TIME Retail

Lego Has Unveiled a New Avengers Play Set and It Costs More Than an Xbox One

The set comes with a whopping 2,996 pieces

Lego has announced that at next month’s Toy Fair in New York City it will debut a new play set based on The Avengers movie that will retail at $349.99 — that’s $1 more than Microsoft’s Xbox One console.

The 2-ft.-long S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, seen in The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier movies, comes with a whopping 2,996 pieces and includes two runways, three Quinjets (Avengers-style aircraft), several other jets, ground vehicles and 12 microfigures of The Avengers characters, Variety reports.

But it seems people are willing to shell out for the heavy price tag; Lego’s Death Star set from Star Wars is going for $400 and is currently sold out on the company’s website.

[Variety]

TIME Pop Culture

How Frisbees Got Off the Ground

1966, ENGLAND, FRISBEE TREND
Frisbees were a trend in 1966 in England Gamma-Keystone / Getty Images

Jan. 23, 1957: The Wham-O toy company releases the Frisbee

Fred Morrison never liked the name “Frisbee,” but he stopped complaining after sales began to soar.

The flying disc was Morrison’s invention, first sold by the Wham-O toy company on this day, Jan. 23, in 1957 — as the “Pluto Platter.” Wham-O changed the name the following year as a misspelled homage to the popular New England pastime of tossing around pie tins from Connecticut’s Frisbie Pie Company.

Fifty years later, Morrison recalled his initial displeasure, telling the Press-Enterprise of Riverside, California, “I thought the name was a horror. Terrible.”

“Frisbee” was only the latest in a series of brandings for the idea, although it happened to be the one that became a household name. When Morrison first fell for flying discs, it was 1937 and he was 17, tossing the lid of a popcorn container to the girl he would later marry. The future Mrs. Morrison — Lucile Nay, better known as Lu — shared his love of lid-throwing. Soon they upgraded to cake pans, which flew better, as he explained to the Virginian-Pilot newspaper in 2007.

The idea of improving on the cake pan — and perhaps turning a profit — was born the next year, when a stranger saw Fred and Lu tossing one back and forth at the beach and offered them a quarter for it. “That got the wheels turning,” Morrison told the Pilot, “because you could buy a cake pan for five cents, and if people on the beach were willing to pay a quarter for it, well — there was a business.”

The business got off the ground with what Morrison called the “Flyin’ Cake Pan.” He retooled the disc’s design and renamed it several times, producing models called the “Whirlo-Way” and the “Flyin’ Saucer” before landing on the “Pluto Platter.”

Although he didn’t quit his day job — first as a carpenter, then a building inspector in L.A. — Morrison was an inventor above all, as his 2010 New York Times obituary made clear. He sold two other creations to Wham-O: the Crazy Eight Bowling Ball and the Popsicle Machine (a mold for freezing juice), although neither quite reached Frisbee-level success. He was a natural salesman as well, and would hawk the Pluto Platter at fairgrounds, demonstrating the disc’s unwavering flight.

The people couldn’t resist. As TIME recounted in a 1972 story about “froupies” — Frisbee groupies — the reason behind their popularity may be a deep one:

Dr. Stancil Johnson, a long-haired Santa Monica psychiatrist who serves as Frisbee’s official historian, has an apparently sober explanation for the disks’ popularity. They are, he says, “the perfect marriage between man’s greatest tool—his hand—and his greatest dream —to fly.”

And the name didn’t hurt. Although he initially hated calling his toy a Frisbee, Morrison reversed his stance after royalties from its sales made him a millionaire, according to the Los Angeles Times. “I wouldn’t change the name of it for the world,” he said then.

Read about the time the Navy tried to use Frisbees as military tools—and failed—here in the TIME Vault: The Frisbee Fiasco

TIME Body Image

See How One Artist Dramatically Changes Bratz Dolls to Look Like Real Girls

Artist Sonia Singh is giving them a much needed make-under

Tree Change Dolls

When examining a Bratz doll, you might notice the toy resembles a weirdly sexy lady-alien with plumped-up lips rather than the 12-year-old girl she is marketed to.

Frustrated by this trend, Tasmanian artist Sonia Singh went to local thrift shops with a mission to find dolls that were in need of a very necessary make-under.

“These lil fashion dolls have opted for a ‘tree change,’ swapping high-maintenance glitz ‘n’ glamour for down-to-earth style,” Singh writes on her Tumblr.

Singh repaints their faces, re-conditions their hair, molds them new shoes and then dresses them in clothing sewn and knit by her mother.

The change is dramatic:

Tree Change Dolls
Tree Change Dolls
Tree Change Dolls
Tree Change Dolls

In the spirit of supporting positive body image and women’s rights, Singh tells TIME she is asking supporters to donate to the International Women’s Development Agency. She’s also planning to start selling the “rescued and rehabilitated” dolls on Etsy. And if the recent success of realistic Barbie alternatives is any indication, she will be very successful.

In November, artist Nicolas Lamm began shipping out the Lammily doll, which is essentially a Barbie recreated with the CDC’s measurements of an average 19-year-old woman. More than 13,621 backers contributed more than $500,000 to his crowd-funding campaign, ordering more some 19,000 dolls.

“I wanted to show that reality is cool,” Lamm told TIME.. “And a lot of toys make kids go into fantasy, but why don’t they show real life is cool? It’s not perfect, but it’s really all we have. And that’s awesome.”

See the updated Bratz dolls here.

TIME Toys

These Are the Toys Kids Will Be Screaming for in 2015

Frozen toy castle Lego

This year's new films will provide most of the fodder for Santa Claus in December

As anyone who has ever handed over a credit card at Hamleys or FAO Schwarz already knows, toys aren’t just fun and games — they’re big business. Which is why the 260 exhibitors at the London Toy Fair, which runs from Jan. 20 to Jan. 22, are keen to promote the Next Big Thing in the toy world. The Toy Fair is now in its 62nd year, and each year it showcases thousands of new toys, which will also be available in the U.S. and around the world, to retailers looking to stock their shelves. And for a hint of what’s to come, take a look at the box office.

Just a few steps into the exhibition, visitors quickly see that the toy industry expects Minions will be everywhere in 2015. Everywhere one turned, Minion-related toys and products appeared. The small, yellow creatures from the Despicable Me franchise are getting their own film this summer and toy companies are clearly banking on the characters being fresh on kids’ minds — and wishlists.

Rory Partis, a senior account manager for NPD Group, which does market analysis for the toy industry, says that “the toy market can be very unpredictable,” and pre-judging which products will be best-sellers can be tricky. Yet looking at past trends can some clue as to what kids are after — and which toys will fall in line with those desires.

MORE The All-TIME 100 Greatest Toys

In 2014, toy sales in the U.K. saw a 4.4 percent increase from the previous year, with around £3 billion ($4.5 billion USD) spent on some 416 million toy products. Based on sales figures from last year, the Minions-push makes sense: according to research from NPD, 28 percent of 2014’s sales were toys that were licensed from a franchise.

And Minions-themed products weren’t the only toys with a film tie-in on show. The fair also displays the winners of the annual Best New Toy Awards, in which a panel of independent toy retailers appraises the crop of new toys, predicting which products are most likely to be best-sellers. The winners, which fair coordinator Majen Immink, describes as the “hot launches” for 2015, included movie-themed toys such as Lego’s Minecraft: The Dungeon set, Hasbro’s Jurassic World Growlers collection and Hornby Hobbies’ Corgi James Bond Aston Martin DB5 model.

A representative from toy giant Lego also told TIME that the company is also expecting big things from its Ninjago sets, which are tied to the cartoon series Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu. The fourth season of the cartoon will launch this year and a film, from the co-writers of The Lego Movie, is in the works for 2016.

Nerf N-Strike Modulus ECS-10 Blaster Hasbro

Hasbro’s new products for 2015 include licensed toys from the Marvel’s Avengers and the Transformers franchises. The company will be releasing Optimus Prime Mega Step, a toy car that transforms into the beloved character. Then there are the Iron Man Arc FX Gloves, a pair of wearable gloves with motion-activated technology. Non-film related toys that Hasbro thinks will be hits this year include the Nerf N-Strike Modulus ECS-10 Blaster, which kids can customize with additional kits, and the Furreal Friend’s JJ My Jumping Pug, a Big Eyes-esque toy dog that can jump on its hind legs. The latter also bagged a spot on the fair’s Best New Toys list.

Iron Man Arc FX Gloves Hasbro

Noticeably absent from the fair were toys tied to an upcoming film which targets girls specifically. The big films represented in the displays were, again, Minions, but also Big Hero 6 and Age of Ultron, while representatives were quick to note their upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Jurassic World-themed products. Of course, girls can and do enjoy action and adventure films — and their affiliated toys — but products tied to franchises with inspiring leading ladies didn’t appear to be plentiful.

So it wasn’t all that surprising to see a smorgasboard of Frozen-themed toys on display at the fair. Everything from Frozen jewelry, hair accessories, hula hoops, backpacks, plush toys, stationary and figurines were showcased, despite the fact that the film was released in 2013. NPD’s Partis tells TIME that “Frozen has slightly bucked the trend of a [traditional] movie license,” which sees strong sales when the movie is released and another bump when the DVD is released. Yet Frozen drove a significant portion of sales last year, as the number one license for 2014. In the U.S. alone, NPD estimates that Frozen led to $531 million in toy sales.

Toy industry insiders are clearly expecting the trend to continue. Lego’s new Disney Princess Elsa’s Sparkling Ice Castle was chosen as one of the fair’s Best New Toys and Lego spokeswoman Corinna Henson predicts it will be popular “without a shadow of doubt.” Yet even when the Frozen mania does eventually subside, there will be plenty of more kids movies and franchises to license out.

Read next: See How One Artist Dramatically Changes Bratz Dolls to Look Like Real Girls

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME technology

12 Things to Know If You Got a Drone for Christmas

The FAA releases FAQs for UAVs

Today’s distinguished youths have Christmas present palates far too refined to enjoy infantilizing Frozen paraphernalia.

“It’s that time of year when kids of all ages will receive presents for the holidays,” begins an FAA PSA released Monday. “Many will be excited when they unwrap the box and find an unmanned aircraft.”

Ah, drones. The gift for the kid who has almost everything.

There have been numerous reports that drones are the it-gift of the season. And so the FAA released an educational video as part of its Know Before You Fly campaign that, as TechCrunch very accurately puts it, is “the least interesting drone video you’ll ever see.”

“Make sure you stay off the naughty list,” the FAA preaches as half-hearted animations explain proper flying rules — stay under 400 ft. and away from airports and people’s faces, for instance.

While drones have done many good things this year (like that time they delivered bottle service to good samaritans at Las Vegas poolside clubs), they have also proven a wee bit dangerous (like that time a mistletoe carrying drone accidentally chopped off the tip of someone’s nose at a TGI Friday’s in Brooklyn.)

Merry Christmas, everyone.

TIME technology

The 5 Hottest Toys Americans Are Searching for Right Now

Operations Inside A Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Location Ahead Of Black Friday
A Microsoft Xbox One game console at a Wal-Mart ahead of Black Friday in Los Angeles on Nov. 24, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Disney’s ‘Frozen,’ Xbox One and the Skylanders game set to be among the top sellers this year

The upcoming holiday shopping season is crucial for the $22-billion U.S. toy industry, and early data suggests Disney’s “Frozen,” as well as electronics such as Xbox One and the Skylanders game, will be among the top sellers this year.

Data provider Experian Marketing Services has given Fortune a look at the hottest toy searches for the week ended Nov. 22, and “Frozen” handily tops the list. With the Christmas holiday just a little over four weeks away, consumers who wait too long could find it challenging to scoop up some of the top sellers.

“The holiday shopping season [is] more and more condense,” said Jim Silver, editor-in-chief of toy-focused website TTPM.com. It used to last 12 weeks, and then eight, he added. “Now it is a five-week season.”

Silver estimates that last year as many as 50 toys were sold out at some point during the holiday season, as retailers can find it challenging to restock shelves so quickly. But many of those supply shortages were temporary, and no one item became impossible to find. Retail executives at chains such as Toys ‘R’ Us say they are well positioned after months of merchandise planning to ensure they can meet demand.

Roughly half of all Americans plan to buy toys as gifts this year, according to a recent Nielsen poll of more than 2,200 adults. Alhough that indicates there will be a lot of interest, observers such as Fitch Ratings have said toy promotions will remain intense, as traditional brick-and-mortar retailers such as Toys ‘R’ Us compete with online retailers, including Amazon AMZN -0.89% .

Here are five toys that are dominating America’s search engines just a few days before the holiday season kicks into high gear.

Activision Blizzard’s ‘Skylanders’ videogame property has been a hot seller since its debut in 2011.
Courtesy of Activision Publishing, Inc.

1. Frozen

Walt Disney’s “Frozen” leads Experian’s list, with the search term “Frozen dolls” gaining 181% in popularity on a week-over-week basis. “Frozen” is so popular that interest in the princess line has topped Barbie, the first time the fashion doll didn’t top the National Retail Federation’s holiday “Top Toys” survey in its 11-year history. Disney, which owns the “Frozen” property, benefits most from this craze though Mattel, and Jakks Pacific will also see stronger sales for the brand as they manufactured the dolls, costumes and other items based on the popular film. Retailers are also ready to meet demand (Toys ‘R’ Us, for example, has 250 “Frozen” items on its website).

2. Dareway

Scooters often turn in a strong holiday performance and this year is no exception, as a $200 scooter called the Dareway ranks as the second most popular toy search. The Dareway looks like a mini-Segway and is designed for kids that weigh 89 pounds or less. Famosa, the toy maker behind the Dareway, claims the toy is essentially a hybrid–mixing features of a scooter and ride-on-cars. The item first hit shelves two weeks ago and has already sold out three times (it was supposed to come to market earlier in the year, but had some issues getting imported from Spain). Toy experts have pointed out that scooters remain a popular toy as they encourage kids to play outdoors.

3. Skylanders Trap Team

Activision Blizzard’s “Skylanders” videogame property has been a hot seller ever since its debut in 2011, and each year the franchise is expanded with a new line of physical collectible toys that can interact with a video game. Though the technology that Activision first developed has led to knock offs by Nintendo and Disney, this list indicates Activision’s line remains the most popular. Searches for the “Skylanders Trap Team” have risen 30% for the latest week, Experian said. The newest version of the franchise has games available for traditional consoles such as the PlayStation and the Wii, as well as mobile versions for Android, iOS and Fire OS.

4. Max Tow Truck

Among the top five toys, only the Max Tow Truck is new to the scene. It ranked 4th on Experian’s latest list, but wasn’t among the top 10 hottest searches in the prior week. That suggests that interest has notably spiked for this toy, a truck that costs about $60. Made by Jakks Pacific, the truck can pull and push up to 200 pounds and is stocked at all the major toy retailers. Of course, Jakks also developed an app for this toy.

5. Xbox One

The Xbox One made headlines late last month when a special promotion touted a $50 limited-time price cut to the console, bringing the price down to $349 for the holiday season. The price cut could be generating greater interest in the console, though searches tumbled 47% from the prior week. And while PlayStation 4 hasn’t generated as many searches as the Xbox One, the former device has been selling better. The PlayStation 4 has reportedly sold 13.5 million units through September, while the International Business Times said there are estimates that around 5 million Xbox One units have been sold. (Microsoft doesn’t release sales data for the Xbox One.)

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Toys

Find Out Which Holiday Toy Is Most Popular in Your State

eBay made a map that tracks trending toys

As the holidays approach, eBay decided to make the torture that is toy shopping slightly easier by creating an interactive map that identifies the most popular toys in every state. (Because you know kids want to stay on trend this holiday season).

While California is all about the video game Call of Duty, North Carolina kids lean more towards Frozen-themed puzzle sets. Click on your state in the interactive map below to see the most popular gifts near you:

The information was gathered based on the number of items sold on eBay per state during the week of Nov. 10.

More: The Top 10 Toys of 2014

MONEY Shopping

You May Already Be Too Late for the Hottest Holiday Toys

141210_EM_HottestToys
If your kid wants Disney's Frozen Castle & Ice Palace Playset, let's hope you bought it already. Richard Drew—AP

Favorites from Frozen, Legos, and more are gone from store shelves or going fast. Expect to pay up if you don't want to disappoint.

If you still have Disney’s Frozen Castle and Ice Palace Playset on your holiday gift list this year, you may already be out of luck.

With Christmas approaching, the $119 toy—made by Mattel Inc—is sold out. Of course, you can find it at resellers for about $225 and even as high as $700 on eBay. There are still plenty of other Frozen-themed toys available—but only for now.

Industry analysts, poring over results from the Thanksgiving holiday week, say the hottest 25 toys have already hit their price lows and will only get more expensive as Christmas nears and the remaining inventory flies off stores’ shelves.

The silver lining? Retailers made a huge bet on toy inventory this holiday season—ordering twice as many shipments of Legos as last year, for instance, according to research firm Panjiva.

Expect fierce price competition at major retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Target Corp, which carry thousands of toys, notes Jim Silver, editor-in-chief of Time to Play Magazine.

“There will be huge promotions going on,” he predicts.

The sales will not be nationwide shopping events like Black Friday, but will pop up sporadically, culminating in major sales on Dec. 20, the Saturday before Christmas which experts expect to be an extremely heavy shopping day.

“One by one, either loudly or quietly, they will be rolling out some amazing deals,” says Panjiva CEO Josh Green.

Early Birds Get Hot Toys

Consumers love sales, but Silver notes they may be very disappointed if they can’t find the hottest toys.

Besides the sold-out Frozen Castle, there are 12 to 15 items which are currently hard to find, including the Max Tow Truck. It is listed currently around $128 on Amazon.com, depending on color—well above its list price of $59.99. Another hot item is the Imaginext Supernova Battle Rover—currently available for $109.99 at Toys R Us, slightly below the list price of $119.

There are also about 25 to 30 toys that will sell out in the next two weeks, Silver says, especially the most popular new toys in the Lego, Barbie, My Little Pony, FurReal Friend, and Nerf lines.

Toys with a movie or popular culture tie-in drive demand, while interactive pets tend to be short-lived fads (think Zhu Zhu Pets or Furby).

“There are clear bets by retailers—orders for Frozen toys and My Little Pony toys are up massively versus 2013,” says Green.

Most hot toys hit their price lows on Cyber Monday, according to data firm MarketTrack. This year, for example, the FurReal Friend Get Up & GoGo dog, which has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $59.99, was being offered for $49.99 at most stores in early November. It went down to $39 just before Thanksgiving and hit $27 on Amazon on Cyber Monday.

The very next day, the dog, which responds to commands from a remote-control leash, was back up to $39. The price is now fluctuating at most stores because of limited supply.

Similarly, the My Little Pony Friendship Rainbow Kingdom Playset, which lists at $39.99, was on sale for $35 at Target on Black Friday and bottomed out at $19.99 on Cyber Monday on Amazon for a half-price sale. It is now back up to $34 at Wal-Mart and Toys R Us.

What should shoppers do if they want the hottest toys?

“Grab the hot items early and then get bargain toys when you can,” Silver says. But you may have to wait until next year to employ this strategy.

 

TIME

Scooters Leading Cause of Toy-Related Injuries This Christmas

Young boy riding scooter
Jill Tindall—Getty Images

Toys are leaping off the shelves faster than ever now that we’ve officially entered the holiday season, but a new study finds that many toys cause serious injury to children. The study, out Dec. 1, from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, found that an estimated 3,278,073 kids in the United States were treated in emergency rooms after suffering toy-related injuries from 1990-2011. Even more alarming, every three minutes a child was treated for a toy-related injury in the year 2011 alone.

Toys foster imaginative learning and creativity, but parents may want to consider the types of toys their children are playing with. Study researchers found that the rate of toy-related injury rose by about 40 percent between 1990 and 2011–– in part because of the increased popularity of foot-powered scooters. From 2000 onward, there was an estimated one toy-related injury every 11 minutes, and children who were injured thanks to scooters were three times more likely to break or dislocate a bone.

“All children should use safety precautions when using a scooter or other riding toys,” says Dr. Gary Smith, study author and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy. “The first three safety tips I give for preventing injuries on those toys are: 1. Wear a helmet. 2. Wear a helmet. 3. Wear a helmet. Buy a scooter, buy a helmet.” He notes that any adult planning on giving a scooter to a child should also make sure to get a helmet that fits. And take worthwhile precautions: only ride scooters on flat, dry surfaces away from motor vehicle traffic.

Hundreds of toys are recalled every year for being defective (Mattel alone recalled 19 million toys back in 2007), and there are numerous other ways kids can inadvertently injure themselves while playing –– from choking on a Lego to getting hit with a rogue baseball. Yet, researchers found that falls and collisions (as opposed to other injuries such as ingestion or aspiration) were the most frequent cause of toy-related injuries among children in all age groups. Falls accounted for 46 percent and collisions were responsible for 22 percent of injuries.

While more than half of toy injuries are sustained by children younger than five, injuries due to riding toys like scooters were shown to increase later into childhood. A whopping 42 percent of injuries in children ages 5 to 17 were attributed to scooter, tricycle or wagon accidents, while only 28 percent of injuries in children under five were attributed to these ride-along toys. (Though, it’s worth noting, that young children are at an increased risk for swallowing or ingesting small toy parts.)

So, how can parents protect their children from toy-related injuries this holiday season? “First, follow a toy’s age restrictions and any other guidelines from the manufacturer,” says Smith. “If a package label says that children younger than 3 years of age should not use the toy inside, it often means that the toy poses a choking risk to young children because of small parts. In addition, parents should check the website, Recalls.gov, to be sure that toys they already own have not been recalled, especially since there have been hundreds of toy recalls in the last decade.”

For more parenting stories and advice on raising a child in today’s world, check out the new TIME for Family subscription.

MONEY Shopping

Barbie Is No Longer the Most Popular Girl at the Toy Store

Disney Frozen Snow Glow Elsa and Disney Frozen Sparkle Doll
Anthony Harvey—Getty Images

Princesses Elsa and Anna will now share the crown

For the first time in over a decade, Barbie is no longer the most popular girls’ toy of the holiday season, the National Retail Federation reports. This year, that honor will go to the stars of Disney’s blockbuster movie Frozen, princesses Elsa and Anna.

One in five parents say they plan to buy Elsa and Anna merchandise for their daughters, the NRF’s survey found. Just 16.8% plan to buy Barbie dolls.

“It is no surprise that Disney’s Frozen has taken the top seat as children have had it on the mind as far back as Halloween,” saidPam Goodfellow, consumer insights director at Prosper Insights & Analytics.

MORE: The new “normal” Barbie comes with an average woman’s measurements—and optional stretch marks

For decades, critics have suggested that Barbie dolls promote negative body image and sexist stereotypes. Disney’s Frozen, on the other hand, has been praised for its strong female leads.

The latest reason some parents might prefer the Frozen sisters? Controversy over Barbie’s career. In a recent book, Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer, Barbie was portrayed as an incompetent worker who needed boys’ help with everything. VP of Barbie’s Global Brand Marketing Lori Pantel told TIME that the book was published in 2010 and that “since that time we have reworked our Barbie books.”

For now, Elsa is queen. Barbie’s just going to have to let it go.

Related:

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