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.

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...]