Fall Toy Preview

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Tips to Maximize Your Trade Show Experience

Every year, a new crop of tradeshows appears on our newsletters and calendars, and retailers must weigh the costs and benefits of attending, deciding which shows and exhibits are must-sees and which ones they can afford to skip. Each tradeshow varies in scope and target demographic, so it’s important to know what you want to get out of any given trade show before deciding to attend.

There are several other factors—like budgeting for your hotel and transportation expenses and managing your store while you’re away, for example—to consider leading up to the event. While preparing for large industry events might be stressful, we’ve gathered a few tips from trade show veterans to help attendees maximize their time at upcoming industry events.

  1. Make travel and hotel reservations early to maximize on discounted rates. Many shows have event dates posted and registration open almost a year in advance.
  2. Determine your primary, secondary, and tertiary goals you want to achieve by attending an event. Are you going to the trade show to learn more about marketing, to make contacts, or to check out latest trends for your inventory?
  3. Develop a list of “must see” and “want to see” exhibitors, speakers, and events. At a big show, you won’t be able to interact with everyone, so find out which vendors and industry contacts are most important for you to meet.
  4. If you are travelling with colleagues, split sessions to maximize data gathering.
  5. Make appointments with exhibitors with whom you really want to network.
  6. Pack for comfort. Have comfortable shoes and clothing. Veteran trade show attendees have measured that they walk an average of 10-12 miles at major shows in Atlanta, Orlando, and Las Vegas.
  7. Bring your own “carry-all” bag for materials you’ll accumulate at the convention center. Complimentary plastic bags are often uncomfortable, as they cut into your hands and make them sweat. If you’re networking, you’ll be shaking lots of hands, and nobody likes a clammy hand for a first impression.
  8. If available to you, bring your own branded gear. While people expect tradeshow booths to give away swag, you can advertise your brand with a branded shirt, custom pens, or other promotional products.
  9. Tell exhibitors you are on a tight schedule to avoid small talk and get straight to business.

10. Look for networking opportunities. Introduce yourself to people around you—at workshops, receptions, wherever—hand and collect plenty of business cards and social media contacts.

11. Be prepared to push for answers to questions that exhibitors are not prepared to answer.

12. Skip overly crowded booths and plan to come at the end of the day when traffic is slower.

After the show, set out a plan for implementing the information you’ve gathered. Organize and keep in touch with the contacts you’ve gathered, whether it means following up with a manufacturer to buy their products for your store or liking them on Facebook to stay in contact. Of course, these are only guidelines for preparation. Of course, these are only guidelines. Be sure to create your own checklist, tailored specifically to what your need company needs.

PACK from another dimension.

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Be sure to climb aboard the MadPax Express.

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NY NOW booth #7066

TIA’s PlayCon to Become A Biannual Event

Toy Industry Association

Beginning in the spring of 2018, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) will be holding its formerly annual PlayCon event biannually in a vibrant, major city. With the forthcoming event changes, the TIA hopes to broaden the conference’s appeal for industry professionals.

“Thanks to a longer development and planning cycle, PlayCon will build upon its reputation as the quintessential networking and educational event in the toy and play industries,” said Jane Ritson-Parsons, Group Executive of Global Marketing at Hasbro, Inc. and Chair of PlayCon’s new advisory board. “Our goal is to create an event with a fresh, two-year format that will deliver best-in-class content and speakers that are relevant and inspiring to inventors and designers, marketing and PR professionals, entrepreneurs, and executives.”

The dates and location for PlayCon 2018 are not yet finalized, but board members are strongly considering San Francisco, CA to be the conference’s host city because of its variety of hotel options and the city’s “walkability”.

TIA plans to continue trends of actionable content and cutting edge industry resources with PlayCon sessions covering a broad range of ideas – including global consumer toy and play, reaching new generations of families and consumers, and tackling emerging issue in the industry. 

Press release courtesy of the TIA.

For more information about PlayCon 2018 be sure to check in with the TIA website in the coming months.

MiniPlay Makeup Offers all the Fun of A Makeover Without the Mess

All children learn by imagining and doing. Have you ever watched a child pick up a doll and care for it, changing its diaper and giving doll a bottle? Or seen her use pretend food to make a gourmet dinner? The process of pretending builds skills in many essential developmental areas.

While watching their mothers with their daily makeup routines fascinates many young girls, this too often leads to real lipstick stains in the carpet, a new eye shadow being crumbled or nail polish spilled on the linens during unintended “makeovers.”

Mini-Play Makeup® is a toy makeup offering a clean alternative to traditional makeup. Its unique, patented-pending design allows for children ages three and older to explore imaginative play without any mess! Mini-Play Makeup is not real makeup and will not transfer color or substance to any surface, making it the perfect mess-free option for pretend play.

"I'll admit, when I first opened my package I was a bit nervous. How could a play makeup leave no mess but also keep my child entertained?” said Mini-Play Makeup® customer Brooke Rooker. “My three-year-old had a completely different opinion. After ooo-ing and ahh-ing over her new makeup, she spent countless hours applying eye shadow, lip gloss and doing her nails over and over again. I can now say I have had more than 20 makeovers this week and am looking fabulous. My house is mess free and my daughter LOVES her Mini-Play Makeup®!"

Not only does it look like real makeup, it feels like real makeup, making it the most believable pretend makeup available on the market. The line includes an extensive variety of high quality cosmetic bags, liquid-free nail polishes, scented lip wands, eye shadows, brushes, and lip glosses. All play makeup is handcrafted in the USA.

Mini-Play Makeup® is the perfect alternative to real makeup marketed to children—allowing imaginations to grow and develop in a mess-free way.

To become a retailer, visit us at miniplaymakeup.com. Follow MiniPlay on Facebook and Instagram!

Toy Vey! Family Traditions for Everyone

During the Hanukkah season, many parents, grandparents and other gift-buyers struggle to find the perfect gift for that special child in their life.

Eli Kowalski, owner of Toy Vey Toys, has the answer with his company’s latest product, Maccabee’s Hanukkah in a Box

Characterizing it as “the best children’s Hanukkah gift for under $20,” Mr. Kowalski describes the product as being based around the Maccabee’s Hanukkah Story, an easy-to-read, detailed storybook that teaches the true story of Judah Maccabee, who rallied his family and friends to miraculously defeat the Syrians and regain the destroyed Temple in ancient Jerusalem. The gift set also includes a nine-inch Maccabee warrior plush toy and a three-inch refillable plastic dreidel, providing the centerpiece for the traditional Hanukkah dreidel game. The Hanukkah in a Box gift set is priced at $19.99.

Kid tested and rabbi approved, Maccabee’s Hanukkah Story is the winner of the Creative Child Magazine’s “2016 Book of The Year Award” in the category of Holiday Books with Plush Toys for Kids. The Hanukkah in a Box gift set is also available with a musical nine-inch Maccabee warrior plush toy that plays the holiday song “Oh Dreidel, Dreidel” when you press his tummy, in addition to the standard storybook and dreidel. This musical Hanukkah in a Box gift set is priced at $24.95.

Additionally, Toy Vey Toys has the perfect gift to purchase for interfaith families with small children -- the Maccabee Hanukkah Gift Set, which includes the Maccabee on the Mantel (what Toy Vey Toys markets as the Jewish Elf on the Shelf) storybook that teaches the story of Hanukkah, as well as a nine-inch Maccabee warrior plush toy and a custom three-inch wooden dreidel, game board and rules sheet. With about 50% of households composed of interfaith relationships, it can be difficult to find the perfect gift that a child will enjoy and that has a sense of tradition. The problem is even more pronounced this year since Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, begins on the Hebrew calendar date of the 25th day of Kislev, which happens to fall on December 24th, Christmas Eve. Toy Vey Toys has the answer to all of your holiday gift-giving needs.

Whichever holiday or holidays you celebrate, Hanukkah in a Box and Maccabee’s Hanukkah Gift Set are both entertaining and educational products that are sure to become part of your family’s holiday traditions. The Maccabee warrior plush toy can also be purchased separately as both nine-inch and eighteen-inch plush toys.

With the approach of the 2017 holiday season, Toy Vey Toys is busily planning an expanded line of products that will establish new traditions for families of all faiths.  Among the new products is Sam the Dancing Matzo Man, planned for release in time for Passover 2017.

Toy Vey Toys manufactures and distributes holiday and non-holiday themed products that combine fun and education, and promote family traditions. Owner Eli Kowalski is an Israeli-born publisher and award-winning children’s book author who now resides in Philadelphia, PA.  He is a real mensch who has volunteered his time and traveled to over 325 schools in the Mid-Atlantic region where he regularly engages with young students and encourages them to write and explore their creative talents. He is the author of 14 published books and has developed a number of successful toy products over the past three decades.

More information about Toy Vey Toys’ products can be found at https://ToyVeyToys.com.

New Toy Inventor Competition Series from Mattel Coming to Primetime TV

New Toy Inventor Competition Series

Mattel Creations, the content creation and distribution division of Mattel, has partnered with the ABC Television Network to launch the reality competition series, “The Toy Box.”

Slated for a primetime spot in the 2016-17 TV season, the show will follow amateur toy inventors as they vie for an opportunity to market their invention with the support of Mattel. The inventions (and their inventors) will be put to the test by the ultimate judges: a panel of toy-loving kids.

The winning toy invention will be available for purchase upon the series’ completion. Not only will families get to witness the process behind toy invention — from the conception, to prototyping, all the way to the marketing of the final product — but they will have the opportunity to purchase it, too.

“Along with our partners at Hudsun Media and Electus, we are extremely proud to announce ‘The Toy Box,’ the first major production project from Mattel Creations,” said Catherine Balsam-Schwaber, Mattel’s Chief Content Officer.

“The Toy Box” brings the pressure and drama of competition-style shows to the toy-design process in a format that’s sure to thrill kids and families alike,” said Michael Rourke, CEO of Hudsun Media. “For the first time, viewers will get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the world of toy making, as they see what it takes to design the next great American toy.”

For more on information about “The Toy Box,” see the full press release from Disney ABC Press.

Sago Mini Releases New Product Line

Just in Time For Holiday Shopping Season

Sago Mini New Fall Product Line

Sago Mini has unveiled its fall product line, which includes two new Portable Playsets, a floor Puzzle Mat, the Tuck Me In Quilt, and a series of board books. 

Portable Playsets
Harvey’s Spaceship and Jack’s Diner are both great additions for play dates. The pieces fit neatly inside; they fold up and can be secured with the attached band. It even has a handle to make it easy to grab on the go. Harvey’s Spaceship includes a Harvey figurine along with six fun accessories, while Jack’s Diner includes all the fixing of classic diner—booth seating, a jukebox, and more! 

Tuck Me In Quilt
To create this adorable bedroom accessory, Sago Mini partnered with textile designer Libs Elliot. With its built-in pockets, children can tuck their favorite stuffed animals and toys into bed with them, tell them stories and kiss them goodnight at bedtime. This was one of our favorites at ASTRA this year. We know kids will love this unique quilt.

Foam Puzzle Mats: Robin’s Roadtrip
Robin’s Roadtrip puts a new spin on classic kids’ foam floor mats. Designed for kids ages three and up, the tiles connect in hundreds of configurations so kids can customize their own road trip. Some tiles even include pop-up features to bring the environment to life!

Each book in this series stars Sago Mini characters that kids have grown to know and love. Kids can interact with Jinja the cat, Harvey the dog, Robin the bird, Jack the rabbit, and Hugboat in these beautifully designed storybooks.

For more information, visit sagomini.com/.

Press release courtesy of PR Newswire.

Are You Participating in Neighborhood Toy Store Day?

Neighborhood Toy Store Day

The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) is gearing up for the 7th annual Neighborhood Toy Store Day, encouraging specialty toy retailers across the nation to participate in this year’s event. Neighborhood Toy Store Day, held on the second Saturday of November will take place on November 12 this year.

As ASTRA states, this is a day to come together and celebrate the special role that neighborhood toy stores play in their communities. While Small Business Saturday takes place on November 26, this national initiative is focused specifically on specialty toy retailers and is a unique opportunity to kick start the holiday sales season and connect with the ASTRA network.

For holiday shoppers who don’t like waiting until black Friday to mark items off of their shopping lists, Neighborhood Toy Store Day gives ASTRA members an edge on the competition.

If you’d like to participate in Neighborhood Toy Store Day, join ASTRA today!

EleFriend... The Bendable Toddler Toothbrush

October Cover

Introducing EleFriend, a brand new bendable toothbrush for toddlers from Baby Banana, the company behind the #1 selling baby toothbrush on Amazon. Parents who loved the flexibility of the infant Baby Banana Brush have been looking for a similar safe toddler product, but there wasn't anything available. Enter EleFriend... the only toddler toothbrush that bends.
EleFriend is intended for children ages 2-4 years old, which is a very important time in the development of life long oral health care habits. If brushing is enjoyable, kids are more likely to do it on their own. There is also a high risk of oral injury at this age and learning stage. The risk of oral injury is significantly reduced when a toothbrush bends. If a child falls, the brush will bend instead of impacting the soft tissues of their mouth. The flexible neck of EleFriend also prevents children from pushing down too hard as they learn to brush. The nylon bristles are extra soft yet still effective for plaque removal. The head of the toothbrush is perfectly sized for little mouths. The body of EleFriend is extra wide, ideal for little hands. All of these features combined make for a better option in the world of toddler toothbrushes.
Make sure your little one has a friend that bends when they are learning how to take care of their teeth... the EleFriend!

Why Specialty Toy Retailers Have the Holiday Sales Advantage

Specialty Toy Retailers Have the Holiday Sales Advantage

Manufacturers, retailers, and industry influencers are already beginning to talk to consumers about the holiday season. It’s no secret that October, November, and December are the biggest season for toy sales, and according to cheatsheet.com, overspending is becoming a holiday tradition. Overspending on gifts is especially tempting for parents. A 2015 T. Rowe Price survey that sampled 1,000 parents across the country in January 2015 found that 62% of parents agree with the statement, “I spent more for my kids over the holidays than I should have.”

While we’re not encouraging you to trick your customers into overspending, it’s obvious that holiday shopping is an especially big deal for parents with young and school age children. So, instead of pushing your customers to overspend this holiday season, focus in on toys, gadgets, and kids’ gizmos that have tremendous value, quality, and staying power.

There’s no denying the advantages of online shopping, especially at this time of year. Customers can compare pricing on different websites, products are shipped within days of purchasing, and they don’t have to scour the aisles of some big box store or stand in those awful long lines (we’re looking at you, last minute shoppers). The best part of all? They can do this all from their warm and cozy couch or on their phone during their lunch break.

Specialty toy store retailers do have one big advantage over online retailers, though. When shopping online, decision paralysis (no matter how big or small the decision) can lead parents to making poor spending choices—only to later go back and return the product or buy another one to make up for their buyer’s remorse. As a specialty toy storeowner or manager, your customers can feel confident with their purchases when they’ve consulted an expert.

You can explain the value of one toy over another. You can help them weigh the pros and cons of two competing products. You can emphasize how you saw the product at the Fall Toy Preview and just had to have it in your store because you loved it so much. Going out to shop on a cold winter evening after a day at work, can seem like a taxing endeavor, especially for parents who aren’t well-versed in the latest toy trends.

Holiday gift shopping should not be a chore. Make gift shopping fun, satisfying, and worth the difficult trek in the cold. Your customers will thank you. And their kids will thank Santa.

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