Anchor Bay Celebrates New Chuggington DVD and 30th Anniversary of My Gym

CHUGPATROL

To celebrate the August 20 release of Chug Patrol: Ready to Rescue, the newest Chuggington DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment, and the 30th Anniversary of My Gym, participating My Gym locations will feature colorful Chuggington window clings displayed in each facility as well as counter cards with coupons for a discount on purchase of Chug Patrol: Ready to Rescue or any other Chuggington DVD.

In celebration of its 30th anniversary, My Gym hosted a nationwide contest in search of America’s “fittest family,” with Chuggington DVDs included among the prizes. In addition, My Gym prominently features the partnership with Chuggington on all social media websites and promotional items. Anchor Bay will highlight My Gym with full-panel inserts in the packaging of all Chug Patrol: Ready to Rescue DVDs.  The company also will provide exposure for My Gym on the Chuggington social media pages.my gym logo

TOTY Award Winners Announced

More than five hundred toy industry executives and guests from around the globe gathered in New York City on February 11 to honor their peers at the 12th annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards and Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

A Toy Industry Association (TIA)-administered event in support of the Toy Industry Foundation, the  gala held in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center kicked off the 109th American International Toy Fair and paid tribute to today’s superstars, tomorrow’s bright up-and-comers, and illustrious toy industry icons.

Interspersed with the presentations of 12 TOTY Awards were two inductions into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame: Arnie Rubin, Founder and CEO of Funrise Toy, and the late Frederick August Otto Schwarz, founder of FAO Schwarz. The new inductees join a distinguished roster of nearly 60 toy industry luminaries who have been inducted into the Hall since its establishment in 1985.

Award winners were selected with the input of consumers (on ToyAwards.org), retailers (mass and specialty), media, and members of the toy industry. The five ballots were weighted and used to determine the category winners as well as the overall “Toy of the Year” award.
LeapPad Explorer by LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. received the coveted “Toy of the Year” title and was also awarded Educational Toy of the Year and Preschool Toy of the Year. The awards program included 77 finalists across the 11 categories.

And the winners are…

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Revisions Made to Key Parts of ASTM F963

The ASTM International Committee F15 on Consumer Products has approved revisions to ASTM F963 (Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety). Changes made to the standard include revisions to the section on heavy metals, the introduction of compositing procedures, and new safety requirements and technical guidance for bath toy projections, acoustics, and other potential safety hazards in toys.

ASTM F963, under the jurisdiction of Subcommittee F15.22 on Toy Safety, includes guidelines and test methods to prevent injuries from choking, sharp edges, and other potential hazards. The standard is reviewed and updated on a regular basis by the subcommittee, which includes technical experts from academia, consumer groups, industry, and government.

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Stardoll Partners with Barbie for Global Doll Line

Stardoll, the global online fashion and gaming community for girls, has partnered with Barbie to bring the world of virtual dress-up and online play to life with the new “Stardoll by Barbie” line of collectible fashion dolls. The partnership marks the Stardoll brand’s first foray into translating its online fashion portal into physical dolls, allowing Barbie fans to extend the possibilities of the Stardoll world offline.

The “Stardoll by Barbie” collection will feature eight new fashion dolls, based on four of the most popular virtual Stardoll stores in Starplaza. Inspired by Stardoll avatars, “Stardoll by Barbie” dolls come packaged mirroring signature avatar poses. Each doll features details such as rooted eyelashes, a unique face and body sculpt, as well as a distinct signature style.

“Stardoll by Barbie” will be available at retail in the U.S. beginning this month, with another five dolls slated for spring 2012. Three accessory packs let Stardoll fans mix and match the fashions and accessories, and give girls the interchangeable closet experience of the Stardoll virtual world in the real world.

“Stardoll by Barbie” dolls will come with a gift card for complimentary membership on Stardoll.com for new and existing members, Stardollars to spend on all Superstar items on the Stardoll site as well as free exclusive virtual gifts.

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Don’t forget to check out The Toy Insider at www.thetoyinsider.com and The Halloween Insider for even more news!

Report: Toys Imported into U.S. Dropped 9 Percent in September

Toys imports into the United States dropped 9 percent in September year-over-year, according to figures from The Journal of Commerce/PIERS. September was the eighth straight drop for toys coming into the U.S. The drop in container volume is attributed mostly to China.

The 60,616 20-foot-equivalent units arriving at ports in September, according to measurements by PIERS, marked a 7.6 percent year-to-date drop—or 30,430 fewer containers—from the same period last year. To date, 89 percent of overall inbound toy shipments this year have originated in China (including Hong Kong). China’s market share is down 2 percent compared to 2010, while toy shipments from Vietnam have grown 82 percent between 2001 and 2010. A full analysis of the JOC/PIERS findings is available online at www.joc.com.

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TIA Partners with Adventure Publishing for Licensing Showcase Co-Located at Toy Fair

New York City is slated to become the next stop on the global licensing circuit as the Toy Industry Association (TIA) launches its new Brand & Entertainment Showcase in February. Co-located with the 109th American International Toy Fair, to be held February 12-15 in New York, the showcase offers an impactful and convenient content connection for entertainment licensors and brand owners alike. The event provides opportunities for exclusive access to top-tier media, marketing agencies, and an audience of 30,000+ tradeshow guests from more than 90 countries. Adventure Publishing Group is the exclusive media partner of the Brand & Entertainment Showcase.

The new Brand & Entertainment Showcase satisfies increased demands from the licensing community to collaborate in a formalized setting at the show. Content providers will be able to simply show up and show off in small, private meeting spaces or large, public theaters. Turnkey presentation solutions and an audience of marketers ensure that all participants’ needs will be met.

As the largest and most important gathering for youth entertainment in the Western Hemisphere, Toy Fair last year welcomed an unprecedented surge in entertainment executives (+31 percent) and licensors (+8 percent). In 2010, licensed toys represented 25 percent of total industry sales. In addition, the co-located Brand & Entertainment Showcase gives participants access to the important ancillary advertising, marketing, and promotion-oriented industries that are concentrated in and around the media epicenter of the world.

Adventure Publishing’s signature publications—The Licensing Book and The Toy

Book—and its online communities will be a primary conduit of information and updates about the showcase to the global community, and the key vehicles for brand advertisers during the event itself.

For more information about participating in TIA’s Brand and Entertainment Showcase, contact Jennifer Coleman, sales executive and producer (973.760.8181, jennifer@jcinc.biz); for information about advertising opportunities, please contact Jonathan Samet at Adventure Publishing (212.575.4510, jsamet@adventurepub.com).

Poof-Slinky Acquires Product Lines from Elmer’s

Poof-Slinky, Inc., has acquired the Scientific Explorer and Fuzzoodles product lines, and other related assets, from Elmer’s Products, Inc. Both product lines, formerly assets of Elmer’s Giddy Up division, have extensive North American and international distribution.

The Scientific Explorer line, a decades long mainstay in the science and activity category, consists of a wide range of multi-faceted kits that introduce hands-on science in a fun, easy format. Several kits such as Bubble Gum Activity Kit, Spa Science, Meteor Rocket Kit, and Magic Science Wizards, cover the quirky side of science, and within each kit, combine an equal mix of education and activity to capture kids’ interest and imagination.

Fuzzoodles, an activity line made up of fluffy, colorful noodles that bend and twist, were introduced in 2010 and promoted through television, print and social media outlets. Each product in the activity line includes an array of wacky accessories that allow a child to flip and switch parts to create endless customized characters. Products such as Monster Madness, Crazy Critters, Glamour Girl, and Plush Pals are a few of the many items within the line.

According to Ray Dallavecchia, President and CEO of POOF®-Slinky®, Inc., “we are pleased to add these innovative product lines to our portfolio of brands.  We believe with the addition of the Scientific Explorer line, Poof-Slinky, Inc. will be the premier provider of science and activity related products in the industry. The Fuzzoodles line will broaden our activity range under the Ideal brand, and give us a platform to expand further within this category.”

Universal Pictures and Walmart Unveil Exclusive Hop Merchandise

Universal Pictures and Walmart have announced a retail program tied to the upcoming live action/CG-animated comedy Hop, the second film from Illumination Entertainment (Despicable Me) that hits movie theaters across the country on April 1. Walmart customers can build their Hop-themed Easter baskets, and visit the movie-inspired “Candy Factory,” with 100 exclusive licensed products, including candy, toys, activities, and apparel.
“This is the first time we’ve worked with a licensed property to brand an important seasonal event in Walmart stores,” said Gary Severson, senior vice president, Home Entertainment, Walmart U.S.
The program, which rolled out March 17 in more than 3,000 Walmart stores, includes a dedicated aisle rolling out sweet Easter treats, and a Build-a-Basket Factory. Toys include character plush toys from Funrise, coloring and activity books from Dalmation Press, bubbles, pinwheels, paddle board, memory card games, etc. from Funrise, and Hop-themed video games for the Nintendo DS, DSi, and 3DS.
Blending animation with live action, Hop is a comedy about E.B. (voiced by Russell Brand), the teenage son of the Easter Bunny. On the eve of taking over the family business, E.B. leaves for Hollywood in pursuit of his dream of becoming a drummer. He encounters Fred (James Marsden), an out-of-work slacker with his own lofty goals, who accidentally hits E.B. with his car. Feigning injury, E.B. manipulates Fred into providing him shelter, and Fred finds himself with the world’s worst house guest.

Retail Sales Climb; Fastest Rate in Four Months

Improvements in the U.S. economy bolstered retailers’ February sales, reflecting improved consumer sentiment as it relates to spending. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), retail industry sales (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) for February 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted from January and 4.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

“Retailers have done a commendable job keeping their inventory levels where they need to be, while still offering attractive promotions for those who are eager to spend,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “The big challenge retailers will face in the coming months, however, will be going head to head with high cotton, food, and energy prices.”

“February retail sales are in sync with evidence of the expanding economy,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “While February is typically a slow month for retailers, consumers showed their spending power, though it’s too soon to tell what type of impact the spike in gasoline prices will have on consumers this spring.”

February retail sales released today by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations, and restaurants) increased 1 percent seasonally adjusted over January and 9.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Solid growth in discretionary spending was seen across the board.