China Toy Fair


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.

Moshi Monsters Boss Michael Acton Smith Steps Down

Michael Acton Smith, who has run Mind Candy for 10 years, will step down. He has stated that he wants to focus on a more creative role rather than the day-to-day running of the firm.

Divinia Knowles, who has been at the company for eight years, and is currently chief operating and financial officer, will become president. A new chief executive will be announced at a later date, the company has said.

Mind Candy is known for the children’s social network Moshi Monsters, one of the world’s most popular children’s social networks, with around 80 million users. The service operates through paid subscriptions; however, associated merchandise—plush toys, music albums and other spin-offs—generate roughly half of Mind Candy’s revenue.

K’NEX Promotes Rachel Robbins to Vice President

K’NEX has promoted Rachel Robbins to vice president, legal affairs and general counsel. Hired in 2013, Robbins previously served as associate general counsel for K’NEX Brands, and prior to joining K’NEX, she was a partner in the Commercial Litigation group of the law firm Cozen O’Connor.

In her new position, Robbins will provide legal counsel to company management and business teams as to commercial relationships, as well as all general corporate matters, including contracts, employment, regulatory, and intellectual property.

LeapFrog Appoints Steve Youngwood to Board of Directors

Steve Youngwood has joined the board of directors for LeapFrog Enterprises Inc. He most recently served as executive vice president and general manager of digital media and entertainment products at Nickelodeon.

Youngwood joined Viacom in 1997 and most recently led all Nickelodeon Digital efforts, including websites, mobile, connected TVs, TV Everywhere and other emerging platforms. He also led Nickelodeon’s video, gaming, and book publishing businesses across all digital and traditional retail channels, and oversaw the acquisition and integration of five digital companies. Youngwood has also held various senior management positions in Consumer Products, ran the Nick and NickJr magazines, and worked in the Strategy and Business Development Group.

MGA Appoints Anne Gates as President

MGA Entertainment (MGAE) has appointed Anne Gates as president. Gates joined MGAE in early 2014 and MGA says she has proven to be a strategic and creative leader for the company’s portfolio of family entertainment franchises. In her new role, Gates will oversee all of MGAE’s global businesses and operations.

“Having Anne Gates as president will allow me to innovate and work more closely with the MGAE team on a vision for an exciting future, while Anne handles the day-to-day operation of the business. Anne and I will work very closely together to take MGAE to new heights,” says Isaac Larian, CEO of MGA Entertainment. “Her incredible determination and proven performance in systematically growing businesses, paired with her exceptional management and entertainment experience, will help position the company for continued growth and leadership in the toy and entertainment world.” [Read more...]

SBA to Host National Small Business Week in Washington, D.C.

Ryan McFarland from Strider Sports International Inc. has won South Dakota’s Small Business Person of the Year. He will join winners from the other 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam at the U.S. Small Business Administration’s National Small Business Week in Washington, D.C., from May 15 to 16. At the conference, a National Small Business Person of the Year for 2014 will be chosen and the winners will have opportunities to meet with top SBA officials and national business leaders.

Les Berger, Founder of Cardinal Industries, Passes Away at Age 95

The Toy Book is so sorry to hear about the passing of Leslie Berger, founder of Cardinal Industries.

In 1944, Les Berger founded the company with a dream and knowledge of plastics, on the corner of Keape and Hope Streets in Brooklyn, N.Y. The first product that he produced was dominoes. Now Cardinal Industries games and puzzles in some of the most popular licenses, while maintaining business in core basic games, such as dominoes. Berger continued to work, and until very recently, was still coming into the office to work. He was a true pioneer in the business.

Berger lived his 95 years surrounded by a loving family. His son Joel and daughter Bonnie, who have take over and grown the company to a very successful privately owned toy company that is committed to making family-friendly, challenging, and innovative games and puzzles that are affordable for everyone. His wife Sylvia has been his partner in life and business for 64 years.

He will be profoundly missed by his entire family:  Sylvia, Joel, Bonnie, Jody, his grandchildren Carly, Ilana, Justin, Perri; and his numerous friends and countless associates in the toy industry.

Ashley Mady Elected New President of Women in Toys

Feb10.AshleyHeadshotThe Woman in Toys Board of Trustees has unanimously elected Ashley Mady as the organization’s new president, effective April 1. Mady is currently president and founder of Brandberry Inc. In addition, she has been an active board member of the South Florida Chapter Chair, co-chair of the Wonder Woman in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment Awards Dinner for several years, and chairs the Web and Social Media Committees.

The announcement coincides with the 10th Annual Wonder Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment Awards. Joan Packard Luks, president of Woman in Toys since August 2010, will receive the 2014 Presidents Award. Mady is Luk’s successor as president of the organization.