Toyzeria 2014 Grows with More Exhibitors and Visitors

SpielwarenmesseegA total of 117 national and international exhibitors, as well as 8,972 visitors, took part in Toyzeria from October 30 to November 2, compared to 105 national and international exhibitors and 8,721 visitors last year. Participants traveled to the toy industry gathering at the Istanbul Expo Center from 48 countries, an increase from 46 countries a year ago.

The World of Toys Pavilion by Spielwarenmesse eG also celebrated its premiere at the trade fair, which featured eight exhibitors from seven countries. Next year’s event will take place October 29 to November 1 under the name Toyzeria & Kids Turkey, and will once again be housed at the Istanbul Expo Center.

Nintendo’s Super Mario Franchise Featured in Mercedes-Benz Commercial

NintendoThis past week, Mercedes-Benz Japan began airing the latest series of commercials for its GLA sports utility vehicle featuring characters from Nintendo’s Mario franchise.

The original TV ad began airing in May and featured only Mario, who rode the SUV in a two-dimensional 8-bit world. The digital Mario eventually morphed into an actor with a mustache wearing Mario’s signature dungarees.

The newest commercial, inspired by Mario’s agility and the way he can move around anywhere he wants, adds more characters from the Super Mario franchise.

Mercedes-Benz’s SUV appears in Nintendo’s Mario Kart game, making it the first real-world car to appear in the series.

Hasbro in Talks to Buy DreamWorks Animation

Hasbro logoAs initially reported by Deadline, Hasbro Inc. is in early talks to buy DreamWorks Animation SKG. The deal would give the toy maker, which has clout with major retailers, an animation studio that just recently began diversifying beyond the movies.

For each company, a deal could help accelerate movement beyond their core businesses. DreamWorks Animation has expanded into consumer products in recent years, but still lags behind Walt Disney Co., while Hasbro recently sold off some of its stake in the Hub cable network.

dreamworks_animation_logoThrough its relatively new film label, Allspark Pictures, Hasbro has movies in the works based on its toy brands, My Little Pony and Jem and the Holograms. It is also launching a new Transformers cartoon series on the Cartoon Network, having had trouble edging in on children’s networks Nickelodeon and Disney Channel.

Should a deal be reached, it would likely come during the next two to four weeks, and would result in a family entertainment powerhouse to be called DreamWorks-Hasbro, according to a source in the article. Hasbro could also have management of the new entity already in place: On Wednesday, the company appointed Stephen Davis, who has led Hasbro Studios since its launch in 2009, to the role of executive vice president, chief content officer.

In this new role, Davis will be responsible for developing content for Hasbro’s brands across multiple platforms. He will also work closely with Hasbro’s president and chief executive officer, Brian Goldner, to oversee Allspark Pictures (This aspect of Davis’ role was announced prior to news about the possible Hasbro-DreamWorks deal), as well as franchise films such as Transformers that are produced in partnership with major studios.

Build-A-Bear Workshop, Toys for Tots Join Team Santa for the Holidays

BABW_NewCircleLogoBuild-A-Bear Workshop will launch a national Stuffed with Hugs event November 14 to 16, where guests will be invited to join Team Santa and make a special bear for free to donate to Toys For Tots. The store has supported The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation for the seventh year in a row during the holiday season, donating $7.8 million worth of toys.

Also through December 14, Build-A-Bear Workshop guests can visit any store nationwide to make or donate new, unwrapped toys for local children in need. The company will match each donation up to 20,000 with a Build-A-Bear stuffed animal. Donations can also be made at checkout in stores and online at buildabear.com through December 31.

Children of Soldiers and Wounded Warriors Get New Toys from TIF and BGCA

toyindustryMore than 1,700 children of military personnel and Wounded Warriors were given brand-new toys and games on November 6 at Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Va. Hosted by the Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) Military Services, the toy giveaway was held in celebration of Military Family Appreciation Month.

Every child in attendance got to take home a toy, choosing from a selection of skill-building, enriching, and comforting playthings donated by Barnes & Noble, Big Time Toys, Imperial Toy, Lego, Mattel, Patch Products, and Yamie Chess. The event was held as part of the joint TIF/BGCA Play Comforts program, in which toys and games are delivered on an annual basis to families on U.S. military installations at home and abroad.

The Toy Insider and Woman’s Day Magazine Launch New Video Series

WomansDayVideoThe first entry in The Toy Insider‘s newest Fun with Kids video series launched this week at Woman’s Day. The latest video can be found on the Woman’s Day site’s front page, and the series will run for the next five weeks leading up to the holidays, reaching the site’s 3.9 million unique monthly visitors (Note: The Toy Insider is published by Adventure Publishing Group, which also owns The Toy Book).

In “Toys in Motion,” Toy Insider Mom Laurie Schacht and Woman’s Day‘s Senior Editor Taryn Mohrman show off this season’s hottest toys that race, fly, and ride. Products shown in the video include: The Rockin’ Rider Patriot Rocking Horse, from Tek Nek Toys; the Air Storm Firetek Bow, from Zing; the Planes Fire and Rescue U-Command Dusty, from Thinkway Toys; the Hot Wheels Street Hawk, from Mattel; the Heli Beast, from Silverlit; the Sky Viper Camera Drone, from Skyrocket Toys; the Hot Wheels High Jump Frenzy, from Toy State; the Extreme Beast, from Maisto; the Y Flicker Lift, from Yvolution; and the PowerRider 360, from Razor.

Nintendo Reports Record Orders for Super Smash Bros. on Wii U

SuperSmashBros.WiiUAs reported by Bloomberg News today, advanced orders for Nintendo’s upcoming Super Smash Bros. are at a record and may lift sales of the company’s struggling Wii U console during the holidays.

Pre-sales of the fighting game for Wii U, which arrives at stores on November 21, surpassed Mario Kart 8, and interest in the game has generated optimism at Nintendo. Reggie Fils-Aime, president and chief operating officer of Nintendo of America, said in an interview on Tuesday that sell-through expectations for Super Smash Bros. are on par with Mario Kart 8, which could have a dramatic impact on hardware.

Mario Kart 8 has sold 3.49 million units, including 2.74 million outside Japan, and Wii U console sales more than doubled from a year earlier to 1.12 million devices in the six months ended September. So far this year, Nintendo has sold 2 million Wii U units, according to the site VGChartz. The Wii U posted its first consecutive quarterly sales gains in the June and September periods.

By comparison, Sony has sold 8.1 million PlayStation 4‘s, and Microsoft has tallied 3.3 million Xbox One sales, according to VGChartz.

Super Smash Bros. is the first Nintendo title that will also support amiibo, the company’s entry into the $1 billion interactive toy category, scheduled for release in time for the holidays.

Continuing Port Issues Leads to Record Retail Imports, Toy Industry Reaction

nrfImport cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to slow down this month following record levels seen in September and October, as retailers rushed to bring merchandise into the country ahead of a possible shutdown of West Coast ports, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.

Import volume at U.S. ports covered by the Global Port Tracker report is expected to total 1.4 million containers this month, down from 1.59 million each in September and October, a number that broke the previous monthly high of 1.52 million set in August. Cargo volume has been well above average each month since spring as retailers have imported merchandise early in case of any disruption on the docks.

The 1.59 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU, or 20-foot cargo container) handled in September, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available, was up 5.2 percent from August and 10.9 percent from September 2013. October was estimated at 1.59 million TEU, within about 3,000 containers of September’s level and up 11 percent from the same month last year.

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) is inviting members to participate in a teleconference with Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, to learn about what is being done to alleviate back-ups and delays at the port. The discussion is scheduled for November 13 at 1 p.m. ET. TIA members can contact Rebecca Mond, director of federal governmental affairs, at rmond@toyassociation.org for dial-in information.

Target’s Holiday Deals Include Toy Discounts Throughout November

Target LogoTarget has extended its Black Friday prices throughout the month of November, with sales culminating on Black Friday weekend.

Throughout the month, Cartwheel—Target’s mobile savings app—is offering 50 percent off a different toy every day. Additionally, from November 23 to 29, Cartwheel will feature more than 100 exclusive deals, including 60 percent off select movie titles and 30 percent off select board games.

On Wednesday, November 26, Target stores and target.com will offer a handful of pre-Black Friday savings to guests. The deals will be available for preview in the store’s weekly ad on November 23.

For guests who want to shop early, Black Friday deals will be available on target.com on Thanksgiving morning. Target stores will then open for Black Friday shoppers at 6 p.m. that night.

The first several hundred guests waiting in line at Target stores across the nation on Thanksgiving evening will receive a Christmas cracker, which will include a Target gift card or coupon. Top Black Friday deals will include: Buy one, get one 50 percent off toys from select top brands, 40 percent off select Lego sets, sales on various game consoles, and more. [Read more...]

Jakks Pacific Teams with Meisheng Culture & Creative Corp. to Bring Jakks Products to China

jakks_logoJakks Pacific Inc. and Meisheng Culture & Creative Corp. Ltd., a Chinese entertainment and cultural production industry group, have entered into a joint venture to provide Jakks licensed and non-licensed toys and consumer products to certain territories in China. The joint venture will include a subsidiary in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, which is expected to sell, distribute, and market the products.

Jakks Pacific will provide dolls, plush, role play products, action figures, costumes, seasonal items, technology and app-enhanced toys, and more, based on its entertainment licenses and proprietary brands.

“Through our partnership with Meisheng, with their trusted name and strong foothold in the Chinese market, we are aiming to bring our diverse portfolio of toys and consumer products into the robust Chinese market to allow millions of families to enjoy our great brands and products,” said Stephen Berman, chief executive officer at Jakks Pacific.

In a statement, Xiaoqiang Zhao, the chairman of Meisheng Cultural & Creative Corp. Ltd., cited the joint venture with Jakks as advantageous to the development of the Chinese toy market.