May 02, 2013

Laser Pegs

LeapFrog Unveils New LeapReader       

LeapFrogLeapFrog Enterprises Inc. has unveiled its latest product, LeapReader, the complete learn to read and write solution for kids. LeapReader, from the creator of the LeapPad and the Tag Reading System, helps children build literacy skills and reading confidence. With LeapReader’s three essential experiences—learn to read, learn to write, and learn through listening—kids can sound out words, read sentences, write letters with interactive guidance, and develop comprehension skills through audio books and music, all available in the LeapReader library of more than 150 learning experiences.
LeapReader is available in pink and green for kids ages 4 to 8. The LeapReader will be available for pre-order on June 12, and it will be available at major retail locations and at LeapFrog.com in early July. All audio books and music albums will be available for download using LeapFrog Connect Application for LeapReader. LeapReader holds audio for up to 40 books or 175 songs at a time, works with most Tag books, and has a USB-rechargeable battery that lasts up to five hours.
Read more about the LeapReader and its features at toybook.com.

Jada Toys Appointed Global Master Toy Partner for Small Potatoes

Small PotatoesLittle Airplane Productions has signed Jada Toys as the new global master toy partner (excluding China and South Korea) for Small Potatoes, further extending the preschool series’ licensing reach.
Under the deal, Jada will manufacture and distribute a range of Small Potatoes toys, including plush, electronic plush toy play sets, figures, musical instruments, and inflatable toys.
Jada Toys joins existing Small Potatoes licensees Penguin Young Readers for publishing, Universal Studios Home Entertainment for home entertainment distribution, and Ceaco Gamewright for puzzles.
The announcement comes as the first range of Small Potatoes products hits retail this month. Penguin Young Readers Group released the first three books of its 12-book program on April 18.  The first titles include Meet The Band, a board book; The Small Potatoes Rock Spudstock, a storybook; and Stuck on Potatoes, a sticker book.

Sesame Workshop Partners with The New School for Conference

Sesame Workshop is partnering with The New School in New York City to co-host the 12th annual Interaction Design and Children Conference 2013, from June 24 to 27. Featuring a panel discussion with Google about its research contributions in the field, the conference will offer a wide-ranging program, which will support and facilitate the exchange of ideas among communities committed to advancing educational interactive experiences for children. 
Program highlights include the hands-on “Design, Make, Play” party at the New York Hall of Science (with an appearance by Sesame Street walk-around characters); an evening performance from Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute; and a closing panel on the impact of Seymour Papert’s research on the past, present, and future of child-computer interaction.
Registration is open to the general public and can be made online at idc2013.org/register/.  The conference program can be found at idc2013.org/program/.
 

Tomy Attempts to Break Guinness World Record

Tomy will attempt to break a Guinness World Record for World’s Tallest Toy Train Layout on May 11 by constructing a larger-than-life toy train layout. The event will be part of the Grand Centennial Parade of Trains at New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, Vanderbilt Hall. Tomy’s Master Builder, Jason Moreno, will be on site constructing the sky-high layout beginning at 10 a.m. until the 1 p.m. world record attempt is officially completed.
In order to set the Guinness World Record title for World’s Tallest Toy Train Layout, Moreno will construct a towering layout using the Chuggington StackTrack die-cast railway track that meets or exceeds 9 feet 8 inches in height, and a commercially available Chuggington StackTrack die-cast railway train must then travel from the top of the track all the way down to the bottom.
A Guinness World Records adjudicator will be on site to authenticate the record-setting event and, if the effort is successful, to present a certificate that officially proclaims Tomy as the world record holder. Families and kids of all ages are invited to participate in the event, which is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Attendees may also visit the Chuggington areas in the Kids Junction, which will feature fun train activities, games, giveaways, and entertainment.

Ape Entertainment Launches Sesame Street Comics 

Sesame StreetApe Entertainment, in partnership with Sesame Workshop, will release the first comic book featuring the cast of the children’s show Sesame Street to coincide with national Free Comic Book Day on May 4. The new and original comic book series emphasizes educational and entertaining content for younger readers.
A Free Comic Book Day edition of the standard comic will be made available for free from participating comic retailers.
Produced in full color, the standard Sesame Street comic edition features five interlocking covers, which when placed side by side depict an on-the-Street scene, featuring Elmo, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Grover, and the whole Sesame Street gang. Each of the five editions is 28 pages and includes five Sesame Street stories. The premier issue also includes the first in a series of “How to Read a Comic” features for parents to help new comic readers.

Transformers Prime Earns Emmy Awards, Hub Garners Nominations

Hasbro Studios, the Los Angeles-based entertainment division of Hasbro Inc., received a trio of Daytime Emmy Awards in Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation for Transformers Prime from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS). The wins were also hailed as achievements by The Hub Network, on which the animated series airs.
Transformers Prime received early victories for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation for Character Animation (Arato Kato), Background Design (Jason Park), and Storyboards (Kirk van Wormer).
In addition to its success with Transformer Prime, The Hub Network received 17 Daytime Emmy Award honors, the most ever in its two-and-half year history, with 14 nominations, as announced by NATAS. The Hub Network received the second most nominations of any kids network, behind only Nickelodeon. 
For the first time, The Hub Network received three top programming nominations, including two for Outstanding Children’s Series for The Aquabats! Super Show! (FremantleMedia Enterprises and The Magic Store) and R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour: The Series (Front Street Pictures in association with The Hatchery, LLC.), as well as one for Outstanding Special Class Animated Program for Dan Vs. (Film Roman Inc., a Starz Media Company, in association with The Hatchery, LLC.).
For additional nominees, read our full report on toybook.com.

The Little Gym Partners with Lego for Duplo Curriculum

The Little Gym members will soon enjoy the creative, constructive, developmental fun of building with Lego Duplo preschool building toys, thanks to a multi-year partnership between The Little Gym International, the experiential learning and physical development center for kids, and Lego Systems Inc., the North American division of the construction toy brand.
Through the agreement, The Little Gym is an exclusive category partner and will begin integrating products from the Lego Duplo line of building toys into special programs for children ages 19 months to 4 years old. The activities, created by The Little Gym International team of educational specialists and play consultants from The Lego Group, will help children creatively build their problem solving, imagination, and socialization skills.
Special Duplo experiences will be available to The Little Gym parents and children, including:
• WonderKids Club: Each session of The Little Gym’s structured enrichment program will incorporate a 20-minute Duplo building activity that corresponds with the learning unit and lesson plan theme for the week.
• "Let's Build, Let's Play": Parents of The Little Gym’s Beast and Super Beast members (19 months to 3 years old) may participate together in new monthly, complementary Duplo building experiences where parents and children can bond and creatively play together.
• "Awesome Birthday Bash": Special Duplo experiences have been integrated into all parties for children celebrating their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th birthdays.
Duplo programs and activities are now available at select The Little Gym locations and will be coming to more gyms soon. To find the nearest location of The Little Gym, visit www.TheLittleGym.com.

JPMA Revamps Safe Sleep Campaign

The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) has announced the 2013 refresh of its ongoing Safe Sleep Campaign aimed at safe sleep education. This campaign refresh comes at a time when JPMA is measuring successes of its campaign to date, while launching new awareness endeavors.
Highlights of the Safe Sleep Campaign include: Bassinets, Cradles and Bedside Sleeper Tips Video, Crib Tips Video, and the Safe & Sound tips brochure (redesigned with enhanced messaging). In addition, the Baby Monitor Safety campaign has produced 53 million impressions to date and has won three awards for its impact. Ongoing social media efforts include The ParentHood, a parenting community dedicated to parents and caregivers featuring posts and tips from a variety of parenting and pediatric bloggers. Ongoing updates on safe sleep best practices can be found at www.cribsafety.org, a comprehensive, online resource for parents and caregivers.
Look for the JPMA Certified seal to make sure products meet the latest safety standards. Click here for a list of manufacturers that are JPMA Certified.

Lawless Appointed Worldwide Representative for Raising Maddie

Lawless Entertainment has been appointed the worldwide representative for television production, publishing, licensing, and merchandising for Raising Maddie, a children’s property created by author Suanne-Margaret Hastings.
The main character Maddison Malone, known as Maddie, is a sweet, inquisitive, comical little girl with untamable corky-ginger red hair, who keeps friends, family, and caregivers on their toes with her vibrant spirit and a passion for her most prized possession, her magical shoes.
Maddie has access to a very special Bunky Bag full of her biggest passion—shoes. The Bunky Bag rumbles and magically comes alive by busting open along with Maddie’s emotions, exposing all kinds of fabulous character shoes. 

Dennis the Menace Books Deal Signed with Penguin

Dennis the MenaceThe Beano magazine, led by Dennis the Menace and Gnasher, celebrates 75 years, and Penguin Children’s Books will publish brand new Dennis the Menace fiction from author and actor Steven Butler.
The first book will launch in November with The Diary of Dennis the Menace, featuring tales of life in Beanotown told in Dennis’ own words, with help from Gnasher. November will also see publication of the Bash Street Joke Book. Next year will see a wide-ranging tie-in program, including further fiction titles, an official sticker book, a search-and-find book, and an official guide. Penguin Children's owns UK and Ireland English language rights.

 

 

Canadian Agency Acts on Products Containing Small Magnets

Health Canada, the Canadian agency responsible for national public health, has announced that it will work to identify and remove from the marketplace any consumer products that contain small, powerful magnets, which pose a danger to young children, according to the Toy Industry Association (TIA). The agency has determined that such products are in violation of the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA).
In a statement issued earlier this month, Health Canada said that it will target magnet sets containing “more than one small powerful magnet, where the set is intended for use as a toy or for puzzle working, sculpture building, mental stimulation, or stress relief, regardless of the intended age of the user.” The agency has also expressed concern about children’s toys containing small powerful magnets or magnetic components.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Health Canada recently affirmed their intent to align toy safety standards. The recent announcement by Health Canada requiring magnets to comply with the ASTM toy safety standard (or another international standard) is consistent with this commitment to cooperate.
TIA and the Canadian Toy Association continue to urge for cross-border standards alignment.

Moshi Monsters Celebrates Five Years

Mind Candy will celebrate the fifth birthday of Moshi Monsters, which has reached several milestones, including 80 million registered users and a $250 million total gross retail sales on all Moshi Monsters products sold globally to date.
The brand started as an online world of adoptable pet monsters for boys and girls, ages 6 to 12, in 2008. It slowly increased to 1 million users before taking off in the summer of 2009 and growing by one new registered user per second.
Moshi Monsters now has a global fan base. It is most popular in English-speaking territories (U.S., UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand), but has registered users across 150 territories. Moshi has plans to internationalize in various languages as the brand rolls out on tablet devices this year.
In 2011 Moshi Monsters expanded offline into physical products, launching books, toys, membership cards, and a variety of other product lines that have pulled in more than $250 million in total gross retail sales to date.

The Hub to Broadcast Halloween Special

The HubThe Hub Network will broadcast The 1st Annual Hub Halloween Bash, a live “spooktacular” event for the entire family that celebrates Halloween in a TV special to be produced by Bob Bain Productions, producers of Fox’s Teen Choice Awards and Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards.
The 1st Annual Hub Halloween Bash will celebrate the best of Halloween, including the first nationwide costume competition with one finalist chosen from every state in the U.S. Hosted by a soon-to-be-announced celebrity, this special Halloween event will also include musical performances, celebrity presenters and judges, and entertaining tricks and treats for kids and their families.
The live-to-tape special will take place at Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, Calif. and will air on The Hub Network in late October. Bob Bain serves as executive producer and Paul Flattery is the producer for Bob Bain Productions.

Storytime and Playtime Collide

It can be really difficult to get kids enthusiastic about reading at a young age. When I was young, my mom gave me an enormous, leather-bound book full of fairy tales. Each page was laden with beautiful graphics and trimmed with gold. After having the stories read to me over and over again, I would use the tales and characters as inspiration for playtime, making my Barbie dolls act as Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel. Read more.

Yogarilla Gets Kids Active

As a registered yoga teacher, I’m a big advocate for the benefits kids can receive by practicing yogic postures, exercises, and breathing. Yoga for kids is incredibly popular, with whole yoga studios, such as New York City’s Yogi Beans and Karma Kids, offering an array of kids’ classes. Thankfully, you don’t have to be in NYC or have a trained yoga teacher on hand in order to practice. Super Duper Publications has released its Yogarilla Exercises and Activities, a set of 55 flash cards featuring traditional and original yoga poses taught by an incredibly agile and funny gorilla, OTis. Read more.

Rubie’s Appoints New Managing Director of Licensing and Business Development

Rubie’s Costume Co. Inc. has appointed Stephen Stanley as the company’s new managing director of licensing and business development. Stanley comes to Rubie’s with more than 20 years of experience in the licensing industry, most recently as the senior vice president of global licensing at Jakks Pacific. He previously served as co-president of costume-maker Disguise Inc., a division of Jakks. Having started his career with Hasbro Toys, Stanley has experience with brand management in both the Halloween and toy industries.
In this newly created position, Stanley joins Rubie’s in the Melville, NY facility and will report directly to Rubie’s executive vice president, Howard Beige. Overseeing projects for this year and beyond, Stanley will play a critical role in the development and growth of the company’s exclusively licensed product lines.

TIA Appoints Vice President of Strategic Development and Member Services

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) has appointed Kenneth Ebeling as vice president of strategic development and member services. Ebeling will have overall responsibility for developing and executing strategies that will create and deliver enhanced value propositions to all TIA members, TIA says.
Previously, Ebeling held the title of senior vice president of membership development for the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), where he worked for more than 20 years. Ebeling was responsible for acquisition, retention, and servicing of members and prospective members. He also spearheaded sales and development activities that generated 70 percent of DMA company revenues in fiscal year 2012.

BabyFirst Appoints Senior Vice President of Advertising Sales and Sponsorships

As BabyFirst completes its transition from a subscription-based service to basic cable, the TV network has appointed Matt Gentile to the newly created position of senior vice president of advertising sales and sponsorships. 
Based in New York City, Gentile previously served for the past 13 years as vice president of advertising sales for Comcast/NBCU, where he represented a number of its major network brands including Sprout, E!, and Style.
Since its launch in 2006, BabyFirst has steadily grown to become the largest television vehicle targeting babies, toddlers, and their moms in the U.S. Today, BabyFirst ranks among the country’s fastest-growing channels with a reach that exceeds 35 million homes via its cable and satellite partnerships with Comcast, Time-Warner, Charter Communications, DIRECTV, and Dish Network. The channel is projected to exceed 50 million homes by year-end.

KIDS and Fashion Delivers to Honor Women in Industry    

Kids In Distressed Situations (KIDS) and Fashion Delivers Charitable Foundation, Inc., partner charities that have provided some $1 billion in new product donations to families affected by poverty and natural disasters, will recognize four top leaders from fashion, real estate, entertainment, and philanthropy at the Women In Industry Luncheon (WIIL) taking place June 6 at Cipriani 42nd Street. Award-winning NY1 News journalist, Jessica Abo, will emcee the fundraiser.
KIDS and Fashion Delivers will honor Margaret Hayes, president of Fashion Group International; Kelly Neal Mariotti, CEO of First Candle; Joanne Podell, vice chairman of retail services for Cushman & Wakefield; and, Maura Regan, senior vice president and general manager of global consumer products for Sesame Workshop.
Tickets for the fundraiser are $250. For tables and tickets, email kids_fd@frontier.com or call (845) 758-6403 for more information.

Mega Brands Reports Financial Results

Mega Brands Inc. has released its financial results for the first quarter, which ended on March 31. Consolidated net sales in the first quarter increased 11 percent to $64.5 million compared to $58.2 million in the corresponding period last year.
Toys sales increased 14 percent compared to the first quarter of last year, driven by growth in both of the corporation’s construction toy categories. Sales of stationery and activities products were up 3 percent, the eighth consecutive quarter of year-over-year growth in this segment. On a geographical basis, sales were 12 percent higher in North America and 9 percent in international markets compared to the first quarter of last year.
Net loss improved to $7.2 million compared to a net loss of $8.5 million in the first quarter of last year.

LeapFrog Releases First Quarter Financial Results

LeapFrog Enterprises Inc. has released financial results for the first quarter, which ended on March 31. Net sales were $82.9 million, up 15 percent compared to $72.0 million in the same period last year, and were not materially impacted by changes in currency exchange rates. In the U.S. segment, net sales were $58.1 million, up 11 percent compared to $52.2 million last year. In the International segment, net sales were $24.8 million, up 26 percent compared to $19.8 million last year, and were not materially impacted by changes in currency exchange rates.

Nintendo Releases Fiscal Year Financial Results

The Nintendo Co. has reported financial results for the fiscal year ended March 31.
Nintendo reported an annual profit of 7.1 billion yen (U.S. $72 million), compared to a $43 billion yen loss the previous year, according to the Associate Press. Annual sales dropped 1.9 percent to 635.4 billion yen, or $6.4 billion U.S.
Nintendo expects its profit to reach 55 billion yen (U.S. $555 million) this fiscal year ending March 2014, the Associated Press says. The company did not break down quarterly results.
Nintendo sold 3.45 million units of Wii U, which fell short of the company’s target for the fiscal year of 4 million units. The company had originally projected it would sell 5.5 million units and eventually lowered its expectations.

Build-A-Bear Workshop Reports First Quarter Results

Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc. has reported results for the first quarter, which ended on March 30. Consolidated net retail sales were $102.9 million with 24 fewer stores compared to $95.2 million in the first quarter of last year, an increase of 8 percent, excluding the impact of foreign exchange. Consolidated comparable store sales increased 10.4 percent and included a 10.6 percent increase in North America and a 9.7 percent increase in Europe. Consolidated e-commerce sales rose 7 percent, excluding the impact of foreign exchange. Net income of $13,000, improved from a net loss of $1 million in the first quarter of last year. Adjusted net income was $2.3 million, compared to an adjusted net loss of $0.5 million last year.
Total revenues were $104.3 million with 24 fewer stores compared to $96.4 million in the first quarter of last year, an increase of 8.5 percent.

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