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Jazwares Expands Minecraft Line

Jazwares introduced six fully articulated three-inch figures and three multi-figure accessory packs to its Minecraft line, expanding its toy collection based on the digital world.
The action figures include Charged Creeper Pack, Zombie Pigman Pack, Alex with Diamond Armor Pack, Snow Golem Pack, Steve with Minecard Pack, and the Witch Pack. The new multi-figure and accessory packs will include Alex with Skeleton Horse Pack, Alex Survival Pack, and, for the first time, kids can add their favorite animals from the game with the Wild Animal Pack.
Launched in 2009, Minecraft is a sandbox video game where users can build and go on adventures in a 3-D block world. Minecraft has sold more than 106 million copies to date.

Winning Moves Acquires Pass the Pigs Brand

Winning Moves Inc. acquired the pig dice party game brand Pass the Pigs from David Moffat Enterprises LLC, following approval by the board of directors of both firms.
Pass the Pigs was invented by David Moffat and first published in 1977 by Recycled Paper Products under the name, “Pigmania.” As the game grew in popularity, its name was changed to Pass the Pigs and licensed to Milton Bradley for several years. In 2001, Winning Moves USA entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with David Moffat Enterprises to publish the game in North America, has since grown into a line of Pass the Pigs products, and now owns it.
Winning Moves USA’s new and classic games and puzzles will be on display at the 2017 North American International Toy Fair in New York City at booth 269.

Consumer Voting for TOTY Awards Reaches Record Number

Consumer votes for the 2017 Toy of the Year Awards (TOTY) reached more than 85,000 votes, a new record surpassing the 51,000 votes cast by the public last year, according to the Toy Industry Association (TIA). Voting was open from Nov. 21, 2016 through Jan. 15, 2017.
The public was encouraged to vote across 14 categories at, and also offered a chance to win prize packages. The consumer vote is used to help determine the winners.
To help promote TOTY voting, online influencers, such as Paul & Shannon’s Toy Reviews and The Mommy and Gracie Show, created content that showcased TOTY nominees and encouraged fans to vote on the website. The influencer campaign garnered nearly 7 million online and social media impressions.
In addition, TIA trend specialists promoted the TOTY finalists in several televised holiday/post-holiday toy segments in cities nationwide, including San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. TIA also distributed a TOTY video package that garnered 6 million impressions in key markets such as San Diego, Tampa, and Atlanta.
Winners will be announced at the TOTY Awards ceremony on Feb. 17 at The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City. The winners in each category will be determined from weighted votes cast by consumers, retailers (mass and specialty), media, and TIA members. The “People’s Choice” award winner will be based solely on consumer votes, and the overall “Toy of the Year” award will be decided by retailers, consumers, media, and TIA members.

Jakks Pacific Launches Cuppatinis Toy Line, Webisodes, and App

Jakks Pacific launched Cuppatinis, a line of 3.5-inch dolls that kids can transform from dolls into teacups and back again.
Available now exclusively at Walmart throughout the U.S. and Canada, the line includes Cha Cha Chai, Carmela la Crème, Rose Hippensip, Mocha Lisa, Lola Vander, and Jasmint. In addition to the dolls and accessories, the Cuppatinis Spin Tea Party Playset is available.
Cuppatinis websides are available to watch now on the Jakks Pacific YouTube Channel. On the Cuppatinis Tea Party interactive app, kids can play Tea Party, Dress Up, Games, and Crafts. The app is free to download and available on Android and iOS.

Build-A-Bear Workshop Unveils Commemorative Bear for 20th Anniversary

Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc. is celebrating 20 years this year with a commemorative make-your-own 20th Birthday Celebration Bear and by hosting monthly parties.
The 16-inch Birthday Celebration Bear was created as a special tribute for this year, featuring a Build-A-Bear Workshop 20th birthday logo on its paw pad and poseable arms and legs. Guests can make their own limited-edition bear at Build-A-Bear Workshop stores in the U.S., Canada, and the UK, or purchase the bear at
Build-A-Bear Workshop will also host in-store parties on the 20th of each month leading up to the company’s official birthday on Oct. 27, featuring special offers.
Commemorative shopping bags, Cub Condo carrying cases, and birth certificates will begin arriving at Build-A-Bear Workshop stores across the globe in the coming months.

Record-Breaking Number of Exhibitors Featured at World of Toys Pavilion at Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair

Thirty-one international exhibitors were featured at the World of Toys Pavilion at the 43rd Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair, which ran from Jan. 9 to 12 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibitor Centre.
More than 2,100 exhibitors from 42 countries and regions presented their new products this year. Approximately 46,000 trade buyers from 126 countries and regions attended the show.
The ninth international pavilion at the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair was organized as part of the Spielwarenmesse eG’s international fair program known as “World of Toys.” This program gives companies in the toy industry the opportunity to exhibit from international pavilions at selected trade fairs in the Asia-Pacific region, Russia, India, and the Near and Middle East.
The next Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair is taking place from Jan. 8 to 11, 2018.

Nintendo Switch Launches on March 3

Nintendo’s new Nintendo Switch console will launch worldwide on March 3.  
The system will include the main console, Joy-Con (L) and Joy-Con (R) controllers, a Joy-Con grip (to which two Joy-Con are attached and used as one controller), a set of Joy-Con wrist straps, a Nintendo Switch dock (which holds the main console and connects it to a TV), an HDMI cable, and an AC adapter. Two versions of the system will be released: a version with a set of gray Joy-Con, and a version with one neon blue and one neon red Joy-Con.
Nintendo Switch connects to a TV at home, but it also transforms into an on-the-go handheld using its 6.2-inch screen. The screen includes multi-touch capabilities for compatible games. Battery life can last for more than six hours, but will vary depending on the software and usage conditions.
Two Joy-Con can be used independently in each hand, or together as one game controller when attached to the Joy-Con grip. They can also attach to the main console for use in handheld mode, or be shared with friends to enjoy two-player action in supported games. Each Joy-Con has a full set of buttons and can act as a standalone controller, and each includes an accelerometer and gyro-sensor, making independent left and right motion control possible. Click here to read more.

Hopster Launches Preschool Channel on Roku Devices

The global, ad-free, preschool entertainment platform Hopster is now available to Roku users in the U.S., Canada, the UK, and Ireland, as well as in France with a localized French language app.
The Hopster channel for Roku devices is designed to be easy-to-use for kids, and provides preschool entertainment without ads or inappropriate content. Hopster features series such as Peppa Pig, Super Why!, Teletubbies, Reading Rainbow, and Monster Math Squad. Content will vary by country, but all content available on Hopster is carefully selected to support the Hopster Discovery Learning Map, which is a curriculum for preschool learning.
Hopster is now available on Roku streaming players in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Ireland, and France. It is also available on Roku TVs in the U.S. and Canada. The channel is free to download for a one-week trial from the Roku Channel store.

Mattel Names Margaret H. Georgiadis as CEO

Mattel Inc. named Margaret H. Georgiadis as CEO, effective Feb. 8, 2017. Georgiadis, who will also join Mattel's board of directors, was most recently president, Americas at Google Inc.
Georgiadis will succeed Christopher A. Sinclair as CEO. Sinclair, who has led the company as chairman and CEO since early 2015, joined Mattel's board in 1996 and has served previously as independent lead director and chair of the executive and audit committees. Going forward, he will serve as executive chairman of the board. Richard Dickson stays as president and COO.
As president, Americas at Google from 2011-2017, Georgiadis led the company's commercial operations and advertising sales in the U.S., Canada, and Latin America. Her prior roles at Google include leading global sales operations and expanding local and commerce businesses. Georgiadis has also served as COO of Groupon Inc., and executive vice president of card products and chief marketing officer of Discover Financial Services.
Georgiadis currently serves on the boards of directors of McDonald's Corp. and Amyris Inc. She also serves on the boards of non-profit entities including The Economic Club of Chicago and the Ad Council, where she is board chair. Previously she served on the board of The Jones Group Inc.

Carine Sroujian Joins ChizComm

ChizComm Ltd. appointed Carine Sroujian as its new director of marketing and communications, effective immediately. In her new role, Sroujian will oversee projects and global clients, as well as managing daily business operations.
Sroujian has more than 14 years of experience in the toy, publishing, lifestyle, beauty, and healthcare industries. She previously held positions for Mega Brands, consulted for clients such as Sanofi Canada, and has pursued her own business ventures.

Forbes Names Primo Toys CEO to 2017 30 Under 30 Europe List

Filippo Yacob, CEO of U.K.-based Primo Toys and creator of Cubetto, a coding toy, has been named to the Forbes magazine 30 Under 30 Europe list, heading the Social Entrepreneurs category for the class of 2017.
The list covers 10 categories—Arts, Entertainment, Finance, Industry, Media, Policy, Retail & Ecommerce, Science & Healthcare, Social Entrepreneurs, and Technology—with each of the honorees vetted by a panel of expert judges in their respective fields.
Yacob founded Primo Toys in 2013 to find a better way to introduce 21st century skills to his 3-year-old son. Cubetto is a screenless programming system, powered by coding language made of colorful blocks that lets kids write their first computer. Designed for kids ages 3 and up, Cubetto is the most crowd-funded educational technology invention in Kickstarter history, and is now available in more than 90 countries.

Toys “R” Us Reports 2016 Holiday Sales Results

Toys "R" Us Inc. reported a same store sales decrease of 2.5 percent domestically and 4.9 percent internationally, for a consolidated 3.4 percent decrease for the nine-week period ended Dec. 31, 2016. The nine-week period refers to Oct. 30, 2016 to Dec. 31, 2016, as compared to Nov. 1, 2015 to Jan. 2, 2016 in the prior year.
The decrease in domestic same store sales was mainly attributable to a decline in the entertainment and baby categories, as well as a 50 basis point impact from the early release this year of the "Big Book" catalog which shifted sales into the period prior to the holiday. Partially offsetting the decrease was a 1.3 percent increase in the domestic toy categories, which includes core toy, learning, and seasonal, and excludes the entertainment category.
The decrease in international same store sales decreased was driven by the Europe and Asia Pacific markets. The decline was largely due to softness in the entertainment and learning categories.
Toys “R” Us also raised more than $5.4 million and collected a record-breaking 550,000 toys to benefit the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation with donations from the Toys “R” Us Children’s Fund.

Ninety-Eight Percent of Generation Z Still Shops in Brick-and-Mortar Stores

Despite expectations that the first digitally native generation wants to shop online, a new study released by IBM and the National Retail Federation found that almost all members of Generation Z prefer to shop in brick-and-mortar stores. With the global Gen Z population set to reach 2.6 billion by 2020, retailers need to create a more interactive engagement around their brands, according to the study. The study is based on findings from more than 15,000 consumers ages 12 to 21 from 16 countries.
The new generation is important to retailers because it has access to $44 billion in buying power, with 75 percent saying they spend more than half of the money that is available to them each month, according to the study. The study found 52 percent of Gen Z consumers will transfer loyalty from one brand to another if the brand’s quality is not up to par.
The study also found 74 percent of respondents spend their free time online, with 25 percent online five hours or more each day. The degree to which in-store sales are influenced by digital is inevitable in today’s shopping journey—and continues to grow. Seventy-three percent of Gen Z uses their phones primarily to text and chat with family and friends, but are willing to extend their conversations to brand relationships; 36 percent would create digital content for a brand; 42 percent would participate in an online game for a campaign; 43 percent would participate in a product review; 62 percent will not use apps or websites that are difficult to navigate; 60 percent will not use apps or websites that are slow to load. They also want to know how their personal information will be protected.

January 19, 2017
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