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
From 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
On 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 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.