April 25, 2013

ABC and JPMA Will Not Merge, Plan to Continue Collaboration

All Baby and Child Corp. (ABC), creators of the ABC Kids Expo, and the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) have announced that the two non-profit trade organizations will remain independent and will not merge. However, the organizations will continue their collaborative relationship. The organizations are in the second year of a three-year agreement to determine key industry initiatives and how to move forward with funding strategic industry programs.
ABC remains committed to ongoing funding of key industry strategic initiatives at least through March 2015, including the enhancement of more frequent communications to all industry stakeholders to increase consumer confidence in the juvenile products industry.
Since discussions began early last year, the formation of a vibrant specialty retail trade group, Brixy, was launched and continues to be funded by ABC. Additionally, JPMA achieved an industry goal by establishing an office in Washington, D.C. to increase the effectiveness of advocacy efforts at federal and state levels in the best interests of manufacturers, retailers, and consumers. Additional ongoing initiatives in the funding agreement include increasing the scope and effectiveness of safety standards, the JPMA Certification Program, and the value of membership with JPMA.

Registration Open for China Toy Expo and China Kids Expo

Visitor pre-registration is now open for China Toy Expo, the largest toy fair in mainland China, and the China Kids Expo, mainland China’s international baby products fair, to be held concurrently October 15 to 17 in Shanghai.
Organized by China Toy & Juvenile Products Association and now in its 11th year, China Toy Expo is recognized as the No. 1 show in mainland China for purchasing toys and hobby and preschool teaching supplies. The concurrent fair China Kids Expo, co-organized by CTJPA and Koelnmesse, is mainland China’s leading baby products fair showcasing varieties of infant and baby products, including strollers, car seat, cribs and baby furniture, baby clothing, and feeding products.
Visitors can register for the events online to obtain a registration number for a free pass and benefit from fast-track access onsite. One badge allows access to three events, including Brand Licensing Hall, the only brand licensing event held in mainland China. Visit the China Toy Expo here, and the China Kids Expo here for more information.

ZeptoLab Releases New Cut the Rope: Time Travel App

Cut the RopeZeptoLab, the company behind Cut the Rope, has launched Cut the Rope: Time Travel. Om Nom has stumbled upon a time-travel machine and is using it to go back in time and discover his roots, teaming up with his candy-chomping kin along the way. Cut the Rope: Time Travel also features a new season of the Om Nom Stories animated series.
In Cut the Rope: Time Travel, players will encounter new game-play mechanics, explore a new theme, and face all of the ropes and challenges from the original Cut the Rope. As players cut the ropes and collect stars, they’ll unlock levels with challenging new game-play elements, including feeding two hungry green monsters. First they’ll travel through the Middle Ages, then into the Renaissance, then onto a pirate ship, where they’ll face floating mines and bouncing platforms. Players will then venture to Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and even the Stone Age.

The WorryWoo Monsters Adapted for Musical Theater

WoosicalAndi Green, creator of the The WorryWoo Monsters, has signed a contract with theater writers Kristen Tumminello and Kelley Birney, as well as composer Jay Tumminello, to create and produce the WorryWoo musical, Woosical.
The Tumminellos and Birney began writing the script and music two years ago after Kristen discovered The WorryWoos in a local gift shop in Huntsville, Ala. Kristen contacted her writing team, lifetime friends Kelley Birney and brother-in-law Jay Tumminello about the project. The collaborators met Andi Green in New York City in April of 2011. The Woosical will debut in workshops throughout the summer and production dates are anticipated to begin in the middle of next year.

TIA Urges Extension of Effective Date of Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule

In a letter sent to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Toy Industry Association (TIA) and several trade organizations urged the FTC to consider extending the effective date for the amendments to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection (COPPA) Rule from July 1 to January 1.
The FTC announced amendments to COPPA last December. The final rule, which modified certain definitions and strengthened certain protections for the online collection, use, or disclosure of personal information from children under the age of 13, incorporated many recommendations from the TIA.
The letter states that more time is needed to complete the task of redesigning products and services to ensure compliance, indicating the final rule’s current effective date of July 1 does not allow sufficient time for online content and service providers across a range of industries. More time is needed, the letter says, to prepare for a number of new entities under the rule, as a result of an unanticipated expansion of data elements that are considered to be “personal information.”
TIA President Carter Keithley says the organization believes that a longer timeline for implementation will help to assure widespread compliance with the rule and will allow the toy industry to continue to offer fun and safe online environments for children, while remaining protective.

Preliminary Injunction Issued on Inclusion of BPA on California’s Toxicants List

A recent decision made by the State of California to list bisphenol-A (BPA) under California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (Proposition 65) hit a roadblock on April 19, when a judge in Sacramento County Superior Court ordered BPA’s removal from the state’s list of reproductive toxicants, according to the Toy Industry Association (TIA).
If BPA is ultimately added to the Proposition 65 list, it would mean that one year from the date of the listing consumer products sold in the state that create a BPA exposure above the yet-to-be-finalized “safe harbor” level would need to include a warning label on product packaging.
The American Chemistry Council filed a lawsuit seeking the removal of BPA from the Proposition 65 list altogether; the April 19 preliminary injunction is a result of that lawsuit. Conversely, some scientists have appealed to the state to set a ceiling for acceptable exposure levels below the proposed “safe harbor” level of 290 micrograms per day suggested by the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA).
Bisphenol-A is an unavoidable contaminant in polycarbonate plastics, used because they are shatter and heat resistant. High levels of regulatory and legislative activity on BPA are expected over the next five years; proposals for restrictions in toys and other children’s products have already been seen this year in Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Puerto Rico. To date, some states have also restricted BPA’s use in food storage items, such as baby bottles and sippy cups. At the federal level, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has withdrawn approval of BPA’s use in baby bottles and sippy cups, but has found no evidence of BPA harm in relation to human exposure.

The Hub Sees Double-Digit Increases in Key Demographics

The HubThe Hub Network continues to post year-to-year growth in all key demographics driven by a variety of programming, including the series Strawberry Shortcake’s Berry Bitty Adventures (American Greetings) and Family Game Night (Hasbro Studios and Zoo Productions), as well as a special airing of Secret Millionaires Club (A Squared Entertainment).
In Total Day, The Hub earned year-to-year time period delivery gains among kids ages 2 to 11 (+7 percent), kids ages 6 to 11 (+15 percent), adults ages 18 to 49 (+34 percent), women ages 18 to 49 (+73 percent), adults ages 25 to 54 (+14 percent), women ages 25 to 54 (+41 percent), two or more people (+19 percent), and households (+19 percent).
In Prime (Monday through Sunday, 8 to 11 p.m. EDT), The Hub earned year-to-year time period delivery gains among kids ages 2 to 11 (+21 percent), kids ages 6 to 11 (+7 percent), adults ages 18 to 49 (+55 percent), women ages 18 to 49 (+63 percent), adults ages 25 to 54 (+31 percent), women ages 25 to 54 (+24 percent), two or more people (+47 percent), and households (+33 percent).

Smart Games Live Releases New RoadBlock App

RoadBlockSmartGamesLive.com has released RoadBlock, its second mobile app. Smart Games Live is the digital arm of SmartGames, producer of single-player logic games, and features many online versions of Smart’s physical games.
The RoadBlock app challenges players to strategically position police cars in order to block a stolen red car and prevent the thief from escaping. This brain-teasing game offers 130 separate challenges at four levels.
Game players can download the app to their mobile device and play eight challenges at various levels. The additional challenges can be purchased on iTunes and Google Play.  For more information about the RoadBlock app, visit www.SmartGamesLive.com.

MVP Group Lanches New MVP Brands Division, Sales Teams, Showrooms

MVP Group International, one of the largest manufacturers and distributors of premium home fragrances, candles, and plush products, has introduced MVP Brands, a new division dedicated to serving independent retailers. The newly created division features the organization’s popular brands including Colonial Candle, Everybody’s Ayurveda, Genuine Monkeez and Friends, Monkeez Makes a Difference, and Goofballz product lines. Former Midwest-CBK and Ty president Scott Wehrs is serving as president of MVP Brands.
MVP Brands is changing and expanding its sales force and showroom presence across the country, making it more convenient for independent retailers to shop its product lines.
Genuine Monkeez and Friends, Monkeez Makes a Difference, and Goofballz brands will be available through the following plush and toy-focused rep groups and showrooms launching during summer markets:
• Atlanta, Dallas, Chicagom and Minneapolis — Diverse Marketing: AmericasMart
Atlanta, Building 2, Suite 1401; Dallas World Trade Center, Suite 439 & 421;
Chicago Merchandise Mart, Suite 1431; Minneapolis Mart, Suite B121
• Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Seattle — Toyology: Las Vegas World Market Center,
Building C, Suite 874; LA Mart, Suite 446; and Seattle’s Pacific Market Center,
Suite 111
• New York — Enchanted Moments: New York Gift Show and International Toy
Fair both at The Javits Center in New York
For more information, call (866) 445-9993, email customerservice@mvpbrands.com, or visit mvpbrands.com.

Laser Pegs

Musical Toys Inspire Budding Musicians

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of watching a live jazz band play at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The musicians seemed to thoroughly enjoy the set, and everyone in the audience was having a blast. Remembering my own days in the school band and piano recitals, I thought about how kids can be influenced early on by musical toys and instruments. Here are some of my favorites. Read More.

Anticipated Summer Blockbusters Inspire “Super” Toys

This summer, the big screen will light up with superheroes, including the releases of Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel. And with summer superhero movies comes superhero toys, which range from role play to action figures to slingshots. Toys inspired by movies give kids the chance to be – and play with – superheroes. Here are some of my favorites from these two upcoming films. Read more.

The Wish Factory Appoints Director of Marketing

The Wish Factory has appointed Joel Naftelberg as the director of marketing. Naftelberg joins The Wish Factory management team as a media and marketing professional with more than 12 years of marketing and communications experience. Prior to The Wish Factory, Naftelberg directed, marketed, and managed the evolution of Associated Media International, developing rich media content for fan-based community websites. He has worked with entertainers, including The Jonas Brothers, Nickelback, The Who, and AC/DC.  He has executed projects for clients including CitiGroup, The New York Mets, Habitat for Humanity, Hilton Hotels Corp., and Bacardi Rums. 

Hasbro Reports First Quarter Financial Results

Hasbro Inc. has reported financial results for the first quarter of this year. Net revenues for the quarter increased 2 percent to $663.7 million, compared to $648.9 million last year. First quarter net revenues include a negative $3.3 million impact of foreign exchange.
As reported, the net loss for the first quarter of this year was $6.7 million, compared to a net loss of $2.6 million last year. The first quarter of this year was a 13-week period compared to the first quarter of last year, which was a 14-week period.
As adjusted, net earnings for the first quarter of this year increased 30 percent to $6.6 million. This excludes pre-tax charges of $28.9 million associated with previously disclosed restructuring actions as well as favorable tax adjustments of $5.5 million. Last year’s first quarter net earnings were $5.1 million, excluding $11.1 million of restructuring charges.

Jakks Pacific Reports First Quarter Financial Results          

Jakks Pacific Inc. reported results for the company’s first quarter ended on March 31. Net sales for the first quarter increased 6.4 percent to $78.1 million, up from sales of $73.4 million reported in the comparable period last year. The reported net loss for the first quarter was $27.6 million. This compares to a net loss of $16 million reported in the comparable period last year.
Stephen Berman, president and CEO of Jakks Pacific said the company’s first quarter results represents approximately 10 percent of its projected sales for this year.

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