Franklin takes aim at tweens with safe paintball
Franklin Sports is taking the pain out of paintball with a new line of products designed specifically for tweens. Organized paintball attracts more than 16 million participants worldwide each year, but typically shuts out players under age 15. With that in mind, the Stoughton, Massachusetts-based toyco is releasing Battle M.A.X., which fires soft foam balls that produce the same splat effect as regular paintball pellets, but with less speed (and thus less bodily harm). Rival Force has also created a full line of gear replicating the equipment used in authentic paintball, including face-masks, pads, team jerseys, ammo harnesses and scene-setting SKUs like castle, pyramid and capture-the-flag sets. Battle M.A.X. will hit shelves in July at mass and specialty toy outlets and sporting goods stores, with SKUs reportedly selling for US$100 to US$200.
R.L. Stine goes for the gross-out
Not content with freaking his readers out, reigning king of spooky kidlit R.L. Stine is hoping to turn their stomachs too. The scribe of the famed Goosebumps series has signed a 12-book deal with HarperCollins Children’s Books for Rotten School, a comedy-driven book series that will be illustrated by editorial cartoonist and children’s book artist Trip Park. Set at a boarding school where disaster and disgusting seem to go hand in hand, the series centers around a rivalry between two warring dorms and a team of teachers, coaches and house parents who find their fire safety and CPR skills much more useful than their knowledge of math and history. The first two books in the Rotten School series, The Big Blueberry Barf-Off and The Great Smelling Bee, are scheduled to go on sale July 5. HarperCollins is planning a national publicity campaign and author tour, as well as direct mailings, a radio giveaway campaign, national consumer print advertising and a dedicated website (www.rottenschool.com).