PBS KIDS Joins Forces with Happy Kid Toy Group to Develop New Toys
PBS KIDS has signed Happy Kid Toy Group, Ltd. as its master toy licensee to launch a new educational line for preschoolers. The new toys, being developed as part of the multi-year licensing agreement, will debut in 2011, and will be sold by a range of retailers including toy specialty, catalogue, internet, department stores, and all major mass retailers. Each PBS KIDS item will be packaged with information on the importance of child-driven play and ideas for parent or caregiver interaction.
PBS will invest the revenue earned from the new deal into the creation of the next generation of educational content for children.
Nintendo to Release 3-D Portable Console
Nintendo has announced that it will release a 3-D portable console, the Nintendo 3DS. The system will use two screens, will be backwards compatible with current DS and DSi games, and—most likely the biggest feature—players won’t have to wear any special glasses to see the game in 3-D.
Last month, Ars Technica posted a video of a downloadable game that is currently out in Japan, which allows the user to see a 3-D effect by peering into the game and moving the console back and forth. The 3DS may use similar technology.
The Nintendo 3DS is scheduled to be released before the end of the fiscal year, sometime before March 2011. The company has yet to release any images or videos of the upcoming system, or explain how the games will look or be played.
Ex-controller at Cepia Charged with Embezzling $400,000
According to the St. Louis Business Journal, a former controller for Cepia, LLC, manufacturer of Zhu Zhu Pets robotic hamsters, was indicted for mail fraud for allegedly embezzling more than $400,000 from the company. Joseph Van Gronigen was indicted by a federal grand jury on two felony counts of mail fraud, the U.S. attorney’s office said
According to the indictment, between September 2007 and January 2010, Van Gronigen allegedly embezzled more than $400,000 from Cepia for his own use and to pay his own expenses. He was employed by Cepia from 2005 to January 2010 and had been the company’s controller since 2008.
Hobby Store Game Sales Up
Game sales in hobby stores were up from 5 to 10 percent in 2009 despite the worst economy in generations, according to a report in the new issue of Internal Correspondence. The growth was driven by a resurgence in Magic: The Gathering sales and by board game sales being up by double-digit percentages. Yu-Gi-Oh! and the return of HeroClix also helped support improved sales. Non-collectible miniature sales were slightly down, and RPG sales were down approximately 10 percent in 2009.
Low Prices Replace Customer Service as Top Loyalty Driver
Walmart dominated the 2010 Colloquy Retail Loyalty Index, in results that reflect a reality of the Great Recession—low prices drove consumer loyalty. Colloquy, the publishing, education, and research division of LoyaltyOne, previously published the Colloquy Retail Loyalty Index in 2008. Colloquy’s index ranks the top U.S. retailers according to customer loyalty ratings.
The 2010 index was built from a December 2009 survey of 3,500 U.S. consumers in five regions: Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, and Northwest. “Our 2008 index showed that… customer service, store environment, and a wide product selection were the underlying factors for customers' self-professed loyalty. But our 2010 index proves that the Great Recession became the great equalizer,” said Colloquy Partner Kelly Hlavinka. “Low prices have stepped up to become retail’s strongest loyalty lure according to consumers.”
The 2010 Colloquy Retail Loyalty Index is available free of charge at www.colloquy.com/files/2010-COLLOQUY-RetailTalk-White-Paper.pdf.
Scholastic Named Master Publisher for Chuggington
Scholastic has been named master publisher in the U.S. for Chuggington, Ludorum’s new preschool property, which premiered in the U.S. on Disney Channel in January. Scholastic holds all storybook and novelty rights for the Chuggington children’s book program and will publish and deliver the titles through all of its distribution channels.
Chuggington is a CGI-animated train-centric preschool series that follows the adventures of Koko, Brewster, and Wilson as they learn to explore, work, and play in a safe and exciting world.
Aurora, Ty Jury Trial Date Set
Aurora World, Inc., which filed a federal copyright lawsuit against competitor Ty, Inc. alleging that Ty’s Beanie Boos infringe on its YooHoo & Friends plush, has announced that the court has set January 18, 2011 as the trial date in that lawsuit (a photo comparing the two product lines is available here: http://bit.ly/760yMR). A pretrial conference is scheduled to take place on December 20, 2010.
In papers filed with the Court, Ty informed the Court that it had no intention of selling “Cleo” and “Bubblegum” in the U.S. pending the outcome of this case. Ty’s lawyers also advised the Court that Ty had ceased sending out display racks and sell sheets containing images of “Cleo” and “Bubblegum.”
Chorion Appoints French Licensing Agent
Chorion has appointed Marathon Media as the merchandising and licensing agent for France. The two companies will work closely together to develop a licensing program for The World of Eric Carle. Marathon Media will manage all French licensing opportunities for the brand. The expected range of products will include apparel, plush, toys and games, stationery, health and beauty, arts and crafts, and giftware.
NYGIF and Consultant Firm to Host “Market Readiness” Seminars
The New York International Gift Fair (NYIGF) and Right Angle Strategies, a business strategy and coaching consultancy, is producing four webinars for the show’s exhibitors. The webinars will be part of a monthly series of “Market Readiness” seminars that will begin in May for exhibitors of the summer show.
The first three pre-show webinars will focus on pre-show marketing (“Pre-show Marketing to Drive Your Sales”), sales techniques (“How to Attract Buyers and Close the Sale”), and tradeshow operations (“NYIGF Operations Made Easy”); and the fourth and final webinar (“How to Manage Orders and Leads Generated”), will be held post-show and will address market follow-up. Registration is available online at www.nyigf.com. The summer edition of NYIGF will be held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, from August 14 through August 19.