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The Toy Insider Trend Experts Announce Hottest Summer Toys of 2017

The Toy Insider, the leading consumer resource for toy news, reviews, and parenting tips, released its 2017 Spring and Summer Gift Guide online at thetoyinsider.com. Featuring nearly 200 toys in six different categories, the Toy Insider’s list includes toys, games, tech, and more for kids of all ages, from newborns to teens.
 
Top trends in summer toys include family activities that will keep multiple generations engaged and having fun together, outdoor toys that encourage active play, creative DIY kits that let kids customize original works of art, and educational toys that get kids interested in nature and STEM concepts. The guide is also loaded with toys from kids’ favorite blockbuster films and hit TV shows, including Peppa Pig, PJ Masks, Cars 3, Despicable Me 3, and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Read more…

The Toy Association Launches Major Rebrand

The Toy Association, formerly known as the Toy Industry Association, launched a major rebrand with a new mission statement and new name.
 
The organization’s new tagline, “Inspiring Generations of Play,” and its new mission statement to be “a unifying force for members’ creativity, responsibility, and global success, advocating for their needs and championing the benefits of play,” underscores more than 100 years of the Association’s service. Read more…

Genius Brands Enters Broadcast License Deal for Rainbow Rangers

Genius Brands International Inc. licensed exclusive broadcast rights for season one of Rainbow Rangers to Nickelodeon in the U.S. and the Caribbean. Currently in development, the mission-based action adventure series is expected to air on Nickelodeon’s preschool channel, Nick Jr. The deal follows the recent announcement of Fisher-Price as global master toy partner for the brand. Read more…

Jay@Play Launches FlipaZoo Singing Contest

Jay@Play is launching FlipaZoo Sings, a singing contest in which fans are encouraged to take a video singing the FlipaZoo theme song and upload it to social media for a chance to be featured in the brand’s next commercial.

The contest starts today and will run through May 29. Participants can enter by uploading a video URL of them singing the FlipaZoo theme song with their favorite FlipaZoo animal to the Facebook contest page using the hashtag #FlipaZooSings. The winner and runners up will be announced on June 1.

MGA Entertainment Unwraps New Global Licensing Program for L.O.L. Surprise! Doll Line

MGA Entertainment Inc. (MGAE) will unwrap details for the new global licensing program for the L.O.L. Surprise! doll line at this year’s Licensing Expo. The line of licensed toys is slated to hit retail next year.
 
MGAE’s licensing program will feature a comprehensive traditional and digital marketing strategy including advertising, public relations, and influencer campaigns, national promotional partnerships, and retail promotions.
 
The L.O.L. Surprise! line combines dolls with fashionable accessories and the excitement of surprise. Expected to reach retail next year, the global licensing campaign will consist of four phases: the first phase will target apparel, sleepwear, and accessories; the second phase will focus on health and beauty, gift and novelty, stationery and party goods, and crafts and activities; the third phase will cover publishing, back-to-school, game and electronics, and home décor; and the fourth phase will include food and beverage, seasonal, and sporting goods.

Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Co. to Offer Custom Surprizamals

The Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Co. is now offering custom Surprizamals through its Custom Plush division. Businesses can now order custom-made Surprizamals.
 
Surprizamals are stuffed animals that are wrapped in custom labels. Though there are a variety of animals in a given Surprizamal series, the animal itself remains a mystery until opened.
 
Custom Plush works with companies to create unique stuffed animals based on clients’ differing specifications.

Flybar Acquires Swurfer

Flybar Inc., "The Original Pogo Stick Company," acquired the Swurfer IP, brand, and assets.
 
The Swurfer board is engineered for surfing the air, reinventing the tree swing by combining swings and board sports. The announcement marks Flybar’s first acquisition under new management established in 2015.

American Girl Introduces New Contemporary Character

American Girl will launch the latest character to join this year’s series of contemporary dolls this week. Z Yang, a Korean-American girl, is the star of American Girl’s web series Z’s Crew, and will be available as an 18-inch doll for the first time. Z (short for Suzie) Yang, is a stop-motion vlogger from Seattle who creates and shares stop-motion videos.
 
The launch will be accompanied with welcome events at American Girl retail locations worldwide on April 28. Another event will take place on May 6 at retail stores in New York, Chicago, Seattle, Washington D.C., and Dallas, where fans can meet with girls who have gained popularity online through photography and stop-motion videos.
 
In addition, in honor of National Poetry Month, American Girl will debut a series of videos centered around poet character and 2017 Girl of the Year Gabriela McBride, featuring young female poets. The company also partnered with Scholastic to distribute Express Yourself, a custom curricular program that teachers third through fifth graders how to express themselves using poetry.

Nintendo, McDonald's Partner for Happy Meal Toys

Nintendo is partnering with McDonald’s to bring some of its iconic characters to Happy Meals. Running through May 22, anyone who purchases a Happy Meal at participating McDonald’s restaurants across the U.S. will receive one of eight toys based on Super Mario characters. These classic characters are also featured in the upcoming Mario Kart 8 Deluxe game for Nintendo’s newest system, Nintendo Switch. Read more…

Hasbro Earns Top Spot on Best Corporate Citizens List

CR Magazine ranked Hasbro Inc. No.1 on its 2017 100 Best Corporate Citizens list. The corporate ethics publication ranks the most transparent and responsible companies in the U.S. This is the first time that Hasbro has been ranked first overall, and the third consecutive year it has ranked in the top five.
 
Hasbro’s methods of sustainable packaging, renewable energy, contribution to climate change, and its human rights policies each helped to contribute to its top ranking. Hasbro was also named a 2017 World’s Most Ethical Company by the Ethisphere Institute; No. 1 in Newsweek’s 2016 Green Rankings; and earned recognition from Civic 50, a Points of Light initiative.

Mattel to Open Mattel Play! Theme Park in the Netherlands

Mattel Inc. will open Mattel Play!, an interactive, indoor family entertainment center, in Sevenum, Netherlands this fall. The theme park will feature play zones based on several Mattel characters, including Thomas & Friends, Fireman Sam, Angelina Ballerina, and Bob the Builder.
 
The multi-activity entertainment center will also contain a freestyle action park for youth, including trampolines, a foam pit and pump track, a roller disco, and a skating ramp area. Kids can also build their own creations at the Mega Construx and Mega Bloks zones.
 
The facility was designed by Lappset Creative, and the attraction will be located inside of the new Family Entertainment Center Sevenum.

Morgan Spurlock to Host 7th Annual Designer Toy Awards

Clutter Magazine will bring The 7th Annual Designer Toy Awards (DTAs), fueled by Lagunitas Brewing Company, to Webster Hall on Friday, May 19. The DTAs will kick off the inaugural Five Points Festival, a toy and comic art convention curated by Clutter, on May 20 and 21. Morgan Spurlock, an Academy Award-nominated writer, director, producer and toy collector is hosting this year's awards. Read more…

Aqua Dragons Enters Distribution Agreement with Paradigm8697

World Alive entered a distribution agreement with Paradigm8697, which will market and distribute Aqua Dragons in Space and other World Alive products across the U.S.
 
The deal follows a successful Kickstarter campaign based on Aqua Dragons hatch-and-grow science kits. On April 17, World Alive reached its crowdfunding goal and launched 13.8 million Aqua Dragon kits into space from Aragon, Spain. The campaign, which raised more than $50,000, was held to promote a new line of Aqua Dragons kits known as Aqua Dragons Live Astro Pets. The full line of Aqua Dragons in Space products will be available this summer.
 
Aqua Dragons are DIY educational science kits where kids can hatch, grow, and care for real aquatic creatures.

Mattel Reports Q1 Financial Results

Mattel Inc. reported first quarter 2017 financial results, showing a worldwide net sales and gross sales were down 15 percent versus Q1 2016.
 
There were lower sales in North America and Europe, partially offset by strong performance in Asia Pacific (net sales and gross sales up 17 percent as reported), and continued momentum in Latin America (net sales down 1 percent and gross sales up 4 percent as reported). Read more…

Jakks Pacific Reports Q1 Financial Results

Jakks Pacific Inc. today reported financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2017. Highlights include net sales of $94.5 million; gross margin in line with expectations at 31.8 percent; inventory levels down from year-end as anticipated to $67.5 million; and adjusted EBITDA down modestly year over year to negative $10.6 million.  Read more…

NPD Reports March 2017 Video Game Sales

Total industry spending for video game hardware, software, and accessories from Feb. 26 to Apr. 1, 2017 grew 24 percent to $1.36 billion compared to last year, according to analysis from The NPD Group.
 
Video games hardware sales compared to the same period last year increased 91 percent from $253 million last year to $485 million this year; video games software increased 5 percent from $585 million last year to $621 million this year; and video games accessories increased 9 percent from $213 million last year to $231 million this year. Read more…

Jakks Pacific Closes $19.3 Million Sale of Common Stock to Joint Venture Partner Hong Kong Meisheng Culture Co. Ltd.

Jakks Pacific today closed the sale of 3,660,891 shares of the company's common stock to Hong Kong Meisheng Culture Co. Ltd. for a total purchase price of $19.3 million; and that Xiaoqiang Zhao, executive director of Hong Kong Meisheng Culture Co. Ltd. and chairman of the board of its parent company Meisheng Cultural & Creative Corp. Ltd., joins Jakks’ board of directors.
 
Meisheng announced in March that it acquired 1,578,647 shares of the company's common stock in open market transactions. In addition to the joint venture companies established by Meisheng and Jakks, Meisheng Cultural & Creative Corp. Ltd. has been a key manufacturer for the company.

MarcoPolo Learning Secures $8.5 Million in Series A

MarcoPolo Learning raised $8.5 million in Series A funding, with proceeds to be used for expanding the company's suite of early childhood apps and producing and distributing original animated series in partnership with Boat Rocker Media.
 
The financing round was led by Boat Rocker Ventures, the studio behind Orphan Black and The Next Step. Other investors include Horizons Ventures from Asia, Seedcamp in Europe, and managing partners of DST Global, as well as from industries such as Diapers.com and Maker Studios.

April 27, 2017
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