JAKKS Pacific to Manufacture Product Line for Real Steel

JAKKS Pacific, Inc., has signed a master toy licensing agreement with DreamWorks Studios to manufacture, distribute, and market a line of toys based on the upcoming live-action feature film Real Steel, directed by Shawn Levy and starring Hugh Jackman.

The agreement, brokered by licensing agent Striker Entertainment, includes action figures, accessories, play sets, roleplay, youth electronics, novelties, games and puzzles, Halloween costumes, and more. JAKKS expects to launch the Real Steel product line next fall to coincide with the film’s November 18, 2011 premiere in theaters nationwide.

Sprout Premieres Two New Nightly Shows

Preschool television network Sprout has premiered two new exclusive nightly shows, Nina’s Little Fables at 7:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. ET, and Chloe’s Closet 5:45 p.m. ET.

Nina’s Little Fables features 26 classic fables adapted for young audiences and illustrated with shadow puppetry animation. The series premiered on June 28. Chloe’s Closet follows the adventures of a little girl named Chloe who discovers new worlds while playing dress-up in her closet; the series premiered in the U.S. on July 12.

MGA Entertainment Expands Moxie Girlz Line for Fall

MGA Entertainment has announced plans to expand its Moxie Girlz doll brand with the introduction of Moxie Teenz, 14-inch dolls that feature realistic eyes, interchangeable wigs, and 15 points of articulation. The line features four dolls— Melrose, Arizona, Tristen, and Bijou—who do everything from attend college to perform on Broadway. A full line of Moxie Teenz products, including dolls and wig, fashion, and accessory packs, will be available in the fall.

MGA will also partner with Burger King from August 23 to September 12 for a series of branded premiums for girls that will include Moxie Girlz Wrist Bags, Moxie Girlz Light-Up Pendants, and Moxie Girlz Bracelets.

Additionally, MGA will release Moxie Girlz Magic Snow, featuring previously introduced dolls in the line sporting snow outfits, a winter purse and fashion goggles, a sled, and snow powder.

MGA Entertainment Launches Bitty Buttons Dolls

MGA Entertainment is launching Bitty Buttons, a line of eight different 13-inch rag dolls that each come with its own story and personality based on the different fabrics, from old clothes to blankets, that are used to make them. The dolls are designed to promote ideas of individuality, diversity, and second chances.

Each doll is given a significant date as its birthday, ranging from Dictionary Day for Bea Spells-a-Lot to National Cookie Day for Crumbs Sugar Cookie. Each doll also comes with her own specific pet.

Ubisoft Unveils Holiday Season Releases

Interactive entertainment company Ubisoft is releasing several additions to its existing series of games, in addition to introducing new games this holiday season across media platforms.

Battle Tag

Ubisoft introduces a laser tag-inspired game: Battle Tag. Set for release in late November in North America, the game is designed with 20 different game plays, and includes a port that connects to a PC, allowing the computer to act as “game master.”

Players use guns that are complete with RFID technology to store information. The guns have a 300 meter radius from the port, which acts as a base for the game. Sets come with ammo packs and medic packs that recharge ammo and life points when connected to the guns. Additional guns, bases, ammo, and medic packs will be available for purchase in addition to the basic set.

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Exclusive Emily the Strange Doll Available at San Diego Comic-Con

Comic Debris and Ashton-Drake, a division of Bradford Exchange, plan to release an exclusive custom-designed Emily the Strange doll for San Diego Comic-Con. The exclusive has a 250 piece limited edition run, and will be available at select Comic-Con booths and to Facebook fans. The doll will retail for $69.99.

The doll will come outfitted with a mask, cat ears, and a reversible cape with the words “Save Yourself.” The doll features nine points of articulation and is accompanied by a feline sidekick who will also be wearing a costume.

The exclusive doll will be available at the following booths: Emily the Strange, Dark Horse Comics, Chronicle Books, and Harper Collins Books. The art work of Emily the Strange creator Rob Reger will be showcased in the Van Eaton Galleries booth.

Nickelodeon to Release Laurie Berkner Band DVD

Nickelodeon Home Entertainment has announced the release of a Laurie Berkner Band compilation DVD, which will be distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment and will be available in stores September 28. The DVD will include some of Berkner’s most popular songs, as well as music videos from performances on Jack’s Big Music Show. The DVD will run 44 minutes.

Laurie Berkner was the first children’s singer to appear in music videos on Nickelodeon. She has written two books and has released six CDs, as well as a quadruple-platinum-selling DVD.

Exclusive Zoobie Toy Released to Christian Bookstores

Zoobies, LLC and New Day Christian Distribution, a media and gift distributor to Christian bookstores, have partnered to release a Zoobie toy exclusive to the Christian bookstore market. The introduction of Lyric the Lamb will be followed by the distribution of other Zoobie items to Christian bookstores.

Report: Back to School Sales to Increase

According to 2010 sales forecasts, retailers should expect an increase in back-to-school season sales. The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) has predicted a sales increase of 5.4 percent for mid-July through mid-September, as opposed to the decline by .4 percent and 2.8 percent in 2008 and 2009, respectively. ICSC predicts that family clothing will have the strongest increase, at 6.5 percent, followed by electronics at 5 percent.

Additionally, the National Retail Federation’s 2010 Consumer Intentions and Actions Back to School survey, conducted by BIGresearch, found that the average American family will spend $606.40 on clothes, shoes, supplies, and electronics, compared to $548.72 last year and $594.24 in 2008. Total spending on school-aged children is expected to reach $21.35 billion.

The survey also found that spending on clothing, shoes, and electronics will take up the majority of consumer’s budgets, with 44.3 percent of consumers planning to spend more on store or generic brands. Additionally, the survey reported that teenagers are expected to spend slightly more of their own money on back to school items, $31.74 this year compared to $30.88 last year.

TIF Launches Charity Auction of New Star Wars Collector’s Item

The Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) has launched a charity auction featuring the Star Wars AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport) before it arrives in stores next month; proceeds will benefit TIF programs that support charities for at-risk, abused, abandoned, or ill children. The auction began July 14 and will run through July 19 at noon.

The auction features two of the new Star Wars AT-AT vehicles, donated by Hasbro.  The multi-level vehicle is two feet tall, 28 inches long, and 12 inches wide, and can hold up to 20 Star Wars figures. Winners of the auction will have exclusive ownership for two weeks before the collector’s item is available for sale.

The auction is the latest in a series of initiatives to promote individual giving in support of the TIF’s philanthropic activities.  The second annual “TIF Birthday Bids” auction, celebrating the anniversaries of characters and toys, will kick off in September.