China Toy Fair


Jakks Pacific Reports Third Quarter Results

Disney Frozen Snow Glow Elsa doll

Jakks Pacific Inc. reported results for the company’s third quarter ended September 30. Net sales for the third quarter increased to $349.4 million, up 12 percent from net sales of $310.9 million reported in the comparable period last year. Reported net income for the third quarter increased 16 percent to $44.1 million, or $1.03 per diluted share, compared to reported net income last year of $36.6 million, or $1.11 per diluted share.

Net sales for the nine months ending September 30 increased 12 percent to $556.0 million compared to $495.2 million last year. Reported net income for the nine-month period was $18.7 million, or $0.61 per diluted share. This compares to a net loss for the first nine months last year of $37.8 million, or $1.73 per diluted share. Strong sales of the Frozen Snow Glow Elsa doll and Light Up Musical Dresses, Disguise Halloween offerings, Nintendo plush and figure products, and licensed large-scale figures contributed to the company’s improved third quarter results.

FedEx and UPS Hiring More Workers to Avoid Holiday Delays

As reported by ABC News, FedEx and United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) are hiring more workers to avoid the delays that plagued last year’s holiday season.

FedEx plans to hire 50,000 seasonal workers, up from 40,000 last year, while UPS will add up to 95,000 people, up from 85,000. Last year, both companies scrambled to hire more seasonal employees than they had planned.

FedEx also expects to invest $1.2 billion in its ground-shipping network in its current fiscal year, with most of that going to increase capacity and automation. The company said that the improvements have sped up ground delivery by a day or more in more than two-thirds of the U.S. UPS has also invested to boost shipping capacity during the holidays.

Last December, the delivery giants were caught off-guard by bad weather and a surge in last-minute online shopping, leading to an estimated 2 million packages arriving late for the holidays.

About 1.3 million express packages handled by UPS and 618,000 carried by FedEx failed to get delivered on time last Christmas Eve, with UPS and FedEx at fault roughly 30 percent of the time, according to ShipMatrix Inc. In most cases, retailers promised guaranteed express delivery, but didn’t pay the delivery companies for that speedier service.

The retail federation’s online division, Shop.org, predicts that online sales in November and December will rise 8 to 11 percent over last year.

Buyer, Trade Guest Registration Open for North American International Toy Fair

Oct22.ToyFairBuyer and trade guest registration has opened for the 112th North American International Toy Fair, according to the Toy Industry Association. Toy Fair 2014 is scheduled to take place February 14 to 17 in New York City.

The event, formerly the American International Toy Fair, was recently re-named the North American International Toy Fair, as part of a new affiliation agreement between TIA and the Canadian Toy Association. CTA and TIA will have a single toy fair, rather than single marketplace events in the U.S. and Canada.

Last year’s Toy Fair had a record-breaking 414,060 net square feet of exhibition space and welcomed an 11 percent increase in international buyers, an 8 percent rise in exhibitors, and a 5 percent spike in attendees.

Ohio Art Announces Winner of Nanoblock Award: Build It Your Way Competition

Edited.OhioArtSean Smith has won the nanoblock Award: Build It Your Way Competition from The Ohio Art Company. Using only nanoblock bricks, Smith created an original piece of the Great Djenne Mosque, a landmark in Africa, and won with its intricate and fine attention to detail.

A panel of judges consisting of toy industry opinion leaders and Ohio Art representatives reviewed all submissions for the competition. As the grand prize winner, Smith will receive a family vacation package, an iPod nano, and a year-long supply of nanoblock bricks.

ASTRA Retailers Set to Promote Specialty Toys on Neighborhood Toy Store Day

ASTRAlogoHundreds of independent toy retailers in the U.S. and Canada will mark Neighborhood Toy Store Day with special in-store events and activities on Saturday, November 8.

Neighborhood Toy Store Day is an annual American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) event that occurs on the second Saturday in November. It is designed to help independent toy retailers spotlight attention on the quality and play value of specialty toys, plus the advantages of shopping at locally owned toy stores.

ASTRA retailers create activities around Neighborhood Toy Store Day that will engage their customers and communities. Meanwhile, ASTRA supports retailers by providing professionally designed, downloadable posters; post cards; ad slicks; and other images along with draft emails; social media posts; and press releases that retailers can use to promote their store.

To find an ASTRA store to visit on Neighborhood Toy Store Day, visit www.neighborhoodtoystoreday.com.

GBI Encourages Children with Secret Millionaires Club: Grow Your Own Business Challenge

SMC2_LE_LOGO_2012_NEW2Genius Brands International (GBI) has launched its 4th Annual Secret Millionaires Club Grow Your Own Business Challenge. The national online competition was created to encourage kids to be entrepreneurial and to practice good financial habits from an early age.

Kids ages 7 to 14 are invited to submit original business ideas for consideration in the competition. Five individuals and three groups will be selected as finalists to present their ideas to Warren Buffett and a panel of VIP judges next May.

Grand prize winners will each be awarded $5,000 and invited to nominate a teacher who was most inspirational in the process to win up to $1,000. Full rules and entry instructions are available at www.smckids.com.

New App, Campaign Set For Target’s Holiday Season

Target LogoTarget has unveiled its plans for the holiday season, including a new Wish List app for kids and daily deals for toys.

Beginning October 31, a new Wish List app will be available for download. The app is a modern and digital take on the classic tradition of creating holiday wish lists. Kids can add items to their list and participate in an augmented reality feature that works with Target Kids’ Gifting Catalog, while parents can share the list with friends and family and receive special savings.

In addition, through the Cartwheel app, customers will receive deals throughout the holiday season, including 50 percent off a different toy every day from November 2 to December 24. All Target guests will receive free shipping on all target.com orders through December 20.

For the third year, Target will extend the time frame of its Price Match Policy for the holiday season beyond the typical seven-day window. It will be available between November 1 and December 24. Target’s holiday marketing campaign–which will embrace red, white, and Bullseye and encourage people to get into the spirit of the holiday season–will begin on November 2. The campaign will include broadcast radio, out-of-home, and catalogs.

VTech’s Smartwatch Sweepstakes Lets Parents Show Off their Kids’ Coolness

VtechWatchVTech‘s Smartwatch Sweepstakes asks parents to share their children’s giant personalities for a chance to win a VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch. The sweepstakes, which is running through November 11, asks parents to submit photos and videos that capture their child’s personality, character, and antics.

At the end of each week, five Smartwatch Sweepstakes entries will be selected at random to receive a Kidizoom Smartwatch and will be highlighted as VTech’s Smartwatch Kids of the Week. To enter the sweepstakes, parents can visit www.vtechkids.com/smartwatchsweeps to submit a photo or video showcasing their child’s character and personality. They can also submit through Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #smartwatchsweeps.

The Kidizoom Smartwatch lets kids capture photos, add photo effects, record videos, and play built-in games on its 1.4-inch color touch screen. It is PC and MAC compatible for uploading photos, videos, and recorded voice files, and offers access to VTech’s Learning Lodge app store, where parents can download more games and displays. It is recommended for ages 4 and up.

Lionel Opens New Brick-and-Mortar Store and Headquarters in North Carolina

Lionel.NewStoreThis past Monday, Lionel opened its first retail store in Concord, N.C. The new location will serve as a central station for popular train sets, replicas, and collectibles, as well as store-exclusive gifts and keepsakes.

To celebrate the new store, which will also serve as the company’s new headquarters, Lionel President Howard Hitchcock drove festivities with J. Scott Padgett, the mayor of Concord, and Donna Carpenter, the CEO of the Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Lionel.NewStore2The store will become a terminal for field trips, new product testing, and company announcements. The 1,100-square-foot space will house one of Lionel’s fully decorated layouts, which will feature different trains throughout the year. Kids can control the layout with handheld remotes and test the newest trains.

Lionel has made numerous expansion efforts of late, including partnering with the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago to debut its first life-sized trackless train ride, The Lionel Train Adventure, earlier this month. The company has also continued to add licenses for new train models through partnerships with DC Comics, Coca-Cola, Crayola, and other brands.

Cartwheel Kids Acquires Smart Toy

CartwheelKidsSmart Toy, formerly known as Ubooly, has been acquired by Cartwheel Kids. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Created in 2012 by husband-and-wife team Isaac Squires and Carly Gloge, Smart Toy is an interactive, huggable plush toy that uses apps and speech recognition software to interact with children. It encourages creative, active play by telling stories, embarking on adventures, and guiding activities. It also speaks five different languages.

According to Sunny Lauridsen, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Cartwheel Kids, the Smart Toy acquisition is in line with Cartwheel Kids’ strategy to expand its product portfolio into new categories that deliver meaningful play experiences to children. The next-generation Smart Toy will debut at International Consumer Electronics Show in January.

Gloge and Squires will join the Cartwheel Kids team as directors of technology and will continue to oversee development of the Smart Toy product line.