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  1. After 60 Years, You Can Now Draw Perfect Circles on Etch a Sketch GIZMODO February 28, 2020 EXCERPT: All of my childhood memories involving Etch a Sketch end the same way. I’d fiddle with the knobs and then after a few minutes, shake it in frustration, erasing all evidence of my hideous “art.” The ionic toy is marking its 60th anniversary this year with a few limited edition launches, but of all of them the Etch a Sketch Revolution was the one that had us shaking our fists at how lucky kids today are. The Etch a Sketch Revolution is a tad smaller than your typical Etch a Sketch, but it does feature the two signature knobs at the bottom. The main difference is it features a spinning screen that makes drawing circles magnitudes easier. As in, all you have to do is manipulate the knobs on the spinning rim, and that’s it. It’s simple, but pretty neat when you consider just how torturous trying to draw anything circular, rounded, or curvy on a traditional Etch a Sketch is. Yours truly is probably the worst Etch a Sketch artist to have ever lived, but even I drew multiple circles with ease. (You can see at least three I drew in the GIF above.) That’s not to say that you’ll suddenly be drawing complex mandalas within seconds. It still takes a bit to figure out which way you should turn the knob to sketch anything more than a circle. For example, my blobby mistakes are easy to spot. SOURCE: https://gizmodo.com/after-60-years-you-can-now-draw-perfect-circles-on-etc-1841860447
  2. Michael Rielly

    Children prefer simple objects over toys

    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. Zime Science May 2, 2019 by Alexandru Micu EXCERPT: 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. ... SOURCE: https://www.zmescience.com/science/children-toy-simple-objects-2353545/
  3. Michael Rielly

    Toys R Us announces final store closures

    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 Jack Ridsdale EXCERPT: 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.”
  4. Star Wars Toy Sales Fall in 2017 as Movie-Tie Fatigue Sets In Bloomberg By Matthew Townsend and Christopher Palmeri January 17, 2018 EXCERPT: 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.” Sequel Barrage 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. Dragged Down 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.” SOURCE: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-18/-star-wars-toy-sales-fall-in-2017-as-movie-tie-fatigue-sets-in
  5. Charisse Jones, USA TODAY Wednesday, 06-Sep-17 04:07:42 PDT Walmart says these 25 toys will rule the holidays Parents who came up short hunting for a Hatchimal, the hottest toy of the last holiday season, are about to get a second chance. A newer version of the toy egg that hatches a host of magical creatures is expected to be in-demand again this year when it comes to gifts under the holiday tree, says Walmart in making its predictions for the top 25 toy picks for 2017. ... Ultimately, holiday shoppers will have more than 1,000 new toys from which to choose. "This list is just beginning,'' says Kehoe. "It doesn't stop until the doors close on Christmas Eve.'' A few of Walmart's choices were in line with the predictions of Amazon, which for the first time released its own top 25 holiday toy picks last week. Both retailers included the Cars 3 Ultimate Florida Speedway and Paw Patrol My Size Lookout Tower. Walmart's Top 25 Picks o Hatchimals Surprise (*Coming soon, details to be released on Oct. 6) o Fingerlings o littleBits Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit o Num Noms Nail Polish Maker o FurReal Friends Roarin’ Tyler The Playful Tiger o Barbie DreamHorse and Doll o Fisher-Price Zoom ’n Crawl Monster o L.O.L. Surprise Fizz Factory o Soggy Doggy Board Game o Mayka Toy Block Tape o Frozen Sleigh (*Walmart exclusive) o Adventure Force Light Command Light-Up Motorized Blaster (*Walmart exclusive) o Monster Jam Grave Digger (*Walmart exclusive) o Huffy Electric Green Machine Trike o Nerf Rival Nemesis MXVII-10K o RECOIL Starter Set o New Bright Radio Control Tumblebee o VTech Pop-a-Balls Drop and Pop Ball Pit (*Walmart exclusive) o Radio Control DashCam (*Walmart exclusive) o Dusty the Super Duper Garbage Truck o Imaginext DC Super Friends Batman Batbot Xtreme o Paw Patrol My Size Lookout Tower o Disney/Pixar Cars 3 Ultimate Florida Speedway o Mickey and the Roadster Racers Transforming Hot Rod Mickey o Disney Junior Doc McStuffins Baby All in One Nursery SOURCE
  6. Michael Rielly

    All the Coolest Stuff From Toy Fair 2016

    All the Coolest Stuff From Toy Fair 2016 Toyland.Gizmodo.com Andrew Liszewski 2/16/16 If January’s CES is the main course when it comes to trade shows, February’s New York Toy Fair is the dessert you can’t wait to dig into afterwards. The world’s biggest toymakers converge on the Big Apple to reveal everything that kids—and collectors—will be dying to buy for the rest of the year. This year we layered up to face a sub-zero New York City and meticulously combed the halls of Toy Fair 2016 to track down the standout playthings. Here’s the best of what we found. Spin Master BB-8 Not since R2-D2 has a Star Wars character spawned as many tie-in products as The Force Awakens’ BB-8. But there’s still room in our hearts—and on our shelves—for another BB-8 toy, especially since Spin Master’s near life-size replica talks, rolls, follows, blinks, understands voice commands, and even comes when it’s called. At just $180 it’s priced similar to other BB-8 toys that have already sold millions. ... Simon Air Go dig up your parent’s or grandparent’s original Simon toy and you’ll probably find its four colored pads covered in years worth of grimy fingerprints. Gross. That will never happen with the latest version of the memory-testing game, Simon Air, because motion sensors mean players never actually have to touch it while recreating complex patterns. Simon Air also introduces new actions and gameplay challenges, so there’s good reason to upgrade. Hasbro’s Role Play Accessories The amount of time and materials needed to make your own half-decent looking superhero costume is staggering. And that’s time that could be better spent impressing other geeks at comic conventions. At just $100 each, Hasbro’s new role play accessories are money well spent. Let’s be honest here, they’ll certainly look a lot better than your Bondo, duct tape, and Testors paint hack job. SOURCE: http://toyland.gizmodo.com/all-the-coolest-stuff-from-toy-fair-2016-1759253744
  7. Secret pedophile symbols end up on children’s toys WFLA.com By Steve Andrews March 11, 2016 EXCERPT: A Tampa Bay area company is investigating how a pedophile logo made it onto one of its toys. Feld Entertainment Inc., of Ellenton, has pulled its Monster Truck pillow from circulation and is offering customers refunds after discovering a logo that enables pedophiles to communicate about their wants and desires. Feld produces Monster Jam shows. It sells souveneirs including the Monster Truck pillow. According to Feld, the pillow was designed in a now-closed office in Fort Worth, Texas. The pillows were manufactured in China. Nicole Kelly picked one up at a show in Syracuse, New York. Then she discovered a double heart, a symbol for pedophiles. “Immediately I went into this momma bear mode. I was angry. I wanted to call and text everybody. I wanted answers,” Kelly said. According to the FBI’s website, people who sexually abuse children, as well as those who produce, distribute and trade child porn, use various types of logos or symbols to recognize one another and distinguish their sexual preferences. The double heart, or girl lover logo, symbolizes a relationship between an adult male or female and a minor girl. Three mothers, sitting in a Tampa park, had no clue about any of that. “Probably would be good information to have,” Jessica Egli said. “We have a lot of toys in our house,” Kate McCauley said. “Lots and lots of toys, and I’ve never seen that or thought to look for it. As parents of little kids, I want law enforcement to know more about this.” “I’ve never heard of it before,” Allyson Brimer added. Feld vice president of communications Stephen Payne stated the pillow with the double heart was pulled from service. The company is offering refunds or exchanges. Feld’s customer service number is (800) 844-3545. The email address is customerservice@feldinc.com. According to Payne, in 30 plus years, Feld never had an issue with toys or a recall. The company is looking into all products associated with the designer of the truck pillow. It doesn’t know if this was an accident or oversight, or if it was intentional. SOURCE: http://wfla.com/2016/03/10/secret-pedophile-symbols-end-up-on-childrens-toys/
  8. Meet 'Torch', Hasbro's Fire-Breathing Animatronic Pet Dragon Forbes.com February 14, 2016 EXCERPT: Torch is a new animatronic dragon from Hasbro that breaths fire-like vapor, toasts marshmallows, talks and responds to touch. Maybe I have a soft spot for cute animatronic animals (I blame growing up watching Gremlins and The Dark Crystal), but stand out product at the Hasbro New York Toy Fair booth for me was Torch the FurReal Friends pet dragon. The toy will retail at $79.99 this fall and is suitable for children (and adults) over 4 years old. Like last year’s FurReal Pets star turn, Star Lily, Torch combines a range of technology to create a sense of personality and engagement. He responds to your touch with a range of movements, sounds and lights. He has a light up mouth that illuminates when he growls and breaths what looks remarkably like fire — well a colored mist at least. The vapor creates the illusion of fire and can be used in conjunction with a plastic Marshmallow that changes color to toast and feed the food for Torch. This all sounds a little complex and clunky but see Torch in action and it’s a pretty convincing pet. He has 50 different audio responses to a child’s interactions as well as a wide variety of motions. Sensors around his nose mean that he can respond to different touch queues and even recognize when he has been picked up for a cuddle. SOURCE: http://www.forbes.com/sites/andyrobertson/2016/02/14/torch-furreal-friends-dragon-pet/#30af6b4a5313
  9. Michael Rielly

    From: Toy Fair 2011: The Coolest Toys

    I have had the good fortune of attending a few Toy Fairs. I also live very close to Hasbro's World Headquarters. I've always thought I would love to work for a Toy company. Yeas ago, I interviewed for a marketing position with the CEO and VP of Sales of a small toy manufacturer, now owned by Hasbro. In the interview they asked me what were some of my favorite toys as a kid. Without missing a beat I listed off several of my fondest toys and went on to explain how I still have many of them to this day. The CEO stopped me mid explanation and said "Okay, you passed the test". "Test?", I asked. He said, "You would be surprised how many people want to work here, but can't answer that question." I said, well if you liked that answer, then you will love this one... and I went on to name and describe EVERY character on display in the conference room. On display where Dora, the Explorer, Boots, Swiper, SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward, and at least a dozen others! They were amazed! Parents are equally amazed when I can converse with their kids about specific characters, video games, and toys. I don't just nod my head. If a child asks for a "DS", I'll ask if they want a DSi or a DS lite, what color, etc. Another example would be "iPods". Many parents and grandparents have no clue. So I always make sure the parent or grandparent knows which one we are discussing. I think it is important that as Santa we not only know these toys but also know the television shows they watch. My kids are 13 and 18, but I still know what's hot and what's not in toys, electronics, clothing, and trends. BTW, next month Nintendo will introduce the Nintendo 3DS -- available in blue and black. Can't wait! Source: Toy Fair 2011: The Coolest Toys
  10. Michael Rielly

    Grow your own Christmas Tree!

    There are only 209 days until Christmas, but you only need 12 hours to grow your very own Christmas Tree! I am not sure how it works exactly, but it looks pretty cool! The Magic Christmas Tree comes with a string of red beads, sparkles, and a gold star. Set the tree's trunk into the base, decorate, add the magic water and in 12 hours - viola! - a beautiful Christmas Tree! The same company makes a Magic Snowman too! Like the Magic Christmas Tree, growing the Magic Snowman is just as easy! I will have to get one of these for next year!
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