Toy Fair Named One of New York’s Top Events
From advertising and technology to fashion, entertainment, sports, and more, BizBash has curated its 2014 list of New York’s Top 100 Events—and has named American International Toy Fair to this exclusive list. To choose and rank the Top 100 list, BizBash considers several factors including economic impact, buzz, innovation, and the event’s prominence within the communities it intends to serve.
The largest toy trade show in the Western Hemisphere, Toy Fair takes place each February at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.
Toy Fair and the rest of New York’s Top 100 Events 2014 can be found at www.bizbash.com/top-100.
Uncle Milton Sold by Transom Capital Group
As reported by Transom Capital Group, Uncle Milton Industries Inc. has been sold to KCB Management. Founded in 1946, Uncle Milton creates, develops, and markets science and nature-based toys, including the company’s flagship Ant Farm, to children of all ages.
Uncle Milton’s portfolio includes licensed product lines such as the In My Room, Star Wars Science, and National Geographic brands. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The sale of Uncle Milton represents Transom Capital’s second successful exit during the past 12 months.
Eco-Bonk Bop Bags Get New Sustainable Raw Material
Pueri Elemental will begin using Repreve recycled fibers to make the removable covers for each inflatable bop bag toy in its Eco-Bonk line. The fabric will be made from post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic water bottles, fiber waste, and fabrics.
Meanwhile, Lily Gibbon, Emma Owl, and Noah Whale are joining the existing wild and wooly animals in the Eco-Bonk Wildlife Series, featuring six characters in all. The line is suitable for kids ages 2 and up.
Warner Bros. and Lego Take Gamers on a Journey in Lego The Hobbit
Coming this spring, the new Lego The Hobbit game is inspired by the first two films in The Hobbit Trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and the collection of Lego The Hobbit construction sets. Players will utilize and combine the Company of Dwarves’ unique abilities to solve the most diverse number of quests of any Lego video game to date.
Lego The Hobbit features key locations from the film, including Bag End and High Pass over The Misty Mountains. Published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and developed by TT Games, Lego The Hobbit will be available on all platforms.
TIA: Manufacturing Coalition Announces Principles for Alternative Assessments
The Toy Industry Association (TIA) is part of a diverse coalition of manufacturing associations that unveiled a set of principles to help establish a meaningful, effective program for assessing chemicals in consumer products and identifying possible alternatives. If properly applied, alternative assessments can help both policymakers and manufacturers make more informed decisions about the health and environmental impacts of some products, as well as guide the development of new and improved products for the marketplace.
The coalition issued a press release announcing their alternative assessment principles, which reflect some of the best practices that manufacturers apply during the research and development of consumer products. The principles are driven by consideration of a chemical’s hazard properties, intended uses, expected exposures, and the impact of its uses in products and processes throughout the value chain.
The coalition’s complete alternative assessment principles can be found here.
Funko Goes Pop! for How to Train Your Dragon 2
Hiccup, Toothless, and rest of the gang return to screens in DreamWorks Animation‘s How To Train Your Dragon 2, which arrives in theaters this June. In April, Funko will release favorite characters from the series in Pop! form, alongside some new dragons.
Manufacturers Show Off Awesome New Plush at Toy Fair
Toy Fair 14 was a spectacular, four-day event held at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City from February 16 to 19. Manufacturers from across the country gathered to debut new items, display classics, and make connections with retailers, buyers, and the press. We here at The Toy Book took the opportunity to forge new professional relationships, engage companies with whom we have established relationships, and discover new companies. As I walked the floors checking out the plush items, I saw dozens of great designs that I loved. Big, small, fat, tall—you name it, it was at Toy Fair. Some plush is cute, some is realistic, some is abstract, some is sculptural. While I appreciate all plush, there were some pieces in particular that really caught my eye. Read more…
It's All About the Robots
Earlier this week, Senior Editor Marissa DiBartolo wrote about how the floor of the American International Toy Fair 2014 was lacking in the realm of appcessories, and that many companies were heading back to the classic play patterns, especially in the activities category. I also noticed an emerging trend that does not heavily rely on app technology, but does not veer from the idea of incorporating tech into playtime: robots.
As I walked the floor, I saw a bunch of different robotic products that really displayed where the category is heading—and a lot of that was not app-reliant. Of course, most of these robots can be controlled with or used with smart devices, but gone are the days where “and it has an app!” was a suitable enough novelty to convince consumers to purchase the toy. Read more…
Plush with a Purpose
Last week at Toy Fair, I was incredibly moved and encouraged to see so many toy companies giving from their compassionate hearts. When I was younger, I wanted to write about cancer research or world hunger. This week, Toy Fair reminded me that the toy business is an incredible outlet to make a huge difference, and these toy makers are using the toy industry to teach kids the importance of giving, love, and compassion. I’ve fallen in love with a handful of toy makers who are using their platform to make a real difference. Toys may seem trivial, but aren’t kids the ones in whom we delegate our future? Read more…
Konami Digital Entertainment Names New President
Konami Digital Entertainment Inc. has announced Tomohiro Uesugi as its new president. Uesugi previously held the position of executive vice president of Konami Digital Entertainment Inc.
Uesugi has a strong track record of driving revenue and promoting organizational development. He has experience in human resources, finance, consulting, planning, and operations management, offering a unique perspective to Konami, which will help further the company’s brand and sales in North, Central, and South America.
Prior to joining Konami in 2013, Uesugi served as the executive vice president of Sanyo North America Corp.
Redan Publishing Appoints Sales and Marketing Director
Children’s magazine publisher Redan Publishing Inc. welcomes back Jessica McKnight as sales and marketing director to manage marketing and distribution for the company’s expanding portfolio of children’s magazines.
In her new role Jessica, will be in charge of the licensing and marketing for the entire Redan Fun To Learn portfolio. She will handle logistics for all 11 publications, including liasing with retailers, licensors, advertisers, and PR companies.
Mega Reports Fourth Quarter and Full-Year Results
Mega Brands Inc. has announced its financial results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2013. Consolidated net sales decreased 4 percent to $404.7 million in 2013, compared to $420.3 million in 2012. Net earnings increased 25 percent to $20.8 million or $0.93 per diluted share, compared to $16.6 million or $0.84 per diluted share in 2012. Net sales decreased 5 percent in the toys segment, while net sales for stationery and activities increased 1 percent. On a geographic segment basis, net sales decreased 3 percent in North America and 5 percent in International. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (''EBITDA'') was $47.0 million, compared to $49.2 million in 2012.
Fourth quarter consolidated net sales decreased 21 percent to $101.2 million, compared to $127.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. Net earnings were $1.4 million or $0.04 per diluted share, compared to $4.0 million or $0.01 per diluted share in the same 2012 period. Net sales were down 24 percent in the toys segment and 3 percent in stationery and activities. On a geographic segment basis, North American net sales decreased 20 percent and International net sales decreased 23 percent. Adjusted EBITDA was $8.9 million, compared to $13.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2012.
The corporation ended 2013 in a strong financial position, with long-term debt reduced 48 percent to $59.3 million compared to $113.0 million at the end of 2012, cash on hand of $16.4 million compared to $8.0 million the previous year, and no borrowings against our working capital facility. The corporation also completed a three-year program during which it invested over $30 million to increase efficiency and production capacity in its Montreal facility.
The Lego Group Reports 2013 Results
The Lego Group reported growth in 2013 as revenue increased by DKK 2.3 billion in 2013 to DKK 25.4 billion against DKK 23.1 billion the year before. Revenue growth excluding foreign exchange impacts was 11 percent year over year on a local currency basis. The Lego Group’s profit before tax amounted to DKK 8.2 billion in 2013 against DKK 7.5 billion the year before.
The Lego Group’s operating profit amounted to DKK 8.3 billion in 2013 against DKK 7.6 billion in 2012. Net financials created a total expense of DKK 97 million in 2013 against an expense of DKK 84 million in 2012. The Lego Group’s profit for the year amounted to DKK 6.1 billion in 2013 against DKK 5.6 billion in 2012, which is as expected at the beginning of the year.
All major Lego markets experienced growth in 2013. The U.S., UK, and Central and Northern European markets achieved single digit growth rates, whereas markets such as France, Spain, Russia, and China grew double digits. Sales growth was very strong in many Asian markets.
Among the top selling lines in 2013 were core themes such as Lego City, Lego Star Wars, and Lego Duplo. Lego Friends and Lego Chima added the most to sales growth in 2013. The preschool products under the Lego Duplo brand, as well as the Lego Technic and Lego Creator products also experienced high growth rates in 2013.
During 2013 the Lego Games line of board games was phased out. Even though the product line received very positive feedback from consumers it did not succeed in becoming a long-term sustainable concept for the Lego Group.
During the coming years the Lego Group expects to grow moderately ahead of the global toy market, which is expected to experience low single digit growth.
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The Toy Book