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As we enter one of the most unusually competitive holiday seasons in recent memory, despite the closure of Toys "R" Us in the U.S., parents and other gift-givers have more options than ever for where to by toys. Local toy stores still exist, and one company that's been around for a few decades is Learning Express. While it might be a chain with around 110 locations, each store is a local, family-owned franchise that's catered to the communities that they serve. That means that while each store may be a little different, they're all focused on delivering what kids want. Staffed by toy experts that can demonstrate the latest toys as they stay on top of current trends, they also offer a personal touch with services like holiday and birthday registries, free gift-wrapping, in-store pick-up and a host of regular events (which I've taken my girls to on occasion). In addition to launching their 2018 Holiday Catalog, Learning Express has named their Holiday Hot Toys of 2018, so it's time to take a look...

It's been an incredible (and unusual) year for toys, and as I happened to come across a small selection of FAO Schwarz-branded toys at Kohl's this past weekend, I was reminded that one piece of news that many have been waiting for is the full details on the opening of the new FAO Schwarz flagship store in New York City. Today, we know that November 16, 2018 will be the official opening date of the NYC store located at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. The new store will feature over 20,000 square feet of FAO Schwarz signature toys and items from partners such as Melissa & Doug, Marvin's Magic and Build-A-Bear as well as FAO Schweetz in partnership with IT'SUGAR. But that's not all...

In the midst of the always-unfolding saga of Toys "R" Us here in the U.S., this little bit of awesome flew under my radar until this morning. In a beautiful, 12-minute video that was published just as news was coming in that Geoffrey, LLC was cancelling the IP auction for Toys "R" Us and plotting some sort of return, Sculpture_Geek (Chris Vierra) pays tribute to Charles Lazarus' iconic mascot, Geoffrey Giraffe by sculpting him in Chavant, oil-based clay. After 70 years, was the story really over, or was it just beginning? Check out Chris' impressive work in the video below!

Thursday, September 13 2018 12:08

Kid CEO? Toys 'R' Us China has a New Army...

While Toys "R" Us is currently dead here in the States, Geoffrey lives on in other parts of the world, including China. What's of concern right now is that a growing battle between a couple of the very companies responsible for the swift collapse of TRU here in the States (led by Solus Alternative Asset Management, because "Soulless" was too obvious a name) may put the entire Asian operation at risk due to a fight over the use of the Toys "R" Us name. In the meantime, it's business as usual in the Far East, and the folks at Toys "R" Us China just wrapped their hunt for a "small CEO." Actually, about 150 of them - children dubbed as Honorary "Chief Experience Officers."

"Generations of children around the world have grown up with deep emotional connections to Mattel's brands and characters. There are so many stories to be told and so many imaginations to be captured by these iconic brands..." -- Robbie Brenner, Executive Producer, Mattel Films

There's a lot to be said about controlling your own properties and guiding their destiny. Marvel has done it... Hasbro has done it... now Mattel wants to do it. After years of bouncing projects around between various stages of development at numerous studios, Mattel has announced the creation of Mattel Films, a new division of the Company focused on developing and producing motion pictures based on the Company's iconic and globally-recognized franchises. Academy Award-nominated producer Robbie Brenner has been appointed to lead Mattel Films as Executive Producer, reporting to Ynon Kreiz, Mattel's Chairman and CEO.

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As the saga of Toys "R" Us here in the United States just continues to drone along, it appears that the much-anticipated June 18th intellectual property auction has failed to happen. As filed on June 11, an extension was being sought that would place the auction on August 6, dragging things out for nearly two more months. Up north, however, things are looking bright for the folks at Toys "R" Us Canada, and they've wasted no time in getting things back to fun - welcoming customers with a message that they're "here to play, here to stay!"  With that comes a search for a "fun, energetic tween who loves to play with toys" as TRU Canada kicks off the search for its next Chief Play Officer (CPO). As the spokesperson for Canada's leading dedicated toy product retailer, the CPO is the toy expert for Toys "R" Us Canada and gets to share expert recommendations on the hottest toys and trends with parents and gift-givers from coast-to-coast.

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