Nintendo Enters Toys to Life Category with amiibo
At this week’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) video game trade show in Los Angeles, Nintendo showcased new interactive figures called amiibo, which feature popular Nintendo characters. The company’s entry into the toys to life category, amiibo can interact with Wii U and Nintendo 3DS games in unique ways.
Nintendo will launch the new amiibo line this year with 10 figures, and more during the holiday season and throughout next year. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U will be the first game to support the figures, and upcoming games include Mario Kart 8, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Mario Party 10, and Yoshi’s Woolly World. A new NFC reader/writer designed for Nintendo 3DS is scheduled to launch next year.
Nuremberg Toy Fair Looks to Continue Momentum of Last Year
The Nuremberg Toy Fair 2015 is scheduled for January 28 to February 2 of next year. It will be located in Nuremberg, Germany, and is estimated to attract 75,888 trade visitors from 122 countries, based on 2014 figures.
Of more than 75,000 visitors and approximately 2,748 exhibitors, 56 and 71 percent, respectively, are expected to come from outside Germany. Meanwhile, among 2014 exhibitors, 90 percent will exhibit again in 2015. Finally, 92.5 percent of visitors are involved in the purchasing decisions for their companies.
Spielwarenmesse’s accompanying program includes the Global Toy Conference, Toy Business Forum, New Exhibitor Center, Trend Gallery, and the ToyAwards. Kallman Associates serves as the exclusive U.S. representative for the event in Nuremberg, and will organize two U.S. international pavilions at the 2015 show, and can help exhibitors secure a booth.
Mattel and Warner Bros. Extend Strategic Relationship for DC Comics Universe
Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP), with DC Entertainment, has extended its alliance with Mattel Inc. with a new multi-year agreement granting Mattel rights to continue as master toy licensee for the DC Comics universe of characters. Under these terms, Mattel is granted unprecedented access to the DC Comics vault of characters, which includes more than a thousand DC Comics superheroes and super-villains, such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, and The Joker. The deal continues Mattel’s support of DC Comics across its entire portfolio of core brands, including Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Barbie, Mattel Games, and Fisher-Price.
In addition to existing characters and content, the extension includes Mattel’s rights to produce toys based on future DC Comics films, animation, and TV projects that are developed and produced during the term of the agreement. Mattel is set to develop toy lines for two of Warner Bros.’ most highly-anticipated theatrical releases: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which is set for a summer 2016 release, and the recently announced Justice League film to follow.
Marvel’s Spider-Man Play Set to Join Disney Infinity
Disney has introduced the Marvel Spider-Man Play Set, the latest chapter of Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (2.0 Edition).
The play set will include playable characters such as Spider-Man, Nick Fury, Iron Fists, and Venom, with additional appearances by White Tiger, Black Cat, and Luke Cage. Spider-Man, Nick Fury, Iron Fist, Nova, and Venom will be playable in the new Toy Box 2.0 mode of the game. When players complete the play set, items will unlock to be used along with hundreds of other Marvel and Disney-themed items.
The Marvel Spider-Man Play Set will be available in retail stores this fall.
UK Toy Market Reflects FIFA World Cup Mania
According to The NPD Group, sales of World Cup-themed toys have been growing since the start of the year, as fever for the event starts to take hold across the UK. One toy out of every nine sold in the UK toy market, or more than 9.1 million toys, has been linked to the competition.
Twenty-seven percent of all toys sold in the week commencing May 11 were related to the tournament, with the best-selling toy that week being Panini’s World Cup Brazil Official sticker album. Two other items in the top 15 directly linked to the competition were also collectibles: Panini’s World Cup Blister pack of 50 stickers and Topps Match Attax England trading cards.
Stickers and cards represent 93 percent of all toy merchandise linked to the event. Although they are aimed at kids ages 6 to 10, their appeal is much wider, with young adults and dads embracing them as well.
K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers Honors Three Executives, Raises $250,000 for Programs
K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers Inc. recognized three leaders from fashion, entertainment, and talent recruitment at its Eighth Annual Women In Industry Luncheon, which took place last Tuesday, June 3, at the Pierre Hotel in New York. At this year’s event, K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers surpassed a sales goal of $250,000, trumping last year’s sales total of $213,000. The honorees were Celeste Gudas, CEO and founder of 24 Seven Inc., a prominent executive search firm; Deirdre Quinn, president and co-founder of Lafayette 148 New York, a leading fashion design company; and Patti Buckner, a vice president in the apparel and accessories, licensing division at Warner Bros. Consumer Products.
Sony to Introduce PlayStation Now and PlayStation TV in North America
Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.’s (SCEI) open beta for PlayStation Now, the company’s streaming game service that leverages cloud-based technology, will become available to PlayStation 4 (PS4) users in the mainland U.S. and parts of Canada on July 31. The service will subsequently expand to PlayStation 3 (PS3) systems in September, followed by PlayStation Vita and PlayStation TV by the end of this year in the U.S. and Canada.
At the start of the open beta, more than 100 titles covering a wide range of genres will be available from SCE Worldwide Studios and various software developers and publishers.
SCEI also recently introduced PlayStation TV (PS TV), which will enable users to enjoy game content, as well as PlayStation 4 remote play on their TV set at home. Remote play allows PS4 users in one room to continue playing a game on a PS TV system in another room. PS4 users can play most PS4 games on PS TV with excellent operability, as if playing them on their PS4 system.
PS TV will be available in North America, Europe, and the PAL region this fall.
TIA Environmental and Sustainability Committee Re-Launched
At the Toy Industry Association's (TIA) newly re-launched Environmental Sustainability Committee meeting, sustainable metrics and materials for eco-friendly products and packaging, the development of an industry-wide definition of sustainability, and consumer trends and engagement on environmental issues were among the topics discussed.
The committee re-launched to help monitor environmental issues that impact the toy industry. It is also in place to assist toy companies in starting eco-friendly programs internally and to increase the sustainability of their products. Detailed results of a recent TIA survey asking what members want from sustainability efforts can be found at TIA’s website. The committee will meet again in August.
MGA Entertainment Inks Deal with Viacom for Lalaloopsy TV Series
MGA Entertainment has signed a two-year agreement with Viacom to air the first two seasons of the Lalaloopsy television program internationally on its Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. networks, kicking off the second season on Nick Jr. on June 7 in the U.S. Based on MGA’s doll line, the 52 episodes will also air in Germany, Russia, Benelux, Greece, Turkey, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, South Africa, and Pan Asia.
In addition, Viacom has granted Lalaloopsy Babies its own TV special, which will air on Nick Jr. and will be available on DVD this October.
Spin Master Launches Kinetic Sand Globally
Spin Master Ltd. has launched Kinetic Sand—a compound that sticks to itself, but not to the user—globally under its new Wackytivities line. Kinetic Sand flows through fingers like a slow-moving liquid, but leaves them completely dry. A wheat-, gluten-, and casein-free product, it also never dries out, letting users shape anything they want repeatedly.
Kinetic Sand is available in Wackytivities Kinetic Sand Pack Natural Brown, a Wackytivities Kinetic Sand Beach Box Set, and a Kinetic Sand Neon Hourglass. Spin Master has joined forces with WABA Fun (WF), with Spin Master set to distribute Kinetic Sand globally at all mass market, mid-tier, high-end, and specialty retailers. WF will distribute to the educational, medical, industrial, therapeutic, home party, catalogue, and art sculpting channels. Specialty chains under 10 stores may be serviced by both organizations, with Spin Master providing the full range of goods and WF providing product in package sizes greater than five pounds.
Goodbaby Acquires Evenflo, Deal Will Keep Jobs in Ohio
The Evenflo Co. has signed an agreement to be acquired by Goodbaby International Holdings Limited. The agreement is definitive and binding pending Goodbaby shareholder approval, which should take place within 45 days.
Goodbaby is headquartered in China, while more than 70 percent of Evenflo sales are manufactured in Ohio and Mexico. As part of the arrangement, Goodbaby will keep production in North America, including Evenflo facilities in Piqua, Ohio, and Miamisburg, Ohio. The two locations combined employ more than 350 people.
“All facilities are remaining, all jobs are remaining, and we’re even beginning work to see about the potential of adding jobs to Piqua,” says Scott Weiss, CEO of Evenflo. “It is early, but we are quite optimistic.”