March 21, 2013

CPSC Revises Third-Party Testing and Certification Requirements

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) will soon require toy manufacturers to obtain third-party testing from CPSC-accredited labs to demonstrate compliance with Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety (ASTM F963-11), the Toy Industry Association has reported. The changes will take place on June 10. While compliance with the F963-11 standard has been mandatory since June of last year, there has been no requirement for third-party testing to the revised standard.
The CPSC will accept certifications to ASTM F963-11 based on third-party testing conducted prior to the effective date provided that the products were tested on or after February 22 of last year and the products were tested at a third-party testing facility accredited to test to ASTM F963-11 on or after May 24 of last year and before June 10 this year.
The rule also makes several changes to the testing and certification requirements, two of which are of importance to the toy industry. The final rule expands the allowed uses of XRF and HD-XRF technology for testing of lead content by third-party testing labs to include glass materials, crystals, and some metals. It also expands the definition of “firewalled lab” to encompass more types of laboratories.
For more information, visit the TIA website.

ASTRA and ChiTAG Collaborate for Toy Inventor Education Sessions

The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) is collaborating with the Chicago Toy & Game Group (ChiTAG) to provide toy inventors and specialty manufacturers with strategies for bringing new toy innovations to market. Two educational sessions focused on the needs of inventors have been added to ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy in Nashville, Tenn., from June 16 to 19. These sessions are for toy manufacturers and inventors only, and any manufacturers or inventors who are exhibiting at or are registered for ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy may attend these sessions at no charge. For information on the sessions, visit ASTRA’s website.

Walmart Executive to Present Keynote Session at PlayCon

The Toy Industry Association and PlayCon will present an exclusive one-on-one interview session with Walmart’s new senior vice president for toys, seasonal merchandise, and celebrations, Scott McCall. PlayCon will be held from May 6 to 8 in Scottsdale, Ariz. A longtime Walmart leader, McCall joined the organization in 1993 and has served in numerous decision-making positions including divisional merchandising manager of toys from 2002 to 2007. Conference attendees will have an opportunity to hear what’s in store for the retail giant, toy makers, and marketers. For more information about this and other PlayCon sessions, and to register, visit the TIA’s PlayCon website.

Arklu Announces Distribution Agreement with Îlot 307 Inc. for Canada

LottieArklu Ltd. has signed a distribution agreement with Îlot 307 Inc., which will now be the exclusive distributor of Arklu’s Lottie doll line to specialty toy retailers across Canada. Arklu is a British toy development company based in London and founded by Ian Harkin and Lucie Follett.
Lottie is a fashion doll for girls ages 3 to 9. Lottie’s body is “childlike,” with her dimensions (with the exception of her head) based upon those devised by leading British scientific academics to reflect the average proportions on a 9-year-old girl. Lottie doesn’t wear makeup, jewelry, or high heels, and she can stand on her own two feet, an important life skill for all girls.
Îlot 307 Inc. will begin shipping Arklu Lottie dolls in June.



Round 2 Acquires Lindberg and Hawk Models Brands

Round 2 LLC has acquired the Lindberg and Hawk Models brands and assets from J. Lloyd International. With the transaction, Round 2 adds these two plastic model kit names to their existing trio of AMT, MPC, and Polar Lights mode kit lines, licensed from Learning Curve Brands Inc. in 2008 and purchased outright last year. 

Biplano Signs as Licensing Agent for Angry Words App

Biplano has signed a licensing agreement with Etermax to become the licensing agent for Angry Words, one of most successful apps in Spain. Biplano will develop a licensing plan for Spain, France, and Portugal.
Angry Words is a multiplayer crosswords online game available in multiple languages, including English and Spanish. In Spring one of four smartphone users has downloaded Angry Words. Eighty-three percent of its users are between 18 and 44 years old. Last year, Angry Words was appointed as game of the year in the App Store.

Toy Industry Foundation Takes in Record Donations at Toy Fair

The Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) has gathered more than 42,000 toys and games worth more than $400,000 for children in need—its most successful one-day haul—on the last day of February’s American International Toy Fair, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) says in a new release. The annual toy drive surpassed last year’s totals, with 33 percent more toys donated by exhibitors at the trade show.
The toys will be donated to 21 children’s charities in The Toy Bank network, including New York-area organizations such as The NY Foundling, The Legacy Center, and Dream Center, as well as to TIF’s national partners the Boys and Girls Clubs of America Military Services and CASA for Children, an organization that provides one-on-one advocacy and guidance for children in the foster care system.

Child’s Play Communications Celebrates 25th Anniversary

New York City-based Child's Play Communications is celebrating 25 years of connecting companies with moms this year. In conjunction with the anniversary, Child's Play has recently increased its staff by 20 percent and moved to a larger office space. Other 25th anniversary plans include the launch of a redesigned website, new client services, and expansion into other niche markets.
Child's Play brings moms and brands together through public relations, social media, word-of-mouth communications, and online marketing. The agency offers an extensive array of proprietary services, including its Team Mom network of review bloggers, Parkbench Panel focus groups, and the Child’s Play Party! home-based brand immersion events.
The agency has represented a broad range of brands, including Warner Bros., Disney, Heinz, Hewlett Packard, Reading Rainbow, Wildlife Conservation Society, Parents magazine, and Sylvan Learning Center.

Build-A-Bear Workshop Partners with Autism Speaks for Fundraiser

Build-A-BearBuild-A-Bear Workshop and Autism Speaks, an autism science and advocacy organization, will welcome families to the Build-A-Bear Workshop store on 5th Avenue in New York City to make the first Autism Speaks bears. This is the first time the company has created a special bear to benefit Autism Speaks. For each special-edition bear sold, $1 will be donated to the organization. 
The Autism Speaks Bear ($18) will arrive in stores on March 27. An Autism Speaks bear-sized Tiny Tees shirt ($7) will also be available, with 50 cents from every tee sold going directly to the charity. Throughout April, guests can also donate $1 (or more) to Autism Speaks when they check out at Build-A-Bear Workshop stores in the U.S. or online at

Laser Pegs

A Country Game for the Whole Family

One of the things I love most about country music is that the lyrics can get really, well, for lack of a better term, “honky tonk.”  That’s why I jumped at the chance to try out You’ve Been Sentenced! Country Music Edition by McNeill Designs for Brighter Minds when it came into our office. Read more.

Creativity Can Offers Kids Opportunity to Give Back, Get Creative

Last month at Toy Fair, I had the opportunity to meet with Creativity for Kids, who, in an effort to get kids back on track and do some good at the same time, has created the Creativity Can. Read more.

Everyone Has One, But I Want Mine to be Unique

For parents buying their children expensive devices such as smartphones, iPods, or even portable gaming devices like the Nintendo 3DS or the PS Vita, there are some awesome products on the market that will allow kids to dazzle and personalize their devices without placing a never-gonna-come-off, gooey-backed sticker on said device. Read more.

Toys Are More Fun Than Candy

Mattel’s North American team recently kicked off an Easter program called Save the Bunny, which launched with a clever celebrity PSA. The concept is to promote giving toys, rather than copious amounts of candy, for Easter. Read more.

Appreciating Plush

Everyone has something that they never really grow out of. For some, it might be Disney movies; for others, maybe it’s remote-control vehicles. In my case, it’s plush. Read more.

EA CEO Resigns Post Following Weak Financial Results

Electronic Arts Inc.’s CEO John Riccitiello will step down from his position and as a member of the board of directors, effective March 30, the company said in a statement. EA’s board has appointed Larry Probst as executive chairman to lead EA’s executive team while the board conducts a search for a permanent CEO. The board will consider internal and external candidates with the assistance of an executive search firm.
In a separate statement, Riccitiello said his decision to leave EA is “all about my accountability for the shortcomings in our financial results this year. It currently looks like we will come in at the low end of, or slightly below, the financial guidance we issued to the Street, and we have fallen short of the internal operating plan we set one year ago. And for that, I am 100 percent accountable.”

Mind Candy Appoints Handscomb, Announces Openings

Mind Candy, the entertainment company behind Moshi Monsters, has appointed Penny Handscomb as its new chief people officer. Handscomb will lead the company’s human resources and talent management, and will be central to cultivating company culture as Mind Candy continues to expand globally. Handscomb has more than 20 years of human resources and talent acquisition experience working with top, fast-growing consumer brands in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. Prior to Mind Candy, she served as ShoeDazzle’s chief talent officer and before that she was the senior vice president of human resources and training at Provide Commerce, best known for its ProFlowers brand. 
Mind Candy is continuing its expansion with around 90 open roles across all divisions. For further information on open roles at Mind Candy, visit

Scholastic Corp Reports Decline in Third Quarter Financial Results

Scholastic Corp. has reported results for the fiscal 2013 third quarter ended February 28. Revenue for the third quarter was $380.5 million, compared to $467 million a year ago. The third quarter revenue decline primarily reflected significantly lower sales of The Hunger Games trilogy versus expectations and versus the prior year, when the company benefited from strong book revenues in advance of last March’s film release. Book Club sales also declined in the quarter compared to the prior year period.

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