April 18, 2013

Mojang Appoints Jazwares as Minecraft Toy and Electronics Partner

Mojang, developer and publisher of Minecraft, has selected Jazwares as its global partner for toys and electronics. The worldwide agreement will pave the way for a full line of Minecraft action figures, plush, and paper craft items for immediate development. Products will be available for the holiday season at major retailers nationwide.
The announcement of the Minecraft agreement represents the latest license in an
impressive list of brands for Jazwares. For more information about all of Jazwares’
current lines, visit www.jazwares.com.

K’nex to Open UK Office

K’nex Brands has announced the grand opening of its new subsidiary. Located in London, K’nex UK will open its doors next January.
The UK expansion will help build brand awareness for K’nex construction toys in the region. Tomy UK, the current distributor of K’nex in the UK, will continue to offer its services through the end of the year.
Founded in Hatfield, Pa., in 1992, K’nex began shipping product to UK retailers in 1994. Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of K’nex in the region and it will be celebrated with various contests and promotions that will be officially announced at London Toy Fair in January.

DreamWorks Acquires Trolls, Appoints Franchise Head

DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. has acquired the Troll franchise from the Dam Family and Dam Things of Denmark with plans to introduce the brand to a new generation of fans around the world. DreamWorks Animation has named American Girl veteran Shawn Dennis as head of brand development to cultivate this classic franchise. Dennis joined DreamWorks Animation to oversee its Trolls franchise in addition to other businesses within the company’s vast portfolio of branded intellectual property. Dennis’ extensive background in franchise management most recently saw her serve as senior vice president of marketing, product development, and publishing at American Girl.
The Troll doll was created in 1959 by Danish fisherman and woodcutter Thomas Dam. The Troll dolls soon became one of the biggest toy crazes of the 1960s and experienced a resurgence in the 1990s. DreamWorks Animation is now the exclusive worldwide licensor of the merchandise rights for the classic Troll Dolls with the sole exception of Scandanavia, the birthplace of the Trolls, where Dam Things will remain the licensor.

Airs Hogs Fans Can Test Stunt R/C in Google Street View

Air Hogs’ latest campaign, Sky Stunt, is attracting attention from kids and aviation enthusiasts. Anyone who visits AirHogs.com can “get out and fly” a virtual Sky Stunt plane right in Google Street View, above their home, school, or wherever. Once training is complete, they can Stunt Around the Globe and earn their pilot’s license.
The latest digital marketing initiative will allow people to fly the Sky Stunt R/C plane virtually anywhere in the world, in front of a world famous landmark or in their own neighborhood. The campaign is supported with online media and ambient posters that drive consumers to the website experience.

MGA Entertainment to Launch Bratz National Advocacy Campaign for Girls

BratzMGA Entertainment has set May 1 for the launch of Real Bratz, a nationwide advocacy campaign aimed at inspiring girls and young adults with empowering messages of innovation and excellence.
The Real Bratz campaign invites girls to send in their stories and pictures to the campaign’s official website, where they can be shared with girls across the country and have an opportunity to become part of a Real Bratz media tour. Messages of empowerment will also be placed on the Bratz website as well as its array of social networks including YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. In addition to saluting Real Bratz girls, the campaign will also honor women who are leaders in such fields as business, politics, and entertainment to help inspire and encourage today’s generation of girls to continue to move the world forward. 

Global Preschool Show Tree Fu Tom to Premier on Sprout in U.S.

Tree FuFremantleMedia Kids & Family Entertainment has announced that Tree Fu Tom will premiere on Sprout, the 24-hour preschool channel, this month. The sale marks a major milestone for FremantleMedia Kids & Family Entertainment, which has placed children’s content on all major U.S. kids’ networks including Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and The Hub. Tree Fu Tom will premiere on Sprout on Earth Day on April 22.
Featuring former Doctor Who star David Tennant (voice of Twigs), Tree Fu Tom is a CG-animated show set in an enchanted world called Treetopolis, where movement creates magic and every child gets to be a hero. The show features engaging adventures that combine innovative elements of action, fantasy, and magic, coupled with unique interactive physical activity. Children are brought into the magical action through special movements designed to help their motor skill development. When Tom performs a special sequence of action movements, he creates Tree Fu Magic that transforms him into a superhero. 
Tree Fu Tom originally launched in the UK on CBeebies. It was the highest rated program on CBeebies last year for children ages 4 to 6.

Topps to Publish New Mars Attacks Trading Cards

Topps will release the first all-new Mars Attacks story-based trading cards in more than half a century. The Mars Attacks: Invasion pack will pay homage to the infamous card set that first shocked parents and delighted children in 1962. 
The set is created by Earl Norem and master illustrator Joe Jusko, with painters Ed Repka, Glen Orbik, and Gregory Staples. Artists contributing to the 63-card story-based portion of the set will each illustrate multiple cards, with the set being divided into themed subsets that combine to tell the story of an alien apocalypse. 
Topps will also provide fans with the opportunity to find original 1962 Mars Attacks trading cards randomly inserted into packs. These vintage trading cards have been certified by Topps and will be available as rare chase cards in Mars Attacks: Invasion, which is scheduled for release in October.

Mezco to Create Figures Based on Classic Batman Series

Mezco BatmanMezco Toys has partnered with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, on behalf of DC Entertainment, to produce toys and vehicles based on the classic 1960s Batman TV series.
The Mez-Itz line will feature the likeness of the actors from the series, such as Adam West and Burt Ward, who portrayed the dynamic duo, Batman and Robin.
Mezco’s Mez-Itz line will also debut the Batman classic TV series toys, including the Batmobile. While the Batmobile has appeared throughout the Batman comic books, the iteration designed by George Barris for the classic TV series was radically different and quickly became a fan favorite. Batman and Robin both fit in the Mez-Itz Batmobile, as do most other Mez-Itz figures.
Mezco will produce Batman and Robin Mez-Itz, as well as the Penguin, Joker, Catwoman, and the Riddler. Mezco will also produce the Riddler’s Thug.
Mezco's first wave of Batman classic TV series products will hit stores in July.

TÜV Rheinland to Help Manufacturers Export to Iraq

As of January, TÜV Rheinland’s International Approvals Group has begun issuing Certificates of Conformity (CoC) for a variety of products that meet the Iraqi safety requirements. TÜV Rheinland is one of four companies authorized to assist manufacturers to export products to the Republic of Iraq.
Specifically, TÜV Rheinland helps customers follow the Pre-Import Inspection, Testing, and Certification Program of Goods into the Republic of Iraq (ICIGI). The program is mandated by Iraqi Central Organization for Standardization and Quality Control (COSQC) based on Law No. 54 of 1979 (Article 3/Clause 8).
Under the new regulation, 12 categories of products must be certified for exporting to Iraq, including chemicals, construction products, cosmetics, electrical and electronic products, food, household fuel burning appliances, household hardware, kitchenware, textile and footwear, toys, vehicles, and tires and spare parts.
TÜV Rheinland agent will perform verification at the border point of entry in Iraq to authenticate the CoC, check the condition of the shipment, consistency between the CoC and import documentation, and visually check the packages or goods whenever customs opens a container. Upon completion of the verification, TÜV Rheinland will issue a release document, which will be provided together with the CoC to the customs.
For more information, visit the site here.

Laser Pegs

Spring into Outdoor Toys

With the recent beautiful weather in New York City, our office is gearing up for spring. We’ve been testing out everything from bikes and scooters to bubble toys and R/C vehicles. We’ve been looking at eco-friendly toys to celebrate Earth Day, and flying planes and bionic birds. But there are certain toys that have really triggered my own memories of spring as a child and the activities I used to do with my family. Read more.

Box Play for Kids Gives Imaginations a Boost

Little ones have the power to turn the most basic objects into adventure props with their own minds. Sometimes, large and high-tech toys are cast aside for the box they came in. I remember making guitars to play with out of old tissue boxes and toilet paper rolls when I was young. Now, Box Play for Kids is bringing colorful fun to recyclable, around-the-house objects, including milk cartoons, egg crates, and mac-and-cheese boxes. Read more.

Critics Say No Bueno to Mexico Barbie

Mexico Barbie, part of Mattel’s Dolls of the World collection, is causing a stir on the interwebs, with some not-so-happy consumers saying the passport-carrying, Chihuahua-loving brunette is playing to cultural stereotypes. Read more.

Harold Chizick Launches ChizComm    

Toy industry veteran Harold Chizick has launched ChizComm Ltd., a full-service marketing and communication agency dedicated to launching, marketing, and promoting products and entertainment for children. Chizick is the former vice president of marketing services for Spin Master, where he served for 14 years. The agency will provide strategic planning, product launches, communication strategy, and digital strategy, among other services. Based in Toronto, ChizComm has already signed with Tech 4 Kids to work on the launch of its Tech Recon brand. For more information, email Harold: harold@chizcomm.com.

Jeremy Padawer Joins Michael Rinzler at Wicked Cool Toys as Co-President

Toy industry entrepreneur Jeremy Padawer has joined Michael Rinzler at manufacturer Wicked Cool Toys as partner and co-president. Padawer has been in the toy industry for more than 15 years and was most recently executive vice president of marketing and new business development for Jakks Pacific. Throughout Padawer’s career, he has been an ambassador for brands such as WWE, Pokémon, Sponge Bob, Disney Princess, Cabbage Patch Kids, Star Wars, Marvel, He-Man, and Hot Wheels.

Mattel Reports First Quarter Financial Results

Mattel Inc. has reported its first quarter financial results. For the quarter, the company reported net income of $38.5 million, compared to last year’s first quarter net income of $7.8 million.
For the quarter, net sales were $995.6 million, up 7 percent compared to $928.4 million last year. On a regional basis, first quarter gross sales increased 5 percent in North America, which consists of the U.S., Canada, and American Girl, with no impact from changes in currency exchange rates. For the international region, gross sales increased 9 percent, including a 2 percentage point unfavorable impact from changes in currency exchange rates. Operating income for the quarter was $65.8 million, compared to the prior year's operating income for the quarter of $28.7 million.

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