*Toy Book Exclusive*
MGA Launches Specialty Toy Division
MGA Entertainment has announced plans to enter the world of specialty toy products with the launch of its own specialty division, MGA Entertainment Specialty. The company is currently hiring sales representation groups across the U.S. that will service specialty retailers at store level. MGA Entertainment Specialty will offer a vast assortment of unique toys and gifts derived from its portfolio of brands, including Little Tikes, Moxie Girlz, Zapf, Rescue Pets, and more.
Sales industry veteran Terri Maccarrone has been tapped to helm MGA Entertainment Specialty. With a background that includes roles at Small World Toys, Michel & Company, and Applause, Terri is poised to lead the way in widening the scope of retail outlets that carry MGA brands.
Madame Alexander Appointed as StinkyKids Manufacturer
Stone America Licensing has appointed Alexander Doll Company, the creator of Madame Alexander Dolls, as exclusive manufacturer for StinkyKids’ soft-bodied dolls.
StinkyKids are a group of 10 diverse “little stinKers” who learn to make right choices through mistakes. The children live by the motto, “Always Be A Leader Of Good.”
The property’s doll line launched in fourth quarter 2009 in Nordstrom stores, Nordstrom.com, and at FAO Schwarz New York. Madame Alexander plans to expand the program to additional specialty, mid-tier, and mass retailers for Christmas 2010.
Stone America is also in negotiations with publishers to produce the property’s first book.
Dover Publications Creates Sesame Street Line
Dover Publications has partnered with Sesame Workshop to create a line of activity books, paper dolls, stained glass coloring books, stickers, and tattoos based on Sesame Street. The sticker books feature Cookie Monster, Big Bird, and Elmo to teach kids about the colors blue, yellow, and red, while the temporary tattoos—featuring Zoe, The Count, and Grover—help kids learn numbers.
TIA Proposes ASTM Aligns Heavy Metal Standard with Europe and ISO
A TIA task group, which includes toy manufacturers, importers, and major toy retailers, has recommended to ASTM that the U.S. aligns its toy safety standard (ASTM F963) requirements for soluble heavy metals in substrate materials of toys and accessible parts of toys with those found in EN 71-3 and ISO 8124-3.
The draft proposes to adopt the requirements for those products from EN71 and ISO 8124, with the following exceptions to the European and ISO approach:
- The proposed upper age limit for the products will be 14 years, not 6 years, consistent with the other sections of ASTM F963.
- A list of excluded materials, which will be exempt from the requirements, has been added based on CPSC’s list of excluded materials for lead. Modeling clays will not be covered in the ASTM proposal, given that art materials are exempt from the other sections of ASTM.
- A Total Test for heavy metals will be offered as an acceptable, optional screening test, as is already common practice for surface coating testing in ASTM F963. Additional solubility testing (which is the standard for EN71 and ISO 8124) will be needed only if the results of the Total Test screen exceed the limits for heavy metals.
TIA will introduce additional technical edits to the proposed draft before submitting to ASTM for consideration. In the interim, TIA staff will continue to outreach to members, industry stakeholders, retailers, and others for support of the alignment efforts.
ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy Exhibit Space Sold Out
According to Kathleen McHugh, president of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA), all available exhibit space for ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy has sold out.
“Every square inch of exhibit space is spoken for, and that means all the regular booths, all the half-booths we feature to help small start-ups bring their creative new specialty product to market, and all the table-top exhibits in our unique inventor incubator,” says McHugh.
ASTRA recommends that independent toy retailers register for the event as soon as possible to avoid missing out on any of the limited-registration events.
The 2010 Marketplace & Academy will be held in Providence, R.I. from June 13 to 16. For more information or to register, visit www.astratoy.org or call ASTRA at 1-800-591-0490.
Animax to Manage Ty Girlz Virtual World
Animax Entertainment has signed on to manage the online efforts of the Ty Girlz brand by Ty, Inc. The partnership launched today with a new “freemium” free-to-play model.
New virtual goods, online games and activities, support for micropayments, and a loyalty program has premiered in the tween-targeted virtual world. Original entertainment, licensed merchandise, online media, and extensions to mobile devices and other social network platforms for both moms and kids will also be implemented.
Harry Potter Park Slated to Open This Spring
Although Universal has not announced an exact date, the new Harry Potter theme park in Orlando, Fla., has been scheduled to open this spring.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will include rides for thrill seekers, such as “Dragon Challenge,” and more family orientated attractions such as “Flight of the Hippogriff.” The park will also include themed shops and restaurants inspired by the Harry Potter series, such as "Honeydukes," which sells chocolate frogs, and a British themed restaurant named "Three Broomsticks."
The official website for the Harry Potter park (http://www.universalorlando.com/harrypotter/) allows users to take a virtual tour of the park, using a combination of real-life and computer-generated images to show what the park will look like when it is completed.