Build-A-Bear Expands the My Little Pony Collection
Build-A-Bear Workshop has expanded its My Little Pony collection with the launch of Princess Twilight Sparkle under license from Hasbro Inc. Princess Twilight Sparkle and her trusted assistant Spike the Dragon are now available at Build-A-Bear Workshop stores throughout North America and online at buildabear.com.
The company’s licensing relationship with Hasbro allows guests to engage with the characters and uniquely personalize the ponies. Guests can create Princess Twilight Sparkle’s signature look with a variety of fashions including a My Little Pony coronation cape, gold bow flats, a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic theme song that can be added to any stuffed animal, and a rainbow brush.
Spin Master to Sponsor Toy and Game Inventors Camp
Spin Master Ltd. has announced that it is the title sponsor of Toy and Game Inventors Camp, which takes place in Toronto from July 29 to August 2. The camp is presented in partnership with Story Planet, MakerKids, and Young Inventor Challenge.
Spin Master will help kids focus on inventing and designing toys and will work alongside other camp partners to teach kids 3-D modeling, printing, and prototype building.
Hasbro Introduces My Little Pony Equestria Girls Dolls
Straight from the halls of Canterlot high, the My Little Pony Equestria Girls dolls are six best friends with a flair for fashion and fun. Each doll in the collection comes dressed in an ultra-chic look and features her signature cutie splash, which is a unique design similar to the cutie marks on their pony alter egos. Girls can share styles between their favorite My Little Pony Equestria Girls friends, as each doll has an interchangeable fashion skirt and shoes in addition to a signature accessory. Each My Little Pony Equestria Girls doll comes with a Canterlot High membership ID card. Each doll is sold separately and is available at most major toy retailers nationwide and on HasbroToyShop.com.
ToyFest West 2014 to Be Held in Las Vegas
The Western Toy & Hobby Representatives Association (WTHRA) will hold its annual West Coast toy trade show for its second year at the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa in Las Vegas.
WTHRA’s 2014 ToyFest West Show, the largest toy show in the west, will feature more than 600 manufacturers, serving as the West Coast premiere show for new 2014 products. Represented categories include infant and toddler, gift, educational, museum, hobby, and costume. Traditionally a manufacturers’ representative show, the move to Las Vegas saw an increase in vendor attendance, which will continue in the new year. Retailers in attendance will be able to see first quarter specials and industry events.
USAopoly Debuts The Walking Dead-Inspired Board Games
USAopoly, under license by Hasbro Inc., will debut Monopoly: The Walking Dead Survival Edition and Risk: The Walking Dead Survival Edition. Each game is based off Robert Kirkman’s comic book series and graphic novels. The games relate to the comic in detail as seen through game tokens, playing cards, the playing board itself, and other details.
Available exclusively from Skybound, Kirkman’s imprint at Image Comics, and Diamond Comic Distributor, both games will be released in late September.
DreamWorks Teams Up with Hasbro for Two Franchises
Hasbro Inc. and DreamWorks Animation have entered into an agreement to create toys and games inspired by DreamWorks Animation’s B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations and Trolls properties. Through this deal, Hasbro will unveil franchise-inspired product lines across major toy categories, with theatrical releases supporting B.O.O. and Trolls arriving in theaters in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations is the classified agency you’ve never heard of and certainly never seen. Dedicated to protecting the universe from evil hauntings, the agents of B.O.O. have a secret weapon: they are ghosts themselves. When B.O.O. faces its biggest threat yet—an uber-villain with a ghastly plan—top agent Jackson Moss (Seth Rogen) and his wacky partner Watts (Melissa McCarthy) team up for the job.
DreamWorks Animation also recently announced the acquisition of the Trolls franchise. The Trolls experienced resurgence in the 1990s, and in 2003 the Toy Industry Association named Trolls on its list of One Hundred of the Century’s Most Treasured Toys.
Mattel Co-Sponsors Back-to-School Giveaway Hosted by Children’s Institute
Mattel and nearly 20 other sponsors provided support for the Second Annual Watts Back-to-School Giveaway, which furnished much-needed educational resources and support for kids preschool age to grade 12. The event was hosted by Philanthropic Society Los Angeles, a support group of Children's Institute, Inc.
The Watts Back-to-School Giveaway benefited approximately 4,000 to 5,000 kids and their families who live in one of Los Angeles’ most challenged communities. They receive services from CII—a nationally-recognized organization that helps children and youth severely affected by community and family violence.
In addition to receiving filled backpacks, attendees learned about good nutrition and healthy cooking through demos and snacks from the Watts Healthy Farmers Market. They also received useful community information from partners of the giveaway, which was not a public event.
Crayola Launches Colorcycle Marker Program
Crayola has launched its nationwide Colorcycle marker program, which transforms used markers directly into clean energy. The program is the latest innovation in the company’s continuing commitment to advance its sustainability efforts. The Colorcycle marker program will allow students to responsibly dispose of any type of used marker through an in-school collection process, keeping plastic out of landfills. Once the used markers are collected, a unique technology will convert the markers into usable fuel.
Crayola has been an industry leader in creating sustainable solutions for decades. Initiatives include using solar power to manufacture crayons, incorporating recycled plastic into its markers, and using reforested wood to manufacture its colored pencils. Crayola conducted extensive research into various new and emerging technologies that would allow the company to repurpose its markers and found that the most efficient and beneficial solution at this time is the plastic-to-energy process, which allows the company to repurpose the entire marker.
As part of the Colorcycle program, Crayola developed classroom lesson plans designed to help teachers educate students on the important role sustainability plays. The lesson plans engage students in environmental solutions, teaching them how to protect the planet in new and relevant ways, while also encouraging them to take environmental responsibility into their own hands.
At the beginning of the school year, K-12 schools nationwide can register for the program at www.crayola.com/colorcycle.
LeapFrog Releases New Kids’ Learning Tablet
LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. has launched the LeapPad Ultra, a learning tablet for kids, online and at major retail locations across the U.S. The new LeapPad Ultra is kid-tough and works with LeapFrog’s library of more than 800 educational games, creativity apps, e-books, videos, music, and more.
LeapPad Ultra features a kid-safe web browser, LeapSearch, created in partnership with Zui, a children’s browser developer. The 7-inch, high-resolution screen is designed to help children learn to write using a stylus while supporting interactive touch experiences. Additionally, LeapPad Ultra features a new look, a rechargeable battery, front and back cameras and video recorders, and 8 GB of storage.
LeapFrog’s robust learning library is a combination of LeapFrog’s educational entertainment and engaging content, and is built against a proprietary curriculum of 2,600 skills in categories including math, reading, science, creativity, and more. Kids can join Super Grover 2.0 on three super missions to help Elmo and Abby in Sesame Street: Solve It with Elmo, Abby & Super Grover 2.0!, a game designed to introduce preschoolers to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and encourage investigation, observation, and experimentation. For budding mathematicians, Sanrio’s Hello Kitty Sweet Little Shops brings foundational skills such as estimation and reading tables, charts, and graphs to life as kids meet new friends and use math to serve customers, fill orders, sort groceries, pack up goodies, and other activities.
It’s Not Easy Being Pink
Recently, we wrote about a petition from mom Melissa Wardy for Lego to release a set of female scientist figures. After seeing that only 16 percent (11 percent if you don’t count the Lego Friends line) of Lego minifigures are females, Wardy knew something had to be done. She learned that one of the entries in one of Lego’s public contests to design new building sets featured a female minifigure series that included a paleontologist, a robotics engineer, a geologist, an astronomer, a chemist, a judge, and a fire fighter. This entry raised the amount of votes necessary to be considered for production, so Wardy started a petition to have these females in the STEM fields available on shelves, available for all kids to play with. Read more.
Dough Play: Letting Kids Be Gross
Spending time with my niece (age 8) and nephew (age 4) has taught me many things: patience, kindness, compassion, etc. However, one particular lesson has stood out to me as of late: kids are gross. They are adorable and awesome and hilariously uninhibited, which, in turn, often makes them gross. They just want to stomp in the mud, pick their noses, and enjoy all the luxuries of gooey, mushy substances. However, this grossness can easily be turned into something productive, cute, and brightly colored through dough play. Read more.
It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s Flying Superman Toys!
For decades, Superman has captured our imagination with his powers, one of the best-known being flight. Yet not many toys have focused on this aspect of Superman to create something fun and exciting. Luckily, thanks to this summer’s Man of Steel movie, The Toy Book received quite a few Superman items, some of which made good on the promise of taking playtime to new heights. I’m happy to share these flight-centric toys with you. Read more.
DreamWorks Animation Names New Head of Retail Development
DreamWorks Animation has named Paul Kurzawa to the new position of head of retail development and entertainment. Kurzawa previously served as COO for Caruso Affiliated. In his new role, he will be responsible for DreamWorks’ worldwide retail brand development and integration initiatives.
Kurzawa and his team will explore distinctive integration opportunities for the company’s branded family entertainment portfolio with top retailers worldwide. Top priorities are DreamWorks Animation’s intellectual properties, which include Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon, and Puss in Boots. In addition, the company recently acquired the titles of Classic Media, including Where’s Waldo?, Olivia, Noddy, and Postman Pat.
Kurzawa has more than 20 years of experience working for retail shopping center developers worldwide.
LeapFrog Releases Second Quarter Financial Results
LeapFrog Enterprises Inc. has announced financial results for the second quarter, which ended June 30, 2013. Compared to second quarter 2012 results, consolidated net sales were up 16 percent, U.S. segment net sales were up 19 percent, and international segment net sales were up 10 percent.
Net sales for second quarter 2013 were $83 million, up 16 percent compared to $71.5 million last year, and were not materially impacted by changes in currency exchange rates. Net sales growth was largely driven by sales of the LeapPad learning tablet line and LeapReader reading-and-writing line, which benefited from new products being shipped to retailers for summer launches. LeapFrog experienced double-digit net sales growth in both of its key business categories: multimedia learning (which includes learning tablets, learning game systems, and learn-to-read systems) and learning toys.
Within LeapFrog’s multimedia learning business, content, platforms, and accessories each delivered solid net sales growth. In the U.S. segment, net sales were $58.4 million, up 19 percent compared to $49.1 million last year. In the International segment, net sales were $24.6 million, up 10 percent compared to $22.3 million last year, and included a 1 percent negative impact from changes in currency exchange rates.
Loss from operations improved 34 percent, while net loss per basic and diluted share was $0.05. Normalized net loss per basic and diluted share, which includes an effective 37.5 percent tax rate, was $0.04, an improvement of $0.03. Adjusted EBITDA was positive in the second quarter for the first time as a public company.
Activision Blizzard Announces Second Quarter Financial Results
Activision Blizzard Inc. announced financial results for the second quarter of 2013. For the quarter ended June 30, Activision Blizzard’s GAAP net revenues were $1.05 billion, as compared with $1.08 billion for the second quarter of last year. On a non-GAAP basis, the company’s net revenues were $608 million, as compared with $1.05 billion for the second quarter of last year.
For the second quarter, GAAP net revenues from digital channels were $387 million and represented 37 percent of the company’s total revenues. On a non-GAAP basis, net revenues from digital channels were $383 million and represented a record 63 percent of the company’s total revenues. Based on its second quarter results, Activision Blizzard is raising its full year GAAP outlook.
For the first six months of this year, Activision Blizzard was the no. 1 third-party publisher in North America and Europe combined. For the same time period, Activision Blizzard had the top two best-selling games in North America and Europe combined, with Activision Publishing’s Skylanders Giants and Call of Duty: Black Ops II. In North America and Europe, Activision Publishing’s Skylanders Giants was the no. 1 best-selling console and hand-held game overall in dollars for the first six months of this year.
Mega Brands’ Second Quarter Financial Results Released
Mega Brands released its financial results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2013. Consolidated net sales in the second quarter increased 4 percent to $98.1 million compared to $94.5 million in the corresponding 2012 period. Sales for the toys segment increased 4 percent compared to the second quarter of last year, driven by higher product shipments in preschool and girls’ construction toys. Meanwhile, sales for the stationery and activities segment were up 3 percent.
On a geographical basis, North American sales were 5 percent higher and international sales were level. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization increased to $9.8 million compared to $9.2 million in the second quarter of last year. Net earnings were $4.0 million, or $0.10 per diluted share ($0.18 per basic share), compared to $1.6 million, or a loss of $0.12 per diluted share (earnings of $0.10 per basic share) in the second quarter of last year.
For the six-month period ended June 30, 2013, consolidated net sales increased 7 percent to $162.6 million, compared to $152.7 million in the same period last year, with 9 percent growth in toys, 3 percent in stationery and activities, 8 percent in North America, and 4 percent in international. EBITDA increased to $8.8 million, compared to $7.1 million in the corresponding period in 2012. Net loss was $3.2 million or $0.16 per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $6.9 million or $0.42 per diluted share in the corresponding period of last year.
Hasbro Announces Stock Repurchase, Quarterly Cash Dividend
Hasbro announced that its board of directors has authorized the repurchasing of an additional $500 million of its common stock. As of Wednesday, July 31, $71.8 million remained available in the company’s prior share repurchase authorization.
Additionally, the company’s board of directors has declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.40 per common share. The dividend will be payable on November 15 to shareholders of record at the close of business on November 1.
Since re-starting its buyback program in June 2005, Hasbro has repurchased 91.4 million shares at a total cost of $2.8 billion and an average price of $30.30 per share.
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