Silly Bandz selling like hot cakes

May 28, 2010

Silly BandzArticle by Tara George, NY Times.

At Michael Casaren’s toy store in South Orange, children from elementary to high school are coming in every day with their wrists and forearms wrapped in a jumble of silicon bracelets, desperate to buy more.

The bracelets are called silly bandz, and they are today’s kid fad. Sold in packs of 12, for about $2.50, or 24 for about $5, they are organized according to theme: animals, princesses, alphabet, Western, for example. Kids stack them on their wrists and trade them. The coveted ones glow in the dark. On a child’s wrist, they look like brightly colored rubber bands, but laid on a lunchroom table for inspection, they revert to their original shape.

“It’s definitely an obsession,” said Mr. Casaren, whose store, Sparkhouse Kids, has sold out and is awaiting a new shipment of 16 cases.

If Sparkhouse Kids is like other stores throughout the region, those cases will also sell out soon after they land on shelves. Kids call stores wanting to know if new bands are in. Parents ask to be put on waiting lists, or even offer to pay more for first dibs on new arrivals.

Teachers have “sillybanned” them from their classrooms for being a distraction. At the After School Program at Tuscan Elementary School in Maplewood, for instance, students were told they couldn’t trade them any longer because the bands were causing arguments and a few children without them were sneaking them away from those with an abundance of them. But like any good craze, interest among the kids only surged when the toy became contraband, or in this case, “contrabandz.”

“It’s totally viral,” said Wendy Bellermann, a mother of three elementary-school children in Maplewood. “It’s the perfect fad from a retail point of view. They are eminently losable. They break.” She added, “If your friend has the princess kind, then you have to have the princess kind, too.”

The Silly bandz craze was first noticed in Birmingham, Ala., late last year, according to one manufacturer, and has steadily spread up the East Coast. Parts of New Jersey, Long Island and Staten Island first started seeing them in November, and those areas are now gripped by the craze. So far the fad has not erupted in the rest of New York City, but one distributor estimates it will in a few weeks when the large toy stores start selling them.

Though they are referred to generically as “silly bandz” by their young collectors, the same product is made by a handful of competing manufacturers and marketed under the names Silly bandz, Zanybandz, and Crazy bandz.

They are popular with boys and girls alike. Students from kindergarten all the way up to high school collect them. There’s a Facebook page with over 83,000 fans and a whole genre of silly bandz videos on You Tube in which kids show off their collections. eBay hosts a lively online auction of the bands where sets can be snapped up at a discount.

The appeal of Silly bandz lies in their perfect combination of being affordable, collectible and tradeable, says Jackie Breyer, editor in chief of The Toy Book, a magazine based in Manhattan. She said they are reminiscent of the Kooky Klicker pens that were popular last year, as well as the Beanie Babies and Webkinz crazes of yore.

“They’re cool to trade, to collect and fun to play with and everyone is, like, going crazy about them,” said Kaitlin Thomas, 8, of Maplewood, who owns between 70 or 80, some of which were bought with money from her piggy bank. “The penguin and golden retriever are my favorites because everyone says the penguin is rare and I think the golden retriever is cute.”

James Howard, president of Oklahoma-based Zanybandz, said he came up with the idea for the bands in the summer of 2009 when he was visiting China, where he manufactures silicone kitchen products. While there, he noticed some shaped silicone bands that were made as office supplies. He said he figured if he made the shapes “cuter,” his nieces and nephews would love them. They did, so he started manufacturing them.

He says the craze took off in Birmingham, where the Learning Express stores started to sell them. Sales quickly went from 25 packs a month to 7,000 a month.

“Pretty soon we were banned in six school districts there, and after we were banned in the first one there was no looking back,” he said. “Getting banned fuels the craze like a five-gallon can of gasoline on a campfire.”

Mr. Howard saw demand hopskotch from Alabama to Florida, then New Jersey and parts of New York. He now sees it heading West. He said his main rival, Silly bandz, was developing the product simultaneously. Their manufacturer, Brainchild Products, based in Toledo, Ohio, could not be reached for comment.

“We’re in about 10,000 stores now,” Mr. Howard said. “We’re hiring eight people a week (to take orders.) The phones are ringing all the time. We have to remind ourselves that we’re selling rubber bands, not body parts for surgery. So if that person doesn’t get their shipment immediately it’s not the end of the world.”

Joel Schreck, whose company, On The Road Reps, is the East Coast distributor for Zanybandz, says the craze is “every bit as big as Webkinz.” He says in 28 years in the business, he’s seen crazes come and go, but what’s unusual about this one is how intense interest suddenly erupts in pockets in one state, rather than spreading uniformly throughout.

Mr. Schreck noted that enthusiasm for a hot product like this can burn out as quickly, so to keep the kids interested, Zanybandz will be bringing out a new set of themes: Circus, Hollywood and A Day At The Beach, which should be available after April 26.

Sean McGowan, an analyst who tracks the toy industry for Needham and Company, said in a high-tech era when children want iPods and iPads and Wii games, it’s refreshing to see something as simple as this get their attention.

“This is the lowest of technologies,” he said.


Silly Bandz Bracelet Craze: School Ban

May 28, 2010

Silly BandzBy BONNIE ROCHMAN (Time Magazine) – Thu May 27, 2:10 pm ET

The Bandz are now contraband. Schools in several states, including New York, Texas, Florida and Massachusetts, have blacklisted Silly Bandz, those stretchy, colorful bracelets that are creeping up the forearms of school kids across the U.S. And starting this week, all 800-some kids at my son’s elementary school in Raleigh, N.C., were commanded to leave at home their collections of rubber band–like bracelets, which retail for about $5 per pack of 24. What could possibly be so insidious about a cheap silicone bracelet?

“It’s a distraction,” says Jill Wolborsky, a fourth-grade teacher at my son’s school, who banned them from her classroom before the principal implemented a schoolwide ban. One student stole some confiscated Bandz from her desk, choosing them over the cash in her drawer.

Students fiddle with them during class and arrange swaps – trading, say, a bracelet with a mermaid for one with a dragon – when they should be concentrating on schoolwork, teachers say. Sometimes a trade goes bad – kids get buyer’s remorse too – and hard feelings, maybe even scuffles, ensue.

That’s what prompted Karen White, principal of Snow Rogers Elementary School in Gardendale, Ala., in October to become one of the first administrators to forbid students their Bandz. “We try not to limit their freedom of expression and what they wear, but when this became a problem, I knew we had to nip it in the bud pretty quickly,” says White, who has since extended an olive branch in the form of monthly Silly Bandz days.

Silly Bandz are the latest in a long list of kid-centric fads – in the tradition of Cabbage Patch Kids, Beanie Babies, PokÉmon cards and Crocs. BCP Imports LLC, the small business in Toledo, Ohio, that’s behind the bracelets, was not prepared for the frenzy. It’s increased its workforce from 20 employees to 200 in the past year and just this week added 22 phone lines to keep up with inquiries. The company sells millions of packs a month, and Robert Croak, the president, can still hardly believe it. (He took my call after hanging up with Macy’s, which is interested in creating a Silly Bandz float for its storied Thanksgiving Day parade.)

Croak got inspired about three years ago at a product show in China, where a Japanese artist had devised a rubber band cute enough to escape the trash bin. Though Silly Bandz have been out for two years, they began catching on a year ago – Alabama was an early adopter, as were New Jersey and Tennessee. They’re just now gaining traction in California and Texas.

“They’re getting banned because kids play with them so much,” says Croak, who maintains they’re the right product at the right time, a cost-conscious trinket in tough economic times that can even be a learning tool for little ones, kind of like flexible flash cards.

His company receives about 500 fan letters a week. One, signed by a 10-year-old named Logan Librett and a few of his friends in New Rochelle, N.Y., suggested a way to circumvent all the bothersome Silly Bandz restrictions: “Some schools in New York have banned them, but we have ideas that might change that … clear silly bands that teachers can’t see and only glow in the dark.”

Just in case the company bites, Librett offered his address. He’s still waiting.


What is Silly Bandz?

May 26, 2010

What’s a Silly Bandz,’ you may ask yourself (pausing slightly afterwards to check if your grammar is correct.) Well let me tell you, these things are quite silly but in the best way possible. They are shaped rubber band(z)! These bandz come in the shapes of princess stuff, western stuff, rock ‘n’ roll stuff, the alphabet, underwater animals and so on. They’re really heating up in the states so we figured we’d bring them in to show everyone! Come have a look, ’cause when your kid asks for one, you’ll have a one-up on them and actually know what a Silly Bandz is.
Rock Band Silly Bandz

Silly Bandz

You can buy them from our two retail stores:

Toys on Fire (Montreal)
1539 Van Horne Ave
Outremont, QC H2V 1L4 Canada
(514) 948-2627

Toys on Fire (Ottawa)
130 RioCan Ave, Unit 3
Nepean, ON K2J 5G4 Canada
(613) 825-0688

What?? You don’t live near those locations….then you can always buy them from our online store at www.cmdstore.com.


Sideshow’s King Leonidas: 12 Inches from 300

May 21, 2010

Long before it was a tired meme and some time before it was a fresh meme, “This is Sparta!” was just the awesomest line to be found in Frank Miller’s 300, a film about muscular men directed by Zack Snyder and starring the then-lesser-known Gerard Butler as Sparta’s King Leonidas.

This guy’s already been a 6-inch figure along with some of the other characters from the film, but Sideshow knew that a mere 6 inches could not contain him and thus are releasing a 12-inch model. Check it out:

Here’s a look at the features:
The King Leonidas 12 inch Figure features:

* Over 26 points of articulation
* Authentic likeness of Gerard Butler as King Leonidas
* Switch-out head with alternate expression
* Real fabric cape with harness
* Faux-leather belt, vambraces and greaves
* Helmet features a realistic faux-horsehair crest
* Realistic wolf’s tooth necklace
* Sword and faux-leather scabbard
* Battle damaged Spartan shield with faux-leather handle and removable broken arrows
* Spear
* Two (2) pairs of Interchangeable hands
* Figure stand with 300 movie logo and King Leonidas nameplate

This one’s a great find for anyone who couldn’t get enough of the film, or any fan of the absolutely insane abs that distracted from 300’s admittedly exciting historical inaccuracies.


New from Sideshow: TMNT Raphael Comiquette

May 20, 2010

Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Sideshow has released a new pre-orderable comiquette of the team’s hot-headed rebel, Raphael. Wielding a pair of sharpened sai and a grim expression, he crouches stop a building ready to take on whatever evil lurks in the mean streets of New York. The statue can be pre-ordered now and is expected to start shipping later this month! In the 3rd quarter, he’ll be joined by Michelangelo, who can also be ordered ahead of time.

If you’re looking for something smaller and a little more manageable on a budget, though, we’ve also got individual action figures, Batsu figures, three-packs and more in CmdStore’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles section! Everybody from Shredder to General Blanque to the foot soldiers can be found, no matter which character you’re into. If you’re a fan of the franchise, be sure to check it out.


Dirk Benedict on the A-Team Remake

May 19, 2010

With fans still lamenting the loss of the Battlestar Galactica TV series and others looking forward to the A-Team remake, Dirk Benedict would have something to say on the matter. Unfortunately, though, he’s pretty upset with both. Digital Spy reports…


Benedict starred as Lieutenant Starbuck in the original series, but in the new version the character became a woman, played by Katee Sackhoff.

Speaking about the new A-Team movie, Benedict told Anorak City: “They’ll screw it up. They’ll do it what they did to Battlestar Galactica, probably.”

He continued: “[The Battlestar Galactica remake] wasn’t the show I made. I played an iconic character, but they turned him into a girl!

“When you do Star Wars you don’t turn Han Solo into a girl, Hannah Solo. When you do Rio Bravo you don’t have Madonna get her boots out to play John Wayne. Create another character instead.”

Benedict added that he wishes he hadn’t filmed a cameo for the A-Team movie, saying: “You’ll miss me if you blink. I kind of regret doing it because it’s a non-part. They wanted to be able to say, ‘Oh yeah, the original cast are in it’, but we’re not. It is three seconds. It’s kind of insulting.”

Not sure why he’s so upset–frankly, the world does need more strong female characters and Katee Sackhoff fit the bill while retaining the essence (and name) of Benedict’s character. Oh well. Can’t please everyone!

While we’re on the topic, of course, I’ll put up a link to our Battlestar Galactica section. I’m afraid you’ll find more Katee than Dirk, but given his mood, that might not be a bad thing.


FigurinesBD.com at Montreal ToyCon May 16 2010

May 18, 2010

Figurines BD

It was another great show at the Courtyard Marriott this past Sunday (May 16 2010)…..the Montreal ToyCon was a huge success for fans and dealers. Each week we will showcase a dealer from the toy and comic book show. This week is: Figurinesbd.com. A robust store situated in the East end of Montreal. They carry comic book and movie based action figures as well as different kinds of war figurines and statues.

Figurines BD
4144 Jean-Talon East
Montreal, QC H1S-1J6
Ph: (514) 723-6455
Website: http://www.figurinesbd.com


Ronnie James Dio: 1942-2010

May 17, 2010

I knew very little about Ronnie James Dio, but did know of his contributions to the metal community and that a number of my friends were fans. Hearing of his death yesterday, there was little I could say that would do justice to the man, but read a number of tributes online and finally settled on this one to repost. It’s from photographer Kyle Cassidy‘s personal Livejournal and details an encounter with the man himself.

In the grand scheme of things, there’s Ronnie James Dio, and then there’s everybody else.

Last week my friend Colin phoned up to say he had tickets to a freaking Black Sabbath autograph session in nowhere New Jersey. Needless to say, I was excited. I knew it was going to be a heard of cattle, but the idea of being able to be within mere inches of The Elf Himself caused me no end of tingling. I hied up there on the appropriate day, purchased my Black Sabbath box set (of which I already own every album, of course — (on cassette, LP and CD) and stood in line with 599 other people. The signing was only scheduled to take an hour so I whistled a happy tune, but the line moved slowly. As we approached the door, someone said “They’re answering questions! And posing for photographs!”

Now I was concerned, worried even. Before I was going to blissfully walk past as they signed my CD and get shoved out the door, but THIS added a whole new level of complexity. WHAT WOULD I SAY TO FREAKING RONNIE JAMES DIO? It’s like someone saying “Oh, Kyle, Archemedes is on the phone, he says you have 30 seconds to ask him one question.”

So I fretted and worried. I wanted to say something sincere, polite, and brief. Finally, I settled on:

“I hope you wake up happy every morning, knowing that you’ve made the world a better place.”

It was brief, polite, and — sincere. I went back to whistling my happy tune until I was shoved through the door in my little group of five and found myself seemingly alone in the presence of the greatest heavy metal band in the history of the galaxy.

Vinnie and Geezer signed my boxed set. “I loved the GZR” album, I said to Geezer. He nodded. Out of 600 people in line, I was, I’m sure, only the 45th to remember his obscure solo project to him that afternoon. He slid my CD’s over to FREAKING RONNIE JAMES DIO who looked up at me, stuck out his hand and said:

“THANKS FOR COMING OUT.”

I looked at him and I was dumbstruck. I couldn’t think of a word to say. My mouth hung open, my arms went limp, people behind me in line grumbled, the clock stopped ticking. FREAKING RONNIE JAMES DIO was looking up at me fully expecting me to say something. I stammered:

“i hope … you … wake up … every … morning ….”

His head knocked back a little and he said,

“I DO. I DO WAKE UP EVERY MORNING.”

“no,” i stuttered, “i mean … i hope … you’re … happy….”

“I’M PRETTY HAPPY ALL THE TIME,” said FREAKING RONNIE JAMES DIO, giving me a weird look.

“Move along!” said some dude in a black shirt. Tony Iomi shook my hand, signed my cd and said “Mmph!” which normally would have rocked my world like someone calling me up to tell me that I’d won the Pyramids in a contest, but all I could think of was the fact that FREAKING RONNIE JAMES DIO THINKS IM AN IDIOT.

photo (and text) by Kyle Cassidy

I hope you find much Metal on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge. \m/

Be sure to check out the rest of Mr. Cassidy’s blog! It’s a great read and features some incredible photography.


Indiana Jones: 3 Hits and a Miss with Shia LaBoeuf

May 17, 2010

I was among the millions who paid to see Indiana Jones 4 based on my love for the character and his previous films, only to be disappointed by the movie and downright appalled by that ridiculous ending. It was really a shame that the movie was so bad because with Spielberg in the director’s seat and the impressive cast it had roped in, they could have made something really special. It almost felt like a betrayal really, when Harrison Ford, Shia LaBoeuf, Cate Blanchett and other members of the crew came out to tell us what a brilliant picture it was. But now LaBoeuf has come out with the truth and it’s pretty surprising all things considered.

Here’s the word from Geek Tyrant‘s Venkman…

I think I have a new found respect for Shia Labeouf. As you know Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was a let down for most Indiana Jones fans. But, you might be surprised to know that LeBeouf who played Mutt in the movie didn’t really care for it all that much either.

During a press conference at the Cannes film festival while promoting Wall: Street: Money Never Sleeps, he let what he really thinks about Indiana Jones 4 fly, without holding anything back, he criticizes the movie, himself and the filmmakers. I gotta say, I’m pretty surprised by some of his comments but I agree 100% with him. And he starts off with…

I feel like I dropped the ball on the legacy that people loved and cherished…If I was going to do it twice, my career was over. So this was fight-or-flight for me.

He then addressed the audience that helped contribute to the movies $780 million dollar box-office take and explains that he was not happy with the film.

I think the audience is pretty intelligent. I think they know when you’ve made (slop). And I think if you don’t acknowledge it, then why do they trust you the next time you’re promoting a movie…We [Harrison Ford and LaBeouf] had major discussions. He wasn’t happy with it either. Look, the movie could have been updated. There was a reason it wasn’t universally accepted….We need to be able to satiate the appetite. I think we just misinterpreted what we were trying to satiate.

LaBeouf then criticizes himself even further bringing up the monkey swinging saying,

You get to monkey-swinging and things like that and you can blame it on the writer and you can blame it on Steven [Spielberg, who directed]. But the actor’s job is to make it come alive and make it work, and I couldn’t do it. So that’s my fault. Simple.

I understand a lot of people including myself didn’t care for this Mutt character in the film. But the movie didn’t suck because of Mutt, it was just an all-around incredibly sloppy film. The ball was dropped all over the place, from the writing to the special effects, and the outcome was just a really weak and disappointing film.

So what would Spielberg think of what LaBeouf is saying about his film? He didn’t seem to care, and he held his ground and opinion saying,

I’ll probably get a call. But he needs to hear this. I love him. I love Steven. I have a relationship with Steven that supersedes our business work. And believe me, I talk to him often enough to know that I’m not out of line. And I would never disrespect the man. I think he’s a genius, and he’s given me my whole life. He’s done so much great work that there’s no need for him to feel vulnerable about one film. But when you drop the ball you drop the ball.

Boom. So there ya have it. How honest can ya get? It’s nice to see actors own up to their mistakes, and for LaBeouf to tell it how it is, has given me a new found respect for him.

Now, over at CmdStore.com we’ve got a couple of Indiana Jones figures and toys, from all four movies. Hopefully, if you’re looking for something to reignite your love of the franchise, some Sideshow figures or LEGO sets can help more than the inevitable fifth flick.


Michael Cammalleri Montreal Canadiens Hockey Figure Series 24

May 15, 2010

Michael Cammalleri Figure

The 2010 playoffs are in full swing and Michael Cammalleri appears to the MVP candidate for this season. The Canadiens’ Michael Cammalleri has joined some select company with his playoff scoring binge, matching a mark set by some of Montreal’s greatest stars.

With seven goals in a seven-game victory over the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins, Cammalleri equaled a team record for tallies in a single playoff series shared by Maurice Richard (1944 and 1958), Jean Beliveau (1956), Bernard Geoffrion (1957), Guy Lafleur (1975) and Marcel Bonin (1959). All but Bonin are in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

And Cammalleri, who left the Calgary Flames last summer to sign with the 24-time Stanley Cup champions as a free agent, has a shot at making more history when Montreal moves into the conference final for the first time since 1993, the year of its last Stanley Cup conquest.

Here is a really kewl youtube video of Cammalleri as a Star Wars Jedi:

Michael Cammalleri has been made into an action figure by McFarlane Toys. This NHL Series 24 set also includes the following figures:

Jonas Gustavsson
Jonathan Toews
Tim Thomas
John Tavares
Robyn Regehr

mcfarlane-nhl-series-24


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