an experience might be.
But fret not, parents around the world, for science comes to the rescue. A new study from the University of Alabama reports that children, particularly those at preschool age, are probably attracted to generic objects because they make for more versatile toys.
“The inclusion of generic objects like sticks and boxes may allow children to extend their play because the generic objects can be used as multiple things,” said lead author Dr. Sherwood Burns-Nader, UA assistant professor of human development and family studies.
“Pretend play such as object substitution has so many benefits, such as increased socialization and problem solving.”
A cardboard box can become virtually anything in the mind of a child, the researchers say. In contrast, a spaceship or unicorn toy — despite being much more visually appealing — is doomed to remain a spaceship or unicorn for as long as you play with it. And therein lies the reason why children, especially younger ones, would generally prefer to play with the box.
Children often substitute one object for another during play. A stick can become a sword, a rifle, or a pen. But such substitutions aren’t made lightly — the object has to have a passable resemblance to the one it’s being substituted for. As such, an object’s features such as shape or markings can disqualify it completely for a certain play-task.
By Michael Rielly
Toys R Us announces final store closures
Remaining 75 Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores will close by April 24th.
Toy News Online
April 11, 2018
Toys R Us administrators Moorfields have confirmed the closure dates of the final Toys R Us stores in the UK.
The remaining 75 Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores in the UK are to close by Tuesday, April 24th 2018. All 2,054 employees have been informed and will be paid up to and including their last day of employment.
Stores will continue to trade as normal up until the dates listed below and the nationwide stock discounting programme has been extended further. Discounts of up to 70 per cent are available throughout the stores, with all bikes, car seats, strollers and action figures currently on offer at half-price. Further 'Manager’s Specials' deals are available on selected products in stores.
“We are grateful for the hard work of everybody at Toys “R” Us’ during this extremely difficult and challenging time," said Simon Thomas, joint administrator and partner at Moorfields. "We are working closely with the 2,000 employees affected by the closures to ensure they receive the support they need for redundancy and other compensatory payments."
“The stores across the county will be open as usual until the last day of trading and we would encourage shoppers to make the most of the great deals on offer. Extended discounts of up to 70% are in place from today and offers are available on some of our best-known brands.”
By Michael Rielly
Star Wars Toy Sales Fall in 2017 as Movie-Tie Fatigue Sets In
By Matthew Townsend and Christopher Palmeri
January 17, 2018
The warning signs for the toy industry started last year when “Cars 3” -- considered a surefire success -- proved lackluster for licensees like Mattel Inc.
Now toymakers’ big bets on movie tie-ins look downright bleak. Playthings based on the “Star Wars” saga -- the franchise that kicked off the whole phenomenon four decades ago -- were down in 2017 despite a new film, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” in December during the all-important holiday-shopping season.
Call it “Star Wars” burnout, or better yet “movie fatigue,” said Gerrick Johnson, an analyst for BMO Capital Markets. Hollywood and toymakers have fixated on toy-friendly films at a time when kids are increasingly turning to YouTube, Netflix and social media for entertainment.
More than 20 major films, including “The Last Jedi,” had robust toy-licensing programs last year. A decade ago, it was about half that. Movie attendance in the U.S. has dropped almost 14 percent in that span.
“There are so many screens now; kids aren’t just at the movies,” Johnson said. “A movie doesn’t have the same resonance it used to.”
While “Star Wars” was still the top-selling toy line during the nine-week holiday period, it fell to second place overall last year and below the all-time high seen in 2016, according to data from market research firm NPD Group shared with Bloomberg News.
“Star Wars is a force to be reckoned with in the toy industry,” the brand’s owner, Walt Disney Co., said in a statement. “It remains the leading film-driven property for the entire year.”
After a decade without a “Star Wars” film, Disney has released three movies since December 2015, and another one is coming in May. The latest installment, “The Last Jedi,” didn’t include many new memorable characters beyond those introduced in the preceding film, Johnson said. That left fans looking for newness elsewhere this year, leading to weaker results than expected, he said.
U.S. sales of the brand’s toys slowed in late 2017, Drew Crum, an analyst for Stifel Nicolaus & Co., wrote in a note to clients last week. This was despite “Last Jedi” being the top-grossing film released in the U.S. last year at $596 million.
Adult collectors, who grew up with the brand, are still buying a lot of merchandise when the toys come out, but demand dies down afterward, according to Johnson.
That doesn’t bode well for Hasbro Inc., which has the main “Star Wars” toy partnership, or Jakks Pacific Inc., which has a secondary license. Jakks said it couldn’t comment on “Star Wars” sales, but that merchandise tied to “Moana,” another Disney film, “remains very strong.” Hasbro declined to comment.
The “Star Wars” performance could hinder Disney’s bid to revive growth at its consumer products division, where sales fell 13 percent to $4.83 billion for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.
The September bankruptcy filing of Toys “R” Us Inc., which makes up about 15 percent of the market, added to the challenges for “Star Wars” sales growth this year, though the company continued to market the toys.
Visitors to the Toys “R” Us store on Los Feliz Boulevard in Los Angeles recently had plenty of “Star Wars” merchandise to choose from. A whole aisle included everything from a $3.99 Millennium Falcon Hot Wheels car to a $250 AT-ACT remote-controlled vehicle that walks and fires Nerf projectiles.
Tracey Gordon, a full-time mom from Glendale, California, shopping at the store, said her three boys, ages 2 to 7, aren’t “Star Wars” fans even though she wore a Princess Leia costume on Halloween for years when she was younger.
“It’s a generational thing,” she said, adding that her nephew likes the toys largely because his dad “drags him to see the movies.”
Even more toy-licensed films are scheduled, including the prequel “Solo: A Star Wars Story” and new Transformers, “Fantastic Beasts,” “Jurassic World” and superhero fare. The lesson toymakers will draw from the 2017 slate is that they can’t just rely on the movie to do the marketing anymore.
“There is a new paradigm,” Johnson said. “Just because there is a movie with a toy tie-in doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to work. It used to mean it would work.”