May 30, 2013

Laser Pegs

Propel Equity Partners Acquires Alex Toys 

Propel Equity Partners, a private equity firm focused on investing and creating value in consumer brands, has acquired Alex, a maker of children’s creative products. Alex joins the Poof-Slinky family of brands, which includes Slinky, Poof, Ideal, Scientific Explorer, and Fundex Games on the Propel Equity Partners roster of toy brands.
Poof-Slinky Inc. was acquired by Propel Equity Partners in July of last year, and Fundex Games was acquired in December of last year.
Founded in 1986 with the creation of a plastic lunch box filled with arts and crafts supplies, Alex has grown into a manufacturer of children’s creative products designed to foster personal expression and build self-esteem. The brand now features more than 1,000 items for all ages, from infants to tweens, and has expanded to include products for imaginative and dramatic play, fashion and jewelry, and bath and outdoor toys. Alex products are sold in more than 80 countries through a variety of distribution channels. More than 70 million Alex products have been sold in the last 10 years.
Alex founders Nurit and Rick Amdur will remain with the company, while Fred Keller, president of Poof-Slinky, will take on the additional title of president of Alex.

The Trash Pack Launches at LaRonde, a Six Flags Amusement Park

The Trash PackMoose Toys’ Canadian distributor Imports Dragon has announced the opening of The Trash Pack Play House at LaRonde, a Six Flags amusement park located in Montreal, Canada. The play house opened last weekend and plans to remain on-site for a two year period. Inside the play house, children can play games to win various Trash Pack collectible figurines, vehicles, and other related products and meet The Trash Pack’s mascot characters.
LaRonde is Eastern Canada’s largest amusement park. The facility, which opened as part of Expo ’67, today offers 40 rides and attractions, including the Goliath, one of North America’s highest and fastest roller coasters, and Le Pays de Ribambelle, an exciting and enchanting family area. More than 25,000 guests visit the park daily, amounting to more than 1 million visitors each year.


TCG Partners with Entertainment One for Peppa Pig Puzzles and Activities

TCG has entered into a new licensing partnership with Entertainment One to manufacture, distribute, and market a new line of puzzles and activities featuring Peppa Pig in North America. The Peppa Pig puzzles and activities are expected to launch at mass-market, toy, drug, and online retailers in August.
The new product line, targeted to preschoolers, will include three 24-piece and three 48-piece jigsaw puzzles, and Magnetic Creations. Each puzzle and activity captures the essence of Peppa, the loveable star of the hit animated television show for preschoolers, Peppa Pig, which airs on Nick Jr. in the U.S.

Toy Industry Hall of Fame Nominations Now Open

Members of the Toy Industry Association (TIA) and other toy industry stakeholders are invited to submit nominations of deserving candidates (living or deceased) for induction into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame, the TIA says in a news release. Selected candidates will join 62 current members of the hall of fame during a ceremony to be held in conjunction with the 14th annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards ceremony on February 15 of next year. The nomination period will extend from May 28 through June 28. Membership in TIA is not a prerequisite for submitting a nomination.
Nominees for the Toy Industry Hall of Fame should have longstanding experience in the toy industry; unimpeachable integrity and respect among his or her peers; have made outstanding contributions to the industry and/or to TIA; and be recognized for various accomplishments. Examples include innovative product or marketing introductions; manufacturing process changes, which significantly improved processes or products; a prominent role in promoting the public’s awareness and appreciation of the importance of toys in the lives of children, or promoting the public’s awareness of the toy industry as a significant and responsible member of the business community; and service on the TIA board of directors, or in other important capacities in or related to toys and youth entertainment.
Additional information on the Toy Industry Hall of Fame is available online. Questions and completed nomination forms should be directed to TIA’s Stacy Leistner (646) 520-4858 by June 28.

TIF Summer Toy Drive to Benefit Tornado Victims and Other Children in Need

The Toy Industry Foundation’s (TIF) 2013 Summer Toy Drive will run through August 31 and is seeking donations of brand new toys, plush, DVDs, and games from toy manufacturers, retailers, and licensors. Donated items will give the joy of play to children in need, including those recently affected by Oklahoma’s devastating tornado.
Companies that participate in the drive will impact children at the following toy distributions scheduled for this summer:
• On an ongoing basis, playthings will be delivered to kids whose homes were lost in the Oklahoma storm. These items will comfort the young victims as their families work to restore their lives.
• On June 20, the Foundation will bring toys and games to pediatric cancer patients at the Ronald McDonald House in New York City.
• On July 18, inner-city foster children in New Jersey will receive brand new playthings with the help of TIF national partner, CASA for Children.
• On July 27, rural-area foster children in Indiana will benefit from a joint TIF-CASA toy distribution.
• On August 1, for the first time in The Toy Bank’s history, toys will be distributed to children served by TIF partner charities in all 50 states in a single day.
Questions about donating to one of the specific causes listed above, as well as where to send toys, may be directed to TIF’s Melissa Sorvillo (646) 520-4878. Any quantity of toys is welcome at this time. TIF recognizes all Toy Bank donors on the TIF website and through social media. Donors will receive a supporter badge to place on their own website. Additional information can be found at

Hot Wheels Sets a First-Ever World Record at Indy 500

Hot WheelsOn the eve of the Indianapolis 500, Hot Wheels, along with four kids, set a record for the world’s longest toy race track. Staged on the front straightaway of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Mattel’s Hot Wheels created a 1 mile-long, four-lane toy racetrack to celebrate its World's Best Driver Championship event. Kids were invited from all over the country to race four toy cars around the track. Coached by racing legends Mario and John Andretti, Christopher Bienusa, a 12-year-old from Alexandria, Minn., emerged as the victor. Bienusa celebrated in traditional Indy 500 fashion by drinking a bottle of milk and kissing the fabled Yard of Bricks on the speedway. More than 1,000 pieces of custom-made Hot Wheels track were used to build the longest toy track in history. Alexandria Industries manufactured the nearly 4,700 pounds of aluminum extrusions to withstand outdoor elements such as heat and rain.

Rubie’s Pet Shop Boutique Offers New Line of Pet Costumes and Accessories

RubiesRubie’s Pet Shop Boutique, a division of Rubie’s Costume Co., will offer a new line of costumes and accessories for pets. The collection features hundreds of non-licensed and licensed costumes, including Star Wars, Batman, Superman, Hello Kitty, Ghostbusters, Elvis, and Wizard of Oz. The vast selection of products also extends beyond Halloween to other special occasions such as Easter, Fourth of July, St. Patrick’s Day, and Christmas. In addition, the unique line of accessories includes wigs, hats, tutus, bandanas, wings, and hair bows.
From princesses to pirates to hot dogs and tacos, each Rubie’s costume is carefully constructed for a comfortable fit and is available in sizes ranging from small to XXL.


Anchor Bay and My Gym Partner for Chuggington DVD Promotion

Anchor Bay Entertainment and My Gym, the fitness centers for kids across the U.S., have joined to celebrate the August 20 release of Chug Patrol: Ready to Rescue, the newest Chuggington DVD, and the 30th anniversary of My Gym.
The collaboration will help spread the word about the latest DVD installment of the hit TV series in nearly 160 My Gym locations. The promotion starts this month and runs through September 19. 
Participating My Gym locations will feature colorful Chuggington window clings prominently displayed in each facility as well as coupons for a discount on the purchase of Chug Patrol: Ready to Rescue or any other Chuggington DVD. Young gym-goers also will receive Chuggington sticker sheets after each class. In addition, the Chuggington theme song will be integrated into gym classes and a video clip will be played on a loop on My Gym TVs.
Anchor Bay will highlight My Gym with full-panel inserts in the packaging of all Chug Patrol: Ready to Rescue DVDs. The company will provide exposure for My Gym on the Chuggington social media pages.

Disney Princesses Evolve with the Modern Woman

Since Disney’s first princess, Snow White, made her debut in 1937, Disney’s “princess criteria” has continued to evolve with the conventions of each generation. The brand has received a lot of negative commentary on the overly feminine, submissive nature of all of its earliest princesses. I would argue, however, that Disney has done a phenomenal job of representing the women of each generation. In the 30s, 40s, and 50s, when Snow White, Cinderella, and Princess Aurora reigned supreme, but still appeared—I will admit—a bit overly “damsel in distress,” this was the average woman of the early 1900s. Like it or not, many women of this time married for security or relied on men to do things that they did not realize they were capable of doing. In our day and age, Cinderella would take a trip to Century 21 and find something much trendier than that glass slipper, Aurora would wake up and smell the coffee, and Belle would text her dad to come pick her up from Beast’s castle. Read more.

Keeping Kids’ Brains Active During the Summer

Now that the school year is drawing to an end, parents surely want to keep their little ones mentally active during the summer months. There’s a whole slew of toys out there that are fun and educational, of course, so the trick is to really find the ones that work for you and your kids. However, we’ve got a bunch of toys in our office that’ll help kids of all ages flex those mental muscles, even when they aren’t sitting in a classroom. Read more.

Moby Dick, or, The Card Game Brings an American Classic to Life

Moby Dick is considered one of the greatest American novels ever written. But more than just a classic tale, Herman Melville’s masterpiece leaves quite an impression on its readers, examining existentialism and obsession in a truly captivating way. Literary lovers of the classic tale can venture on the high seas in search of the White Whale in a new way. Read more.

Sprout Names Jennifer Levine Vice President of Communications

Sprout, the 24-hour preschool network, has appointed longtime Disney executive Jennifer Levine as vice president of communications. Levine will drive the execution of communication strategies with the goal of increasing awareness and relevance of the Sprout and NBC Kids brands across consumer and trade audiences. She will lead the communications team in developing and implementing plans that align with long-term business goals and direct all internal communications initiatives. Levine will report to Sandy Wax, president of Sprout.
Prior to joining Sprout, Levine was a vice president of global communications for the publishing business within Disney Consumer Products, where she led publicity, executive communications, and internal communications across print, digital, and learning businesses. She began her TV career at Nickelodeon/MTV Networks, where she developed and managed communications plans for various programming initiatives, consumer products businesses, and pro-social campaigns.

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