WIT to Host Networking Breakfast, Sponsor PlayCHIC, and More at ChiTAG

WIT.logoWomen in Toys, Licensing, and Entertainment (WIT), will be celebrating the power of play at the Chicago Toy & Game Week from November 20 through 23.

WIT is a premier sponsor of PlayCHIC, the industry’s annual play-inspired fashion show. The event pairs couture fashion designers with toy and games brands to create runway looks, and this year’s show will feature a WIT-inspired look.

On November 21, WIT will celebrate the Rising Star Award nomination of organization president and Brandberry Inc. founder, Ashley Mady, at the 7th annual TAGIE Awards. The celebration honors toy and game inventors worldwide, and will be held in the Grand Ballroom at Chicago’s Navy Pier. Mady is nominated for her work with the Wicked Cool Toys brand, Crashlings, which she co-invented.

WIT’s Wake Up With WIT breakfast networking event will be held on November 22. Building product for today’s market, going for a TV licensed property, the power of mentorship, and business empowering girls are some of the topics to be discussed. The breakfast is open to WIT members and non-members, aimed at professional men and women in the toy, games, licensing, and entertainment industries. [Read more...]

Gift Cards Are Shoppers’ Choice This Holiday Season, Says NRF

nrfThis holiday season, gift card spending is set to top all previous records. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF)’s Gift Card Spending Survey, the average person buying gift cards will spend $172.74, up from $163.16 last year, with total spending expected to reach $31.74 billion. In an October NRF survey, 62 percent of shoppers said they would like to receive a gift card, making gift cards the most requested gift item for eight years in a row.

According to the survey, shoppers will spend more on average per card than they did last year, with total spending on gift cards increasing 83 percent since NRF began tracking consumers’ intentions to buy gift cards as holiday gifts in 2003.

The survey found adults 65 and up will spend the most on gift cards, with young adults between 18 to 24 years old spending the least, and men planning to spend significantly more than women ($180.81 versus $165.09, respectively).

Shoppers noted the ease of buying, the ability to allow recipients to select their own gifts, and sticking to holiday budgets as top reasons for choosing gift cards over traditional gifts. Gift cards for department stores, restaurants, and coffee shops are expected to be top choices this holiday season.

Fisher-Price Appoints Vinnie D’Alleva to SVP, Steve LaBella to Licensed Properties

FisherPriceFisher-Price Inc. has appointed Vinnie D’Alleva as senior vice president (SVP) at Fisher-Price Friends. D’Alleva will be responsible for the Thomas & Friends brand, as well as other HIT Entertainment properties such as Bob the Builder. He has more than 25 years of marketing experience, a majority of it spent in the toy and juvenile product space.

In addition, Steve LaBella, who currently seves as senior vice president of Fisher-Price Preschool, will also assume the additional role of being responsible for product development for licensed properties, including Dora and Friends: Into the City! and Jake and the Neverland Pirates.

TIA to Host Webinar on Technology’s Impact on Future Play Trends

Toy_Industry_Association_Inc_logoThe Toy Industry Association (TIA) will host a webinar, From PDA to Pandora: A Decade of Technology Disruption and How it Affects the Family, on December 10. The one-hour webinar will provide an overview of trends in consumer electronics ownership among families—and how technology is expected to impact future play trends.

Russ Crupnick, consultant at The NPD Group and managing partner of MusicWatch Inc., will present the webinar, which will be moderated by Anne McConnell, TIA director of market research and data strategy. Crupnick will highlight key trends from NPD’s Kids & CE reports from the last 10 years, as well as provide a recap of his presentation at PlayCon last spring, which addressed the impact of technology in the toy market.

Webinar participants will learn key trends in consumer electronics ownership and usage; what influences families to purchase tech devices for children, how the products are used, and how adoption varies by age and gender; how technology fragments toy and play customers and impacts different segments of the customer base; and how technology changes shopping and discovery habits—and how marketers need to adapt.

The webinar is free for TIA members and $49 for non-members. Registration is required. Questions from participants may be submitted in advance to TIA’s Jackie Retzer at jretzer@toyassociation.org, and answers will be folded into the presentation when possible. The session will be recorded and available post-event for those who are unable to participate live.

Merger Deal Between Hasbro and Dreamworks Animation Reportedly Dead

It’s been widely reported that merger negotiations between Hasbro and DreamWorks Animation have been called off, due in part to the stock performance of Hasbro, as well as the high asking price by DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Hasbro reportedly ended conversations on Friday, for reasons that included a $30 share price asked for by Katzenberg. Some analysts deemed that price high. In addition, the possible merger had a negative effect on Hasbro’s stock–it fell on both Thursday and Friday–which is said to have concerned execs at the company.

The deal would have been worth at $2.3 billion, as reported by Variety.

By joining forces with DreamWorks Animation, Hasbro would have had the means of increasing its film and TV presence, while in theory, DreamWorks would have benefited from a more diverse revenue stream via Hasbro. DreamWorks’ properties include Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, and Madagascar. Hasbro, meanwhile, owns such toy brands as Transformers and G.I. Joe.

Kevin Bacon Visit a Highlight of Neighborhood Toy Store Day

kevin baconShoppers at Kidding Around! toy store in Greenwich Village weren’t kidding last Saturday when they rushed home to tell friends and family they were one degree closer to actor Kevin Bacon.

To mark the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association’s Neighborhood Toy Store Day, Bacon stopped by Kidding Around! and took a turn as a cashier and a gift wrapper. Bacon’s charity, sixdegrees.org, connects celebrities with socially-conscious causes that can use a boost from celebrity events or drop-ins.

 

Barnes & Noble Kicks Off Holiday Shopping Season with Discovery Weekend

Barnes & Noble will host a Discovery Weekend, a three-day event to kick off the holiday shopping season, to launch in all stores nationwide from November 21 through November 23. The event will build on the company’s first-ever Discovery Friday last year, and the expanded program will begin one week before Black Friday. The weekend will feature family-friendly events, interactive activities, Storytime events, and book signings and appearances by more than 100 bestselling authors and personalities like Red Hot Chili Peppers front man Anthony Kiedis, Bill Nye “The Science Guy,” and actress Evangeline Lilly.

Throughout the weekend, customers will receive promotions, special discounts, and Nook offers. For the first time, Barnes & Noble will provide customized gift ideas to holiday shoppers on Twitter using the hashtag #BNGiftTip through December 23.

Events taking place at Barnes & Noble stores across the country include a Linkee Trivia Tournament on November 21; transforming a book or card using the ArtFolds technique; learning how to draw like Mo Willems, puppet-making and holiday sing-along, and a Fluxx game night on November 22; and storytime, crafts, and activities on November 23.

Barnes & Noble will also be hosting giveaways during Discovery Weekend. Customers can visit the Nook counter to demonstrate the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook. Guests will be able to enter to win a trip for two to New York City and a $1,000 Barnes & Noble Gift Card to meet, greet, and shop with Nick Jonas. Also, shoppers will be encouraged to wear their Most Outrageous Holiday Sweaters to wear at local Barnes & Noble Stores. If shoppers post a photo of their outfit on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the hashtag #BNSweaterContest, they will enter to win one of three grand prizes.

The May Cheong Group Announces Licensing Agreement with Ferrari

MCGFERRARIEXCLUSIVEThe May Cheong Group (MCG), manufacturers of die-cast and R/C replica brands Maisto and Bburago, has signed an exclusive agreement with Ferrari. The multi-year deal, which commences in January, grants MCG the exclusive rights to manufacture and distribute Ferrari replicas throughout the world.

MCG has had an ongoing relationship with Ferrari for more than 25 years. Bburago, a die-cast brand from Italy that MCG acquired in 2005, and which is celebrating its 40th anniversary next year, also has a lengthy history with Ferrari. Next year’s planned launch includes four ranges of products within the Bburago brand: Signature Series, Racing, Race and Play, and Ferrari Kids. [Read more...]

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.