March 28, 2013

Mattel’s UNO Game to Become Television Game Show

Mattel and The Gurin Co. have partnered to create UNO: the Game Show, a fast-paced, high-stakes show based on the classic card game. UNO: the Game Show transforms the popular card game into a game show in which players match colors, numbers, and wits for a shot at a cash prize. The format will be available as a half-hour daily game show with a $100,000 jackpot and an hour-long primetime version in which players compete for $1 million. The Gurin Co. has secured worldwide television rights to the game and will be distributing the format for the first time at MIPTV in Cannes, France.
UNO: The Game Show was created by Caleb Nelson and Tim Sheridan and developed for TV by Phil Gurin. It will be produced by The Gurin Co. in association with Mattel Inc.

Build-A-Bear Workshop Partners with Hasbro for My Little Pony Plush

Build-A-BearBuild-A-Bear Workshop will bring the My Little Pony brand to store shelves with a collection of characters under license from Hasbro Inc. Arriving April 1, Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash will be available at Build-A-Bear Workshop stores throughout North America and online at Buildabear.com. The first ever make-your-own My Little Pony plush allows customers to personalize the characters.
Build-A-Bear Workshop stores nationwide will hold a series of special events from April 1 through April 7. Customers and associates will be encouraged to dress up in their favorite My Little Pony fashions. Additionally, while making a My Little Pony friend, guests can take a pony personality quiz, recite the pony promise, and learn how to style their pony’s hair with a special hair care brochure. Pinkie Pie has signature pink locks, and Rainbow Dash has a multi-colored mane that can be brushed, combed, and braided. Guests can dress Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash in their signature capes or a variety of other fashions.

Babies “R” Us Partners with WhatToExpect.com

Babies “R” Us and WhatToExpect.com, Heidi Murkoff’s pregnancy and parenting website, have entered into a strategic partnership to offer expectant moms convenient access to their combined content and retail resources. As part of this collaboration, the Babies “R” Us Registry is now available on WhatToExpect.com.  Additionally, there are plans to feature content from WhatToExpect.com through various Babies “R” Us channels. WhatToExpect.com is published by Everyday Health.
Beginning immediately, expectant parents can create their Babies “R” Us Registry directly from WhatToExpect.com when visiting the site for advice throughout their pregnancy.  This is the first time the Babies “R” Us Registry will be available through an external channel beyond Babiesrus.com and Babies “R” Us stores. WhatToExpect.com will also feature Babies “R” Us user reviews and suggested must-have products. The Babies “R” Us Registry, to date, has been used by more than 18 million parents. WhatToExpect.com and its mobile apps reach nearly 4 million parents and pregnant women.

Temple Run Wins Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award for Favorite App

Temple RunTemple Run, from Imangi Studios, has won Nickelodeon’s annual Kids’ Choice Award for Favorite App. Temple Run received more kids’ votes than popular apps such as Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, and Minecraft. Last year Imangi Studios launched Temple Run 2 and Temple Run Oz, which was released in anticipation of the Oz the Great and Powerful film.
Nickelodeon says more than 387 million votes were cast online in more than 22 countries, in 20 categories, spanning film, television, books, music, and sports.
Dimensional Branding, the licensing agent for Imangi Studios, has extended the Temple Run brand to include children’s sleepwear by Komar, digital comics with Ape Entertainment, and card and board games with Spin Master, among other licensing partnerships.

Fisher-Price Launches Octonauts Toy Line

OctonautsSilvergate Media has launched a new line of toys in the U.S. based on the animated TV series for preschoolers, Octonauts. Manufactured by Fisher-Price Inc., a subsidiary of Mattel Inc., the new line of play sets, action figures, and Octo-gear arrived in Toys “R” Us stores earlier this month.
This is the first time that preschoolers in the U.S. can bring the Octonauts home with an assortment of action figures, vehicles, gadgets, and gear that allows them to create their very own Octo-adventure on land or under water. Sound effects, moveable rescue tools, and signature graphics capture the look and feel of the Octonauts preschool series and provide children with an imaginative play experience. The new Octonauts toys are designed for children ages 3 and up.

CandyRific to Create Licensed Products for The Trash Pack

CandyRific has signed a new licensing deal with Moose Enterprise for the Trash Pack. CandyRific will create interactive novelty items featuring the Trash Pack line of garbage-inspired collectibles. As part of the agreement, CandyRific will introduce two Trash Pack novelties that will be available for shipping in June:  the Trash Pack Light Up Slime Wand and the Trash Pack Pop Up Glow Light. 
The Trash Pack, known as the “Gross Gang in Your Garbage,” includes soft collectible characters, trading cards, storage, and play sets. The line is available in most major U.S. toy retailers, with 130 million “Trashies” sold worldwide.

National CASA Association and the Toy Industry Foundation Launch Partnership

The National Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Association and the Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) have partnered at the national level to provide toys and increase the number of trained CASA volunteers to benefit children in the foster care system. TIF has provided national CASA and regional CASA programs with $200,000 to support their advocacy efforts and will also donate more than 25,000 toys this year. The launch of this partnership will take place at TIF’s Play Your Part volunteer event on April 5 in Los Angeles.
National CASA, a network of 946 community-based programs that recruit, train, and support citizen-volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in courtrooms and communities, will be working with CASA programs across the country to identify and distribute the donated toys to children in the foster care system.

Imagine Toys and Scientifics Direct Partners with New Digital Platform

Cwist (pronounced kwist), the new digital platform where parents and educators can challenge kids to learn and get active, is teaming up with Imagine Toys and Scientifics Direct for the Cwist platform launch in April. 
Cwist helps kids make a connection between the things they want and the effort it takes to get them. Tapping the knowledge of parents and educators, the company has crowd sourced an interactive library of engaging educational, community service, and outdoor challenges for kids ages 5 to 11. The new transaction-based platform will offer both rewards and products from Imagine Toys and Scientifics Direct. Kids can choose and receive these parent-approved rewards upon successful completion of a “cwist,” extending the play experience and making parent purchases more meaningful to kids.  
Cwist is currently available in beta and will launch by invitation in April. For more information, visit www.cwist.com.

Laser Pegs

Battling Robots Pack a Punch

Radio-controlled “battles” have traditionally been thought of as races in which people compete to see whose car, plane, or helicopter can go faster. However, a new sort of battle is making its way to the R/C category: the battling robot. Read more.

Get the Party Started in The Croods: Prehistoric Party!

A while back, I had the opportunity to check out The Croods: Prehistoric Party! at D3Publisher. Whether or not you’ve seen the movie, the Croods family is lovable and takes you on an adventure through dozens of mini-games. Read more.

Breaking the Ice: Adult-Appropriate Party Games

Party games are a great device to ease the awkward tension of an unfamiliar crowd. There are a few classic favorites out there, like Cranium, Catch Phrase, and Apples to Apples. But there are also some new games hitting the market that will be great for breaking the ice. Read more.

Construction Toys Capitalize on Upcoming Blockbusters

I’m a huge sucker for blockbuster films. I also love construction toys. So you can image my excitement at the American International Toy Fair last month when I discovered that many of this year’s big films will also make their way to the construction toy aisle. Read more.

TÜV Rheinland Appoints Senior Business Development Manager for Retail

TÜV Rheinland has appointed Benjamin Lee as senior business development manager of retail for TÜV Rheinland North America. In his new role, Lee will direct and manage all retail operations and business development. Lee has more than 15 years of global sourcing and supply chain quality management experience, and his background spans multiple industries, including consumer products, telecom, manufacturing, and retail.
Lee previously worked at TÜV Rheinland Greater China Group in Shanghai as head of U.S. retail business development, regional and global retail key account manager for four years. His responsibilities included new business development in retail, sales, and assisting with the company’s internal quality initiatives.

The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association Elects New Board of Directors

The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) has elected 12 new officers and members who will join the association’s board of directors.
Andy Keimach, executive vice president at Munchkin Inc. has been elected chairman. Munchkin Inc. specializes in the manufacturing of toys and feeding, bathing, nursery, hygiene, and safety products. A member of the JPMA since 1992, Keimach has previously served on the association’s board and was chairman in 2006.
Luanne Whiting-Lager, vice president and CFO for Regal Lager, a distributor of baby and children's products located outside of Atlanta, has been elected vice chairwoman. She formerly served as treasurer for the JPMA board, and she has been a member of the organization for more than 20 years. Regal Lager manufactures and distributes baby gear, “potty” items (including cloth diapers), and nursery hygiene products.
Mark Messner, CEO of Artsana USA, a manufacturer of various baby care products under the Chicco, Boppy and Prenatal trademarks, has been elected treasurer. Artsana USA products include baby gear and toys for infants and toddlers. A member since 1998, Messner has also served as a director on the JPMA board.
Other JPMA Directors include Dennis Bruce of Graco, Rob Conley of Evenflo, Doug Gillespie of NUK USA, LLC, Deborah J. Mignucci of Fit Pregnancy, Andy Newmark of Kolcraft Enterprises Inc., Noel Pepys of Balboa Baby & Co. LLC, Joe Shamie of Delta Enterprise Group, Ken Wittenauer of Britax Child Safety Inc., and Alan Wolkin of Colgate Juvenile Products.

Rubicon Group Holding Appoints Director of Digital Media

Rubicon Group Holding (RGH) has appointed gaming industry veteran Jeff Nuzzi to the position of director of digital media. Based at RGH Entertainment in Los Angeles,
Nuzzi will lead the company’s efforts to create a digital platform of games, educational, and entertainment content for its growing library of intellectual properties.
Nuzzi comes to RGH from The Walt Disney Co. where he served as senior manager of marketing at Disney Mobile. At Disney, he led the go-to-market effort Where’s My Water?, in addition to dozens of apps for Disney franchises such as Cars, Toy Story, and Tron. In addition, he managed Marvel titles Thor and Captain America and sports apps through ESPN.

Craft & Hobby Association Appoints VP of Marketing and Communications

The Craft & Hobby Association has appointed Kerri Wickersheim as vice president of marketing and communications. Wickersheim will oversee efforts focused on increasing awareness to the association’s member base of activities and efforts designed to ensure success and growth within various creative vertical markets.
Wickersheim is a long-time member of the crafting and hobby community and most recently held marketing positions within Scrapbook Adhesives by 3L and Bernina’s Sewing Supplies Division.

GameStop Corp. Releases Fourth Quarter and 2012 Financial Results

Video game retailer GameStop Corp. has reported sales and earnings for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended last month. Total global sales for the fourth quarter of 2012 were $3.56 billion compared to $3.58 billion in the same period the prior year. Fourth quarter sales were essentially flat, which included 60.3 percent growth in digital receipts and $100.0 million of mobile sales offsetting weakness in the core business, the company says.
For fiscal year 2012, total global sales were $8.89 billion, a 7.0 percent decrease compared to $9.55 billion in 2011. Full year consolidated comparable store sales declined 8.0 percent compared to 2011.

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