August 15, 2013

Pinkie Cooper

China Toy Expo

Spin Master Continues Growth Through Acquisitions

Spin MasterSpin Master Ltd. is transforming its organization through recent acquisitions. In addition to Spy Gear and Perplexus, Spin Master just acquired Meccano (known as Erector Set in the U.S.), the toy construction brand with a 112-year history. In the acquisition process, the decision was made to retain Meccano’s manufacturing base and industrial facilities located in Calais-France to optimize serviceability to European markets.
Spin Master is strategically focused on extending many of its toy lines through the creation of entertainment properties, companion applications, games, and digital experiences that are suited for changing consumer play patterns.

Toys “R” Us Announces Global Store Growth for 2013

Toys "R" UsToys “R” Us has announced that its global store growth for 2013 will include the planned opening of more than 100 stores. There will also be new locations, the relocation and conversion of 14 stores to the Side-by-Side format, and 22 new licensed stores. These new stores are located in 21 of the 36 countries and jurisdictions in which Toys “R” Us, Inc. currently has a presence through its wholly-owned and licensed businesses.
The company’s most significant expansion plans for 2013 are in China, where it has already begun operating several of 22 brand-new stores scheduled to open this year. This follows the launch of an e-commerce site and the opening of Toys “R” Us’ first stores in Beijing last year. By the end of the year, the company plans to operate 51 stores in 27 cities throughout China.
The second largest area of growth for the company is the United States, where 19 new, converted, or relocated stores are planned to open, including nine new Toys “R” Us Outlet stores – the largest number in a single year since the company began opening smaller format stores in 2010. This will bring the total number to 25 outlet locations nationwide.
In the United States, the 10 new, converted, or relocated Side-by-Side stores will be in the following locations: Upland, Calif.; Aurora, Colo.; Pensacola, Fla.; Meridian, Idaho; White Plains, N.Y.; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Beavercreek, Ohio; Greenville, S.C.; Garland, Texas; and San Antonio, Texas.
The nine new U.S. Toys “R” Us Outlet stores will be in the following locations: Camarillo, Calif.; San Diego, Calif.; Dawsonville, Ga.; Woodstock, Ga.; Pearl, Miss.; Chesterfield, Mo.; Barceloneta, Puerto Rico; Nashville, Tenn.; and Round Rock, Texas.

GameStop Opens Pre-Orders for Skylanders Swap Force Starter Pack

SkylandersGameStop has announced that the exclusive Skylanders Swap Force Dark Edition Starter Pack, for the Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, and PS3 systems, is now available for pre-order.
The Dark Edition Starter Pack includes the video game, a Portal of Power, five exclusive Dark Edition Skylanders figures, a character poster, five sticker sheets with secret codes, and five trading cards. Customers that pre-order a Skylanders Swap Force Starter Pack (Dark Edition or Regular Edition) will receive a free new LightCore Hex Skylanders figure while supplies last.
Customers can pre-order Skylanders Swap Force at GameStop online or stores nationwide.

Crofton Capital and Gladstone Investment Corp. Acquire Schylling Toys
Investment firms Crofton Capital LLC. and Gladstone Investment Corp. have acquired Schylling Associates Inc., an independent toy and gift designer, manufacturer, and distributor.
Schylling’s product line is known for its contemporary versions of classic toys and collectibles inspired by iconic playthings including jack-in-the-boxes, sock monkeys, tin robots, and vehicles. The Schylling line also includes toys created in partnership with licensed properties, including Thomas & Friends, Uglydoll, Curious George, Babar, and The Wizard of Oz. Schylling also distributes products for brands including Lego, Brio, Lava Lamps, Moshi Monsters, Angry Birds, Sea Monkeys, and Erector. The company’s customer base ranges from major retailers to specialty stores.
Paul Weingard has become president of Schylling Inc. He most recently led product development at Schylling for five years, and brings 30 years of diverse toy industry experience to his new role. Founder Jack Schylling is assuming an advisory role focused on providing creative support. David Schylling will continue in a business development leadership role.
The company headquarters and distribution center will continue to operate in Rowley, Mass. Mark Slusarz, vice president of sales, Jim Leonard, COO, and Tom Schylling, CFO, will also continue in their current leadership roles.

Delta Children Offers Disney’s Planes Upholstered Chair

Disney PlanesDisney’s Planes opened in theaters August 9, and takes off with Dusty (voiced by Dane Cook), a small-town dreamer who longs to enter the most epic around-the-world air race despite his fear of heights. Just in time for the movie release, Delta Children has a Planes upholstered chair available at Toys “R” Us.







Kidz Bop Kids Performs at Venues in New York and New Jersey

Kidz Bop KidsThe Kidz Bop kids performed at various venues in New York and New Jersey from August 8 to 11. The kids performed at the pre-game show at the New York Mets game on August 8 at Citi Field. One of the members, Eva, also sang the National Anthem. The kids then performed at Rye Playland on August 10, and played the Encore Event Center on August 11.





ReedPOP Launches Online Store with Star Wars Merchandise

ReedPOP, organizer of pop culture conventions including New York Comic-Con, Star Wars Celebration, and C2E2, has unveiled ReedPOP Supply Company’s online store that sells ReedPOP convention exclusives and original licensed merchandise. The ReedPOP Supply Co. launched July 26, simultaneously with this year's Star Wars Celebration Europe, and it currently stocks a selection of original, official Star Wars Celebration goods available nowhere else. New York Comic-Con, C2E2, and other ReedPOP products will be added in the coming weeks.
The ReedPOP Supply Co. presently houses more than 20 Star Wars Celebration Limited Edition items, all unique, online variants of exclusives offered at this year’s Star Wars Celebration as well as at previous years’ Star Wars conventions. Exclusives include the Hoth Blue Milk Brewing Co. Glass (from Celebration V), the ABC's of Star Wars Woven Blanket (from Celebration VI), and the Star Wars Rebels Logo T-Shirt—the logo was revealed at this year’s Star Wars Celebration Europe.
All of the ReedPOP Supply Co.’s Star Wars Celebration Limited Edition items are available to ship around the world, but they are only available through August 22 at midnight.

Tickety Toc to Debut on DVD This September

Tickety TocTickety Toc, the new Nick Jr. series from Zodiak Rights, arrives on DVD for the first time from Anchor Bay Entertainment. Chime Time Adventures is the debut Tickety Toc title, and will be available nationwide this September in time for the back-to-school season.
Tickety Toc follows the everyday adventures of 6-year-old twins, Tommy and Tallulah, as they work to “chime the time” and keep everything running smoothly in Tickety Town. Traveling through the Tickety Toc clock where Tommy and Tallulah live, audiences enter a CGI world of eclectic characters and tag along on escapades filled with surprises. Tommy and Tallulah’s strong “can do” spirit often produces an unanticipated outcome, but their individual approaches to sticky situations and joint resourcefulness always shine through. Through the twins’ madcap adventures, Tickety Toc explores teamwork, social responsibility, and problem solving—important concepts for preschoolers as they learn and grow.
The six-episode collection brings viewers along as the twins and their friends—Pufferty, McCoggins, Tooteroo, Madame Au Lait, Battersby, Chikidee, and Hopparoo—embark on wild storybook shenanigans and hi-jinks throughout Tickety Town. In Chime Time Adventures, the Tick Tocketeers attempt daring circus acts, wow a crowd with amazing magic tricks, play a giant game of Tickety-Tag, and delight in a messy photo day. The premiere title features the episodes “Story Time,” “Painting Time,” “Show Time,” “Bath Time,” “Photo Time,” and “Play Time.”

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Mattel Partner for Hot Wheels World’s Best Driver

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has partnered with Mattel Inc. for the global distribution, sales, and trade marketing of the upcoming Hot Wheels World’s Best Driver video game launching on September 17 in North America for Xbox 360, PlayStation3, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, and PC.
In Hot Wheels World’s Best Driver, players join the ranks of Team Hot Wheels and compete in dozens of fast-paced, replayable challenges highlighting the driving styles of the different teams. Featuring 24 Hot Wheels vehicles and set in four under-the-radar test facilities around the world, the game pushes players to their limits to see if they have what it takes to become Hot Wheels World’s Best Driver.
Mattel also brings the Hot Wheels brand to life with a real-life crew of stunt drivers taking stunt-driving to the next level with never-before-seen, gravity-defying stunts in life-size Hot Wheels cars. This year, Mattel continues to introduce new Hot Wheels content, including a 22-minute World’s Best Driver movie on the Hot Wheels YouTube channel and
Hot Wheels: World’s Best Driver is being developed by Firebrand Games.

Adora BathTime Babies Make a Splash

Adora BathTimeAdora BathTime Babies are the perfect doll for the bath, pool, or any water fun. Each BathTime baby comes with its own washcloth and removable animal-themed bathrobe that shows a swimsuit-printed body when it’s taken off. From their tiny little noses to their belly buttons, they are a blend of sweetness and love for infants on up. Their exclusive “QuikDri” body will dry in no time and be ready for play again. The Adora BathTime babies are machine washable, have open-and-close eyes, and are handmade.
New to the BathTime Babies line is the Sock Monkey, which can now be found in Adora’s fall catalog.





Registration for TIA’s Sixth Annual Washington D.C. Fly-In is Open

Representatives of small, mid-size, and large toy companies are invited to the nation’s capital for a line-up of events scheduled for this year’s Toy Industry Association Inc.’s (TIA) Washington D.C. Fly-In, held from September 17 to 19. Each activity will showcase to federal policymakers the impact that the U.S. toy industry has on the economy, and the positive role that toys play in the development and well-being of American children.
A Congressional Toy Caucus will launch during the Fly-In. Its goal is to help advance the discussion of toy safety, the value of play, the growth of small toy businesses, the importance of creativity and innovation, and the increase of free trade opportunities in foreign markets.
According to TIA-commissioned reports, the total economic impact of the toy industry in the U.S. is $75.03 billion. From toy inventors and designers to store clerks, the toy industry supports an estimated 321,030 jobs across the country—of those, just over 30 percent are employed by small businesses.
TIA will host a Congressional reception on Capitol Hill on September 18, and additional TIA-directed communications to members of Congress will raise toy industry awareness in Washington, D.C. A special Capitol Hill briefing on the world of toys and games will be held on September 19, and a print ad will be published in The Hill, a widely-read political paper. Registration for the Fly-In is open.

Luigi’s Living the Dream in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team

Mario & LuigiNintendo celebrated the 30th anniversary of Luigi, the younger brother of its mascot Mario, with Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, available exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS system on August 11.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team is the fourth game in the company’s Mario & Luigi series. During the game, the game play shifts from controlling both brothers in an isometric 3-D world to controlling Mario and a dreaming Luigi through the side-scrolling vistas of his dreams. Using the touch screen on the Nintendo 3DS, players can manipulate a sleeping Luigi, which makes things happen in the dream world. Luigi also has special powers in his dreams, such as spawning hundreds of himself to form towers or wrecking balls.
Nintendo had previously named 2013 the “Year of Luigi,” and announced plans to release several games starring the character. In addition to retail stores, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team can be purchased and downloaded at the Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS.

The Jim Henson Company Debuts New Preschool Property

Chatter ZooThe Jim Henson Company is launching Jim Henson’s Chatter Zoo, its first preschool property to be released “digital first” for mobile platforms. The new app is a collaboration with Mindshapes, the creator of mobile learning applications for kids. Chatter Zoo teaches early language acquisition as young preschoolers interact with four baby animals. 
Chatter Zoo, which was created by Alex Rockwell (Pajanimals, Bear in the Big Blue House), will premiere as a digital property prior to any other platform, and is available in iTunes for iPhone and iPad. The Amazon Kindle Fire launch will follow in September. The Jim Henson Company is simultaneously developing the property for television and ancillary products.
Mindshapes' Chatter Zoo “appisode” includes two “Learn & Play” activities, two interactive stories, animations, and music content. Mindshapes’ Livebook format allows users to interact with the characters through touchscreen interactions. Users will experience four different activities in the Chatter Zoo house: Playtime, Mealtime, Bathtime, and Bedtime, all relatively time-appropriate (day or night). The app also features adaptive experiences such as cause and effect, care giving, and responsibility, all taught by the Chatter Zoo characters demonstrating positive social and intrapersonal values.

The Many Incarnations of Apples to Apples

Apples to Apples has emerged as a go-to party favorite for players of all ages. Since its debut in 1999, the game has become incredibly popular and has been reinvented time and time again to cater to different audiences. It is now published by Mattel and is available online and at retailers worldwide. Read more…

PBS Kids Has Still Got It!

It’s Friday afternoon and like all Fridays this summer, I’m struggling to find something interesting to watch on TV. There are only so many re-runs one can watch without actually wishing that school was back in session. In between channel surfing and lamenting on days spent in the classroom furiously copying down chemistry notes, I stumble upon a channel I hadn’t bothered paying any mind to in some years. Read more…

Girls and Boys Just Wanna Have Fun!

My poor brother grew up in a family full of nothing-but-girls. I’m convinced that this is the reason that he ended up with all of the cool toys. In true oldest sibling fashion, I wasn’t stopped by the sharpie-engraved “Jesse” label on the toys that cluttered his bedroom. I had to test every toy that came through our house, girl- or boy-intended; it made no difference to me. It wasn’t lost on me that all of Jesse’s toys were made to go fast or flaunt tricks, while my sister and I played with stationary toys, dolls, and Easy-Bake Ovens. The phrase that frequently exited my adolescent mouth comes to mind: “But it’s not fair!” The speedy and daring toys are just as fun for girls as they are for boys, and here are some current toys to prove it: Read more…

Kids In Distressed Situations Appoints New President and CEO

Denise Durham Williams has joined Kids in Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.), a global children’s charity that provides kid-essentials to children and teens impacted by poverty and tragedy, as its president and CEO.
Most recently, Williams served as executive director of One Family Inc., in Boston, Mass. For four years, she led the organization in advocacy work to end family homelessness in the state. Prior to joining One Family, she was a managing director at Citigroup, where her responsibilities included diversity strategies and professional development programs. She has also served as a senior vice president and national director of community relations at Citibank.

Global Branding Executives Announced at Mattel Subsidiary

HIT Entertainment, a leading preschool entertainment company and subsidiary of Mattel Inc., announced the appointment of three executives to spearhead global brand and marketing efforts for several top brands. Robin Gay has been tapped as Global Brand Director for Thomas & Friends, Will Speer has been appointed as Global Brand Director for Bob the Builder and Fireman Sam, and Gina Briggs will lead brand and marketing efforts for Mike the Knight as Senior Global Brand Manager.  
The Global Brand team will be responsible for developing worldwide strategies, growth plans, and positioning for its respective brands. It will also work with HIT and Fisher-Price regional teams and lines of business to execute brand strategies.
Gay comes from The Walt Disney Company, where he most recently ran the franchise business for Mickey Mouse & Friends (including Mickey Mouse Clubhouse) and other properties, and also managed Disney Channel and Disney XD franchises. Speer also joins from The Walt Disney Company, where he held a variety of roles including Franchise Manager for brands such as Jake and The Neverland Pirates and Doc McStuffins. Briggs previously held marketing and brand strategy roles at Nickelodeon for the network’s kids animated properties, including SpongeBob, Fairly Odd Parents, and Robot and Monster.
Gay and Speer will be based in the UK, while Briggs will work out of the New York City office. All three will report to Shari Donnenfeld, Vice President Global Brands, HIT Entertainment.

Mad Catz Announces First Quarter 2014 Financial Results

Mad Catz, a global provider of games and videogame accessories, reported its financial results for first quarter 2014 ended June 30, 2013. Net sales declined 14 percent to $18.7 million, with a 37 percent decrease in sales to North America partially offset by increases in sales of 3 percent and 24 percent in Europe and APAC, respectively.
Gross margin remained stable at 28.7 percent versus first quarter 2013, while total operating expenses declined 6 percent year-over-year to $7.5 million, driven primarily by lower acquisition-related items. A diluted loss per share of $0.03 remained flat versus the prior year. Net position of bank loan, less cash, was $8.4 million in June 30, 2013, compared to $6.1 million in March 31, 2013 and $11.9 million in June 30, 2012.

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