July 23, 2014


China Toy Expo

Skylanders Trap Team Dark Edition to Premiere at Comic-Con International
Activision Publishing Inc. is bringing the Skylanders video game franchise to Comic-Con International: San Diego, and attendees will be the first to check out the Skylanders Trap Team Dark Edition Starter Pack toys. The pack includes the Ultimate Kaos Trap, a special, larger-sized trap, which allows Portal Masters to trap and play as Kaos when the game launches in North America on October 5.
In addition, the pack will include two Traps; exclusive black and silver variant designs of new characters Snap Shot, Wildfire, and Food Fight; a two-sided poster; sticker sheets; and trading cards. The Skylanders Trap Team Dark Edition Starter Pack will be available on Xbox 360 and Xbox One, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, and Nintendo’s Wii and Wii U systems.
Comic Con International: San Diego kicks off on Thursday, but North American fans can pre-order the Skylanders Trap Team Dark Edition Starter Pack at major retailers while supplies last.

Funko and Mindstyle Form Alliance with Sights on China and Southeast Asia

Pop!Funko and Mindstyle International have reached an agreement for a strategic alliance in greater China and Southeast Asia. The new alliance will build on Funko's existing position globally and create new growth opportunities.
Funko will retain creative, marketing, and sales responsibilities for its portfolio of iconic collectibles, which include its Wacky Wobbler Bobble-Heads, Wisecracks, Mystery Minis, and the ultra collectible Pop! Vinyl Figures. Mindstyle—a global creative, development, and manufacturing company based in China—will bring strong product development with Pop! Asia and premium product lines, local distribution, and a history of initiatives for the Asia market.

Mattel Brings Star Wars, Minecraft, and Call of Duty to Comic-Con International: San Diego

Hot Wheels Star WarsThis week, Mattel Inc. will preview upcoming toys at Comic-Con International: San Diego, including its line of Hot Wheels Star Wars vehicles and play sets due out later this year. The line includes Star Wars-inspired Hot Wheels character cars, as well as replica die cast starships.
Mattel will also debut a line of Minecraft-inspired items, created in partnership with Mojang AB, and Mega Bloks will unveil its first Mega Bloks Call of Duty Signature Series building set.


NRF Finds Back to School Spending Is Up, Driven by Demand for Electronics and Supplies

According to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 2014 Back-to-School Survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, the average family with children in grades K-12 will spend $669.28 on apparel, shoes, supplies, and electronics. This is up 5 percent from a total spend of $634.78 last year, driven by increased demand for electronic items.
Broken down by grade, the average family shopping for middle school and junior high students will spend $682.13, while parents with elementary school-age children will spend an average of $580.94.
Every category will see an increase in spending, including average spend on supplies and electronics. According to the survey, back-to-school shoppers will spend an average $212.35 on electronic items, up 7 percent from $199.05 last year, with total spend expected to reach $8.4 billion.

Lego Systems Shows Off New Products at Comic-Con International: San Diego

At Comic-Con International: San Diego this week, Lego Systems Inc. will unveil upcoming products, including two Lego Super Heroes: DC Comics sets scheduled to launch next year, one of which is an 1,800-piece tumbler.
In anticipation of this December's theatrical release of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Lego Systems will preview one of the new Lego the Hobbit sets slated to arrive in stores this October. The company will also show off an upcoming set based on The Lego Movie, as well as sets based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV series and new feature film.
Lego Systems will also unveil the fourth wave of Lego Mixels characters and content, set to launch next year.

SuperFanArt Launches, Lets Fans Be Creators Using Hasbro Brands

SuperFanArtHasbro Inc. and Shapeways are launching SuperFanArt, a website that enables fans inspired by Hasbro brands to showcase their artwork and sell their 3-D printed designs on Shapeways. Through the site, the Hasbro fan base has a license to create new art and product offerings.
SuperFanArt will launch with the My Little Pony franchise, and additional Hasbro brands will be introduced in the coming months. At its launch, SuperFanArt will showcase work by several talented fan artists, and consumers can click through to each artist’s shop to place an order. Additional artists and 3-D printed products will be featured on the site in the future.

Mattel Launches New Direct-to-Consumer Strategy for Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway

Mattel is bringing a new shopping experience to Thomas & Friends fans nationwide, through a cross-company collaboration that began this month. Anchored by the Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway product line, the new experience includes the first ever Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway direct-to-consumer catalogue, e-commerce website, and partnerships with 20 independent specialty retail stores, which will serve as official Thomas & Friends Specialty Stations in the U.S.
Thomas & Friends will also introduce a limited-release wooden engine, Logan, a Shunter that works at the coal plant, and is only available in the U.S. through the new catalogue, e-commerce website, and official specialty stations.
The e-commerce website, thomaswoodenrailway.com, launches next month, and the Logan wooden engine will be available through December 31 of next year.
In addition, moving forward, Toys “R” Us will become the exclusive national chain retailer of Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway.

CPSC Releases CHAP Report on Phthalates and Phthalate Alternatives

Following four years of investigation by the Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (CHAP) appointed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the CPSC has released a report detailing the potential health effects of phthalates and phthalate alternatives in toys and child care articles.
Under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008, there are currently permanent bans on three types of phthalates—DEHP, DBP, and BBP—in toys and certain child care articles, and interim bans on three additional phthalates—DINP, DIDP, and DnOP—in mouth-able components of these products.
The CHAP report recommends lifting the interim bans on DnOP and DIDP, which are not typically used in toys and children’s products, and permanently banning DINP. It also recommends that four additional phthalates—DIBP, DPenP, DHexP, and DCHP—be permanently banned from use in children’s toys and child care articles at levels greater than 0.1 percent.
The full report is available on the CPSC website. The Toy Industry Association is reviewing the report, and invites member questions to be directed to Al Kaufman, TIA senior vice president of technical affairs, at (646) 520-4868.

Sony Pictures Teams Up with Iconic Video Game Companies for Pixels

Sony Pictures Entertainment has brought together a number of iconic video game companies, whose characters—such as Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Centipede, Frogger, and Q*bert—will be featured in next year’s action comedy Pixels, to be released on May 15.
Companies with classic arcade games that are teaming with Sony Pictures on the film include: Atari Interactive (publisher of Asteroids, Breakout, Centipede, and Missile Command), Konami Digital Entertainment Co. Ltd. (Frogger), Bandai Namco Games Inc. (Pac-Man, Galaga, and Dig Dug), Nintendo (Donkey Kong), Columbia Pictures Industries Inc. (Q*bert), Taito Corporation (Space Invaders), and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (Joust, Defender, Robotron, and Wizard of Wor).

Bif Bang Pow! Enters Licensing Deal for Mike Tyson Mysteries Toys

Mike Tyson MysteriesBif Bang Pow! is partnering with Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Warner Bros. Animation (WBA) to release a collection of action figures from the upcoming animated comedy series, Mike Tyson Mysteries, which will premiere this fall. The collection includes a Mike Tyson Mysteries Mike Tyson with Boxing Gloves 8-Inch Action Figure, a convention exclusive for Comic-Con International: San Diego.
This venture between Bif Bang Pow! and Warner Bros. builds upon the companies' existing partnership for products based on the TV series, The Big Bang Theory. The Mike Tyson Mysteries line will be available to order at Entertainment Earth.

VTech Taps Jennifer Eiselein to Lead Marketing Team
VTech has hired Jennifer Eiselein, a former senior manager at Amazon who was instrumental in the launches of the company’s Kindle tablets and e-readers, as its new marketing director. She will lead VTech’s marketing team from its U.S. headquarters in Chicago, oversee the creation and execution of innovative campaigns for VTech’s brands, employ strategies to generate brand awareness, and target customers to enhance growth in key markets.
Prior to joining VTech, Eiselein served as senior manager for merchandising and marketing at Amazon’s Appstore in the U.S. and Canada.

TIA Names Ken Seiter as Vice President, Strategic Communications

Ken Seiter will join the Toy Industry Association (TIA) this August as vice president of strategic communications. He will be responsible for the development, implementation, and oversight of TIA’s communications strategies, key messaging, and brand integrity programs.
Previously, Seiter served as chief marketing officer for the Specialty Food Association (SFA) and oversaw the execution of communications plans for SFA’s trade shows, educational programs, membership outreach, and media engagement.

Genius Brands Names Stone Newman President, Global Consumer Products

Stone NewmanGenius Brands International Inc. (GBI) has appointed Stone Newman to the newly created post of president, Global Consumer Products. In this new role, Newman will work with retailers and licensees to build comprehensive consumer products programs for each of the company’s brands, including Baby Genius, Secret Millionaires Club, Stan Lee’s Mighty 7, and others. He will also appoint and oversee a team of licensing agencies from around the world to operate as sub agents.
Newman will continue to manage licensing programs represented by his former company, Art + Science International, including WowWee brands, ElectroKidz, MIP, and Archie Comics.  These brands will now be managed under GBI’s wholly owned subsidiary, A Squared Entertainment LLC.

Jakks Pacific Reports Second Quarter Results

On Wednesday, Jakks Pacific Inc. reported results for the second quarter ended June 30. Net sales increased to $124.2 million, up 16.9 percent from net sales of $106.2 million reported in the comparable period last year. The reported net loss for the second quarter was $9.1 million, or $0.43 per diluted share. That number includes pre-tax restructuring charges of $1.2 million, or $0.05 per diluted share, higher than anticipated product testing and development costs of $2.1 million, or $0.10 per diluted share.
Net sales for the six months ending June 30 increased 12.1 percent to $206.7 million compared to $184.3 million last year. The reported net loss for the six-month period was $25.4 million, or $1.17 per diluted share, which included restructuring charges of $1.2 million, or $0.05 per diluted share, higher product testing and development costs of $2.1 million, or $0.10 per diluted share, and the impact of the convertible note issuance and stock buyback of $0.03 per diluted share. This compares to a net loss for the first six months last year of $74.4 million, or $3.40 per diluted share.
Jakks Pacific currently expects increased net sales for the full year of 2014 to be in the range of $660 million to $670 million, an increase from its previously issued guidance of net sales in the range of $633 million to $640 million.

Hasbro’s Second Quarter Results Show Strength in Boys, Girls, and Games

On Monday, Hasbro Inc. reported that second quarter net revenues increased 8 percent to $829.3 million, up from $766.3 million in the prior year. Net earnings for the second quarter were $33.5 million, or $0.26 per diluted share, compared to $36.5 million, or $0.28 per diluted share, last year.
Excluding an unfavorable tax adjustment of $13.8 million, or $0.10 per diluted share, adjusted net earnings for the second quarter were $47.3 million, or $0.36 per diluted share. Excluding pre-tax partial pension settlement charges of $2.5 million, or $0.01 per diluted share, associated with restructuring actions, adjusted net earnings for the second quarter of the previous year were $38.3 million, or $0.29 per diluted share.
By category, second quarter net revenues in the Boys category increased 32 percent to $335.8 million, behind growth in Transformers and Marvel products. Games category revenues decreased 12 percent in the quarter to $225.7 million, as growth in Monopoly, The Game of Life, and initial shipments of Simon Swipe were offset by declines in several brands, including Twister and Magic: The Gathering.
Hasbro’s Girls category grew 10 percent in the second quarter to $163.8 million, as My Little Pony, My Little Pony Equestria Girls, and Nerf Rebelle continued to drive strong growth.

Mattel Second Quarter Financial Results Show Decline in Girls & Boys Brands

Last Thursday, Mattel Inc. reported second quarter net income of $28.3 million, or $0.08 per share, which includes a tax benefit of $0.11 per share and a negative impact of $0.06 per share of Mega Brands’ acquisition and integration. This compares to last year’s second quarter net income of $73.3 million, or $0.21 per share.
For the quarter, net sales were $1.06 billion, down 9 percent compared to $1.17 billion last year. On a regional basis, second quarter gross sales decreased 8 percent in the North American region, which consists of the U.S., Canada, and American Girl.
By brand, for the second quarter, worldwide gross sales for Mattel Girls & Boys Brands were $689.0 million, down 13 percent versus the prior year, and worldwide gross sales for the Barbie brand were down 15 percent. Worldwide gross sales for Other Girls brands were down 11 percent, primarily due to Monster High, but partially offset by Disney Princess and Ever After High.
Cash flows used for operating activities were approximately $79 million, compared to approximately $286 million last year, driven by lower working capital usage.

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