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How Suite It Is: 2015 Toy Insider Event Grows in Scope

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New York City’s Chelsea Pier complex was the site for the 2015 Sweet Suite event designed to alert traditional press outlets and the exponentially expanding blogger community to the play industry’s newest goodies. This season’s gathering, mounted by the folks at Adventure Publishing Group (APG) (Toy Insider, The Toy Book, The Licensing Book) was the biggest ever, encompassing the wares of almost 100 vendor/sponsors. See the link loaded list of participants on the Sweet Suite Sponsor List.

Sweet Suite 15 was a sensory riot with so many wonderful items vying for deserved attention. To document the afternoon APG president and Toy Insider Mom Laurie Schacht conducted on-site interviews with the industry sponsors and attendees were banging out Tweets, Instagram pictures and videos posts by the hundreds (thousands?) It was especially cool to find The Verve Pipe’s Brian Vander Ark providing the live soundtrack performing songs from the group’s Are We There Yet album.

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Toy Insider’s Laurie Schacht meets a brace of WowWee Rev’s gesture controlled MiPosaurs.


As an information gathering excursion co-editor Adriana “Andy” Melendez and I have found the invitation-only opportunity to be invaluable, often leading to months worth of pre-holiday roll-out features about the newest toys.

It’s also a perfect platform to explore new products and have an easy-going tet a tet with their creators. Heck, I got so “toy-tipsy” I was even cajoled into donning an “Amy Poehler” wig for the gals at the Goldie Blox booth. Do blondes have more fun? I can’t say for sure but it likely beats being a balding 60 year old guy in a baseball cap.

What caught our collective eye? I know Andy was particularly taken with the I Am Elemental action figures and their empowering message for young ladies. I zoned in on Crayola’s “Color Alive” Easy Animation Studio and Hexbugs’ newest Vex Robotics kits (including an operational Zoetrope). Both were still in early development when first spied at the New York International Toy Association Fair last February.

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Just a few of the new items Andy and Pete will be reporting on in depth. I Am Elemental Action Figures (left,) HexBugs’ Zoetrope (top right,) Crayola’s Easy Animation Studio (bottom right.)


I also enjoyed a thorough demo and up close look at the eye-popping next-gen graphics of Activision’s Skylanders SuperChargers multi-platform game. Anki Overdrive’s track hugging robotic race cars promise to be an exciting experience, and Madame Alexander Doll’s mirthful Muppets will be available just in time for ABC’s Muppet TV relaunch.

Also ready to launch in the vanguard of inevitable Stars Wars mania is Build-A-Bear Workshop‘s Darth Vader and Chewbaca bears.

Expect us to be reporting on those items and many other products in depth as they reach their release dates in the coming weeks. In the meantime enjoy this teaser gallery of pictures from the event.

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Toy Insider Kicks Off 2014 Gifting Season

TI_HoP14flt
Pete & Andy’s Play Date…
On a gorgeous late October afternoon co-editor Adriana “Andy” Melendez (@sylverwhisper) and I joined other members of the press and blogger community on the 44th floor of New York City’s Hearst Building for a grand event to kick off the coming gift giving season presented by the folks at The Big Toy Book.Com, in partnership with The Toy Insider and Woman’s Day Magazine. Dubbed “The HoliDAY of PLAY” the gathering was aimed at affording social media and online reporters a jump on building buzz for the best toy options of late 2014.

Top Toy Tips…
Attendees enjoyed a couple of hours of hands-on experience and information gathering directly from manufacturers with a focus on the annual Toy Insider Hot 20 and Top Tech 12 lists. These lists (broken into age appropriate categories) and the entire 2014 Gift Guide can be found in the November issue of Woman’s Day magazine, as well as at Toy Insider online.

Following an introductory period of play and networking Big Toy Book Founder Laurie Schacht (@toyinsidermom) addressed the group. She delineated emerging trends in the toy industry using onsite vendors’ wares as examples punctuated by a video featuring highlights from last summer’s Sweet Suite event and soundtracked by my favorite EchoSmith tune “Cool Kids.”

HoliDAY of PLAY Attendees Got First Hand Info from Toy Vendors, and Spun Up 16 Million Twitter Impressions.

HoliDAY of PLAY Attendees Got First Hand Info from Toy Vendors, and Spun Up 16 Million Twitter Impressions.


Big Toy Book Founder Laurie Schacht Hoists a Bag-O-Swag for a Lucky Winner.

Big Toy Book Founder Laurie Schacht Hoists a Bag-O-Swag for a Lucky Winner.

Laurie called up several brave volunteers to participate in a couple of only mildly embarrassing competitions, one of which had participants emote their best Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle “Cowabunga Dude!” Winners walked away with nicely filled swag bags. She also treated attendees to the first announcement of the 2015 Blogger Bash and Sweet Suite, which will be held on July 16 and 17 at Pier Sixty in New York City. In a little over 3 hours attendees managed to spin up 16 million Twitter impressions for the #HotToys14 hashtag and hundreds of Instagram images.

SkeletonPete & Andy Say…
It’s an anything goes marketplace, with tech and retro play products holding equal footing. We saw choices ranging from the robotics of the constantly expanding HEXBUG line to the return of the much loved 1980’s Pound Puppies from Funrise. LeapFrog offers the movement motivating immersive screenplay of their new console system, while creative stalwart Crayola straddles the classic vs. digital worlds with their Virtual Designer Pro kits.

Those only represent a smattering of the multitude of possibilities which is why the helpful guidance of the annual Woman’s Day/Toy Insider supplement and Toy Insider is so valuable.

Below is a list of the vendors who presented their wares at the event, with live links to their respective websites – you’re welcome. 🙂

Andy and I will be giving you a closer look at some of our favorites in the coming weeks.

Featured Manufacturer’s Sites

Battat
Build-A-Bear
ChizzComm
(representing Tech 4 Kids, Aliquantum International, Bravo Sports Corp. and Zuru Toys)
Cloud b
Crayola
Funrise Toys
Hasbro
HEXBUG
Jakks Pacific
Jazwares
Laser Pegs
LeapFrog
Little Scholar
Makey Makey
Rubie’s Costume Company
Spaghetti Headz
Thames and Kosmos
Toca Boca
Tomy
VTech

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Big Game Hunting: Activision Skylanders Adds Traps & Tablets

Capturing Villains in the New Portal is Key to Skylanders Trap Team Game Play.

Capturing Villains in the New Portal is Key to Skylanders Trap Team Game Play.

Better Late Than Never(land)…
Excuse this late #ToyTuesday edition. Just as I was about to post my feature about the newest update to super the popular Skylanders toy based video game I received an email with important news I know you’ll be excited to hear. Activision has announced its development of fully powered gaming on your TABLET! That’s right Skylanders will soon be available to experience on your mobile tablet device for super convenient take-along game play. Keep reading…

Lion Hearted Wildfire on New Prison Portal with Crystal Trap.

Lion Hearted Wildfire on New Prison Portal with Crystal Trap.

Shut Your Trap…
At the recent Sweet Suite Toy Event, held in conjunction with Blogger Bash in NYC, Activision gave us a look at The Trap Team, their next Skylanders iteration along with the character toys that will inhabit its virtual gamescape. The game heralds the The Trap Masters, heroes returning to Skyland after Kaos’ destruction of CloudCracker Prison frees his contemptible cohorts. As a result of the explosion multi-colored hunks of Traptanium now litter the landscape and can be used to power up for battle with the escapees.

Characters Wildfire, Gear Shift, Snap Shot, Chopper, Torch, Wallop, Food Fight, Krypt King, many armed with awesome translucent weapons, will join the already over 175 figures available for the Skylanders game experience. As before, older game characters move forward into the new environment.

Snap Shot is Ready for Battle with Escaped Baddies.

Snap Shot is Ready for Battle with Escaped Baddies.

Crystal Blue Persuasion…
Totem like sparkling crystal icons of Traptanium are the media into which the digital villains are pulled and stored, like flys in amber. Freshly captured baddies can be heard squawking in protest of their confinement in the new portal’s cellblock. They can then be brought back into the screen game reversing their powers for heroic deeds. Traps, like the toy characters, have various elemental designations (Water, Fire, Life) and can be collected separately, swapped as needed to achieve various goals. Traps can also be transported to a friend’s house, bringing with you the powerful players you’ve subdued.

Tablet Starter Pack Contents Revealed (Photo Courtesy of Activision)

Tablet Starter Pack Contents Revealed (Photo Courtesy of Activision)

Keeping Tabs…
In addition to the expanded game play of the Trap Team, Activision has just announced a major move into the world of tablet apps. Offering all the power of its console versions Skylanders Trap Team will be available to tablet users through a hardware starter kit and downloadable app.

Supported Tablets are:
Apple iPad 3rd Generation, iPad 4th Generation, iPad Mini Retina, iPad Air
Kindle Fire HDX (7” & 8.9”)
Google Nexus 7 (2013)
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro (8.4”, 10.1”, 12.2”)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S (8.4”, 10.5”)
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014), Galaxy Note Pro 12.2

Activision Says…
“The Skylanders Trap Team Tablet Starter Pack gives fans everything they need for a rich gameplay experience wherever and whenever they want to play. Tablet players will experience the Skylanders Trap Team innovation through a Bluetooth© version of the Traptanium Portal and Bluetooth© controller. They can also play the full game on their tablets using touch controls and two digital Skylanders characters and two digital Traps.”

SkeletonPete Says…
Developing the Skylanders gaming platform for portable tablet was an Activision stroke of genius. Giving us access on such a wide range of iOS and Android devices, along with same date as console launch (Oct 5, 2014) availability, will surely keep Skylanders a top of the heap gift for the upcoming holiday season.