July 18, 2013

Pinkie Cooper

China Toy Expo

Zodiak Kids Announces Partnership with TCG for Tickety Toc

Tickety TocZodiak Kids has signed TCG to manufacture, distribute, and market a new line of wooden toys and activities featuring Tickety Toc characters for North American distribution. The new product line, targeted at preschoolers, will include characters such as Pufferty, the Tickety Toc Clock, Tommy, Tallulah, McCoggins, and Hopparoo. TCG’s Tickety Toc wooden range is expected to hit North American retail shelves in the fall of next year.
Established Brands and Studio Licensing brokered the deal on behalf of Zodiak Kids. Consumer products for the brand will also launch in North America this fall, led by master toy partner Just Play and home entertainment partner Anchor Bay Entertainment.

USAopoly, Activision Partner for Skylanders Monopoly

SkylandersCharacters from the Skylanders franchise, including Kaos and Chompie, are taking over the property-trading game Monopoly with new Skylands locations, tokens, and game pieces. Produced by USAopoly, under license from Hasbro, and in conjunction with Activision, Skylanders Monopoly lets players vie for control of real estate, allowing them to buy, sell, and trade 22 Skylands locations, such as Stealth Elf’s Ninja Dojo, Trigger Happy’s Bank Vault, and Spyro’s Chompy Diner. Players must also steer clear of Auric’s Traveling Store Taxes and Persephone’s Gem Shop Tax as they battle for Thumpback’s Thundering Tide Pool and Zap’s Lightning Race.
The game is now available on Amazon.com and at specialty retailers in North America. Skylanders Monopoly is designed for players ages 8 and up.

D3 Publisher Debuts Turbo: Super Stunt Squad Video Game

D3 Publisher debuted Turbo: Super Stunt Squad, a new action game that features the characters from the upcoming DreamWorks Animation film, Turbo, which hit theaters July 17. Each playable character has its own signature street style and skills, including jumps, drifts, slides, flips, and other super stunt moves. Key features of the game include multiple upgrade and unlock abilities and larger-than-life courses, all of which vary depending on the game console used. Turbo: Super Stunt Squad is available for Wii, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 entertainment systems.

WBCP, Cryptozoic Entertainment Announce New Lord of the Rings Deck-Building Game

Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) and Cryptozoic Entertainment, a developer of licensed trading cards and board games, will launch The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Deck-Building Game, the first expansion to the The Lord of the Rings Deck-Building Game line-up, this summer. This expansion adds all-new cards and gameplay mechanics to the Cerberus: Middle-earth game engine. 
In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Deck-Building Game, players pick a hero and fight to protect the wall of Helm's Deep from Saruman’s forces. Players start with only basic combat maneuvers in their deck, but as the game progresses, they can add new and more powerful cards to their deck. The Wall of Helm's Deep Deck adds a new level of strategy to the game, representing new perils if players cannot defend the wall from Saruman's forces. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Deck-Building Game can be played on its own, or it can be combined with other expansions from The Lord of the Rings trilogy to create an epic experience.

Mike the Knight Trains Knights in New App Pack

Mike the KnightHit Entertainment and Funny Garbage Inc., an app design firm, launched the Mike the Knight: Knight in Training Game Pack for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. With six interactive games in one, the Mike the Knight: Knight in Training Game Pack transports young knights-in-training into an imaginative world of castles, dragons, and trolls.
Mike the Knight: Knight in Training Game Pack includes Jam Tart Fling, Fruit Shoot, Paint the Castle, Jigsaw Jumble, Seek & Find, and Match MissionThis game app pack features fun missions for kids to practice their archery skills, learn shapes and colors, unlock different puzzles, search for hidden objects, and match their favorite characters from memory, while developing cognitive skills and hand-eye coordination. The easy and hard game modes welcome all children to play.

Lego Group Builds Program for The Lego Movie

The Lego Group has announced a collection of movie-inspired building sets celebrating the brand’s premiere as a theatrical film. The company has recruited a roster of worldwide partners to a broad, multi-category licensing program to support the animated adventure film from Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures. Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller and produced by Dan Lin and Roy Lee, The Lego Movie assembles on the big screen in February.
The line includes building sets, Lego minifigures, a video game from TT Games, and other movie-inspired merchandise, including readers, sticker books, activity books, movie guides, apparel, bags, clocks and buildable watches, stationery items, key lights, and lunchboxes and lunch sets.

Virtual Piggy Partners with Innovation First for E-commerce Platform

Virtual Piggy Inc. has integrated its youth-friendly payment system to Innovation First International, the company behind Hexbug Micro Robotic Creatures and Vex Robotics product lines. Hexbug products are available in more than 4,000 outlets globally including Walmart, Target, Toys “R” Us, RadioShack, and other mass and specialty retailers.
Virtual Piggy is integrated directly into Innovation First International’s Hexbug e-commerce platform to allow direct online and mobile purchases. Virtual Piggy has a standard interface to eBay’s Magento e-commerce platform, which facilitates a simple and rapid integration.

Hasbro Launches New Telepods Line for Angry Birds Star Wars II

TelepodsHasbro Inc.’s new Telepods line uses patented new technology to allow kids to play in two ways: in the physical space and through full integration in top-tier apps. The Telepods play experience will first be available in a line released this August based on and fully integrated into the new app, Angry Birds Star Wars II, from Rovio Entertainment and Lucasfilm.
For the first time ever, Telepods lets players teleport Rebel Bird and Imperial Pig figures into the new Angry Birds Star Wars II app so they can choose which characters to launch. Following the release of Angry Birds Star Wars II, fans will be able to download the app, tap the Telepods icon in the app, place one of the more than 30 Angry Birds Star Wars figures on the included Telepods base, and then place the base on a smart device (not included) to immediately “teleport” that figure into the game.
Telepods are digitally-integrated toys designed with stand-alone playability in mind. An assortment of play sets will invite kids to launch their Rebel Bird figures in real life to destroy iconic Angry Birds Star Wars structures and topple the evil Pig Empire. Angry Birds Star Wars II will follow the story of the three prequel Star Wars movies. With the introduction of never-before-seen Angry Birds Star Wars characters, the player can–for the first time in the history of Angry Birds–choose to take the “Pork Side” and play as one of the green pigs.

Dentsu Entertainment, Nelvana Enterprises, and Fuel Entertainment Relaunch Chub City

Dentsu Entertainment USA Inc. has signed a development agreement with Nelvana Enterprises and Fuel Entertainment to create an animated action comedy TV series, Chub City.
The series follows the adventures of a team of heroic teenagers who drive customized cars at Chub City battle rallies, which pop up spontaneously in different parts of the world. Teams arrive by train, ship, truck, and helicopter in container units called Convos that become the building blocks for these instant cities. The stories find humor in the relationships of the diverse team of drivers and the awkward bond that forms with their more logical sentient cars, all while battling to recover a powerful hidden energy source.
The series is based on an intellectual property and toy brand, which has been sold worldwide at more than 11,000 stores including Walmart and Carrefour, and has been featured in nationally advertised Burger King and Taco Bell kids meal promotions. The new series will be supported by new toy technology that will bring innovation to the vehicle toy space.
Dentsu Entertainment USA, Nelvana Enterprises, and Fuel Entertainment are actively seeking toy and broadcast partners for Chub City. For more information, please contact Marc Harrington, senior vice president, global strategy and development for Dentsu Entertainment USA, at Marc.Harrington@DentsuEntertainment.com.

Despicable Me 2: An Instant Feel-Good Favorite

Despicable Me 2 explores all kinds of love: Father-daughter love, admiration for a co-worker, new love, puppy love, motherly love, male camaraderie, and, of course, Minion love. A fun flick for the whole family, the sequel to the 2010 hit is a heart-warming 98 minutes full of life lessons, slapstick, and downright adorableness. Read more.

Snake Oil Will Cause Laughter

As an avid board game enthusiast and intern here at The Toy Book, I jumped at the chance to test out a new board game Snake Oil, from Out of the Box Publishing. Do not let this unusual name throw you off, as I did at first. The name Snake Oil derives from tales of the old west, where Chinese laborers on the Transcontinental Railroad utilized water snake oil, claiming that rubbing the oil onto their skin could “ail” their sore, aching muscles. The Chinese shared this ancient remedy with their American coworkers, and from there, snake oil salesmen were born. Read more.

Mattel Releases Second Quarter Financial Results

Mattel Inc. has released second quarter financial results for this year. For the quarter, the company reported net income of $73.3 million, or $0.21 per share, compared to last year’s second quarter net income of $96.2 million, or $0.28 per share.
For the quarter, net sales were $1.17 billion, up 1 percent compared to last year, with no impact from changes in currency exchange rates. On a regional basis, second quarter gross sales decreased 2 percent in the North American Region (the U.S., Canada, and American Girl) with no impact from changes in currency exchange rates. In the International Region, gross sales increased 4 percent, with no impact from changes in currency exchange rates. Operating income for the quarter was $94.8 million, compared to prior year’s operating income for the quarter of $131.4 million.
Mattel’s Board of Directors declared a third quarter cash dividend of $0.36 per share on the company's common stock. The dividend will be payable on September 20 to stockholders of record on August 28, 2013. The dividend is the third of four quarterly dividends the company expects to pay this year, reflecting an annualized dividend of $1.44 per share, which represents a 16 percent increase to last year’s total dividends. During the second quarter, the company repurchased 2.7 million shares of its common stock at a cost of approximately $119 million. Additionally, the Stock Repurchase Program was increased by $500 million.

Jakks Pacific Reports Second Quarter Financial Results

Jakks Pacific Inc. has reported results for the company’s second quarter that ended June 30.
Net sales for the second quarter of this year were $106.2 million, compared to net sales of $145.4 million reported in the comparable period last year. The reported net loss for the second quarter was $46.9 million, or $2.14 per diluted share, which included charges for license minimum guarantee shortfalls of $14.1 million and inventory impairment of $12.2 million. This compares to net income of $0.2 million, or $0.01 per diluted share, reported in the comparable period last year, which included $1.7 million, or $0.5 per diluted share, of legal and financial advisory fees and expenses related to the 2011 unsolicited indication of interest.
Net sales for the six months ending June 30 were $184.3 million, compared to $218.8 million last year. The net loss reported for the six month period was $74.4 million, or $3.40 per diluted share, which includes $0.8 million, or $0.03 per diluted share, of pre-tax financial and legal advisory fees and expenses relating to the 2011 unsolicited indication of interest, and charges for license minimum guarantee shortfalls of $14.4 million and inventory impairment of $14.9 million. This compares to a net loss for the first six months of 2012 of $15.8 million, or $0.61 per diluted share, which included $3.1 million, or $0.09 per diluted share, of pre-tax financial and legal advisory fees and expenses.
The company announced that due to business conditions, it has suspended its quarterly dividend, which it will re-evaluate upon a return to profitability. The company also announced a restructuring plan to commence in the third quarter, which will include the substantial reduction of leased space, employees, and other overhead expenses. Despite the projected loss this year, Jakks is anticipating a return to profitability next year.

June Retail Sales Indicate Growing, but Measured Economy

Consumer spending and retail sales ended the second quarter on a soft note, indicating that economic growth and acceleration has weakened. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the world’s largest retail trade association, June retail sales (excluding automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) increased 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted from May and increased 3.0 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
“Consumers remain wary,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay says. “Even though healthy home prices and stock values are helping to improve confidence and spending, stagnantly high unemployment, higher taxes, and lingering policy uncertainty continue to keep shoppers and economic growth at bay. The recovery is solid and good, but its pace remains measured and modest.”
June retail sales, released today by the U.S. Department of Commerce and U.S. Census Bureau, showed that total retail and food services sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants) increased 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 5.7 percent adjusted year-over-year.
NRF’s This is Retail campaign highlights the industry’s opportunities for life-long careers, how retailers strengthen communities at home and abroad, and the critical role that retail plays in driving innovation. For more information, visit www.nrf.com.

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