May 22, 2014
 

Canadian Toy Association and Toy Industry Association Enter Affiliation Agreement

The boards of directors of the Canadian Toy Association (CTA), along with the U.S.-based Toy Industry Association (TIA), have approved a formal relationship. Under the terms of the initial three-year agreement, CTA will become an affiliate of TIA beginning July 1, and any TIA member with operations or sales in Canada will be eligible for CTA membership at no additional charge. In addition, CTA members, including distributors, will become eligible for membership in TIA.
Financial support provided by TIA will support CTA’s advocacy activities and operational programs, such as the promotion of toy sales in the Canadian market.
CTA will no longer organize or host any trade fair or toy marketplace event. A representative of each organization will sit on the leadership committee of the other body. CTA will maintain its Canadian incorporation, its own mission, and its own bylaws. The agreement was approved by the TIA board of directors at its meeting on May 7, and by the CTA board of directors at its meeting on May 8.
 

Propel Equity Partners Acquires Assets of Summit Products, CitiBlocs

Private equity firm Propel Equity Partners has acquired the assets of Summit Products LLC, which include Backyard Safari, Zillionz, Covert Force, Test Pilot, and Stink Bugzzz brands. These lines will be incorporated into the Alex Brands family of toy brands.
In a separate transaction, Propel Equity Partners also acquired CitiBlocs, a line of high-quality, precision-cut, wood construction blocks. CitiBlocs will also be incorporated into Alex Brands. CitiBlocs builds upon the presence of Alex Brands in the construction category, which already includes Ideal Frontier Logs, Amaze ’n Marbles, Kinderblocks, Fiddlestix, and the Zoob line.

Ardian Acquires German Toy Manufacturer Schleich

Ardian, a private investment company, has acquired toy manufacturer Schleich from European private equity investor HgCapital. The management of Schleich has acquired a substantial stake in the company as part of the acquisition, which is subject to antitrust approval. The transaction was done through Ardian's EUR 2.4 billion LBO Fund V, which the company closed last October.
Founded in 1935, Schleich is one of Germany’s biggest toy manufacturers, as well as an international supplier of traditional figurines and realistic play world concepts that allow children to create their own unique toy landscapes. Currently, the company’s figurines are sold in more than 50 countries.

Frito-Lay and Activision Reveal the Finalists for First-Ever Fan-Selected Skylanders Hero

SkylandersFrom now until June 13, kids ages 13 and up can pick their favorite of three new Skylanders characters as part of the Choose and Name a New Hero contest, a joint promotion between PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay North America division and Activision Publishing Inc. The winning character will appear in the upcoming Skylanders Trap Team game, slated for release in North America this October.
Fans can visit www.fritolay.com/skylanders to vote for their favorite of the three finalists: Bat Spin, Flip Wreck, and High Five.
The winning hero will also appear on Skylanders packaging, and the finalist receiving the most eligible fan votes will be awarded a $100,000 scholarship.

Video Games Sales in April Grow Due to Hardware and Accessory Growth, NPD Group Reports

According to data from The NPD Group, total video games sales in the U.S. for April of this year was $580.3 million, an increase of 17 percent over April of last year. Hardware sales increased by 76 percent year-over-year in April to $192.8 million, while software sales for console and portable systems decreased 10 percent year-over-year to $227.9 million.
The growth across hardware, new physical software, and accessories in April of this year was due to hardware and accessory growth, despite a 10 percent decline in new physical software, according to The NPD Group’s Liam Callahan. However, PlayStation 4 software combined with Xbox One software sales are up more than 40 percent compared to sales of PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 software through their first six months. Wii U software sales were up over last year by more than 80 percent.
With a preliminary estimate for other physical format sales in April—including used and rentals—at $100 million, and digital format sales—such as microtransactions, subscriptions, mobile apps, and the consumer spend on social network games—estimated at $507 million, total consumer spend in April is estimated to be $1.14 billion.

Team Hot Wheels: The Origin of Awesome Plays at Cinemas for Two Days in June

Team Hot WheelsOn June 7 and 8, at 11 a.m. local time, Fathom Events and Mattel will debut Team Hot Wheels: The Origin of Awesome in select movie theaters nationwide. The film tells the story of how series characters Gage, Rhett, Wyatt, and Brandon face off against a mysterious black car that begins transforming the sleepy town of Hilly Woodlands into a wild mess of orange track and outrageous obstacles.
Fans will get an exclusive behind-the-scenes look, learning how Team Hot Wheels was created through interviews with Mattel officials, a first-hand look at early sketches and concept art, and a glimpse into how the characters were developed.
Tickets are available at participating theater box offices and online at www.fathomevents.com.

Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association Launches New Consumer Website

The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) has launched its online consumer safety resource, Baby Safety Zone (BSZ), an innovative community format that provides both the public and consumers with education and information that assist in the safe selection and use of juvenile products.
Through the website and its social media outlets, BSZ provides followers with safety videos, tips, information and resources from its partners and JPMA manufacturers. Visitors can create their own safe nursery by registering for JPMA-certified products, share pictures of their children and nurseries, communicate with other parents and caregivers, and obtain immediate recall information and updates.

NPD Reports Data on Millennial Toy Shoppers

According to recently released data from The NPD Group, during the first quarter of this year, millennial females accounted for 26 percent of all U.S. toy sales. They were found to have spent more year-over-year in the youth electronics, arts and crafts, outdoor/sports toys, and vehicles categories. In addition, NPD found that among millennial toy shoppers, 75 percent are women.
The data also found that for millennial women shoppers—women ages 25 to 34—in-store purchases accounted for 86 percent of toy dollars between January and March of this year.

Toys “R” Us Introduces Reusable Tote Bag to Benefit Save the Children

Toys "R" Us Tote BagToys “R” Us has introduced an exclusive, 100-percent recyclable, reusable tote bag featuring a young child’s artwork at its stores. One dollar from the purchase of each bag will be donated directly to Save the Children’s Domestic Emergency Fund, a global humanitarian organization that ensures the urgent needs of children are met during a crisis.
Toys “R” Us and Save the Children have also compiled disaster planning tips and checklists on the company’s dedicated safety site, www.toysrusinc.com/safety, where families can learn more about fundamental supplies for emergency kits, and more. Customers can also visit www.toysrus.com/savethechildren to view an official registry of products, including toys and games, which can be purchased and sent directly to Save the Children to be used for kids during times of crisis.

These Chocolate Chip Cookie-Themed Toys Are as Sweet as the Real Thing

Happy holidays, everybody! In honor of May 15, aka National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, named after the delectable treat invented at a Massachusetts restaurant during the 1930s, here are some toys featuring either the real thing or a synthetic one. It was a little surprising to find so many playthings featuring the classic snack, but it makes sense: First, the chocolate chip cookie is every bit as iconic as any character in kids’ licensing. Secondly, in general, little kids are as passionate for cookies as they are for toys, so a cookie-based toy lets them have their cake and eat it, too (though not literally, unless you add a few extra eggs into the cookie batter. But I digress). Read more…

Richard Dickson Appointed Chief Brands Officer for Mattel

Mattel Inc. has created a new, unified marketing and creative division to span the company’s global portfolio of consumer brands. To lead this new global brand team, the company tapped Richard Dickson to be its chief brands officer, with responsibility for growing and strengthening the company’s portfolio of brands, including Barbie, Hot Wheels, Fisher-Price, and Thomas & Friends.
Dickson will oversee all aspects of marketing strategy, creative execution, product development, and content creation across Mattel’s legacy and new brands, and will be responsible for driving innovation throughout the portfolio. He will report directly to Mattel CEO Bryan Stockton and will serve as a member of the company’s executive leadership team.

Tim Kilpin Named Head of International Division for Mattel

Mattel Inc. has appointed Tim Kilpin as its executive vice president, international, effective immediately. Kilpin will be responsible for advancing the company’s international presence and for leading its growth in emerging markets throughout Asia, Europe, and Latin America.
Most recently, Kilpin served as executive vice president, global brands team—boys and girls, a role to which he was appointed in 2011. Prior to that, he served as general manager and senior vice president of Mattel Brands. He also served as general manager and senior vice president for the girls, boys, and games groups from November 2008 to February 2010, and for the boys group from October 2005 to November 2008. Kilpin will continue to serve as a member of Mattel’s executive leadership team, reporting to chairman and CEO Bryan Stockton.

Kiesewetter to Receive ASTRA’s Top Honor

Toy industry legend Ted Kiesewetter will be honored at the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association’s (ASTRA) Marketplace & Academy with ASTRA’s coveted Lifetime Achievement Award. A veteran of nearly 40 years in the toy industry, Kiesewetter founded International Playthings Inc. (IPI), now a division of Epoch Company Ltd.
He also supported the industry through his co-founding of Playing for Keeps, which promoted healthy play with products that focus on the child's play patterns rather than the features of the toy. Kiesewetter was an early and consistent supporter of ASTRA and its efforts to promote collaboration and cooperation among manufacturers, retailers, and sales representatives.
ASTRA will present Kiesewetter with the award at its annual awards breakfast and business meeting, which will be held June 9 from 8 to 9:30 a.m. PT at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix.

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