June 19, 2014

China Toy Expo

Rovio and Hasbro to Mash Up Transformers and Angry Birds

Transformers Angry BirdsRovio Entertainment and Hasbro Inc. will bring together two entertainment brands through Angry Birds Transformers. The line will include a mobile game, consumer licensed goods, and products from Hasbro featuring Telepods technology, which will enable fans to teleport Angry Birds Transformers characters into the game and gain unique powers. Hasbro will release its product line later this year.
The Angry Birds Transformers franchise follows successful collaborations between Hasbro and Rovio, including the Angry Birds Star Wars and Angry Birds Go! product lines, as well as the upcoming Angry Birds Stella Telepods line, which will be available in September.

Lego Combines Digital and Physical Play with Lego Fusion

Lego FusionLego Systems Inc. has unveiled Lego Fusion, a play experience that combines traditional Lego brick play with app-based mobile games for kids ages 7 and up. The Fusion collection will include four sets: Lego Fusion Town Master, Lego Fusion Battle Towers, Lego Fusion Create & Race, and Lego Fusion Resort Designer, featuring Lego Friends characters and themes.
Each Lego Fusion kit consists of a distinct set of Lego bricks, a corresponding free downloadable app, and a unique Fusion capture plate, which is a small brick-building plate featuring a printed design that enables a smartphone or tablet’s camera to identify the size, colors, and layout of the Lego bricks built onto the plate. The apps will prompt kids to build a 2-D façade of a building onto the capture plate any way they like. Then, kids can import the façade into the app and transform the creation into a full 3-D building on screen.
All four Lego Fusion sets will be sold exclusively at Lego Stores and Toys “R” Us in the U.S. Town Master, Battle Towers, and Create & Race are set for release in August, while Resort Designer will launch in September. Developed by TT Games, makers of the Lego video game franchise, all four apps are free to download from the App Store, Google Play, and Samsung App Store for iOS and Android devices.

Mattel Launches Entrepreneur Barbie to Inspire Girls Everywhere

Entrepreneur BarbieMattel has launched Entrepreneur Barbie, coinciding with real-life female entrepreneurs gracing the cover of Time’s Most Influential People issue and leading one-in-five start-ups. To celebrate her newest career, Barbie has partnered with a diverse group of female entrepreneurs, including the founders of Girls Who Code, Rent the Runway, One Kings Lane, Plum Alley, Genuine Insights, Sugarfina, and The TomKat Studio.
Girls and parents can explore inspirational tips, career-themed games, and activities at www.barbie.com, and purchase career dolls available at retailers nationwide.



Playmates Toys to Introduce New Toy Line Based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Summer Movie

Playmates Toys will introduce a new product line inspired by the upcoming film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, from Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies. The movie line of toys will include action figures, vehicles, and role-play gear. The action figure collection will include basic action figures, 11-inch figures, and deluxe feature figures. They are detailed, fully articulated, and sculpted to reflect how the Turtles appear in the movie.

DHX Appoints Jazwares as Master Toy Partner for Ella the Elephant

DHX Media has appointed Jazwares Inc. as the global master toy partner for preschool property Ella the Elephant in the U.S., Canada, UK, Ireland, Latin America, Middle East, Australia, Spain, and Norway. The deal will enable Jazwares to launch worldwide plush, dolls figures, play sets, vehicles, role-play items, and musical instruments based on the animated preschool series, which currently airs weekdays on Disney Channel and Disney Junior.

Disney’s Descendants Introduces the Next Generation of Disney Villains

Disney DescendantsScheduled to premiere on the Disney Channel next year, the Disney Channel original movie, Descendants, will introduce the teenage progeny of four iconic Disney villains. The plot revolves around these four evil teens—formerly exiled with their parents on the Isle of the Lost—being allowed back into the kingdom of Auradon to attend prep school alongside the children of iconic Disney heroes.
Descendants will star Dove Cameron as Mal, the daughter of Maleficent; Sofia Carson as Evie, the daughter of the Evil Queen; Booboo Stewart as Jay, the son of Jafar; and Cameron Boyce as Carlos, the son of Cruella de Vil. The film is currently in production.





Mattel, Netflix Partner for Ever After High Original Series

Ever After HighNetflix Inc. and Mattel Inc. will launch an original animated series for kids of all ages based on the Mattel franchise Ever After High. The new series will premiere in all Netflix territories early next year.
The Netflix original series will be preceded by a movie, Ever After High Spring Unsprung, early next year. Twelve episodes of the Ever After High series will follow.


Activision’s Licensing Program Bolsters Skylanders Franchise

Activision Publishing Inc. will extend its worldwide footprint for Skylanders through branded fruit snacks and cereals with General Mills, the first Skylanders magazine with Immediate Media, Skylanders-themed coloring books from Crayola, and more.
Beginning next February, General Mills will launch an eight-week cereal program in North America that puts the Skystones game on the back of packages for interactive play. This marks the newest offering in an ongoing collaboration between Activision and General Mills. Later this year, Skylanders will be included in a brand campaign with General Mills’ Go-Gurt and Trix Yogurt Cups, which will arrive at retail this September.
Immediate Media will also launch an official Skylanders magazine in the UK this fall, and has plans to expand into multiple territories by next year. The magazine gives fans a look into the world of Skylands, with fun tips, quizzes, and Skylanders-themed activities.
Activision is growing its relationship with Crayola by introducing Skylanders-branded Xtreme Coloring & Activity Pads. This new format will launch next spring and will allow kids to create personalized versions of favorite Skylanders characters on a physical coloring page.

HIT Entertainment to Produce First Little People Series

HIT Entertainment, in collaboration with Fisher-Price, has announced that a new CGI-animated series, Little People, is now in pre-production and is set to launch late next year. The new series is based on Fisher-Price’s Little People brand, and is being produced out of HIT’s UK content hub.
This is the first collaboration between HIT and Fisher-Price since Mattel acquired HIT in 2012.

Spin Master to Serve as Global Master Toy Licensee for Saban’s Popples, Paramount’s Monster Trucks

Spin Master has partnered with Saban Brands as global master toy licensee for Saban’s Popples brand. Popples, which launches next year, is a new animated children’s series based on the TV series and toy line from the 1980s. Spin Master will produce a line of children’s toys, including small dolls, collectible figures, play sets, and plush. The products will hit the U.S. market next year, followed by an expanded international program in 2016.
Popples is a comedy series about a species of creatures that can pop into a ball. The characters are the Best Popple Pals, who always want to help their friends, neighbors, and each other.
Spin Master was also recently named the master toy licensee for Paramount’s Monster Trucks live action movie, due in theatres next May. Spin Master will develop an extensive line up of vehicle-based products that will launch alongside the film.

MGA Introduces New Fashion Doll Line, Lalaloopsy Girls

Lalaloopsy GirlsThe Lalaloopsy doll brand, from MGA Entertainment, will make its first foray into fashion dolls with Lalaloopsy Girls. Lalaloopsy Girls will feature vibrantly colored, 11-inch dolls with different fashions, and each doll will have lanyard hair that magically colors when streaked with cold water. In addition, each doll will come packaged with an extra outfit consisting of a personal, two-piece pajama fashion set, two hair clips, and a pet.
Six of the 10 Lalaloopsy Girls were among the brand’s original characters. Along with being aged up to tweens, they will be more colorful and quirky.
When the line launches in August, it will be accompanied by an array of entertainment, such as a live-action music video, character webisodes, and social media outreach intended to bring the fun of Lalaloopsy land into the real world: For example, girls will be encouraged to have real-life Tutu Tuesdays, and other activities that encourage imagination and creativity.

Lottie to Produce Child-Designed Superhero Doll Outfit

Lottie designLottie dolls, by Arklu, recently held the Lottie Design a Superhero Outfit Competition—in partnership with the Brave Girls Alliance—to let young kids design a new superhero costume for Lottie dolls.
The winner of the competition is 6-year-old Lily from Kirtland, Ohio. Lily’s Super Lottie design will come to life and will be manufactured and made commercially available this fall. The original artwork design, name, age, city, country, and superhero ability will be on the back of the outfit packaging. In addition, Lily will receive the full line of Lottie dolls and accessories.


MakerBot, Pretty Ugly Partner for 3-D Printable Uglydoll Characters

Makerbot Ugly DollMakerBot and Pretty Ugly LLC have collaborated to make four Uglydoll characters 3-D printable on a MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3-D Printer. The content will be available on the MakerBot Digital Store for the Uglydoll characters Babo, Wage, Ice-Bat, and Ox, who made their 3-D debut at the International Licensing Expo this week.
The characters are being introduced as T-pose characters, which are designed to be 3-D printed and fully poseable. Additional 3-D printables from the Uglydoll universe will follow, such as a bus to take the miniature Uglydoll characters on a summer vacation, four Uglydoll characters in dynamic stances, and 3-D printable environments for the Uglydolls to live in. All items will be released this summer on the MakerBot Digital Store.

Lego Systems Collaborating with White House Maker Faire

Lego Systems Inc. announced that it would maximize opportunities for young children to play, make, and share by working in conjuncture with the White House Maker Faire on the Junior Maker program.
The program will celebrate the company’s recognition that children are born with an urge to explore and be playful, and will provide free activities and information directly to parents to help their children discover these natural tendencies. Lego will collaborate with the Association for Library Service to Children to provide experiences for kids ages 4 and up.

Sustainability, and Why It’s Good for Business

First and foremost, toy makers are committed to providing retailers with high quality products. But if we can do this in an environmentally friendly way and be more profitable—well, now we are talking! Over the past few months, Toy State has been part of a Wal-Mart-sponsored pilot program, RedE, intended to educate companies on ways to utilize sustainability best practices to both save energy over time as well as increase profitability. This past April, we were proud to be recognized by Wal-Mart as a global leader in this effort. Read more…

Games Are Fun, and Can Keep Kids Thinkin’ Over Summer Vacation

I think any kid would back me up when I make the claim that the best part about summer vacation is having no school. As a youngster, the summer meant the beach, sports, barbeques, and playing outside all day, which made it my favorite time of year. However, summer can also mean reading, keeping up with topics, and building on concepts that were learned months before. That list isn’t always a kid’s favorite cup of tea, but something that they all love is toys and games. The door in the educational category for toys is now wide open, especially with schools under extra pressure because of Common Core standards. There are quite a few games to keep kids’ noggins churning while having fun, which is one of the best ways to keep them engaged and interested while school is out. Read more…

Stacy Lellos Named Senior Vice President, General Manager, for Klutz

Stacy LellosScholastic, the global children’s publishing, education, and media company, has appointed Stacy Lellos to senior vice president and general manager for Klutz, the books-plus brand from Scholastic. She will report to Ellie Berger, president of Scholastic Trade Publishing.
After serving as vice-president of marketing at Toys “R” Us since last year, Lellos returns to Scholastic, where she previously held a variety of publishing and marketing positions. She is known for leading the strategic direction for the management and marketing of the Harry Potter series across the company from 2000 to 2006. Based out of Scholastic Headquarters in New York, Lellos and her team will be responsible for all aspects of the Klutz brand and publishing program.
Klutz is an imprint of Scholastic founded in 1977, and has been engaging kids for more than 35 years with more than 100 million activity products in print, including Cat’s Cradle, Face Painting, Friendship Bracelets, Juggling for the Complete Klutz, and The Klutz Book of Paper Airplanes.

Toys “R” Us Reports First Quarter Financial Results

Toys “R” Us Inc. has reported financial results for the first quarter, which ended on May 3. Domestic comparable store net sales increased by 4 percent and were primarily driven by increases in learning, entertainment, and core toy categories. International comparable store net sales were up 1 percent, primarily due to the seasonal and baby product categories.
Consolidated net sales were $2.5 billion, an increase of 2.9 percent versus the prior year period. Gross margin dollars were $918 million, an increase of $18 million as compared to the prior year period. Gross margin as a percent of net sales was 37 percent. Selling, general, and administrative expenses were $917 million, compared to $886 million in the prior year, which was primarily due to a $19 million increase in occupancy costs. Operating loss was $91 million, compared to an operating loss of $73 million in the prior year.
The company ended the first quarter with $1.5 billion of liquidity, and through the end of the first quarter, invested $39 million, primarily for improvements to information technology and logistics systems and capabilities, store-related projects, and opening of new stores.

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