China Toy Fair


Toys “R” Us Bolsters Leadership Team to Drive TRU Transformation Strategy

toysrusToys “R” Us Inc. has appointed a number of proven executives to key leadership roles, as the company continues to position its business for long-term profitable growth.

Debbie Lentz has been named senior vice president, chief supply chain officer, with responsibility for U.S. distribution and customs compliance, global importing and exporting, fleet operations, and domestic transportation. She will report to Hank Mullany, president, Toys “R” Us, U.S. In this role, Lentz will oversee inventory planning and allocation, as well as e-commerce fulfillment, while driving efforts to significantly improve in-stock levels both in stores and online. She will also lead logistics strategy development for the company’s international markets and efforts to improve global supply chain efficiencies, reporting in this capacity to Antonio Urcelay, chairman and CEO of Toys “R” Us Inc.

Lentz most recently held the position of senior vice president, customer service and logistics, at Kraft Foods Group. Prior to Kraft, she worked for many years in logistics operations at Nabisco Foods Group. [Read more...]

Jeffrey Dunn Named President and CEO, Sesame Workshop

sesame-workshopVincent Mai, chairman of the board of trustees of Sesame Workshop, announced today the appointment of Jeffrey Dunn as president and CEO of Sesame Workshop, effective September 29. Dunn, formerly the president and CEO of Hit Entertainment, will succeed Mel Ming, who announced his retirement earlier this year.

Dunn currently serves as a 2014 Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow at Harvard University with a focus on media and education. Previously, he served as president and CEO of Hit Entertainment from 2008 until 2012. Before joining Hit, Dunn served as group COO of the Nickelodeon Networks group and the president of Nickelodeon Film and Enterprises, where, among other things, he built Nickelodeon’s international networks business and oversaw the growth of Blue’s Clues, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Dora the Explorer into three of the world’s largest licensed property brands.

On the Hunt with Jordan Hembrough

When you step inside Hollywood Heroes in Westwood, N.J., you can literally smell the nostalgia (for those of you who are unfamiliar, nostalgia smells similar to dust-covered cardboard and childhood memories—but like, in a good way). In the collectible toy shop, bright lights beam down on glass cases displaying superhero relics with more than 40 years under their utility belts, making these toys anything but child’s play.

Owner of Hollywood Heroes and star of the reality TV show Toy Hunter, Jordan Hembrough poses with a plush version of himself.

Owner of the shop and star of the Travel Channel series Toy Hunter, Jordan Hembrough is an expert in the art of toy collecting, with more than 25 years of professional experience dealing toys. However, toys were always an integral part of Hembrough’s life. From schoolyard selling, Hembrough entered the big-time after college, when he secured a job as a buyer for StarLog, a chain of science-fiction-focused retail stores. Despite a lack of business background, Hembrough eventually went on to launch his own company, Hollywood Heroes. “I had the passion, and I think sometimes passion will drive you more than a business plan,” he says. [Read more...]

Dan Sugrue Joins Jazwares LLC as UK Sales Director

jazwaresDan Sugrue has joined Jazwares LLC as its UK sales director, and will lead the London-based sales force at retailers across the region. Most recently, Sugrue served as business manager for Flair Leisure Products Ltd.

The news follows the recent announcement of an investment by Allegheny Capital Corporation, and marks the company’s continued global growth and firm commitment to the expansion of its UK operation.

Chicago Toy & Game Group’s Mary Couzin Selected to Judge DevelopHer Challenge

ChicagoMary Couzin, the founder and CEO of the Chicago Toy & Game Group, has been selected to sit on an eight-person panel of judges for the 2014 DevelopHer Toy & Game Challenge, which charges individuals and companies to create new science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)-based toys for young children, particularly girls.

Joining Couzin will be actresses and activists Geena Davis and Maria Bello, as well as Clare Munn, the CEO and founder of the social impact media company The Communication Group. Couzin and her fellow judges will critique games designed to challenge girls from the ages of three to 12.

Any individuals or companies with a valid prototype are eligible for entry to the DevelopHer Toy & Game Challenge.

Sean Hynes Joins VTech as Vice President of Sales

New-VTech-LogoVTech has appointed Sean Hynes as vice president of sales. A marketing veteran with more than 20 years of experience in sales leadership and brand management, including 15 years in the toy industry, Hynes will oversee VTech’s sales operations from its U.S. headquarters in Chicago, Ill.

In his new role, Hynes will aim to increase sales of VTech’s newest products, including the Kidizoom Smartwatch and the InnoTab MAX. He will also oversee sales of additions to VTech’s extensive infant/preschool range, Switch & Go Dinos Turbo, Go! Go! Smart Wheels, and brand expansion, Go! Go! Smart Animals. [Read more...]

LeapFrog Adds VP of Sales and VP of Platform Marketing

LEAPFROG ENTERPRISES LOGOLeapFrog Enterprises Inc. recently added two executives: Dan Burns and Scott A. Steinberg.

Burns joins LeapFrog as vice president of sales. In his new role, Burns will lead LeapFrog’s efforts to drive sales of the company’s award-winning products, including the recently unveiled LeapTV active video gaming system, the new LeapBand activity tracker, and more.

Prior to joining LeapFrog, Burns was vice president of sales at VTech Electronics for 10 years, where he drove record sales revenue and profit, set the strategy for global brand and product development efforts, and led retail merchandising initiatives for all sales accounts. He previously held executive sales positions at Radio Flyer Corporation and Hedstrom Corporation, as well as management positions at Hasbro and Kolcraft. [Read more...]

Genius Brands Names Stone Newman President, Global Consumer Products

StoneNewmanGenius Brands International Inc. (GBI) has appointed Stone Newman to the newly created post of president, Global Consumer Products. In this new role, Newman will work with retailers and licensees to build comprehensive consumer products programs for each of the company’s brands, including Baby Genius, Secret Millionaires Club, Stan Lee’s Mighty 7, and others. He will also appoint and oversee a team of licensing agencies from around the world to operate as sub agents.

Newman will continue to manage licensing programs represented by his former company, Art + Science International, including WowWee brands, ElectroKidz, MiP, and Archie Comics.  These brands will now be managed under GBI’s wholly owned subsidiary, A Squared Entertainment LLC.

Schleich Names Jeremy Robinson as New Country Manager

Jeremy RobinsonJeremy Robinson has been appointed as Schleich UK’s new country manager. He will take over responsibility for the UK and Eire from Gary Wilmot.

Robinson, who took up his new post beginning this month, has a wealth of sales experience within the toy trade, having held senior sales posts previously at Tomy and Bluw.

VTech Taps Jennifer Eiselein to Lead Marketing Team

VTech-LogoVTech has hired Jennifer Eiselein, a former Amazon senior manager who was instrumental in the launches of the company’s Kindle tablets and e-readers, as its new marketing director. She will lead VTech’s marketing team from its U.S. headquarters in Chicago, oversee the creation and execution of innovative campaigns for VTech’s brands, employ strategies to generate brand awareness, and target customers to enhance growth in key markets.

Prior to joining VTech, Eiselein served as senior manager for merchandising and marketing at Amazon’s Appstore in the U.S. and Canada.