July 10, 2014


China Toy Expo

NPD Group Reports Increase in Phone Usage Causing Shift in U.S. Gamer Segmentation
Thanks in large part to an increase in usage of phones for gaming, avid omni gamers—defined as those who play on multiple systems—are the only gamer segment to experience growth in the U.S. this year, according to the latest data from The NPD Group.
The number of avid omni gamers climbed 6 percentage points to 22 percent of the total gaming population, replacing casual gamers as the second largest gamer segment when compared to last year. The largest segment, free & mobile gamers, maintained its size at 29 percent of the U.S. gamer population. The remaining segments—casual gamers, core console gamers, family gamers, and social gamers—declined 1 to 2 percentage points.
Meanwhile, 71 percent of gamers in the U.S. report using phones to play video games, an increase or 4 percentage points from last year, making it the only type of gaming device to exhibit year-over-year growth in usage. Avid omni gamers and free and mobile gamers reported phones as their top system or device for gaming last year, but they were the only ones to do so. 

Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Mattel Partner Up to Share the Play

Mattel and Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) have entered into a toy and game donation program to provide children with greater access to play. Called Share the Play, for every online order placed by consumers at Mattel’s online toy stores, Mattel will donate a toy to BGCA. Through the program, up to 250,000 toys will be distributed to BGCA’s nationwide network of 4,100 Clubs.
From now through December 31, every qualifying order made online at mattelshop.com and fisher-pricestore.com will result in a toy donation to BGCA. Mattel will donate a minimum of 200,000 toys to BGCA through the program, with a goal of 250,000 toy donations to the organization.
The donation program builds on a successful multi-year partnership between Mattel and BGCA.

CTJPA Offering Free Hotel Stays for China Toy Expo & China Kids Expo Pre-Registrants

China Toy Expo and China Kids Expo are giving away free hotel stays for 20 buyers who pre-register for the shows before August 10. Each buyer will be offered a free, three-night stay at a five-star international hotel near the show venue. The list of winning buyers will be released in mid-August.
The two events are hosted by China Toy & Juvenile Products Association (CTJPA), and will take place on October 14 to 16 in Shanghai. According to CTJPA, the event drew 73,670 visitors from 114 countries and 1,102 global exhibitors last year.
Interested parties can contact Kent Luo at luoliping@tjpa-china.org for more information, or visit the China Toy Expo and China Kids Expo websites to pre-register.

Universal to Release New Hot Wheels and Monster High Movies for Home Video

Team Hot WheelsThis September, Universal Studios Home Entertainment will release two new DVDs based on Mattel toy lines. In Team Hot Wheels: The Origin of Awesome, four kids, who are also skilled racers, team up when a mysterious black car enters their town, creating an orange track and rampaging monsters whenever it goes. The movie will be available on Digital HD on September 2, and on DVD and Blu-ray combo pack on September 30.
Meanwhile, in Monster High: Freaky Fusion, Frankie Stein and other characters travel back in time to the first day ever at Monster High. The movie will be available on Digital HD on September 16, and on DVD and Blu-ray combo pack on September 30.




Registration Opens for TIA’s 7th Annual Washington, DC Fly-In

Registration is open for the Toy Industry Association’s 7th Annual Washington, DC Fly-In, which will bring toy company representatives to the nation’s capital September 16 to 18. The objective will be to discuss priority issues impacting TIA’s member companies, including chemical regulations and testing requirements, with members of Congress and other government officials.
This year’s event will kick off on September 16 with a United We Play opening reception on Capitol Hill, hosted by TIA and the Toy Industry Foundation (TIF). During the evening, the hosts will announce a donation of 2,500 toys to children’s charities within the home districts of five members of Congress to be honored at the reception. The Fly-In will continue with a full schedule of meetings and activities on September 17 and 18.
The DC Fly-In is free to attend and open to all TIA members, and registration may be completed online. The host hotel for the Fly-In is the Mandarin Oriental in downtown Washington. For more information, contact Rachel Derby, TIA’s director of government affairs, at (202) 459-0351.

McFarlane Toys Launches The Walking Dead Building Block Sets

The Walking DeadMcFarlane Toys is unveiling new brick building toys based on AMC’s The Walking Dead. These building sets and figures will be available this fall at Toys “R” Us stores nationwide and online at toysrus.com<<toysrus.com>>.
The initial McFarlane Toys’ The Walking Dead brick building line will feature realistic and detailed sculpts, light-up and shaped features, iconic environments, and fan-favorite characters and walkers, allowing collectors and fans to recreate their favorite scenes.


Domo Ghostbusters Co-Brand Comes to Life

Domo GhostbustersBig Tent Entertainment has lined up more partners for the pop culture mash-up of Domo and Slimer. Underground Toys will create a line featuring plush, mugs, stickers, and more for department stores, specialty stores, stationery and gift stores, catalogs, and Internet retailers worldwide (excluding Asia). Kelly Toys will create multiple sizes of soft-sculptured toys for amusement parks and carnival and prize games in the U.S. and Canada.
Funko will be involved in a line of Domo/Ghostbusters-inspired pop vinyl figures for worldwide distribution (excluding Asia) at specialty stores, supermarkets, drug stores, catalogues, stationery and gift stores, online retailers, and mass market.
The line, made possible through an agreement with Sony Pictures Consumer Products as brokered by Big Tent Entertainment, is slated to arrive this fall.

Southard Communications Adds to Its Roster, Relocates Office

Southard Communications has landed several major accounts and relocated its New York office to the downtown area. New account wins include School Zone Publishing, for which the agency will launch a new Little Scholar kids tablet; eCarrot, a Reno-based kids technology and software company; and Maverix USA, which is launching a line of electric skateboards in the U.S.
Meanwhile, after almost two decades in the flatiron district, Southard has expanded its New York headquarters with new space at 111 John Street.

Special Alien: Isolation Content Unites Original Movie Cast

Alien: IsolationAlien: Isolation will include exclusive pre-order bonus content featuring the vocal talent and likenesses of key cast members of the 1979 movie, Alien. Sigourney Weaver (Ellen Ripley), Tom Skerritt (Dallas), Veronica Cartwright (Lambert), Harry Dean Stanton (Brett), Yaphet Kotto (Parker) and Ian Holm (Ash) are set to feature in two downloadable bonus missions.
Anyone who pre-orders the game will get a free upgrade to the Nostromo Edition, which includes Crew Expendable, in which players can explore the Nostromo from habitation deck down through engineering, coordinating their efforts to lure the alien into the ship’s airlock. Consumers who pre-order at GameStop will exclusively also receive Last Survivor, in which players pick up the story as Ripley tries to escape on the Narcissus.
Alien: Isolation will be available October 7 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3.

Barnes & Noble Celebrates Pop Culture in Stores This Summer

Barnes & Noble will bring pop culture books, comics, superheroes, and television shows to life in stores nationwide from July 18 through August 10.
Get Pop Cultured with Barnes & Noble kicks off with a preview weekend and costume contest from July 18 to 20, and other events include Batman Day on July 23, where all Barnes & Noble stores nationwide will sell exclusive merchandise; the DC Comics Spectacular from July 23 to July 27; a sing-along and story time event, Frozen Friday: Cool Off with Olaf! on August 1; Marvel Day on August 2, which will feature Marvel Comics-themed activities, giveaways, and product offerings; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Jr. Ninja Training Academy Event, which will include activities, crafts, and a Ninja training event; and more.

Endangered Species Toys Can Help Raise Environmental Awareness

Animal-themed toys are nothing new, but in recent months, I’ve been noticing a focus on endangered species. Shortly after Toy Fair 2014, BeginAgain released its Balance Boat: Endangered Animal Edition, a stacking toy featuring rubberwood versions of the panda, rhinoceros, tortoise, and more. Meanwhile, Green Tones by Hohner put out Endangered Animal Shakers, beautifully carved rubberwood musical toys that depict an owl, leopard, and turtle. Read more…

K’NEX Promotes Rachel Robbins to Vice President

K’NEX has promoted Rachel Robbins to vice president, legal affairs and general counsel. Hired in 2013, Robbins previously served as associate general counsel for K’NEX Brands, and prior to joining K’NEX, she was a partner in the Commercial Litigation group of the law firm Cozen O’Connor.
In her new position, Robbins will provide legal counsel to company management and business teams as to commercial relationships, as well as all general corporate matters, including contracts, employment, regulatory, and intellectual property.

Kendall Doty Joins Saban Brands as Vice President of Digital

Saban Brands has appointed Kendall Doty as the company’s new vice president of digital. Doty will be responsible for growing Saban Brands’ digital products and services across online, mobile, games, apps, e-commerce, and social media. He will also oversee strategy and operations for all digital initiatives for the company’s portfolio of brands, including Power Rangers, Paul Frank, Macbeth, Julius Jr., Popples and Emojiville, among others.
Doty comes to Saban Brands with extensive digital experience from Hub Network, where she worked on revered brands and TV series, including My Little Pony, Transformers, Family Game Night, Strawberry Shortcake, R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps, and The Haunting Hour. Prior to The Hub, Doty ran interactive and marketing for CBS.

Ubisoft Reports Record First Quarter Sales

Ubisoft reported first quarter sales of $360 million, up 374 percent (or 386 percent at constant exchange rates) compared with the $76 million recorded for the first quarter of last year.
The sales figure was higher than the target of approximately $310 million announced when Ubisoft released its full year results. This performance reflects the success of Watch Dogs, which broke Ubisoft’s and the industry’s sales record for the launch of a new game and of a new brand, respectively, with more than 8 million sell-in units.
Strong growth was reported in the digital segment, with sales up 149 percent to $84 million, driven by Watch Dogs, the success of Ubisoft’s free-to-play mobile games, and the releases of Trials Fusion, Child of Light, and Valiant Hearts: The Great War.

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