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.

Hasbro Franchise Brands Show Strength in Third Quarter

Hasbro logoToday, Hasbro Inc. reported financial results for the third quarter, in which net revenues increased 7 percent to $1.47 billion, compared to $1.37 billion last year. Foreign exchange had an unfavorable $10.8 million impact on third quarter revenues.

Reported net earnings for the third quarter were $180.5 million, or $1.40 per diluted share, compared to $126.6 million, or $0.96 per diluted share, last year. Adjusted net earnings for the third quarter were $187.8 million, or $1.46 per diluted share, excluding a pre-tax charge of $11.6 million, or $0.06 per diluted share, related to the restructuring of the company’s investment in the Hub Network joint venture. By comparison, adjusted net earnings for the third quarter last year were $172.5 million, or $1.31 per diluted share.

U.S. and Canada segment net revenues increased 4 percent to $764.3 million compared to $735.6 million last year. International segment net revenues increased 11 percent to $649.3 million compared to $582.7 million last year, reflecting 7 percent growth in Europe, 24 percent growth in Latin America, and 11 percent growth in the Asia Pacific region, as well as growth in the Boys, Girls, and Preschool categories. In total, Emerging Markets revenues increased 29 percent. [Read more...]

Auldey Toys North America to Launch Next Year, Appoints Adrian Roche as President

AudleyChina-based Guangdong Alpha Animation and Culture Co. Ltd. has created Auldey Toys North America, which will launch its new headquarters in Boston, Mass. The Auldey Toys subsidiary comes as the company prepares for 2015, which will feature a focus on its established boys, R/C, and vehicles lines.

Auldey Toys will also launch its first North American preschool animation program, Super Wings, which will air next year.

Auldey Toys North America has appointed Adrian Roche as the company president. Joining Auldey Toys after eight years as vice president of brands at Mega Brands, and previously serving as vice president at The First Years (Tomy), Roche brings significant experience in the boys and preschool categories.

Auldey Toys North America has retained ChizComm Ltd. as its marketing agency.

Mattel Reports Third Quarter Financial Results, Including Lower Barbie and Fisher-Price Sales

Mattel_logoLast Thursday, Mattel Inc. reported third quarter financial results, including net income of $331.8 million for the quarter, or $0.97 per share. This includes a negative impact of $0.05 per share from Mega Brands integration costs and a tax benefit of $0.04 per share. This compares to last year’s third quarter net income of $422.8 million, or $1.21 per share, which included a tax benefit of $0.05 per share.

For the quarter, net sales were $2.02 billion, down 8 percent compared to $2.21 billion last year, while on a regional basis, third quarter gross sales decreased 7 percent in the North American region. For the international region, gross sales decreased 7 percent, including an unfavorable impact of currency exchange rates of 1 percentage point. [Read more...]

Batman Honored by U.S. Postal Service with Limited Edition Forever Batman Stamps

Batman himself at New York Comic Con.

Last Thursday, the U.S. Postal Service, in collaboration with Warner Bros. Consumer Products and DC Entertainment, kicked off New York Comic Con 2014 at the Javitz Center by dedicating the Limited Edition Forever Batman Stamps. Eight commemorative Batman designs were revealed, depicting Batman from the four distinct eras of comic book history, and including the various incarnations of the famed Bat emblem.

Four versions of Batman are depicted from the four eras of comic book history: the Modern Age, the Bronze Age, the Silver Age, and the Golden Age. In addition, there are four incarnations of the famed Bat-Signal, the spotlight that Gotham City Police Commissioner James Gordon sends into the night sky to summon Batman.

The Batman Limited Edition stamps are being issued as Forever stamps and will be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price. Customers may purchase them at usps.com/stamps, the Postal Store, at 1-(800)-STAMP24 (800-782-6724), and at post offices nationwide.

Madame Alexander Goes International with New Line of Dolls

madamealexanderThe Madame Alexander Doll Company’s new play doll series, Travel Friends–International Collection, will showcase nine countries and encourage children to learn about and embrace a variety of cultures from around the world.

Each doll welcomes kids into her world with a Hello! from her county and offers fun facts and highlights of interesting places to explore in her hometown. The 7-inch dolls are sized for playful portability and crafted with details of each country’s cultures and costumes.

The countries in the series are France, Italy, India, Kenya, Ireland, Mexico, Germany, China, and Russia. The bendable and posable dolls are the first collection in an ongoing Madame Alexander Play series designed for kids ages 3 and up.