'FAMILYFUN,' F.A.O. SCHWARZ LINK UP: 'STORE WITHIN A STORE' SHOWCASES WINNERS IN MAGAZINE'S TOY CONTEST

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FamilyFun and F.A.O. Schwarz are teaming up on a "store within a store" showcasing the 63 winners and finalists of the FamilyFun Toy of the Year awards.

The winners of the sixth annual competition will appear in the November issue of FamilyFun. They also will be officially announced at an event at F.A.O. Schwarz Oct. 22. Those toys will be grouped inside the FamilyFun Toy of the Year Award Winners Shop at the 135-year-old toy retailer's flagship store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

'PLEASED' TO JOIN FORCES

"We're pleased to be working with F.A.O. Schwarz for several reasons," said Kim MacLeod, VP-group publisher of Walt Disney Co.'s FamilyFun and Disney Magazine. "The annual Toy of the Year awards have become the kid-tested seal of approval for toys, and that benefits the moms in this country who buy toys. This partnership marries one of the country's most prestigious toy retailers with" the parent-oriented FamilyFun.

The FamilyFun shop will remain open for three months in the newly renovated and expanded 65,000-square-foot flagship store. Copies of the magazine's November issue, containing the list of winners, also will be on sale there.

Official winning products will carry a FamilyFun Toy Award medallion sticker at the store.

This year marks the first time the magazine has partnered with F.A.O. Schwarz.

"We're excited about the partnership," said Bill Miller, exec VP-marketing and planning at F.A.O. Schwarz. "It gives parents a real guide as to what kids like and which new toys are going to be successful. People look to F.A.O. Schwarz as the authority on toys. This helps us to give trusted advice to people who are looking for gifts for kids."

KIDS JUDGE TOYS

Toy of the Year is awarded in several categories in four different age groups. The premise for the awards was based on the idea that no one else was judging toys based on the people who were using them.

FamilyFun approached the Kindercare childcare chain, which agreed to participate in the testing-550 kid judges at eight testing sites tried out 380 toys over a one-month period.

"We always like to go to the experts for advice no matter what we're working on," Ms. MacLeod said.

Some 32,000 hours and 530 batteries later, 63 finalists emerged.

How accurate is FamilyFun in predicting the next hot toy?

"We were the first predictor of Tickle Me Elmo," Ms. MacLeod said of last

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