May 15, 2014

Toy State Acquires Nikko and Nikko Entertainment

Toy StateToy State has secured the worldwide rights to Nikko by acquiring the consolidated operations of its Japan and Hong Kong offices. Toy State has also acquired Nikko Entertainment BV, the European arm of the company’s R/C toy category.
Nikko manufactures R/C toys, from custom vehicles, boats, and flying items to an array of preschool R/C toys. The acquisition expands Toy State’s presence to Amsterdam and Japan, as well as in Hong Kong, the location of its current headquarters. The acquisition will also serve as a platform for the company’s continued expansion into Europe. Toy State’s U.S. office is located in Boston.

Nintendo to Launch Character Figurines that Interact with Video Games

NintendoNintendo is planning a new line of character figurines that can communicate with video games, similar to Activision’s Skylanders and Disney Infinity. The new Nintendo Figurine Platform (NFP) was announced last Thursday by Nintendo president Satoru Iwata at the company’s annual financial briefing.
NFP figurines will be compatible with the Nintendo Wii GamePad and the 3DS handheld system, and are targeted to launch by the end of this year.


Toy Sales for Easter 2014 Are Up Year-over-Year

According to data from The NPD Group Inc., U.S. dollar sales of toys increased 3 percent in the four weeks leading up to Easter, compared to the four weeks preceding Easter of last year.
Easter toy sales got a boost from the warmer weather provided by the holiday occurring three weeks later than last year. This was also evident in the strong growth performance of outdoor and sports toys in the four weeks before Easter.
Comparing the pre-Easter period of March 23 to April 19 against March 3 to 30 last year, U.S. toy sales declined by 1 percent, but enjoyed 3 percent year-to-date dollar gains through the holiday.
Measured in dollar sales, the top toy growth segments were outdoor and sports toys with 20 percent growth, building sets with 10 percent growth, and arts & crafts with 10 percent growth.

Spin Master Launches Paw Patrol Toy Line Exclusively at Toys “R” Us

Paw PatrolPaw Patrol is headed to Toys “R” Us stores nationwide and online at on May 18. Developed by Spin Master Ltd., Paw Patrol is the No. 1 rated preschool series and airs weekdays on Nickelodeon.
Throughout June, Toys “R” Us will be the only retailer to offer the new preschool line of plush, vehicles, figures, and more based on the TV show. The product range includes a number of collectible items for kids ages 3 and up, and will be available at additional select retailers beginning June 22.


NPD Group Reports 34 Million Core Gamers Spend 22 Hours per Week Playing Video Games

Core Gaming 2014, the latest report from The NPD Group, states there are 34 million core gamers in the U.S. spending an average of 22 hours per week playing video games. These core gamers are defined as individuals who play video games five or more hours per week on a PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, or Mac.
While core gamers are most likely to play on consoles and computers, phones and mobile devices are also a popular method of play by two-thirds of these gamers, according to the data. Close to 70 percent of core gamers play multiplayer games either regularly or occasionally, and 74 percent would opt for the physical format over digital if the price were the same. The preference for digital is up 5 percentage points to 26 percent this year.

Toy Industry Hall of Fame Nomination Period Is Now Open

Toy Industry Association (TIA) members and toy industry stakeholders are invited to submit nominations of deserving candidates for induction into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame next February. The nomination period will extend through June 27, and the nomination form can be downloaded here. Voting to select 2015 inductees is restricted to TIA members.
Consideration for the Toy Industry Hall of Fame is limited to individuals, living or deceased, who have made outstanding contributions or provided outstanding service to the toy industry and TIA. Possible accomplishments include lengthy experience, innovative product or marketing introductions, or service on the TIA board of directors.
An announcement of the 2015 inductees will be made in the fall. The newest members of the Hall of Fame will be honored at an induction ceremony in conjunction with the 15th annual Toy of the Year Awards held on February 13 in New York City.

Famed Designer Gayle Middleton Debuts New Line of Plush Baby Monsters

BitemaresToy creator Gayle Middleton, who helped re-design My Little Pony and Littlest Pet Shop for Hasbro, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund her new, darker designs. These include a Baby Undead Dragon and toe-nibbling little fur balls called Bitemares.
Middleton first began indulging her dark side in 2006, doodling ghostly white vampire babies drinking undead dragon blood. Soon she created the Vamplets, cute-yet-creepy monster babies released as plush in 2010, and by 2012, the line had expanded to werewolves, zombies, Cyclops, and Abominable Snow Babies.
Fans interested in supporting her newest baby monsters can visit the Kickstarter site for more info.

Rubie’s Introduces The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Costume Collection

Spider-ManRubie’s Costume Co. Inc. has introduced costumes, masks, and accessories inspired by The Amazing Spider-Man 2 film by Sony Pictures Entertainment. Available in children and adult sizes, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 costume collection includes both Spider-Man and the villainous Electro.
“Often referred to as the neighborhood superhero, Spider-Man exudes power and strength while still being relatable,” said Howard Beige, Rubie’s executive vice president. “It’s this kind of character that attracts customers into transforming themselves into Spidey year after year.”
The costume collection is available now for this Halloween.





Mobo Cruiser Line Expands with New Disney-Themed Cruisers

Mobo CruiserAsa Products has a new lineup of Mobo Cruisers featuring characters from Disney·Pixar Cars and Disney’s Planes. Both the new Mobo Tot: Disney·Pixar Cars Lightning McQueen and Disney’s Planes Dusty cruisers are slated for release this summer around the same time as the upcoming animated film, Planes: Fire & Rescue.
Both adjustable three-wheelers are ergonomically designed for toddlers ages 2 to 5, and available at, as well as at select Toys “R” Us stores.



Buckyballs and Buckycubes Recalled; Craig Zucker to Fund Recall Trust

BuckyballsThe U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced a voluntary recall of all Buckyballs and Buckycubes magnetic sets. The recall is part of the settlement of an administrative case filed by CPSC in July 2012, which sought a mandatory recall. It also calls for Craig Zucker, the creator of Buckyballs, to fund a recall trust that will be created and controlled by CPSC.
CPSC urges consumers to stop use of all Buckyballs and Buckycubes immediately, and to check for magnets that have become separated from the set. Funds provided by Zucker will be used to provide a refund to consumers who own and return these magnetic sets.
The settlement resolves CPSC staff's allegations that the Buckyballs and Buckycubes sets create a substantial product hazard. Zucker disputed these allegations, but has agreed to the recall in settlement of the allegations against him in the complaint.

Adora’s Designed by Kids for Kids Contest Has Its Winner

Last year, Adora launched its Designed by Kids for Kids program, which gave kids a chance to work with the company’s California design team to create an outfit for one of Adora’s 18-inch Friends dolls. The contest closed on March 31, and Adora recently announced its Young Designer for 2015: Isabella C., of Orlando, Fla.
Eight-year-old Isabella designed a cowgirl outfit, and will collaborate with Adora’s design team to bring it to life in 2015. She also gets to choose a favorite charity for donation.

Cybertron Monday Kicks Off Transformers: Age of Extinction Toy Line

TransformersThis past Monday, Cybertron Monday kicked off a global event tied to the upcoming blockbuster, Transformers: Age of Extinction, from Paramount Pictures. Cybertron Monday marked the launch of an all-new action figure line from Hasbro Inc., as well as licensed products based on the feature film, through participating online retailers including Amazon, Target, Toys “R” Us, Wal-Mart, and Kmart. Fans can visit for more information on where these products will be available.

Role-Play Toys Engage Kids in Superhero Action

It’s no secret that kids are extremely influenced by the characters they see in movies and on TV. Superheroes are particularly influential, with their mankind-saving tendencies and super-human abilities. The best thing about superheroes is that they appeal to kids and adults alike, since many of the iconic superheroes we know and love have been around for decades. Fisher-Price’s DC Super Friends line is geared toward kids as young as 3 years old, and Lego will introduce DC characters into its Duplo line for the first time this year. While play sets and building blocks are popular play patterns for kids and adding their favorite superheroes to the mix is a great way to get kids excited, the toys that make kids feel like they are becoming their favorite superhero are some of the most engaging toys on the market. Read more…

A Fresh Take on Traditional Outdoor Toys and Games

These days, it’s pretty crucial for toy companies to be as innovative as possible. But sometimes, providing kids with a new take on an old-school toy or game is just as effective. Sure, kids are ridiculously interested in tablets, iPhones, and computers, but when it comes to play, the rules haven’t changed all that much. Although kids are now growing up in the “digital age,” they are always going to love running, jumping, laughing, and exerting energy in a physical way. Toys such as pogo sticks, Skip-Its (my favorite), and sidewalk chalk were staples throughout my childhood, and contrary to those who believe kids are actually digital robots, they remain favorites for children growing up now, too. Read more…

Tomy Appoints Willie Wilkov to Chief Marketing Officer

Tomy International has promoted Willie Wilkov to chief marketing officer (CMO) of the company. The board of directors of Tomy Co. Ltd. approved the appointment, as the CMO position had been vacant since the middle of last year.
Wilkov joined Tomy in 2009 as vice president, marketing communications, and rose to senior vice president, marketing communications and branding last year. As CMO, he will be responsible for the company’s corporate identity, as well as working closely with key licensing partners. Wilkov will also continue to spearhead all marketing communications initiatives, including the company’s innovative consumer, trade, and brand marketing campaigns.
Prior to his role at Tomy, Wilkov was vice president of marketing for the Sun-Times News Group and spent a decade at Draft and Leo Burnett in Chicago.

Epic Rights Appoints Juli Boylan and Lisa Streff to New Global Licensing and Merchandising Division

Epic Rights’ new licensing and merchandising division will be guided by respected licensing industry executive Juli Boylan, who was named executive vice president, global strategic partnerships and licensing, and Lisa Streff, named senior vice president, licensing.
Boylan will direct Epic Rights’ global strategy for developing licensing prospects in international markets. Her previous roles include 14 years at Sony Consumer Products, during which time she served as senior vice president of global licensing and was charged with oversight of global operations and profitability of all Sony Pictures film and television properties.
Streff has held senior management positions, including a senior vice president of consumer products role at Cookie Jar Entertainment, where she spearheaded licensing and merchandising programs for Strawberry Shortcake, Mommy & Me, Richard Scarry, Lucha Libre, and other properties. She also served as executive vice president of consumer products for SMC Entertainment Group, which she helped launch.

Take-Two Reports Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year Results

Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. reported results for its fourth quarter and the fiscal year ended March 31. For the fiscal fourth quarter, GAAP net revenue was $195.2 million, as compared to $299.5 million in the prior fourth quarter, which had benefited from the release of BioShock Infinite.
GAAP net loss from continuing operations was $30.8 million, or $0.40 per diluted share, as compared to net income from continuing operations of $21.2 million, or $0.23 per diluted share, for the year-ago period. As of March 31, the Company had cash and cash equivalents of $935.4 million.
For the fiscal fourth quarter, Non-GAAP net revenue was $233.2 million, as compared to $303.1 million in the prior fourth quarter. Non-GAAP net income was $21.5 million, or $0.21 per diluted share, as compared to $42.9 million, or $0.38 per diluted share, for the year-ago period.
For the fiscal year 2014, GAAP net revenue grew 94 percent to a record $2.351 billion, as compared to $1.214 billion for the prior year. GAAP net income from continuing operations increased to a record $361.7 million, or $3.20 per diluted share, as compared to a net loss from continuing operations of $31.2 million, or $0.36 per diluted share, for the prior fiscal year.

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