June 20, 2013

Laser Pegs

Warner Bros. and Jazwares Sign Partnership for Teen Titans Go!

Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Jazwares have signed a master toy and electronics partnership for Teen Titans Go!, Warner Bros. Animation’s new action-packed comedy adventure series based on the DC Comics super heroes.
Jazwares’ Teen Titans Go! master toy line will include action figures, plush, and role-play toys, which will be available for the holiday season at Toys “R” Us.
The announcement of the Teen Titans Go! master toy and electronics partnership represents the latest licensing agreement in an expansive list of brands for Jazwares. For more information about all of Jazwares’ current lines, please visit www.jazwares.com.

The Bridge Direct Inc. Inks Strawberry Shortcake Deal

AG Properties has named The Bridge Direct Inc. as the master toy licensee for the Strawberry Shortcake brand. Dolls, play sets, and plush toys based on Strawberry Shortcake and her six friends from Berry Bitty City will launch globally next fall.

Wonder Forge Secures Game Rights to Tickety Toc

Tickety TocWonder Forge has recently secured game licensing rights to Tickety Toc through a multi-year partnership with Zodiak Kids, brokered by U.S. licensing agent Established Brands. Tickety Toc airs seven days a week on Nick Jr. The partnership is the latest in a string of properties secured by Wonder Forge.
Wonder Forge will debut its Tickety Toc Matching Game this fall through an exclusive retail partnership with Toys “R” Us and will launch additional signature games next year. A multi-category consumer products program will launch in North America this fall led by master toy partner Just Play and home entertainment partner Anchor Bay Entertainment.
Tickety Toc features Tommy and Tallulah and their friends as they race against time to keep the clock ticking. Through Tommy and Tallulah's madcap adventures, Tickety Toc explores concepts of teamwork, social responsibility, and problem solving.

Hasbro and Rovio Expand Angry Birds Licensing Agreement

Hasbro Inc. and Rovio Entertainment have expanded a licensing agreement for toys and physical games based on the Angry Birds brand. The new agreement makes Hasbro the premier toy licensee for Angry Birds, including the upcoming game Angry Birds Go!, set to release this year. In addition, Hasbro will continue to develop and expand its line based on Angry Birds Star Wars from Rovio Entertainment and LucasFilm.
The original Angry Birds mobile game launched in 2009 and remains the No. 1 paid app of all time. Angry Birds has expanded rapidly into consumer products, publishing, and animation. In March, Rovio released Angry Birds Toons, a weekly animated cartoon series distributed through Angry Birds games, TV broadcasters, and on-demand networks. A full-length, animated Angry Birds movie opening is slated for July 1, 2016.
The terms of the agreement grant Hasbro worldwide licensing rights. More details will be released later in the year.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Toy Range to Launch at Toys “R” Us This Fall

As part of a new agreement with The Fred Rogers Co. and licensing agency Out of the Blue Enterprises, Jakks Pacific will unveil an extensive selection of plush, play sets, and collectible figures featuring characters from the animated TV series Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. Jakks Pacific, the North American master toy licensee for the popular property will debut the collection available exclusively at Toys “R” Us stores nationwide and at Toysrus.com beginning in September.
The new toy line for children ages 2 to 4 includes a Daniel Tiger feature plush sporting his signature red cardigan sweater and matching red sneakers, as well as Katerina Kittycat in her green dress and bow. Among the additional new offerings are the 7-inch mini plush assortment, featuring Daniel Tiger and his friends; two-pack sets of 2.75-inch collectible figures of the key characters; a Collectible Figures Gift Pack featuring all five featured characters; a Neighborhood Trolley with Daniel Tiger figure; the All-in-One Playset with Daniel Tiger and Prince Wednesday figures; Daniel’s Imagination Bungalow Playset with Daniel Tiger Figure; and 3-in-1 Imagination Treehouse Playset with Daniel Tiger, Katerina Kittycat, and O the Owl figures.

TIA Seeks Nominations for Toy Industry Hall of Fame

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) is currently accepting nominations for induction into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame. The nomination period will close June 28. Nomination forms can be downloaded here. TIA membership is not required to submit a nomination.
Past inductees have shaped the industry and include toy company leaders and influential retailers, inventors, and marketers who have made important contributions, such as creating innovative product or marketing approaches; introducing changes in manufacturing processes; promoting public awareness of the toy industry; and serving on the TIA Board of Directors or in other important capacities related to toys and youth entertainment.
The Toy Industry Hall of Fame Committee will meet in July to review the nominations received and to propose a slate of five living and three posthumous candidates for consideration by TIA members and former inductees (one vote per organization).
The newest members of the hall of fame will join the 62 current members and be honored at an induction ceremony held in conjunction with the 14th annual Toy of the Year Awards ceremony on February 15, 2014.

DreamWorks Announces Licensees for Mr. Peabody & Sherman

Mr. Peabody & ShermanDreamWorks Animation has secured a collection of consumer products partners in North America for Mr. Peabody & Sherman, which will debut in theaters March 7, 2014. The licensing program will be anchored by Random House Children’s Books as master publisher and also includes IDW Publishing (comic books and graphic novels); Hallmark Cards Inc. (stationery); Ludia (iOS, Android, and Facebook games); Hybrid Jem (knit tops, tees, and apparel for kids); Concept One (accessories); Funko (vinyl figures and bobbleheads); Comic Images (plush); Rasta Imposta (costumes); PopFun (glassware and decorative refrigerator magnets); SmileMakers (stickers); Multipet International (pet toys).
DreamWorks Animation brings Jay Ward’s classic cartoon Mr. Peabody & Sherman to life in an all new 3-D comedy adventure. The film is directed by Rob Minkoff (Stuart Little, The Lion King) and produced by Alex Schwartz and Denise Nolan Cascino. Bullwinkle Studios’ Tiffany Ward, Eric Ellenbogen, and Jason Clark also serve as executive producers.

Jakks Pacific Expands License for El Chavo

Jakks Pacific Inc., together with Televisa, the largest media company in the Spanish-speaking world, and Univision Communications Inc., the leading media company serving Hispanic America, is further expanding its licensing relationship for the El Chavo brand. As part of this new agreement, Jakks will have rights to manufacture, distribute, and market consumer products inspired by El Chavo, the comedy series that airs in the U.S. and in Spanish-speaking countries worldwide. Currently the North American master toy licensee, Jakks will now have rights to various product categories that extend beyond toys. These categories include party supplies, back-to-school items, home décor and bedding, housewares, health and beauty, and apparel accessories.
The most-watched TV sitcom in Mexican history, El Chavo was made famous by comic Roberto Gómez Bolaños more than 40 years ago. The show has delighted audiences across all of Latin America, Spain, and the U.S. for more than 25 years, reaching more than 350 million viewers worldwide. In the U.S., El Chavo airs on UniMás and on Galavisión. The animated series El Chavo Animado airs on Univision, bringing the nostalgia and popularity of the original series to a new generation of viewers. 

The Beatrix Girls Partner with Peavey Electronics

Beatrix GirlsThe Beatrix Girls, a new line of collectible pop star dolls driven by original music, has partnered with Peavey Electronics. As part of the agreement, the new doll line will hit center stage for the first time with their very own, customized Peavey-branded instruments.  
With fully developed personalities, The Beatrix Girls band members Brayden, Ainsley, Lark, and Chantal live and interact in the human world producing real music. Kids can collect their songs, join their fan club, and vicariously live the fantasy of being a pop star through play. The Beatrix Girls songs are written and produced by a platinum-winning songwriter/producer who writes for some of the top pop stars today.

Wicked Cool Toys Announces Partners, Factories, Advisors

Wicked Cool Toys has appointed Hong Kong toy manufacturer Thomas Poon as its new partner and president of Wicked Cool (HK) Ltd. Additionally, Wicked Cool Toys launches three new initiatives. First, the Wicked Cool Toys factory will be responsible for manufacturing high-quality children’s toys for both Wicked Cool Toys and clients. The Wicked Cool Toys factory includes the state-of-the-art Wicked Cool Toys Testing Facility, a fully-accredited, certified testing lab on par with the industry’s leading testing standards. 
Wicked Cool also plans to roll out five retail stores in China beginning as early as this fall to help establish itsWicked Cool branding in the region. Poon and company have been manufacturing toys for more than three decades for many of the world’s largest global toymakers. This new partnership is expected to immediately position Wicked Cool Toys and its manufacturing and testing capabilities as leaders in the field capable of capitalizing on its quickly expanding portfolio of licensed and proprietary brands. 
Thirdly, the Wicked Cool Toys-Thomas Poon partnership announce three new executives as members of their board of advisors: Seth Green, Gregg Spiridellis, and Joe Titlebaum, all of whom will act as strategic advisors to management.
Seth Green is an actor (star of Fox's Dads and countless films), Emmy-winning executive producer/co-creator of Robot Chicken, writer, and director. Gregg Spiridellis is the co-founder and CEO of digital entertainment company JibJab Media Inc. Joe Titlebaum is the founder and general counsel of Mezzobit and former general counsel for XM Radio and for ION Media Networks.

Silvergate Media Signs Vivid as Toy Partner for New Peter Rabbit TV Series

Independent entertainment company Silvergate Media has appointed Vivid as toy partner for the UK, Europe, and Australia for the new Peter Rabbit CGI-animated series, co-owned with Penguin UK.
Vivid will produce a range of Peter Rabbit toys, including figurines, play sets, and plush. The products will have an initial launch next spring and summer with the full range launching next fall and winter.
Silvergate Media holds worldwide licensing and merchandising rights for Classic Peter Rabbit and holds all audiovisual, licensing, and merchandising rights for the new CGI Peter Rabbit worldwide, excluding the Americas and India, which are controlled by Nickelodeon. Penguin will be supporting the animation this year with a full publishing program.
The new Peter Rabbit animation consists of 50 x 11-minute episodes and three 22-minute specials and is currently on air on Nickelodeon in the U.S., CBeebies in the UK, ABC in Australia, and France Televisions in France.

U.S. Coast Guard Children in Alaska Receive New Toys from TIF

Nearly 1,200 children living with their families on the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak in Alaska were part of a toy giveaway on June 15 by the Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) and national partner Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) Military Services.
At a fun-filled barbecue, children of Coast Guard, Navy SEALS, and Army National Guard parents received games, stuffed animals, and other toys. The playthings were donated by the TIF. It is common for military families to relocate frequently, sometimes to remote areas. TIF Executive Director Jean Butler says toys and play help relieve the stress of moving and deployments. The organization’s partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs has reached nearly 500,000 youth on U.S. military installations.
The event was held as part of the joint TIF-BGCA Play Comforts program, the first-ever national toy distribution initiative to serve every branch of the U.S. military. Now in its fourth year, the program has provided more than $3.5 million in toys for children of military families.
Gifts distributed at this event were donated to the TIF’s Toy Bank by Alex, Bananagrams, DuneCraft, Hasbro, Lego, Mattel, MindWare, Safari Ltd., and contributors to TIF’s annual collection at American International Toy Fair. 

Preparing for Baby, Part 2

Preparing for baby’s arrival can be overwhelming, but shopping for adorable new things is just fun. Especially when those new things include sweet new toys! I am particular to Lamaze’s toy line for infants because they incorporate developmental features designed to engage a baby’s senses through various forms of play. Some of my daughter’s favorite items as an infant were Lamaze products. It doesn’t hurt that they’re just so darn cute and colorful. Read more.

Choose Friendship Company Lets Girls Get Creative

At myfbm.com, girls can choose from six different kits, from the Choose Friendship Company, to express their creativity. From friendship bracelets to magnets, these kits provide the supplies, instructions, and inspiration to create one-of-a-kind items to display, wear, or swap. Read more.

Saban Brands Launches Global Consumer Products Division

Saban Brands has launched a new global consumer products division, merging its domestic and international licensing and merchandising teams into a cohesive unit. The department is led by Kirk Bloomgarden, who serves as senior vice president of global consumer products. The new division focuses on the global expansion of licensing programs for all Saban Brands properties and for driving the strategic consumer product plans with licensees, retailers, broadcasters, and agencies worldwide.
In his new role, Bloomgarden focuses on growing Saban Brands’ licensing and merchandising business globally across the company’s portfolio of brands. Nina Leong moves into a new role as senior vice president of strategic business development for Saban Brands, and she will spearhead efforts to expand and broaden the Saban Brands portfolio as well as strategically grow current properties. Leong focuses on searching for new brands, particularly in the lifestyle and fashion space. Mary Rafferty and Dan Wilson also have taken on new, global roles—their titles are vice president of global consumer products and vice president of global retail, respectively.
In addition, Brian Maeda has joined the team as vice president of licensing, and will help to grow Saban Brands’ business in Asia with a focus on toys and video games. Maeda brings 20 years of experience in collaborating with Asian companies and working across publishing, film/TV acquisition, online content distribution, licensing and merchandising, third-party promotions, and video games. He most recently was a third-party account manager at Xbox and also built the licensing and merchandising program for the Halo video game franchise.
In addition to the global team based in the U.S., Saban Brands plans to open new offices in London and Shanghai later this year.

Sean Gorman Named President of AG Properties

The American Greetings Corp. has announced the promotion of Sean Gorman to president of AG Properties. Gorman previously served as vice president of entertainment production and development, located at the AGP offices in Los Angeles. In his new role, Gorman will be responsible for the strategy, creative, and overall operation of the AGP business unit. This will include the development, production, and distribution of innovative children’s properties in the areas of film, television, home video, and other media, including all marketing and licensing activities around those brands and their related content.  
Gorman has extensive experience in developing properties for the children’s entertainment industry. He has been with AGP since 2007 as vice president of entertainment production and development. Most recently Gorman worked on the Packages from Planet X property, which will become an animated series on the Disney channel later this year.
Prior to his role with entertainment production and development, Gorman was vice president of development for The Hatchery LLC, which develops and produces original family and children’s entertainment for all media.

ASTRA Elects Specialty Industry Representatives

Members of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) elected four specialty toy industry leaders to its Board of Directors at ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy in Nashville, Tenn. The retailer representatives are Thea Brown, World of Mirth, Richmond, Va.; and Tim Holliday, Children's World & Children's World Uniform Supply, Sarasota, Fla. The sales representatives’ representative is John Giacobbe, John Giacobbe & Associates, Medway, Mass. The manufacturers’ representative is Jeff Pinsker, Klutz, Palo Alto, Calif.
Retailer Linda Hays, owner of Hopscotch Inc. of McMinnville, Ore., will remain chairwoman of ASTRA’s board and manufacturer Michael Levins, CEO of the Norwalk, Conn.-based Innovative Kids, maintains his position as chairman-elect.   
The nominating committee for ASTRA’s 2013 directors and officers included Sue Warfield, Retail Specialties, Ely, Minn.; Bill Benda, Creativity for Kids, Valley View, Ohio; Michael Ziegenhagen, Playmatters, Pepper Pike, Ohio; and Linda Hays, Hopscotch Toys, McMinnville, Ore

Toys “R” Us Releases First Quarter Results

Toys “R” Us Inc. has reported financial results for the first quarter ended May 4. Net sales were $2.4 billion, a decrease of $204 million or 7.8 percent versus the prior year. The decline in net sales for the quarter was primarily attributable to a decrease in comparable store net sales, as well as a foreign currency translation impact of $67 million. Comparable store net sales were down 8.4 percent in the domestic segment and 5.8 percent in the international segment. The overall decrease in comparable store net sales resulted primarily from decreases in our juvenile, seasonal, and entertainment (including video game hardware and software) categories.

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