Toys ‘R’ Us has a problem: they’re a specialty store that people love, but they must compete with mega-discounters like Walmart and online vendors like Amazon on price. When they can’t do that and still make money, how are they to survive? The company’s new idea: get kids in the door by creating an experience, not just a place to buy toys. [More]
Since some imaginative cave child made the first doll out of a dead marmot, kids have been talking to their make-believe pals. And for more than a century, some of these dolls have been talking back. But the newest generation of Mattel Barbie dolls may take things to the next level by not only listening to what you have to say, but by sharing your conversations with complete strangers. [More]
Is it every kid’s dream to go flying through the air, light as a bird, only to land safely on a soft surface? Perhaps. But that doesn’t mean that all of those inflatable bounce houses, castles, slides and other amusements are necessarily safe for children, and a federal agency is pointing to a rise in injuries on such attractions to make sure parents are aware of the risks.
The days of grainy, hard to decipher photos that came with Mattel’s View-Master are apparently behind us. The company, along with Google, revealed an overhaul that transforms the classic kids’ toy into a virtual reality gadget. [More]
Do you know who I feel sorry for this week? The people running social media for Hasbro’s Play-Doh brand of perpetual play clay. People keep posting to point out the resemblance of an accessory in one of their current play sets to a human phallus, and Hasbro keeps taking down their posts. Update: Hasbro has acknowledged the issue on Facebook and will send a replacement extruder to families on request. [More]
News stories about “layaway angels,” people who stop by a retailer’s layaway counter and pay off the balances of strangers, became very popular during the holiday season of 2011. They’ve since become a recurring tradition, and this year we have mostly heard about people spending five-figure amounts to pay off everyone’s balance in a show of generosity. [More]
Are pricing algorithms racist? That’s not really possible, and several big retailers are blaming “pricing errors” for discrepancies in the prices of Barbie dolls of different ethnicities. Shoppers interested in a doll in a figure-skating costume, for example, have to pay $1.99 extra at Walmart for a doll with darker skin and black hair. How does that happen? [More]
A year after the combination potty/iPad stand took home an award for Worst Toy of the Year, an app from BabyFirst and AT&T U-Verse that your youngsters could use while pottying on last year’s winner has been crowned the worst for 2014. [More]
After ruling supreme as the most popular toy for girls during the holidays, Barbie is losing her crown for the first time ever to the plucky gang from the movie Frozen. You know, the one with that snowman and the hilarious reindeer? Also there’s an ice queen and a princess.
Tesco is a supermarket/superstore based in the United Kingdom. They sell just about everything, including toys. However, one member of the toy-buying public was not thrilled with their holiday marketing. A 7-year-old girl noticed a “Fun gifts for boys” sign on a photo of an alarm clock featuring Marvel superheroes. Wait a minute: she likes superheroes. Why is that only a gift for boys? [More]
LEGO is one toy that is, in theory, gender-neutral. They’re just blocks, decals, and figurines. Yet toys today tend to be highly gender-segregated, even when they’re items that don’t necessarily have to be. Usually, we don’t think of the past as more enlightened, but in the case of LEGO, it’s striking how different their marketing in the ’70s was compared to today. [More]
Many readers will recognize the product at the top of this page: It’s Puppy Surprise, a toy originally introduced in 1991. The gimmick: inside you will find three, four, or five puppies with different markings and personalities. Puppy Surprise came back on the market this fall, and has been so popular that the company had to pull its ads off TV. [More]
Earlier today, we wondered why the communications people over at Mattel hadn’t answered any questions about a book starring Barbie as a computer engineer. Barbie’s “engineering” job consisted of designing puppies while having male colleagues code the game and reboot her computer. This isn’t just sexist, but an inaccurate representation of what computer engineers do. Good news: Steven and Brian managed to get the virus off PR Barbie’s computer, and the book’s author has spoken up as well. UPDATE: Amazon also appears to have pulled the e-book version of this title. [More]
Are you looking forward to spending Thanksgiving Day standing in line and fighting with fellow shoppers over the last remote-controlled dinosaur? No? It doesn’t really matter whether you plan to show up or not: opening at 5 P.M. on Thanksgiving Day worked out for Toys ‘R’ Us last year, and they’re planning to do the same again this year. [More]
There were no buttons to tap, screens to swipe or badges to be won. But although kids today might not recognize something as humble as bubbles, a little green army man or a colorful puzzle called the Rubik’s Cube as sources of fun, those three classic toys have found a spot in the annals of entertainment history, as the 2014 inductees into the National Toy Hall of Fame.