ASTRA Creates Toy Donation Program in Advance of Holiday Season
Toys for Joy, a new program of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA), will offer a simple way for toy manufacturers to provide toys to children in need and is now accepting product donations. In partnership with Good360, a highly respected global leader in product philanthropy that sources and distributes donated goods, participating ASTRA manufacturers can provide products that will be disseminated to fully vetted charitable organizations serving disadvantaged children. Many of these organizations previously received toys from the now-defunct Toys “R” Us donation program that also partnered with Good360. “The toy industry is experiencing some change and disruption, but ASTRA believes this should not impact children’s access to the magic of play,” says Kimberly Mosley, President of ASTRA. “ASTRA’s Toys for Joy program will help community organizations with a history of putting toys in the hands and hearts of children continue those important programs. Toys for Joy is another way that ASTRA members can be mighty together and make this year’s holiday season one that kids all over the country will long remember.” Manufacturers wishing to donate products are asked to complete a donation form by August 15. Products must be shipped and received by August 31 to ensure distribution for the holiday season. A minimum of one pallet is requested. More information can be found at Good360.
New The Genius of Play Report Highlights Role of Creativity in Child Development
A panel of experts recently convened by The Genius of Play and the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation in Washington, D.C. explored how parents can better raise children to become competitive in the international arena and promote invention and innovation. The consensus: Allowing kids enough time and opportunities to play will nurture their creative spirit and give them the tools they’ll need as adults to discover solutions to our most pressing world issues. Findings from the panel, which took place at the National Museum of American History, are included in a new report that is now available: “Raising a Generation of Inventors: How Play Fosters Creativity and Innovative Thinking in Children.” Panelists included Vikas Gupta, co-founder and CEO of Wonder Workshop; Molly James, kindergarten teacher at the highly selective all-girls Kent Place School; James McLurkin, senior hardware engineer at Google; and Jeri Robinson, vice-president of early childhood initiatives at the Boston Children’s Museum. Each explored the following questions posed by moderator Monica M. Smith, head of exhibitions and interpretation at the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation:
- What is play – and how does it define who we are?
- Is creativity innate, or can it be learned?
- Is there a “magic age” to support and encourage a child’s learning through play?
- How do we get more play into formal education?
- What resources in life make great toys to inspire creativity?
- How can parents help their children engage in playful learning?
The experts highlighted the importance of bringing more play into the school curriculum, giving parents the confidence to play with their children, and helping society understand and value the benefits of play. With these key ingredients, parents and educators can help children grow into successful, inventive, and innovative adults.
Sony Seals Deal with DHX Media for Peanuts’ Minority Stake
DHX Media has closed its previously announced sale of a minority stake in Peanuts to Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. (SMEJ). SMEJ has indirectly purchased 49 percent of DHX Media’s 80 percent interest in Peanuts for $179 million in cash, subject to certain adjustments contemplated in the original agreement. DHX Media now owns 41 percent of Peanuts, SMEJ owns 39 percent, and the members of the family of Charles M. Schulz retain their 20 percent interest. DHX Media and SMEJ have also completed their agreement to extend the duration of the current Licensing and Syndication Agency agreement with SMEJ’s consumer products division, Sony Creative Products Inc. (SCP) in Japan, where SCP has successfully grown the Peanuts business by more than 200 percent as its agent since 2010. DHX Media has used the net proceeds from the transaction to reduce indebtedness under its term credit facility. DHX Media was advised by Deutsche Bank Securities, Inc and Canaccord Genuity Corp.
Learning Express Toys Announces 2018 Vendor and Product Award Winners
Learning Express Toys announced its top vendors and product awards last month at its annual franchise-wide convention, held in Kingsport, Tenn. The awards were given as follows: Product Awards (Awarded to products new to Learning Express in fall 2017 or spring 2018 based on originality, creativity, leading edge design, and sales performance in each category)
- Arts and Crafts Hide & Seek Rock Painting Kit from Creativity for Kids
- Infant/Toddler: Flappy the Elephant from Gund
- Preschool: Pop-Up Basketball Game from Epoch Everlasting Play
- Action, Skill and Sports: Laser X from Toysmith
- Construction: Open Play Tubes from Plus-Plus USA
- Impulse: Needoh Glob from Schylling
- Science: Holographic Mixed By Me Thinking Putty Kit from Crazy Aaron’s
- Games: ITZI from Carma Games
- Plush: Squeezamals from License 2 Play
- Tween: Fizzy DIY Bath Bombs Kit from ALEX Brands
Vendor Awards Best Customer Service Award: Awarded to the vendor that is always in-stock and ships on time; has quick order turnaround time; acts quickly to handle returns, defectives and any discrepancies; and provides consistent and timely communication to both the storeowners and buying group.
- Top Trenz and Toysmith (tie)
Best New Vendor Award: Awarded to a new vendor who quickly understood the uniqueness of the Learning Express franchise system, has been very supportive of our individual storeowners, and whose product is innovative and performs well in our stores.
- Wireless Express
Best Marketing Program Award: Awarded to the vendor that has offered exciting promotions that dramatically increased customer traffic while maintaining profitable store sales.
- ALEX Brands
Vendor of the Year Award: Awarded to the vendor that provides outstanding customer service to our stores, develops new and innovative products, offers ideas, and supports all of our marketing efforts, provides excellent store support programs, and participates as a full partner with Learning Express.
Sales Award: Awarded based on sales volume with our stores based on core products.
Sales Increase Award: Awarded based on sales increase with our stores based on core products.
- Water Sports
“We want to recognize our distinguished vendors and to show appreciation for their partnership, as well as their ingenuity and proficiency creating toys with exceptional play value,” says Sharon DiMinico, CEO and founder of Learning Express Toys.