2019 Toy of the Year (TOTY) Award Finalists Unveiled

Over 100 Innovative and Exciting Toys & Games Are the Judges’ Top Picks for the Holiday Season

The Toy Association has unveiled the 123 finalists for the prestigious 2019 Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards. Known as the “Oscars” of the toy industry, the TOTY Awards program recognizes the top toy, game, and licenses in the industry, and supports children in need by serving as a critical fundraiser for The Toy Foundation.link-banner

Finalists were announced by prominent online influencers who serve as TOTY Ambassadors. Between now and January 6, families can visit www.ToyAwards.org to vote for their favorite playthings in each of the 17 categories, including Action Figure of the Year, Innovative Toy of the Year, and Collectible of the Year. [SEE FINALISTS BELOW]

One winner in each category, as well as the coveted “Toy of the Year” award winner and the “People’s Choice” winner (based solely on consumer votes), will be announced at the TOTY Awards gala to be held on Friday, February 15, 2019 at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in TOTY19LogoNew York City. The celebration will kick-off the 116th North American International Toy Fair and will include the induction of toy industry trailblazers into the esteemed Toy Industry Hall of Fame.

If you’re wondering what to get the kids and ‘kidadults’ in your life this holiday season, this year’s TOTY finalists are the hottest toys and games on the market. Whether you are looking for a doll, a board game, or the latest youth electronics, you’ll find great gift ideas for children of all ages. Every one of the TOTY finalists has been carefully screened by judges for its outstanding ability to deliver joy and wonder while facilitating key developmental benefits of play,” said Steve Pasierb, The Toy Association’s president & CEO.

Importantly, the TOTY Awards program supports The Toy Foundation’s important mission focused on serving children in need – whether they are living in foster care, impoverished, dealing with a traumatic or life-threatening illness, or facing other adversities,” added Pasierb.

The finalists were selected from more than 550 nominees submitted by over 200 companies of all sizes. Nineteen judges, including toy and play experts, retailers, academics, and journalists, reviewed and ranked the products in specific categories relevant to their areas of expertise. The judges then participated in a live discussion to determine the finalists in each category. They considered each product’s creativity, design, play value, and marketing.

ACTION FIGURE OF THE YEAR: Toys that include action figures

Mattel Jurassic WorldΓäó Dinosaur Action Figures

Mattel Jurassic WorldΓäó Dinosaur Action Figures

  • DJ Bumblebee (Hasbro, Inc.)
  • Mattel Jurassic World™ Dinosaur Action Figures (Mattel, Inc.)
  • Pokémon 4.5″ Battle Feature Figures (Wicked Cool Toys)
  • Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Deluxe Ninja Action Figure Assortment (Playmates Toys)
  • Stikbot Monsters (Zing)
  • Treasure X (Moose Toys)
  • WWE® Sound Slammers™ Figures (Mattel, Inc.)

COLLECTIBLE OF THE YEAR: Toys that compose a set and can be collected in multiples; can include novelty playthings, miniature versions of existing lines, licensed collectibles, etc.

Beaker CreaturesΓäó

Beaker Creatures™ (Learning Resources)

  • Beaker Creatures™ (Learning Resources)
  • Disney Doorables (Moose Toys)
  • LEGO® Harry Potter™ and Fantastic Beasts™ Minifigure Series (LEGO Systems, Inc.)
  • L.O.L. Surprise! Eye Spy Series (MGA Entertainment)
  • Lost Kitties Blind Box Multipack Assortment (Hasbro, Inc.)
  • Pikmi Pops: Pikmi Flips (Moose Toys)
  • Polly Pocket (Mattel, Inc.)
  • Twisty Petz (Spin Master)

CONSTRUCTION TOY OF THE YEAR: Toys that include building and engineering sets

  • Gears! Gears! Gears! Machines in Motion (Learning Resources)
  • GeoSmart Flip Bot (SMART Toys and Games, Inc.)
  • GraviTrax Starter Set (Ravensburger)
  • Kessel Run Millennium Falcon™ (LEGO Systems, Inc.)
  • LEGO® Harry Potter™ Great Hall™ (LEGO Systems, Inc.)
  • Marbleocity Triple Play Archimedes Screw (PlayMonster)
  • Snap Circuits BRIC: Structures (Elenco)

CREATIVE TOY OF THE YEAR: Toys that allow kids to build an/or make items that are unique to them

Avengers Hero Inventor Kit

Avengers Hero Inventor Kit

  • Antsy Pants Build & Play Kit (Beach House Group)
  • Avengers Hero Inventor Kit (littleBits)
  • Building Bricks Play N Store Table (KidKraft)
  • Cool Maker KumiKreator (Spin Master)
  • Rock And Roll It Spectrum Drum (MukikiM LLC)
  • Sew + Glow (Tech Will Save Us)
  • The Big Engineering Makerspace (Thames & Kosmos)

DOLL OF THE YEAR: Toys that include baby, toddler, and fashion dolls

Barbie ® Ibtihaj Muhammad Doll

Barbie® Ibtihaj Muhammad Doll (Mattel, Inc.)

  • Barbie® Ibtihaj Muhammad Doll (Mattel, Inc.)
  • Barbie® Robotics Engineer Doll (Mattel, Inc.)
  • Cry Babies (IMC Toys)
  • DreamWorks Spirit Riding Free Deluxe Spirit Walking Horse (Just Play/Universal Brand Development)
  • Hairdorables (Just Play)
  • L.O.L. Surprise! Eye Spy Under Wraps (MGA Entertainment)
  • Marvel Rising Secret Warriors Doll Assortment (Hasbro, Inc.)

    my-friend-fancy-nancyceb3c3a4c3b3-doll.jpg

    My Friend Fancy Nancy™ Doll (JAKKS Pacific)

  • My Friend Fancy Nancy™ Doll (JAKKS Pacific)

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First-of-its-kind Experiential Whisky Retail Store From Johnnie Walker

Johnnie Walker, the world’s No.1 Scotch Whisky, opens its first flagship experiential retail store in Madrid. The exciting new space, which promises to become a leading destination for Scotch lovers and whisky novices alike, plays host to a wide variety of immersive experiences, including whisky appreciation classes and tastings designed to help people explore the world of Johnnie Walker and Scotch.

Johnnie Walker

Johnnie Walker, the world’s No.1 Scotch Whisky, opened its first flagship experiential retail store in Madrid yesterday. The cutting-edge store is located on Calle de Serrano – adjacent to the Puerta de Alcalá – in the fashionable Barrio de Salamanca district of the Spanish capital. (PRNewsfoto/Johnnie Walker)

Visitors will be able to choose from a special collection of Johnnie Walker whiskeys, purchase some of the rarest and most exceptional single malts from which Johnnie Walker is crafted and explore limited edition curated collaborations exclusive to the new store.

Johnnie Walker

The exciting new space, which promises to become a leading destination for Scotch lovers and whisky novices alike, plays host to a wide variety of immersive experiences, including whisky appreciation classes and tastings designed to help people explore the world of Johnnie Walker and Scotch. (PRNewsfoto/Johnnie Walker)

Among the experiences on offer is an interactive hosting area where guests can discover the craft of cocktail making, a tasting table where they can deep dive into the flavors that lie at the heart of Johnnie Walker and a personalization station where people can find unique gifts and add bespoke engravings and labels to purchases.

The cutting-edge store offers virtual experiences such as Discover Scotland through Johnnie Walker allowing visitors to discover Johnnie Walker by taking a tour to the four corners of Scotland, discovering the breathtaking Highlands, the intrigue of the Islands, the lush Lowlands and the secrets of Speyside, culminating in a taste of Johnnie Walker.

Johnnie Walker

Among the experiences on offer is an interactive hosting area where guests can discover the craft of cocktail making, a tasting table where they can deep dive into the flavors that lie at the heart of Johnnie Walker and a personalization station where people can find unique gifts and add bespoke engravings and labels to purchases. (PRNewsfoto/Johnnie Walker)

There will also be seasonal offerings, with a Johnnie Walker cocktail-expert in-store this festive season to demonstrate how you can impress guests with a pairing of frozen Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve and a taste of hand-made, award-winning Scottish chocolate as well as show the cocktails and techniques that will turn your party drinks into showstoppers. Continue reading

Barbie® honors Savannah Guthrie And Hoda Kotb As Role Models With One-Of-A-Kind Dolls

TODAY Show Co-hosts Celebrated as Part of the Barbie Shero Program to Inspire the Next Generation of Girls

Barbie® honors journalists Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb as role models, or “Sheroes,” for breaking boundaries to inspire the next generation of girls. The pair made history as the first female duo to anchor NBC’s TODAY Show in the franchise’s 66-year history. This milestone furthers girls and women alike, as the co-hosts bring a diverse perspective in the newsroom at a time when it’s needed most. Guthrie and Kotb will be awarded one-of-a-kind dolls in their likeness at the Glamour Women of the Year Summit.

Savannah and Hoda OOAK Barbie Dolls

Barbie® honors journalists Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb as role models, or “Sheroes,” for breaking boundaries to inspire the next generation of girls.

This effort is part of the brand’s commitment to showing girls more role models through the Dream Gap Project, an ongoing global initiative to raise awareness around limiting factors that prevent girls from reaching their full potential. Research has shown that starting at the

Mattel Logo

Mattel Logo (PRNewsFoto/Mattel)

age of five, many girls are less likely than boys to view their own gender as smart and begin to lose confidence in their own competence — this is coined the “Dream Gap.”

To help close the Dream Gap, Barbie is committed to highlighting a minimum of 10 role models annually, because showing girls more role models is an effective way to inspire their limitless potential. To date, the brand has surpassed this goal by highlighting more than 20 historical and modern role models in 2018.

As we head into our 60th year, it is important that we continue to shine a light on female role models – or Sheroes as we call them – like Savannah and Hoda, to show girls they can be anything,” said Lisa McKnight, General Manager and Senior Vice President, Barbie. “Savannah and Hoda have modernized morning news and allowed more women and girls to see themselves, and their stories reflected on television.”

At the Glamour Women of the Year Summit, Barbie will honor Guthrie and Kotb on stage and lead a conversation around supporting girls. This is not the first time Barbie has partnered with Glamour, as the brand honored Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first American Olympian to compete while wearing a hijab, and Ashley Graham, model, and body activist, at past Glamour Women of the Year events.

I’m so proud to continue the partnership with Barbie and The Dream Gap, especially in what we at Glamour consider to be the year of the woman,” said editor-in-chief Samantha Barry. “It’s more important than ever to show young girls that nothing is out of reach. These dolls represent a landmark moment for women this year, and I hope to inspire the next generation of women journalists.”

While the co-hosts are gifted one-of-a-kind dolls, young fans can imagine themselves in the newsroom with the Barbie TV News Team Doll set, and play out different roles in other fields with more than 50 career doll options to choose from this holiday season.

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Names Ken-David Masur as its Seventh Music Director

Four-Year Contract Runs through 2022-2023 Season1819_MSO--MusDir--web--hmPromo_1250x410

Following a 36-month international search, Ken-David Masur has been named the seventh Music Director and Polly and Bill Van Dyke Music Director Chair for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO). Masur is currently the associate conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and principal guest conductor of the Munich Symphony. He will begin immediately as Music Director Designate and join the MSO as Music Director for the 2019-2020 season as it builds towards the much anticipated grand opening of the Milwaukee Symphony Center in fall 2020. Masur made his Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra debut on May 19, 2018, and was immediately invited back to open the MSO’s current season in September 2018.

Ken-David_Masur_Credit_Chris_Lee

Ken-David Masur. Photo Credit: Chris Lee

The relationship between the conductor, musicians, and the audience is a magical alchemy,” said Mark Niehaus, president & executive director of the MSO. “Both on and off the podium, Ken-David leads and provokes, but also builds and inspires to create experiences that go beyond the notes on a page. His energy, passion and collaborative nature are the very right fit for the MSO, and also for Milwaukee as its reputation as a culturally vibrant destination continues to Printgrow.

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra is among the finest orchestras in the nation and the largest cultural institution in Wisconsin. The MSO’s musicians perform over 135 classics, pops, family, education, and community concerts each season in venues throughout the state. Since its inception in 1959, the MSO has found innovative ways to give music a home in the region, develop music appreciation and talent among area youth, and raise the national reputation of Milwaukee and its standard of excellence extends beyond the concert hall and into the community, reaching more than 40,000 children and their families through its Arts in Community Education (ACE) program, Youth and Teen concerts, Family Series, and Meet the Music pre-concert talks.

Through a committee composed of board members, donors, and orchestra musicians, the search for the MSO’s seventh Music Director was deliberate and diverse, encompassing candidates from around the globe,” said Doug Hagerman, chairman of the MSO’s Music Director Search Committee. “Ken-David is a once-in-a-generation musician, conductor, and innovator who boasts an impressive resume of accomplishments yet is friendly and approachable. He was unanimously voted to serve as the next Music Director given his artistic brilliance and genuine passion for how the arts can unify people and communities. We are thrilled to welcome Ken-David and his family to Milwaukee.

My family and I are humbled and grateful to join such a fantastic team of orchestra musicians, chorus, staff, and board members who are working in harmony for our audience and community,” said Masur. “In particular, I am inspired by the incredible community-wide collaboration to create the new performance home for the MSO. Having seen the plans and having visited the Warner Grand Theatre myself, it is clear it will become a destination as well as a point of departure for great programming befitting a city and region of this caliber. I’m eager to begin planning the next few seasons, which includes Beethoven’s 250th anniversary, as well as the much-anticipated opening of Milwaukee Symphony Center in the fall of 2020.

Born in Leipzig into a family of musicians, Ken-David Masur first studied violin and piano at the Mendelssohn Bartholdy Conservatory and was a member of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Children’s Chorus. After moving to New York City, he received further training in composition, trumpet, and percussion. He then went on to graduate from Columbia University, where he served as the first Music Director of the Bach Society Orchestra and Chorus from 1999-2002. He returned to Germany for post-graduate studies at the Detmold Academy and the Hanns Eisler Conservatory in Berlin. Masur and his wife, pianist Melinda Lee Masur, are co-founders and Artistic Directors of the Chelsea Music Festival in New York City, an annual summer festival of music, visual art, and food lauded by The New York Times as a “gem of a series.” He received a Grammy nomination from the Latin Recording Academy in the category Best Classical Album of the Year for his work as a producer of composer Miguel Del Aguila’s album, Salon Buenos Aires.

Music allows us to feel what is essential, and through its expression begins a conversation about who we are and where we want to go” continued Masur. “This is why I’m so very excited to start with the MSO and communicate the music that will speak to each listener in personal ways. This is a great American city filled with creativity, imagination, and ideas, and the music we will reveal will spark continued dialogue.

Critics from around the world have hailed Masur as “fearless, bold, and a life-force” (San Diego Union-Tribune) and “a brilliant and commanding conductor with unmistakable charisma” (Leipzig Volkszeitung). Masur began the 2018-19 season making his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia, then returned to Tanglewood to conduct the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Over his career, Masur has made many successful debuts with the likes of the Los Angeles, Dresden, Israel, and Japan Philharmonics; the Hiroshima, San Diego, San Antonio, and Memphis Symphonies; and the Orchestre National de France in Paris. His guest engagements during the 2018-19 season include weeks with the Louisville Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony, and the Chicago Civic orchestra plus concerts abroad with the National Philharmonic of Russia, Collegium Musicum Basel, the Stavanger Symphony, and the Mulhouse Symphony Orchestra in France.

The MSO acquired the former Warner Grand Theater building on West Wisconsin Avenue in December 2017, which, once renovated, will serve as the MSO’s dedicated performance center. The grand opening of the future Milwaukee Symphony Center is expected in the Fall of 2020.

With control over its own venue, along with new revenue streams from facility rental fees, catering and concessions, a dedicated MSO performance space would help drive increases in annual earned revenue by as much as 60 percent. The MSO would also have greater flexibility to schedule marquee guest performers and conductors who typically require substantial multi-year lead notice for performance requests. Once complete, the Milwaukee Symphony Center will deliver a one-of-a-kind, first class patron experience that will create magical, memorable experiences for patrons. Its size, accessible location, outstanding acoustics and more make an ideal canvas to reclaim this historical venue as a modern-day community asset. In addition to restoring its former grandeur, plans for the Milwaukee Symphony Center include a number of community, education and collaboration spaces, ample lit and accessible parking options, onsite catering, easy curb-side drop off/pick up, and more.

More people than ever before are choosing to attend our inspiring performances and there is tremendous community interest in fostering a thriving MSO. Closing on the acquisition of the Warner Grand Theater is a significant step in both our artistic and financial future,” said Niehaus. “We remain humbled and grateful to our donors and the greater Milwaukee community, whose response to this effort to date has been amazing. Together, we are investing in both the MSO and Milwaukee’s reputation as a vibrant, culturally-significant home and destination.”

CRITICAL PRAISE FOR KEN-DAVID MASUR

“…Masur led the [Boston Symphony] orchestra through a neat mix of excerpts from Prokofiev’s ballet “Romeo and Juliet”. Each was given a transparent, eloquent reading…

– Zoë Madonna, The Boston Globe, Oct 19, 2018

Masur and the BSO fully embodied the tension, scampering, scampering, playful fast passagework, and luxuriating unbridled passion; we are the richer for the experience.

-Chasman Kerr Prince, Boston Musical Intelligencer, Oct 19, 2018

Masur and the [Milwaukee Symphony] orchestra filled the program’s second half with a beautifully rendered performance of Brahms’ Symphony No. 2, using perfectly placed tempos shifts, artfully layered textures, and meaningful dynamic changes to bring a fresh energy to the four movements, along with musical urgency and momentum.” – Elaine Schmidt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sept 16, 2018

Under Masur, the music emerged with refined subtleties with only rare and selective moments of heat. What seemed to be a bond of trust between [Milwaukee Symphony] musicians and conductor, and vice versa, created especially sensitive playing.” – Rick Walters, The Shepherd Express, Sep 18, 2018

Masur… steered the [Boston Symphony] orchestra through a piquant journey through those magical, dreamlike passages…

– Clarence Fanto, The Berkshire Eagle, Aug 6, 2018

Conducting without a baton, Masur used a score but hardly looked at it. He showed an impressive structural grasp both in his warm and perfectly paced Andante and in his supple shaping of the score’s wraith-like transition from the Scherzo into the bracing Allegro finale. Masur also highlighted the riveting virtuosity of the [Los Angeles] Phil’s cellos and basses in the Scherzo’s trio section.” – Rick Schultz, Los Angeles Times, Aug 24, 2016

Explore What’s New at Macy’s This Holiday Season

Find new brands and services in stores and online at macys.com

Macy’s gives you peace of mind with flexible shipping and pick-up options in-store, in addition to saving time and energy through the Macy’s app

Engaging experiences on Pinterest and Instagram make shopping more social this season

macyslogoThis holiday season, decking the halls with gifts from Macy’s is easier than ever before. Macy’s is keeping holiday shopping stress-free with a curated selection of the best gifts in-store and online; services and brands that will help keep you and your home looking sharp and entertaining-ready; plus, easier access than ever with the newest in tech and innovation.

New Fashion Brands and Home Collections

Goodful 2.5-Qt. Stainless Steel Whistling Kettle, Created for Macy's

Goodful 2.5-Qt. Stainless Steel Whistling Kettle, Created for Macy’s

Goodful Bedding Collection, 300 Thread Count Hygro Cotton, Created for Macy's

Goodful Bedding Collection, 300 Thread Count Hygro Cotton, Created for Macy’s

Goodful by AeroGarden Harvest Slim Countertop Garden & Gourmet Herbs Seed Kit

Goodful by AeroGarden Harvest Slim Countertop Garden & Gourmet Herbs Seed Kit

Keep wellness top of mind during the holidays with the Goodfulcollection created exclusively for Macy’s. The new product line inspired by Goodful BuzzFeed’s wellbeing and self-care lifestyle brand – provides simple, intentional steps to live better. The collection is designed with freshness in the kitchen, sounder sleep, and mindfulness at the center of the line. Products provide an escape from the routine and include a counter-sized greenhouse for growing herbs at home, an infusion pitcher, temperature-regulating sheets and towels, a variety of kitchenware including pots, pans, gadgets, a hygge-style kettle and more – perfect as gifts or to outfit your home.

Tailor Square Made-To-Measure

Tailor Square Made-To-Measure

Ensure a best-dressed status at every party this season and beyond with Tailor Square Made-To-Measure. The custom-made clothing experience is now at 15 stores, where customers can create a one-of-a-kind suit in their own personal style. Make an appointment with a Tailor Square stylist who will help to select from a curated assortment of luxurious fabrics from around the world. Customers will be able to choose from a range of details including lapels, buttons, linings and more to create custom-made suits, trousers, jackets or shirts. Suits start at $455 and will deliver from start to finish in approximately four weeks.

HOW IT WORKS

  • Meet your personal stylist who will help you select from a curated assortment of luxurious fabrics from around the world.
  • Create custom-made suits, trousers, jackets, and shirts.
  • Choose your preferred details like lapels, buttons, linings and more.
  • Get the perfect fit after our stylist takes meticulous measurements.
  • Visualize exactly how your finished garment will look down to the last details with our in-store app, powered by 3D technology.
  • Finish the look with the perfect accessories.
  • Receive your customized garment in approximately 4 weeks.

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Britain’s Largest Makeup For Men Brand Arrives In Canada & The United States

Britain’s largest makeup for men brand, MMUK MAN, has officially sailed across the Atlantic ocean, to provide its premium men’s cosmetics range in North America. With the growth in makeup for men in recent years and the increasing demand for their cosmetic and skincare products, MMUK MAN has teamed up with online retail store Moda Men, to build its brand awareness and streamline services for its customers based in Canada and the United States. 12737410-moda-men

This award-winning men’s makeup brand offers everything the modern man desires and more, with over 70 luxurious cosmetic products, designed specifically for men’s skin in their range – currently unrivaled by any other male cosmetic house across the globe. MMUK MAN is a trusted brand, used by more than 100,000 gentlemen all around the world, also boasting incredible feedback of their products, highlighted heavily on their 5-star rated Trustpilot page.

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A selection of products in the MMUK men’s make up range.

When asked about their launch, MMUK MAN CEO Alex Dalley states, “We’re incredibly excited to announce the launch of MMUK MAN in Canada and the United States. We’ve put an awful lot of work behind this launch, as we strive to make the brand the number one and most recognized in the world. More and more North American men are picking up their grooming game and with the natural progression leading us into makeup for men – we couldn’t be more in a better place. We continue to help men put their best face forward and providing an exclusive online store where gentlemen can shop in comfort and confidence is just the first step of a huge journey in the rise of male makeup right to the top. Together, we will continue to bulldozer the boundaries of beauty.

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A selection of products in the MMUK men’s make up range. (Visit http://www.modamen.co for details.)

Visit http://www.modamen.co for details.