March 14, 2013

Release of Disney Infinity Game Delayed to August

Disney InfinityDisney Interactive has pushed back the release of Disney Infinity to late August, according to The New York Times. The initial June release date of the new game was meant to coincide with the release of Monsters University, but Disney executives tell The New York Times that retailers have requested the date be changed closer to the holiday season. The extra lead time may also help build word-of-mouth buzz surrounding the new game, and would also put it in direct competition with the new Skylanders Swap Force, which is also planning an end-of-year release, the Times reports.

Reports: Nintendo to Release Skylanders-Like Pokémon Rumble U

Pokémon Rumble U will make use of NFC figures in the game, Japan’s CoroCoro magazine reports. The game is expected to go on sale in Japan on the Wii U eShop on April 24, with an initial launch of six or seven figures. The figures will make use of the Wii U GamePad’s NFC function in order to implement the figures into the game. Similar to Activision’s Skylanders and the soon-to-launch Disney Infinity, the figures can be incorporated into the on-screen game play, and progress can be saved directly into the figures.
Release of the Pokémon Rumble U game and figures outside of Japan has not yet been announced.

Retail Sales Up Less Than 1 Percent in February

Retail sales increased nominally in February as consumers adjusted their spending in response to an increase in payroll taxes and higher gasoline prices, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). February retail sales, excluding automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants, increased 0.7 percent seasonally adjusted from January and increased 0.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
NRF President and CEO Mathew Shay says the organization’s consumer research has consistently shown that shoppers are cautious and are making frugal spending decisions because of economic uncertainty and lower paychecks. He also predicted retail sales may see additional challenges because of sequestration, the automatic federal spending cuts enacted by the U.S. Congress this month.
February retail sales, released by the U.S. Department of Commerce, showed total retail and food services sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants) increased 1.1 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 4.6 percent adjusted year-over-year.

Federal Budget Cuts May Cause Shipping Delays, TIA Warns

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) is warning that federal sequestration budget cuts, which went into effect this month, may impact the toy industry in several ways, including shipping delays from seaports and land ports of entry. According to the TIA, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will reduce its spending to comply with the sequester by decreasing cargo operations service, which will increase delays for container examinations for days at major seaports. The CBP will no longer be flexible in extending operating hours at ports, and all ports will likely operate below capacity, meaning diverting to different ports would not resolve the issue.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says it will remain focused on priority projects and that the budget cuts should have no noticeable effect on projects that are critical to consumers or industry. Though half of the nation’s 2.1 million federal workers are potentially being furloughed over the next six months, the CPSC will not furlough any employees.
The TIA sent its members a legislative bulletin on Tuesday that outlines additional details and advice for importers. The TIA says it will provide members with updates as additional impacts become known.

Toy Industry Foundation Holds Online Auction

The Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) will hold a five-day online auction beginning today (March 14) at 3 p.m. EST. All proceeds will support TIF programs, including The Toy Bank, which provides new toys to children in need.
The fundraising effort, hosted by eBay Giving Works, will provide collectors and kids with an opportunity to own one-of-a-kind and limited-edition toy collectibles. The auction will conclude promptly at 3 p.m. EST on March 19. Auction items can be viewed through TIF’s Facebook page.

Disney Pulls Plug on Star Wars: The Clone Wars

The Clone WarsThe Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series, airing on Cartoon Network, will soon come to close, according to a statement by Lucasfilm, now owned by Disney. Lucasfilm, in a statement, says it plans to “pursue a new direction” for its animated Star Wars programming and will explore “a whole new Star Wars series set in a time period previously untouched in Star Wars films or television programming.” A network for the new program was not announced, though Lucasfilm says more details will emerge in the months to come.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars has aired for five seasons on Cartoon Network and is among its top shows. Lucasfilm has halted production on additional episodes for Cartoon Network, but the studio says it will continue production on new Clone Wars story arcs and bonus content. A venue for that content was not announced.
Disney has already announced plans for a new Star Wars film trilogy, which will begin with Episode VII.

China Exported $1.48 Billion in Toys in January

China’s toy exports amounted to $1.48 billion in January, down by 13.19 percent year on year, of which the export of traditional toys, including dolls, educational toys, puzzles, electric trains, and toy musical instruments reached $842.73 million, up by 2.51 percent year on year, according to the China Toy & Juvenile Products Association. Export of video games was $417.27 million, accounting for 28.22 percent of the total. Export of baby strollers and bicycles exceeded $223.93 million, accounting for 15.15 percent of the total.
Among all the export destinations, the U.S., Japan, and Germany remained the largest. The U.S., ranking first, took in $500.93 million worth of China’s toy exports, down by 13.51 percent year on year, accounting for 33.88 percent of the total volume. Export to Japan exceeded $133.42 million, accounting for 9.02 percent of the total. Export to Germany reached $86.09 million, up 14.59 percent year on year.

Abraaj to Invest in Palestinian Toy Company

Dubai-based Abraaj Group, a private equity firm operating in global growth markets, has invested in Anoud Games, a producer of Arabic educational games and toys for children based in Palestine.
Abraaj said the investment, being made through its Palestine Growth Capital Fund (PGCF), will help Anoud Games to boost its product range and expand regionally.
Anoud Games was founded in 1996 and is currently one of the largest makers and distributors of educational toys in Palestine with a head office in East Jerusalem.

Laser Pegs

DYO Arts and Crafts Kits Remain on Top

As the design-your-own trend continues this year, more and more companies are jumping onboard and attempting to woo the world’s crafty tweens. Read more.

MindWare Games Test Brain Power Without Words, Numbers, or Trivia

There are so many games on the market that get the gears moving in your brain, including Scrabble, Bananagrams, Trivial Pursuit, and Boggle. But what about those of us who didn’t major in English in college or don’t have a plethora of interesting facts stored away for a rainy day? Read more.

Manufacturers Are Shifting Gender Roles in the Toy Space

Experimenting with gender roles in the toy space can be tricky, but it can also yield rewarding results. Read more.

Cooperative Games Foster Altruism and Community in Kids

Peaceable Kingdom’s line of cooperative games emphasize the fun and challenge of game play, while eliminating the winners and losers. Read more.

Outfit7 Appoints New COO

Outfit7, the company behind the Talking Friends apps, has appointed Alessandro Traverso as COO. In the newly created role, Traverso will be responsible for the management of Outfit7 operations, including strategic planning, content development, monetization, marketing, and brand management. He will be tasked with further extending the Talking Friends brand portfolio. Traverso most recently served at HIT Entertainment as senior vice president of commercial development. He was responsible for leading all commercial strategic initiatives across the company’s brand portfolio, television channels, and JV investments. He previously held positions at Discovery Channel and the BBC.

CarrotNewYork Appoints New Senior Director of Client Development

Julie Livingston has joined CarrotNewYork as senior director of client development. CarrotNewYork is a youth marketing agency that creates brand-sponsored educational programs distributed through schools and other channels. In her new position, Livingston will expand the agency’s corporate client roster, which currently includes Colgate Palmolive, Reckitt Benckiser/Lysol brand, Softsoap, and Visa. Most recently, Livingston was director of business development and accounts at Child’s Play Communications. 

Herrington Teddy Bear Corp. Admitted to GXG Markets First Quote

The Herrington Teddy Bear Corp. has been admitted to the GXG Markets First Quote with the stock symbol “BEAR.”
Company CEO and Founder Chris Herrington says the Herrington Teddy Bear Corp. has developed wireless technology that will be embedded in its new collection of smart toys that will allow the toys to wirelessly connect to an app on users’ smartphones. The company expects this new line will contribute to sales growth over the next year as it prepares to launch the products later this year.

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