April 03, 2014

China Toy Fair

Fox Partners with Jakks Pacific, Rovio, and More for Rio 2

Rio 2Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products will celebrate the April 11 theatrical release of Rio 2 with a multi-category global licensing program, including partnerships for toys and kids’ products.
Toy partner Jakks Pacific will introduce a toy line that includes Flying Blu & Jewel, remote control-activated figures that fly on a 4-foot tether that connects the figure to the controller. The line also includes a Rio 2 Figures 8-Pack, which features the entire gang as 2.5-inch figures; singing plush that comes in four styles, all of which sing songs or say phrases from the film; and 6-inch plush in five different styles.
Other domestic partners include Rovio Entertainment, Cupcake Digital, and SimEx-Iwerks.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Toy Line Expands, Enters New Retailers

Daniel Tiger's NeighborhoodThe Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood product line will include more products and enter major retail chains this year. Jakks Pacific will expand the brand’s range of toys, as well as venture into new categories including books and costumes, the latter through its Disguise division. In addition, University Games will offer puzzles and games such as the Colorforms Deluxe Playset.
The new toys and games are part of an overall retail expansion, which will see Kmart and Target introduce a selection of licensed merchandise, and Barnes & Noble launch a full line of books from Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing under Simon Spotlight. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood products will also be introduced to Canadian retailers for the first time.

Toys “R” Us Shows Support for Autism Awareness Month

As part of its ongoing support of the special needs community and to commemorate Autism Awareness Month, the Toys “R” Us Children’s Fund has provided a $600,000 grant to Autism Speaks, a leading autism science and advocacy organization. The grant will support the charity’s research and advocacy efforts in the U.S. as it strives to provide resources for families affected by autism spectrum disorders.
Toys “R” Us will serve as the national sponsor of the organization’s Walk Now for Autism Speaks program, a year-long series of more than 100 walk events taking place in communities across North America that allows supporters to personally raise funds for Autism Speaks. In addition, Toys “R” Us and the Toys “R” Us Children’s Fund have collaborated with Autism Speaks and the not-for-profit National Lekotek Center to identify toys that can help kids with autism develop language, creativity, and social skills while playing with siblings and friends.
The list of Ten Toys That Speak to Autism is a special subset of the company’s Toys “R” Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids, and can be found in stores nationwide and online at Toysrus.com/DifferentlyAbled.
Since 2007, Toys “R” Us Inc., the Toys “R” Us Children’s Fund, and customer contributions together have provided Autism Speaks with nearly $19 million.

Spielwarenmesse 2014 Report Shows Top Trends

Spielwarenmesse eG has released a report showing the main trends for the toy industry this year, which are identified as Fit4Life, Retromania, Mini Is King, and TechToys.
Among the report’s findings from Spielwarenmesse 2014, China had the largest number of international visitors, the total number of visitors from all around the world increased by more than 3,000, and 50 more suppliers exhibited baby and infant articles compared to last year.
An online version of the full report can be viewed and downloaded at the Spielwarenmesse website.

Duncan Toys Celebrates 85 Years with Disney Deal

Duncan ToysDuncan Toys Company, which celebrates its 85th anniversary this year, recently established a strategic alliance with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Duncan retail outlets at Downtown Disney on the east and west coast will feature experienced demonstrators interacting with Disney guests while showing off their yo-yo skills.
Duncan and Disney are also co-hosting the inaugural International Yo-Yo Championship competition at Downtown Disney’s House of Blues in Orlando, Fla., on August 1 and 2. The annual event brings competitors and spectators to witness top yo-yo players from around the world. In conjunction with the International Yo-Yo Championship Competition, Duncan is also developing plans for a regional championship event to be held in the Downtown Disney located in Anaheim, Calif., this October.
Connecting both competitions, Duncan will team up with Radio Disney and select retail partners to conduct a Duncan 85th Anniversary Celebration Tour that will span 10 U.S. cities and include community events.

Inventors Stop Inventing for a Day to Protect Their Rights

This past Wednesday, a group of inventors organized by Entrepreneurs for Growth, Alliance of U.S. Startups and Inventors for Jobs, and Edison Nation took a day off from inventing in response to patent reform legislation moving on Capitol Hill. The protest was to a bill that has already passed in the House of Representatives and is currently being considered in the Senate. The inventor organizations argue that this legislation would lower the ability to protect intellectual property, and are calling for a slower, more thoughtful approach to the issue.
As part of the one-day protest, inventors held a briefing on the topic of defending the innovation economy during an event in Washington, D.C.

40th Annual ICTI Meeting to be Held in Tokyo Next Week

Representatives of national toy trade associations will convene in Tokyo next week for the International Council of Toy Industries (ICTI) 40th annual general meeting. Hosted by the Japan Toy Association and scheduled for April 6 to 9 at the Grand Prince Hotel Takanawa, the meeting will explore issues currently affecting the worldwide toy industry.
In preparation for the meeting, each participating country has submitted a state of the industry report to be discussed during the proceedings. The reports touch on topics such as toy safety, as well as issues of concern to the toy industry, including chemical and environmental impacts.
Reservations can be made by downloading and filling out the reservation form available at the ICTI website and either emailing or faxing it to the hotel. For more information, contact Molly Carroll at (202) 459-0355 or Tatsuya Kobayashi at 81-3-3829-2513.

Mega Brands Returns as Presenting Sponsor of Walk Now for Autism Speaks

For the fourth consecutive year, Mega Bloks returns as the presenting sponsor of the 2014 Walk Now for Autism Speaks event, scheduled for May 25 at the McGill University Tomlinson Fieldhouse in Montreal.
As a fundraising measure, Mega Bloks has joined forces with Toys “R” Us Canada, pledging to donate $1 of every Mega Bloks toy sold in-store and online in Canada throughout the month of April to Autism Speaks Canada. In addition, Mega Bloks has invited local autism organizations to tour its Montreal headquarters every Friday during April to learn more about the therapeutic benefits of Mega Bloks toys.
More information about the Walk Now for Autism Speaks event can be found at the organization’s website.


USPTO Issues Milestone Patent to LeapFrog

On March 26, the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) commemorated its 700,000th design patent at a ceremony with Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker at Langdon Education Campus in Washington, DC.
The patent for the ornamental design for a handheld learning apparatus was issued to inventor and LeapFrog employee Jason Avery of Berkeley, Calif., and is currently assigned to LeapFrog Enterprises Inc. for its Leapster GS.
“For nearly 20 years, LeapFrog has been a leader in life-changing educational entertainment experiences through innovation-forward solutions such as LeapsterGS, and we are honored to have our device issued the 700,000th design patent,” said John Barbour, CEO at LeapFrog.

Sony Online Entertainment Launches Player Studio in Landmark

Starting this past Wednesday, Player Studio creators in select regions outside of the U.S. are able to submit in-game items across all Player Studio-supported games using Landmark, according to Sony Online Entertainment LLC (SOE).
Player Studio offers gamers and creators the opportunity to create items that can be sold in the in-game marketplaces of their favorite SOE games, and share in revenue generated by those sales. Previously, participation in Player Studio required that creators be based in the U.S. and skilled at creating items in 3-D modeling software.
With Landmark, SOE opens the door for more players worldwide to participate as they can save any of their creations directly to a template, which upon approval, can be sold within Player Studio.
SOE is adding 18 more categories across all participating Player Studio games in the coming months. The program is planned to roll out soon in Canada, France, Germany, and the U.K., and will be available in additional countries later this year.

Ralph Thielert Acquires iToy
Ralph Thielert has acquired iToy, a distribution company specializing in the distribution of toy-related products and services. The Lichtenstein-based company will act as a full service distributor to German-speaking territories, and will provide warehousing, invoicing, and trade market services.
iToy will also act as a sales agency and distribution and logistics consultant to domestic and international toy producers. The company’s distribution will continue to cover specialty stores, food retailers, online trade, and wholesale.
Thielert has more than 20 years of experience in the toy industry, including positions at Studio 100 Media GmbH and Altenburger Spielkarten, Leinfelden.

Taking Plush to the Next Level

Gone are the days when plush was simply a category of stagnant stuffed toys. Kids today can enjoy plush items that sing, dance, play music, light up, talk, and more. With technology moving ever forward, the plush category is seeing new ways to integrate interactive elements into soft products. While mechanized toys aren’t a brand new concept, many companies are producing new items that utilize today’s technologies in ways never seen before. Read more…

Bath Time Is Play Time in My House

I’m a lucky mom (for many reasons), but in the context of this post I’m lucky because my kids love taking baths. It’s one less thing to fight about. However, the reason they don’t mind cleaning up is that it’s fun. It’s not the getting clean part they enjoy (Lena has tried to make me forget about that portion of the experience many times), but the playing. Entertaining a 4-year-old in the tub is very different from distracting an 8-month-old, but bath toys have come a long way since I was a kid (plastic cup and Dawn dish soap, anyone?), and I’ve got a whole array of toys to get the job done. Read more…

Learning Healthy Habits Has Never Been This Much Fun!

As adults, we’re always obsessing over chasing that elusive 10 pounds that we gained so easily after college, but still haven’t figured out how to lose. Going to the gym and eating organic foods are second nature to those who have adapted healthier lifestyles in an effort to be at their best. It’s difficult to make those changes—switching french fries for brussels sprouts and being active instead of sitting on the couch all day. Why, then, don’t we give our kids a head start in this crusade? We should be teaching these healthy habits as early as possible. Read more…

Elliot F. Kaye Nominated as New CPSC Commissioner

President Obama has nominated Elliot F. Kaye to be commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for a term of seven years. He would replace Inez Moore Tenebaum, whose tenure ended last November. Kaye currently serves as executive director of the CPSC, and has been a force behind the agency’s drive to reduce head injuries in youth football, as reported by The New York Times.

Hasbro Elects Richard Stoddart to Board of Directors

Richard Stoddart, CEO, North America at Leo Burnett Worldwide, was elected to Hasbro’s board of directors effective March 27. Prior to taking on this role last year, he served as president of Leo Burnett North America in Chicago for eight years, helping return the agency to growth, strengthen its leadership team, and deliver clients such as Kellogg, McDonald’s, and General Motors.
Last year, Stoddart received the American Advertising Federation Multicultural Career Achiever Award, and in June, will begin a two-year term as chairman of the American Advertising Federation.

Jakks Pacific Closes on $75 Million Credit Facility Provided by GE Capital

On Monday, Jakks Pacific Inc. closed on a $75 million senior secured credit facility with General Electric Capital Corporation (“GECC”), with immediate funding available. Jakks will use the net proceeds for working capital, capital expenditures, and general corporate purposes as needed.
“We appreciate GE Capital’s understanding of our business and with their support, we should be positioned well for profitability in 2014 and beyond,” said Stephen Berman, co-founder and CEO, Jakks Pacific Inc.

Mega Brands Inc. Mails Management Information Circular, Announces Debt Reduction

Mega Brands Inc. has mailed its management information circular to shareholders in connection with the acquisition of the corporation by a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mattel Inc. for CA$17.75 per common share in cash. The notice of the meeting and circular has also been filed today with the Canadian securities commissions.
An interim order of the Superior Court of Québec granted on March 25 provides for the calling and holding of a special meeting of shareholders to consider the arrangement. The meeting will be held on April 23 at 9 a.m. at the offices of Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, 1000 De La Gauchetière St. West, Suite 2100, Montréal, Québec. Shareholders are encouraged to vote their shares in person or by proxy.
The corporation also intends to reduce the outstanding principal amount of its debentures by CA$8.6 million using proceeds from the exercise of common share purchase warrants. These proceeds will be used to purchase CA$8.6 million in principal amount of debentures on a pro rata basis at a purchase price equal to 100 percent of the principal amount of debentures, plus accrued and unpaid interest thereon.

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