January 29, 2014

China Toy Fair

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Alex Toys, Poof-Slinky, and Zoob Come Together Under New Alex Brands

Alex ToysAlex Toys, Poof-Slinky, and Zoob are forming Alex Brands, a family of brands that will include several iconic names in the toy industry, including Alex Toys, Slinky, Scientific Explorer, and Ideal. Alex Brands’ collective portfolio will encompass more than 2,000 products spanning the categories of games, science kits, preschool and infant toys, construction sets, craft activity kits, and more.
Alex Brands will be headed by Fred Keller as president, and steered out of Canton, Mich., and Northvale, New Jersey. At next month’s International Toy Fair in New York City, the new company will introduce more than 150 new items across all its brands.

LeapFrog Remains No. 1 Selling Children’s Tablet Brand, Unveils Learning Video Series

The LeapPad line of learning tablets from LeapFrog Enterprises Inc. was the top-selling children’s tablet brand last year, according to year-end sales data from The NPD Group. LeapPad outsold competitive brands, including learning tablets and Android-based kid’s tablets.
This past week also saw LeapFrog Enterprises partner with Lionsgate Home Entertainment to release the first in a series of full-length learning videos featuring the next generation of popular frog characters made famous in the original Letter Factory DVD collection. LeapFrog Letter Factory Adventures: The Letter Machine Rescue Team includes problem-solving and reading exercises, new songs, sing-along videos, and curriculum commentary for parents.
The video will be available for download from the LeapFrog App Center, DVD, and Digital HD beginning March 4.

Lego Mixels Are Ready to Mix It Up

Lego Mixels is a new series of buildable toys that create fun collectible characters that leverage the versatility and creativity of the Lego building system. Mixels are colorful creatures that belong to different tribes, each based around a unique element. Set to debut in stores on March 1, Lego Mixels are batched in tribes such as Frosticons, Infernites, Stretchers, Cragsters, Electroids, and the Fang Gang. Kids will be able to mix and combine the Lego Mixels using the mysterious Cubits, resulting in new characters and further immersion in the Mixels universe.
The Mixels franchise will also debut on multiple screens and digital platforms next month.

Little Pim Founder to Discuss Raising Venture Capital at Toy Fair

Julia PimsleurLittle Pim CEO and Founder Julia Pimsleur will speak during next month’s American International Toy Fair as part of the Digital Kids Conference. Pimsleur will present a case study entitled, “Taking Little Pim ‘Big’ Through Venture Capital,” in which she discusses how she raised $2 million in venture capital. She will also share the impact on her business and offer tips on securing capital in a highly competitive space.
Pimsleur’s presentation is scheduled for February 19 at 11:15 a.m. at the Jacob Javits Center, Hall 1E/Room 1E17.


Paper Punk Signs Deal with Nickelodeon for TMNT and SpongeBob Products

Paper PunkPaper Punk has inked a deal with Nickelodeon to develop paper-based construction and craft kits inspired by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and SpongeBob SquarePants. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles kits will be introduced at the American International Toy Fair in New York City from February 16 to 19.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles kits will feature all four turtle characters and include a kit containing 16 punch-n-fold shapes, more than 30 stickers, and 40 adhesive dots to construct a 3-D paper figure. It will be available early February. The SpongeBob SquarePants kit will feature the two main characters from the show and include 8 to 16 punch-n-fold shapes, more than 120 stickers, and 40 adhesive dots to construct a 3-D paper figure. It will be available mid-year.

Adora’s 2014 Designed by Kids FOR Kids Program Taking Submissions

Adora has launched its 2014 Designed by Kids FOR Kids program, and will officially call for submissions at the American International Toy Fair in New York City taking place from February 16 to 19. The program, which first launched last year, will select a Young Designer to work with Adora’s creative team to design an outfit for its 18-inch Adora Friends line of dolls. The final outfit and its Young Designer will be featured in next year’s Adora catalog, where the outfit will be available for purchase. Adora will make a donation to a charity of the winner’s choice.
The company will also unveil the outfit designed by Kayla Y., last year’s Young Designer from California.

Uglydoll and Kiss Collaborate on Plush

Uglydoll KissUglydoll has entered a partnership with the rock band Kiss to create a global, co-branded set of plush collectibles. The Kiss Uglydoll collaboration will officially debut at the New York International Toy Fair in February. The collection will include plush dolls by Gund, featuring Uglydoll dressed as Kiss band members: OX as The Demon, Babo as The Starchild, Big Toe as The Catman, and Wage as The Spaceman.
The dolls are expected to arrive in stores in March.

Disguise Renews Multi-Year Agreement with Hasbro

Disguise Inc., the Halloween costume division of Jakks Pacific Inc., has renewed its licensing agreement with Hasbro to produce Halloween costumes and accessories based on top Hasbro brands. The new three-year agreement grants Disguise the rights to manufacture and distribute the Hasbro-branded items to all channels in the U.S. and Canada.
The agreement includes the rights to produce Halloween costumes based on the theatrical property Transformers: Age of Extinction, as well as classic Hasbro brands My Little Pony, Transformers, and Mr. Potato Head.







Spielwarenmesse 2014 Kicks Off with Plentiful Online Support

Spielwarenmesse 2014 kicked off on Wednesday, and courtesy of the Spielwarenmesse eG press team, important information about the event has been compiled and posted online.
At the official Spielwarenmesse web site, press releases are available in eight different languages including English, Chinese, French, and German. From there, visitors can follow links to a sound bites archive featuring Ernst Kick, CEO of Spielwarenmesse eG; Christian Ulrich, director of marketing for Spielwarenmesse eG; and other officials. In addition, there is a photo database with recent pictures from the event, as well as a link to TV footage.
Spielwarenmesse 2014 is scheduled to take place through February 3.

Go! Go! Sports Girls Promote a Healthy Image for Girls

After struggling with self-image for many, many years, I feel that relaying the importance of confidence to a younger generation of girls is of the utmost importance. I feel that young girls see and hear older women discussing hatred toward their bodies and the latest on fad diets, and it’s such an unhealthy message to send. In a world where most “girl” action figures and dolls are stick-thin, and every famous tween girl looks ill-fed, a break in this trend is always quite refreshing. Go! Go! Sports Girl products offer girls products with a positive image to encourage healthy minds and bodies. The line was created after Jodi Norgaard had a disappointing shopping experience with her 9-year-old daughter, unable to find anything “stylish” that didn’t bare a stomach or involve high heels. Norgaard’s company, Dream Big Toy Co., aims to empower young girls with its motto “dream big and go for it.” It seems that similar specialty toy companies have started to take notice, creating lines with a related approach. Read more…

LeapFrog Appoints Craig Relyea New Senior VP

Craig Relyea has joined LeapFrog Enterprises Inc. as senior vice president of content strategy and marketing, effectively immediately. In his role, Relyea will be responsible for creating and executing an integrated content strategy across the LeapFrog business.
Prior to joining LeapFrog, Relyea was senior vice president of global marketing at Disney Interactive Media Group. During his eight years with the company, he was responsible for global marketing for the interactive division of The Walt Disney Company, where he focused on content marketing, social media, consumer insights, and ongoing analytics. Relyea also led marketing initiatives for Disney’s mobile business.

Ken Kutaragi to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award

The 14th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards will honor Ken Kutaragi, former CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment and the father of the PlayStation, with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the world of gaming. The awards ceremony takes place on March 19 at the Moscone Convention Center during the 2014 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
As a Sony engineer, Kutaragi’s first contribution to the world of video games was the creation of the SPC700, the sound chip within Nintendo’s Super NES console. After that success, Kutaragi began an ambitious project to create Sony’s first video game console, and by 1994, Sony’s PlayStation was released to the public. The PlayStation became the first system to sell more than 100 million units, and its successor, the PlayStation 2, went on to become the best-selling console system of all time with 155 million units sold. 
The success of the Sony Computer Entertainment division, which Kutaragi led, propelled him into the position of deputy executive president from 2003 to 2006, overseeing the launch of the PlayStation 3. In 2007, he became the Honorary Chairman of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Kutaragi now serves as the president and CEO of Cyber AI Entertainment Inc.

Electronic Arts Reports Preliminary Financial Results, Fiscal Year 2014 Expectations Ending March 31

On Tuesday, Electronic Arts Inc. released preliminary financial results for its third fiscal quarter ended December 31. On a non-GAAP basis, Electronic Arts was the No. 1 publisher on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in the western world in December, and EA titles represented 35 percent of the western world PlayStation 4 and Xbox One software sales in the third quarter. Third quarter digital net revenue increased by 27 percent year-over-year to $517 million, and trailing twelve-month digital net revenue was a record $1.86 billion.
For the third quarter, non-GAAP net revenue of $1.57 billion was below the company’s guidance of $1.65 billion, and non-GAAP diluted earnings per share of $1.26 was above the guidance of $1.22.
For the period ending March 31 of this year, GAAP net revenue is expected to be approximately $3.52 billion, while non-GAAP net revenue is expected to be approximately $3.91 billion. GAAP diluted loss per share is expected to be approximately $(0.42), while non-GAAP diluted earnings per share is expected to be approximately $1.30.

Gameloft Experiences Record Revenues in Q4

Gameloft achieved record revenues of €62.3 million during the fourth quarter, up 8 percent from the previous year. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, fourth-quarter growth was 14 percent, and Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) represented 33 percent of fourth-quarter sales. North America represented 27 percent, Latin America represented 19 percent, and the Asia-Pacific region represented 20 percent of fourth-quarter sales.
Last year, Gameloft’s consolidated sales reached €233.3 million, up by 12 percent year-over-year. EMEA represented 32 percent of last year’s sales; North America represented 28 percent; Latin America represented 21 percent; and the Asia-Pacific region represented 19 percent. Full-year sales are slightly below the guidance of €235 million to €240 million, due to the delayed releases of several games and the ongoing weakness of the emerging market and U.S. currencies against the Euro. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, full-year growth stood at 16 percent last year.
Sales continue to be driven by Gameloft games on smartphones and tablets. The company’s sales on smartphones and tablets last year grew by 36 percent year-over-year, and represented 66 percent of total sales for the year compared to 54 percent in the prior year.

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