JAKKS Partners with Dentsu for Boys’ Action Property
JAKKS Pacific, Inc. is teaming up with Dentsu Inc. to produce an animated television series based on Monsuno, a new original boys’ action property. The Monsuno property follows adventure-seeking boys who get their hands on re-awakened Monster DNA. The property is being developed as 52 animated episodes and will be launched as a toy line, both targeted to boys ages 6-11. Monsuno is slated to launch in 2011 in North America, Europe, and Asia.
Monsuno will be developed by JAKKS and Dentsu in conjunction with Dentsu’s Los Angeles-headquartered subsidiary, DCI-LA. Former producer of Bakugan Battle Brawlers, Mitsuharu Inoue, will serve as creative director.
Hong Kong’s Toy Exports Fall for 2009
According to figures released by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), Hong Kong’s toy exports fell 10 percent to $88.55 billion HK ($11.35 billion U.S.) in the first 11 months of 2009. While toy exports to Czech rose 58.2 percent, exports to Russia fell 57.1 percent, exports to the U.S. dropped 23.6 percent, and exports to the European Union dipped 8 percent. Baby product exports reached approximately $6 billion HK ($726 million U.S.) in the first 11 months of 2009. Hong Kong’s top export markets were the U.S., UK, Macao, Italy, and France.
Sakar Signs Licenses for Iron Man 2, EA Sports
Sakar International is developing an Iron Man 2-branded line of spy gear, inspired by the upcoming movie release. The products are being developed under a license agreement with Marvel Entertainment. Expected to feature over a dozen SKUs, the product line will include spy watches, walkie talkie/voice changers, digital and video cameras, nightvision goggles, blacklight decoders, micro-listening devices, and video game accessories. Release dates will coincide with the movie's slated opening on May 7.
Sakar has also announced a license agreement with Electronic Arts, Inc. to produce Wii and Nintendo DS gaming accessories and youth electronics under the EA Sports brand. Products will include gaming controls, skins and styluses for EA Sports and EA Sports Active titles, and a full range of audio and computer accessories such as MP3 players with sports-themed faceplates. The first items are expected to be released in spring 2010. The agreement marks the first time that the company will work directly with a game developer to design gaming accessories for game titles.
Enesco Inks VeggieTales License
Enesco, LLC is entering into a licensing agreement with Big Idea, Inc., to develop and distribute new products featuring VeggieTales characters and their faith-based messages. Enesco’s portfolio of brands includes its Gund plush division and its Gregg Gift division, one of the nation’s leading producers of faith-based gift products. VeggieTales products from Enesco are expected to be offered to retailers by midyear 2010 and be available in stores by the fall.
Step2 Closes Georgia Plant
The Step2 Company is closing its manufacturing plant in Fort Valley, Ga., reports Georgia Public Broadcasting. The company notified the 104 employees today. Employees will be able to keep their benefits for 60 days and severance pay based on how long they have been with the company. Operations will be shifted to the company's two plants in Ohio. The Fort Valley plant opened in 2000.
Grani & Partners Broaden Product Range
Seeking to broaden its product range to the younger market, Grani & Partners S.p.A., a part of the Preziosi Group, has become active with its Preziosi Collection and GP Publishing divisions and brands across Europe’s newsstands, bookshops, and toy centers. The company is offering collections of gadgets and accessories, magazines, mangas, comic books, and DVDs under license.
Grani & Partners’ products (including accessories, soft toys, beauty and fashion sets, leisure products, school items, die-cast models, inflatables, magnets, stickers, cards, 3-D figurines, tin sheet objects, watches, alarm clocks, pen-tops, bags, plush dolls, and more) are based on significant properties in entertainment and sports for children. For more information visit the Preziosi Group stand at the Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair Nürnberg.
WHAM-O to Bring Frisbee Production to U.S.
Starting at the end of the month, WHAM-O will produce half of its Frisbees in the United States, which the company says is an effort to increase manufacturing jobs in the domestic market. The domestic production is part of a partnership with Manufacturing Marvel America, a division of the international Manufacturing Marvel Group, which specializes in plastic injection molding for toys and operates facilities in California and Michigan. Last August, WHAM-O began producing one of its PoolZone products in Michigan.
Disney Store to Open in Times Square
A new Disney store is slated to open in New York City’s Times Square in the fall. The retail space at 1540 Broadway, between 45th and 46th streets, will include an interactive Disney Princess castle, a children’s theater featuring the latest Disney entertainment, and special events such as celebrity appearances and children’s activities. Renovations will begin soon.
Over the next five years, Disney Store plans to strategically balance its retail portfolio, enter new markets, and transform more than 300 locations across the U.S. and Europe to feature the new design. The lease for the new space was signed with Vornado Realty Trust, negotiated by RCS Real Estate Advisors, and brokered by SRS Real Estate Partners.
Amulet to Publish Wimpy Kid Movie Book
Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS, will publish The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary, a new book by Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. The book will release on Tuesday, March 16.
The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary will tell how Kinney’s bestselling novels moved from the printed page to the big screen. Twentieth Century Fox is set to release a film adaptation of the cartoons on April 2. The new book will feature all-new illustrations, movie stills, storyboards, and preliminary concept drawings.
New Environmental Sustainability Seminar at Toy Fair 2010
At Toy Fair 2010, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) will host a seminar on environmental sustainability. The seminar, “Growing Green: A Toy Industry Update on Environmental Sustainability and Bottom Line Growth,” will be held from 3:00-4:30 PM on Monday, February 15. Chaired by Danny Grossman, chair of the TIA Environmental Sustainability committee and CEO of Wild Planet Entertainment, “Growing Green” will feature a presentation by Laura Phillips, vice president of toys at Wal-Mart, who will discuss the company’s packaging scorecard, sustainability index, and the recent Green Business Summit.
The seminar will also touch on the toy industry’s definition of sustainability, key environmental updates in the legislative and regulatory arenas, updates for toy factories, and a panel presentation by the TIA Environmental Sustainability Committee on “How Doing Good Also Benefits the Bottom Line,” among others. TIA is also launching an extensive TIA member self-assessment survey covering environmental strategy and policy, manufacturing, product and packaging, and transportation and logistics. The survey will launch by mid-January.
Stone America Appointed Licensing Agent for StinkyKids, American Bass Anglers
Stone America Licensing has been appointed the exclusive licensing agent by Britt Menzies, creator of StinkyKids. StinkyKids are a group of 10 diverse “little stinKers” who learn to make the right choices through common mistakes. The group lives by the motto “Always Be a Leader of Good.” The StinkyKids plush line premiered last year in Nordstrom stores.
Stone America’s first priority will be to solidify a new master toy/plush licensee and publishing licensee. StinkyKids’ first book, StinkyKids and the Runaway Scissors, is slated to release this month.
Stone America has also been appointed the exclusive licensing agent by American Bass Anglers (ABA), the largest tournament trail for the weekend angler. Licensing categories available to manufacturers and retailers include toys and games, publishing, electronics, equipment, apparel, accessories, and more.
As part of the deal, ABA and Stone America have created a new licensing/sponsorship model that provides licensees official tournament sponsor benefits, including but not limited to signage and experiential marketing opportunities at all ABA events and tournaments.
Simon & Schuster Signs on for School Gyrls Books
Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division will release a brand-new multimedia book series to coincide with the upcoming film, School Gyrls. The movie tells the story of the three real-life students who formed the teen pop group. Directed by actor and comedian Nick Cannon, School Gyrls is set to premiere on Nickelodeon on February 21.
To kick off the series, Simon Spotlight will publish a movie novelization and movie tie-in scrapbook in February. Aladdin Books will publish six original novels based on the three members of the pop group. Fiona Simpson, editorial director from Aladdin, acquired world rights through Fletcher & Company in association with UTA on behalf of Nick Cannon. A second movie is also being planned, as well as a possible TV series.
Marvel Files Federal Lawsuit over Comic Copyrights
Marvel Worldwide, Inc. filed a federal lawsuit in Manhattan on Friday asking a judge to invalidate 45 notices sent by the heirs of artist Jack Kirby that aimed to terminate Marvel’s copyrights. The notices said Marvel’s copyrights would terminate on dates ranging from 2014 through 2019. The heirs notified several companies last year that the rights would revert from Marvel to Kirby’s estate. Marvel argues that Kirby’s work on the comics were “for hire,” which makes the heirs’ claims invalid.
According to the lawsuit, Kirby contributed to titles such as Amazing Spider-Man, The Avenger, Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, and The X-Men. Marvel shareholders recently approved the acquisition of the company by The Walt Disney Co.
Disney to Release 3-D Movies on Blu-ray
Walt Disney Studios will start releasing Disney Digital 3-D content for the home on Blu-ray disc beginning with Disney's A Christmas Carol and a special 3-D Showcase Disc. The new 3-D content for homes will be made available in coordination with hardware manufacturers’ to-be-released, 3-D home entertainment systems.
The 3-D enabled, Blu-ray release of Disney's A Christmas Carol will be available in fourth quarter 2010, and will be the debut title that will launch a line up of Disney Digital 3-D movies for the home. The 3-D Showcase Disc will be a compilation of upcoming 3-D product, footage, and promotional trailers from Disney's 3-D content library, including Walt Disney's 1953 animated short Working for Peanuts, and trailers of upcoming Blu-ray releases such as Disney's A Christmas Carol and Alice in Wonderland.
Report: 31 Percent of Kids Obtained Physical and Digital Content
According to Kids and Entertainment Content, a recent report from The NPD Group, 79 percent of kids ages 2-14 acquired some form of physical or digital content in the past year, with 31 percent acquiring both physical and digital content. In terms of money, $0.85 of every content dollar spent by kids went to physical items, while $0.15 went to digital.
According to the report, video rental services and online music services were the top content-based household services or subscriptions used by kids ages 2-14 in the past year. Nineteen percent of kids used an in-store video rental service, 12 percent used an online video rental service, and 14 percent used an online music service. Paid subscriptions to online video game rental services and online gaming websites ranked towards the bottom.
The report also stated that the average age at which kids make their first digital download is 7 years old, and 41 percent of kids who own digital content said music was the first type they downloaded (game downloads followed behind with 38 percent). The report focuses on kids' ages 2-14 consumption of entertainment content including video and PC games, music, movies, TV shows, cell phone tones, and music videos.
CPSC Recalls Cloth Books
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in cooperation with Macmillan, has announced a voluntary recall of approximately 204,000 cloth books entitled Big Rex and Friends. The book is being recalled due to an excessive level of lead in the sewn red dot of the Diplodocus image, located on the second to last page of the book. The books were sold at bookstores and retailers nationwide from May 2004 through October 2009. Owners of the book should stop using the recalled product and take the book away from young children. No incident or injuries have been reported. For more information, or to request a refund, visit www.priddybooks.com/recall.
4Kids Entertainment Appoints Licensing Agents in Asian Territories
4Kids Entertainment, Inc. has appointed several sub-agents for properties in its global portfolio. CLICK! Licensing Asia will now represent the American Kennel Club in China, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines, as well as Jim Henson Designs in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. Empire International Merchandising Corporation will be representing The Artlist Collection’s The Dog/The Cat/The Pig photographic properties in the Philippines. Additionally, Impact Licensing & Marketing will represent Jim Henson Designs in Taiwan. The companies will work closely with Ron Nowicki, executive vice president, licensing and marketing, and Dave Sharat, vice president of licensing and marketing, Asia Pacific.
TIF Receives $50M in Donated Toys
The Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) has announced that product donations received during the 2009 holiday season helped the industry reach $50 million dollars in donated toys. The product donations were received via The Toy Bank. Since The Toy Bank’s launch in 2003, more than 1,000 toy companies have donated over seven million toys to children in need around the world. The next big toy collection will take place after the American International Toy Fair, held in New York City on February 14-17, 2010. Exhibiting companies will be invited to contribute products to The Toy Bank.
LEGO Introduces LEGO Click
LEGO Systems has unveiled its first official iPhone application, LEGO Photo, available for free at the iTunes App Store. To use the app, users can choose a photo from an existing gallery on their iPhone or iPod touch, or snap their own photo, and then touch the screen to watch a masterpiece build. Then, users can upload it to a social networking page, email it, print it, or even tweet it. The app is part of a newly launched program by the company aimed at celebrating “CLICK moments,” described as lightbulb instances such as when the solution to a problem becomes clear, or when a great idea reveals itself. LEGO also introduces a new short film that follows a fictional inventor’s journey to his “CLICK moment,” and premieres www.LegoClick.com, a blog that celebrates light bulb moments.