January 17, 2014

China Toy Fair

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Toys “R” Us Celebrates Week Leading Up to Super Bowl with Times Square Events

Toys “R” Us will hold a series of family-friendly events in the days preceding the Super Bowl at the company’s flagship store, Toys “R” Us Times Square, located on Broadway at 44th Street in New York City. From January 29 to February 1, Toys “R” Us will provide thousands of football fans of all ages with events and activities.
Each day, the store will host product demos of Madden NFL 25 by EA Sports on Xbox One kiosks, while on January 31, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., Crayola will host a special event where kids can make personalized team towels using Crayola Marker Airbrush and Crayola Fabric Markers. Other events include a series of sports-themed trivia games hosted by Topps on January 31 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., and autographs from Todd McFarlane, artist and founder of McFarlane Toys, on February 1 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
More information can be found at the Toys “R” Us website.

Keynote Speakers for ASTRA 2014 Marketplace & Academy Announced

The headlining speakers at the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) 2014 Marketplace & Academy, scheduled for June 8 to 11 in Phoenix, Ariz., will be Lisa Ford and Howard Partridge. Ford is a customer service thought leader and will open the conference with Everyday Excellence: Creating a Customer-Focused Team, a talk on what stores can do to create loyal customers through exceptional customer service. Partridge is a small business coach and will close the convention with a keynote address, 5 Secrets of a Phenomenal Business, about how store owners can enjoy their businesses rather than being slaves to them.
More information on the ASTRA Marketplace & Academy program is available at www.astramarketplace.org.

The Lego Group, FCP Launch The Simpsons-Branded Lego Set

Lego The SimpsonsThe Lego Group has partnered with Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products (FCP) to produce a construction set and Lego minifigures inspired by the TV series The Simpsons. Fox will also air a special Lego episode of The Simpsons in May coinciding with the new products. The episode will feature the cast in Lego form.
The construction set will recreate The Simpsons’ family house, including the characters Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie, and Ned Flanders. It is set to launch in February in Lego stores and the Lego Shop at Home catalog and website. A separate line of 16 Lego The Simpsons minifigures will launch at mass toy retailers in May.

Dorel Acquires Juvenile Products Innovator Tiny Love

Dorel Industries Inc. has signed a share purchase agreement to acquire Tiny Love Ltd., a global baby products and developmental toy company headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel, with offices in the U.S. and China. Tiny Love is recognized as an innovator in the developmental toy category, which comprises products like activity gyms, mobiles, light gear, and toys designed specifically for babies and toddlers.
Tiny Love’s line is considered to be complimentary to Dorel's, and its annual sales for the fiscal year ended December 31 were approximately $45 million. Sales are made in more than 50 countries worldwide, of which 75 percent are through a worldwide distributor network, while the remainder is in North America through its U.S. subsidiary. The transaction is expected to close during the first quarter.

Crayola Introduces Ultra-Clean Markers and ColorMax

Crayola Ultra-CleanCrayola will launch Ultra-Clean Washable Markers, which wash clean from skin, clothing, and painted walls. The new Ultra-Clean Washable Markers also introduce ColorMax colors, which provide the brand’s brightest colors yet.
The launch comes after extensive research and testing among kids, moms, and teachers. Designed with educators and parents in mind, Ultra-Clean Washable Markers clean easily from most common household surfaces and out of clothing with only one cold water fabric wash.
Crayola's Ultra-Clean Washable Markers and ColorMax colors will be supported with an omnichannel marketing campaign and are currently sold in 8-count broad and fine line packs at select retailers nationwide.



Babies “R” Us Teams Up with TheBump.com

Babies “R” Us has entered into a strategic partnership with TheBump.com, a leading pregnancy and parenting website that offers advice, ideas, resources, and support to first-time parents as they navigate pregnancy. Used by more than 18 million parents to date, the Babies “R” Us Registry will now be available to a new, expanded audience of moms-to-be, who can create and share registries directly from TheBump.com via its Gift Registry Center. In addition, the registry search tool on TheBump.com allows friends and family to find Babies “R” Us registrants’ lists and buy them gifts.
The two brands will support the partnership with a comprehensive cross-promotional program, including digital advertising, signage, registry materials, and The Bump My Pregnancy Calendar mobile app and newsletters.

Nintendo Reports Record-Setting 3DS Game Sales in 2013

Nintendo 3DSNintendo sold a record amount of Nintendo 3DS games last year and is set to release four new games early this year to take advantage of trends. Last year, more than 16 million combined packaged and digital Nintendo 3DS games were sold, topping 2012 sales by 45 percent. Lifetime hardware sales in the U.S. for the Nintendo 3DS family of portable systems, including the Nintendo 3DS XL and Nintendo 2DS, passed 11.5 million.
Yoshi’s New Island, where Yoshi reunites with Baby Mario to help him to safety, will launch on March 14 in stores and in the Nintendo eShop. Disney Magical World, which will feature dozens of Disney characters in Disney-themed worlds, will launch in stores and in the Nintendo eShop on April 11. Square Enix’s role-playing game Bravely Default and the final installment of the second Professor Layton trilogy will debut in February.

Bajo and Magic Light Together for Gruffalo Milestone

Magic Light Pictures has signed a deal with toy company Bajo to design and hand craft five new Gruffalo wooden toys. The range includes Gruffalo and Mouse figures, push-along, play theatre, puzzles, and alphabet blocks, to be distributed in the UK by Green Owl Toys after being launched at Top Drawer and Nuremberg Toy Fair.
This year marks the 15th and 10th anniversaries of The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child, respectively, and will see a range of celebratory events and partnerships to mark the success of the beloved global brand, which is based on the best selling books written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler.

Lionel Trains Releases Legacy Protocol for Hobbyists

Lionel LLC will make public its Legacy command protocol and will open its WiFi-to-model-railroad interface, in an effort to grow the hobby by allowing a single remote to control all manufacturers’ locomotives.
Lionel is taking the first step towards a universal remote to integrate and control model railroad layouts through the user’s own smart device and Lionel’s Wi-Fi adapter. Layout Control System (LCS) Wi-Fi creates a common access point with a royalty-free protocol designed for model railroading, and any manufacturer can use LCS Wi-Fi to support their unique locomotive command sets. Within this framework, hobbyists will be able to control different manufacturers’ locomotives from one app running on a smartphone or tablet.
Lionel is working closely with LCS partners to develop their own apps that connect to Lionel’s Wi-Fi interface. The first announced product is Blue Train, an app that runs on Android devices, connects to LCS Wi-Fi, and runs Lionel locomotives. The Legacy command specification is available and can be downloaded from Lionel’s website

Women in Toys to Honor GUND’s Rita Raiffe

Women in Toys will present its 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award to Rita Raiffe, who has served as design director of GUND for more than 20 years. Raiffe will accept the award at the 10th Annual Wonder Women in Toys, Licensing, and Entertainment Awards Dinner on February 17 in New York City. The presentation coincides with the 111th American International Toy Fair.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be this year’s recipient of the Women in Toys Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Raiffe. “I’ve always wanted to create confidants, friends, and special companions for children to love. It’s been an amazing journey, and I’m proud of the legacy that continues on at GUND.”
The daughter of Jacob Swedlin, who purchased the company from founder Adolph Gund, Raiffe studied design at Traphagan School, Parsons School of Design, and New York School of Interior Design. She joined the company full-time in 1972, and over the years insisted on innovations including huggable designs, softer textiles, and under stuffing method.

Toys “R” Us Reports Holiday Sales Results

Toys “R” Us Inc. has reported its comparable store net sales for the five- and nine-week periods ending January 4.
For the five-week period, the domestic segment reported a comparable store net sales increase of 1.8 percent. The learning, seasonal, and core toy categories generated the strongest comparable store net sales growth. Internationally, comparable store net sales declined 1.1 percent for the five-week period. Australia, China, and Southeast Asia experienced positive comparable store net sales growth, offset by softness in Japan, Canada, and Europe.
Comparable store net sales for the nine-week period decreased 4.7 percent in the domestic segment and 3 percent in the international segment. The nine-week domestic comparable store net sales change is lower than the five-week change, due mainly to the late timing of Thanksgiving this year versus the prior year, which partially benefitted the current year five-week period.

GameStop Reports Holiday Sales Results

GameStop Corp. today reported sales results for the nine-week holiday period ended January 4.
Total global sales were $3.15 billion, a 9.3 percent increase compared to the prior year’s holiday sales period, and a total comparable store sales increase of 10.2 percent, with U.S. comps of +7.1 percent and international comps of +17.4 percent. Comparable store sales were driven by new video game console sales, as demonstrated by the 99.8 percent increase in new hardware sales.
During this transitional console period, strong sales of next generation software were offset by a greater than expected decline in Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 software sales, resulting in a 22.5 percent decline in the new software category. The pre-owned category increased 7.0 percent, driven by a stronger in-stock position and by the sale of value-priced previous generation consoles.
GameStop’s global multichannel sales—mobile, web-in-store, pick-up at store, ecommerce—grew 57 percent compared to the 2012 holiday period as customers utilized multiple ways to purchase video game products.

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