Banned Books Week September 25 – October 1, 2016

bbw-logo122hBanned Books Week is a Celebration of the Freedom to Read. It was launched in 1982 in response to a surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries.

According to the American Library Association, more than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982 . The top ten most challenged books of 2015 include:

  1. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”).
  3. I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
    Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.
  4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
    Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).
  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
    Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).
  6. The Holy Bible
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint.
  7. Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
    Reasons: Violence and other (“graphic images”).
  8. Habibi, by Craig Thompson
    Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.
  10. Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
    Reasons: Homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”).

The Banned Books Week Coalition is a national alliance of diverse organizations joined by a commitment to increase awareness of the annual celebration of the freedom to read. The Coalition seeks to engage various communities and inspire participation in Banned Books Week through education, advocacy, and the creation of programming about the problem of book censorship. The 2016 celebration will be held September 25-October 1.

For more information, check out bannedbooksweek.org, and why not celebrate by stopping into your local library, and check out one of the books on the list.

 

Are you into movies, games, fun and the occasional 140 character complaint? Then follow me on Twitter, @JeffMMcKinney.

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EA SPORTS UFC 2 Introduces New Competitive Gaming Experience

ea_sports_ufc2_live_eventEA just announced the launch of Live Event Competitions, which is a brand new competitive experience in EA SPORTS UFC 2 Live Events mode. Starting this Saturday (May 14, 2016) fans around the world can play the qualifiers in the Live Event Competition to start fighting for their chance to earn Ultimate Team rewards and a trip to compete at the live finals coinciding with UFC Fan Expo, part of the 5th Annual UFC International Fight Week, and UFC 200: CORMIER vs. JONES 2 in Las Vegas.

The winner of the grand final match, taking place on Friday, July 8 at the UFC Fan Expo in Las Vegas, will receive $10,000 (US) and walk away with the belt as the EA SPORTS UFC 2 World Champion.

Players enter the competition in Live Events on the EA SPORTS UFC 2 menu, select one of four athletes fighting on an upcoming card, customize their athlete by applying five out of 10 fighter perks, and start competing online. All available in-game fighters are balanced with the same overall attribute rating and move level. Rankings on the global leaderboard are determined by the number of wins a player can accumulate during the qualifying period before taking three losses. Players are encouraged to go back and fight again as many times as they’d like to improve their top score during the qualifying period.

At the end of each qualifying period, eligible players with the top scores on Xbox One and PlayStation4 will be invited to compete in the finals in Las Vegas.

To learn how to compete and qualify, check out the Live Event Competition page at easports.com.

Are you into movies, games, fun and the occasional 140-character rant? Then follow me on Twitter, @JeffMMcKinney.

Nintendo 2DS Price to Drop to $79.99

 

nintendo_2ds

Starting on May 20, 2016, the suggested retail price for the Nintendo 2DS will drop to $79.99 — down $20 from its current price of $99.99.

Nintendo-3DS-Press-Shot-01The non-hinged, wedge-shaped handheld system originally launched in 2013 for $129.99, as a low cost alternative to the 3DS (pictured on right). Although it lacks 3D capabilities, the 2DS can play all 3DS games.

Are you into movies, games, fun and the occasional 140-character rant? Then follow me on Twitter, @JeffMMcKinney.

Disney Ditching Disney Infinity

During Disney’s second quarter financial earnings report, a somewhat surprising announcement was made that the company was cancelling the popular “Toys-To-Life” game, Disney Infinity.

Here’s the official post from Disney Interactive’s blog, posted by John Blackburn, SVP & GM Disney Infinity:

“By now you may have heard the news that we have made the difficult decision to discontinue production of Disney Infinity.
From the beginning, Disney Infinity was built for you—our fans—and I wanted to take a moment to thank you not just for your support over the years, but for creating a community that made Disney Infinity more than just a game.

Our goal for Disney Infinity was to bring the best of Disney storytelling to life in homes around the world, and with your support we accomplished that. We hope you had as much fun playing the game as we had making it.

So what’s next for Disney Infinity? We have two final retail releases coming, including three new characters from Alice Through the Looking Glass later this month, and the Finding Dory Play Set launching in June.”

So there you have it. A few more collectible Infinity figures, and a Finding Dory Play Set (video game) to look forward to.

Here’s the interesting part, Disney Infinity has been a success. According to an article about the announcement on USGamer.net, who quotes an estimate from a Wedbush Securities analyst, Disney Infinity made $200 million in revenue last year, which put Disney Infinity ahead of Lego Dimensions and Skylanders. The same article also points out that Star Wars Battlefront, with Disney’s Star Wars licensed to EA, earned $660 million.

So it looks like the smartest move for Disney, is to license it’s characters to game companies, rather than develop games on their own. That could actually be good news for gamers because it means Disney’s huge roster of characters, including Star Wars and Marvel, can get the big game treatment they deserve, and not just reside within the Infinity umbrella.

Personally, I like Disney Infinity, and have been collecting the figures as quickly as Disney releases them. Hopefully the company will continue to do something with the figures., just without the game component. I guess we will just have to wait and see.

 

Are you into movies, games, fun and the occasional 140-character rant? Then follow me on Twitter, @JeffMMcKinney.

TTPM Holiday 2015 Most Wanted List

Yesterday at an event in NYC, TTPM (my day job) unveiled our list of what we think the Most Wanted toys of the upcoming holiday season will be.

The list was broken out into four segments that illustrate the top toy and kids lifestyle trends for the holiday season.

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ttpm_most_wanted_2015

Yesterday at an event in NYC, TTPM (my day job) unveiled our list of what we think the Most Wanted toys of the upcoming holiday season will be.

The list was broken out into four segments that illustrate the top toy and kids lifestyle trends for the holiday season:

STAR WARS TOPS WISH LISTS FOR KIDS OF ALL AGES

Momentum from the widely celebrated Force Friday will continue well through the holidays. TTPM expects toys from the STAR WARS lines to fly off the shelves this year, with several of the hottest toys already on back order. TTPM included the following Star Wars toys on its Most Wanted List: STAR WARS THE BLACK SERIES KYLO REN FORCE FX LIGHTSABER from Hasbro, STAR WARS MILLENNIUM FALCON R/C QUAD from Spin Master, STAR WARS THE FORCE AWAKENS BB-8 DROID from Sphero, and LEGO STAR WARS THE FORCE AWAKENS MILLENNIUM FALCON from LEGO.

PRESCHOOL PLAY GETS POWERED UP WITH ENGAGING, INTERACTIVE PRODUCT DESIGNS

As in previous years, preschool toys remain integral to helping young children refine important cognitive skills. But this year, toy manufacturers have incorporated new, interactive features to amp up preschool play lines. The BRIGHT BEATS SMART TOUCH PLAY SPACE from Fisher-Price , IMAGINEXT ULTRA T-REX from Fisher-Price, GO GO SMART WHEELS R/C SPEEDWAY from VTech, and PAW PATROLLER from Spin Master top the TTPM Most Wanted List’s preschool section.

ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY ENHANCES MAGIC OF CLASSIC PLAY PATTERNS

Classic play remains alive and well. For 2015, the updated classics on TTPM’s list include: GIRL SCOUTS COOKIE OVEN from Wicked Cool Toys, SHOPKINS FASHION SPREE FASHION BOUTIQUE from Moose Toys, HOT WHEELS UTLIMATE GARAGE from Mattel, BUNCHEMS from Spin Master, CLUB PETZ LUCY PUPPY DOG from Just Play, LITTLE LIVE PETS CLEVERKEET from Moose Toys, THE PEANUTS MOVIE HAPPY DANCE SNOOPY from Just Play, KIDIZOOM SMARTWATCH DX from VTech, FURREAL FRIENDS STARLILY, MY MAGICAL UNICORN from Hasbro, and BARBIE SADDLE ‘N RIDE HORSE from Mattel.

OLDER KIDS WANT TO PLAY, TOO

Play and technology come together seamlessly in toys targeting older kids who are discovering how much fun off screen play can be. This year, TTPM predicts the following products will be hits for kids in the 8 – 12 year range: LEGO DIMENSIONS GAME from Warner Bros., MARVEL AVENGERS XPV REMOTE CONTROL HULK SMASH from Jakks Pacific, PLAYMATION MARVEL’S AVENGERS from Disney Consumer Products/ Hasbro Inc., and NERF RIVAL from Hasbro.

To see full video reviews of the products in the list, check out the Most Wanted page on TTPM by clicking here.

Are you into movies, games, fun and the occasional 140-character rant? Then follow me on Twitter, @JeffMMcKinney.

A Look Back at E3 2015. Part 1

E3 ended a couple weeks ago, so chances are good that you have already seen, heard and read all the news that came out of the show. This post is more about what I’m most excited about from the show, and looking forward to coming out in the months (sometimes years) ahead. Up first, Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo.

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E3 2015 Exhibit Hall About to Open
E3 2015 Exhibit Hall About to Open

E3 ended a couple weeks ago, so chances are good that you have already seen, heard and read all the news that came out of the show. This post is more about what I’m most excited about from the show, and looking forward to coming out in the months (sometimes years) ahead. Up first, Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo.

To start, E3 seemed a little quiet to me this year. With no new hardware announcements, and many game companies focusing on their core franchises, there just wasn’t any one thing that jumped out. Companies continue to tease us with Virtual Reality, and Sony was showing off it’s Project Morpheus entrance into the VR category.

Project Morpheus in the PlayStation booth
Project Morpheus in the PlayStation booth

 

Microsoft also showed off it’s HoloLens headset, which looks to be more of a Augmented Reality accessory than VR. The biggest news from Microsoft seemed to be the announcement that the Xbox One would be adding Backwards Compatibility to it’s features.

Microsoft HaloLens
Microsoft HaloLens

 

Over in the Nintendo booth, there was an impressive display of amiibo figures.

Nintendo amiibos at E3
Nintendo amiibos at E3

 

More amiibos
More amiibos

I also had a chance to play most of the new games coming from Nintendo. Super Mario Maker, which allows you to create and upload your own Super Mario levels and games, looks awesome. The game is due this September. Yoshi’s Woolly World is sort of reminiscent of Kirby’s Epic Yarn, but was one of my favorites in the Nintendo booth. That game, which arrives in October, also has some of the cutest amiibos yet. They are made out of fabric and look like stuffed animals.

amiibo figures for Yoshi's Woolly World
amiibo figures for Yoshi’s Woolly World

 

Check back later this week for Part 2 of my E3 205 recap.

Are you into movies, games, fun and the occasional 140-character rant? Then follow me on Twitter, @JeffMMcKinney.

Todd McFarlane to Unveil New Construction Sets at Comic-Con

Todd McFarlane and McFarlane Toys will be at San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) next month, where they will reveal new construction set lines. Additionally, the toy company and it’s namesake will have giveaways and autograph sessions with Todd at the McFarlane Toys’ booth (#2729). Giveaways include Blind Bags from McFarlan’s already successful, AMC’s The Walking Dead construction set line.

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Todd McFarlane and McFarlane Toys will be at San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) next month, where they will reveal new construction set lines. Additionally, the toy company and it’s namesake will have giveaways and autograph sessions with Todd at the McFarlane Toys’ booth (#2729). Giveaways include Blind Bags from McFarlan’s already successful, AMC’s The Walking Dead construction set line.

McFarlane Toys' The Walking Dead Construction set. Prison Tower and Gate
McFarlane Toys’ The Walking Dead Construction set. Prison Tower and Gate

Anyone who can’t make it to SDCC will also have a chance to pick up some retailer exclusives, which will be released in conjunction with SDCC, but available online or at your local retail store.

Fore more info on McFarlane’s SDCC plans, check out the official page on Spawn.com by clicking here.

Are you into movies, games, fun and the occasional 140-character rant? Then follow me on Twitter, @JeffMMcKinney.