September 19, 2013

China Toy Expo

Toy Industry Foundation Recruits for Leaders Circle

Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) invites stakeholders who would like to help children in need to join the Toy Industry Foundation’s (TIF) Leaders Circle giving program by annually donating $250 or more to TIF. The Leaders Circle raises more than 10 percent of TIF’s annual budget, making it a critical source of funds for core toy donation and grant programs. Currently, the Leaders Circle includes approximately 100 members, and TIF hopes to expand the program to keep pace with growing toy donations and grant-making activities.
Donors may choose to support specific TIF programs and partnerships, such as The Toy Bank toy donation program that benefits children’s charities nationwide, or TIF’s national partnerships with CASA for Children (which helps children in foster care) and Boys & Girls Clubs of America Military Services (which serves children of military families).
Cash donations of $250 or more can be made to TIF online or via regular mail. Contact TIF’s Marisa Medina at (646) 454-5581 for more information.

XOS Offers Free Webinar on Maximizing CPSIA Compliance

XOSXOS is offering a free webinar with featured speaker Quin Dodd, an attorney, noted Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) expert, and former chief of staff at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Dodd will provide an overview of new and proposed CPSC regulations and requirements pertaining to the testing and certification of toys and other consumer products. He will also provide concrete suggestions for maximizing compliance while minimizing testing and administrative costs and compliance risks.
Following Dodd’s presentation, Satbir Nayar of XOS will provide a brief overview of high-definition XRF (HDXRF) technology with regards to reducing the cost and increasing the effectiveness of heavy metals testing programs. 
The webinar is scheduled for September 26 at 2 p.m. EST. To register, click here.
Play-Doh Celebrates National Play-Doh Day

Play-DohHasbro Inc. and Play-Doh have sculpted the six Outstanding Drama Series Emmy nominees in celebration of National Play-Doh Day on September 16. Made from 100-percent Play-Doh compound, the sculptures include scenes and characters from this year’s most dramatic TV shows, such as Carrie, Brody, and Saul from Showtime’s Emmy Award-winning Homeland. The creations are available to admire and inspire on the Play-Doh Facebook page.


Toys “R” Us 2013 Holiday Strategy Highlights Education, Tablets, and More

Toys “R” Us will enhance product categories that have experienced sales growth over the past few years—such as education, tablets, and construction—as part of its 2013 holiday strategy.
This season, Imaginarium shops will be set in-store, and each will have an entire aisle dedicated to new educational products. Capitalizing on the top-growing construction category, the company will install a “shop within a store” in approximately 300 locations, showcasing major construction brands, such as Lego and Mega Bloks. The company will also feature approximately 70 Lego exclusives this holiday season.
After experiencing increases in sales of tablets and tablet accessories, Toys “R” Us will add easy-to-navigate shops that will showcase tablets. These shops are expected to be set in the majority of Toys “R” Us locations by October. The company will also launch a dedicated online tablet guide.

Safari Ltd. Breaks into the Baby Market

Safari Ltd.Safari Ltd., a family-owned manufacturer and worldwide distributor of museum-quality educational toys, has lowered the suggested age for more than 60 figures in its Incredible Creatures collection. Select figures previously suggested for kids ages 3 and older are now suitable for kids ages 18 months and up, including the bearded dragon, flying fish, panda baby, 2014 piglet, and more.
The lower age recommendation breaks Safari Ltd. into the baby market for the first time in the company’s history. Safari Ltd is a third-generation, educational toy company that teaches children the importance of nature and conservation through the joy of play.

Spin Master Ltd. Launches Tech Deck for iOS and Android

Spin Master Ltd. has released Tech Deck, a mobile video game based on its popular line of finely crafted fingerboards for iOS and Android. Tech Deck, developed by Free Range Games, is a free-to-play skateboarding title that combines the excitement of pulling off perilous feats with the style and finesse of street skating.
The title includes a roster of upgradable skaters to choose from, as well as local legends. More than 100 officially licensed decks are represented, and Tech Deck owners can use their mobile devices to scan some of their real-life collections into the game and use them to skate.
Tech Deck is available to download for free in the App Store and on Google Play.
DC Collectibles Unveils Exclusives for New York Comic-Con

DC CollectiblesDC Collectibles, the high-end toy and collectible line from DC Entertainment, has revealed two new con-exclusive products that will only be available for purchase at New York Comic-Con from October 10 to 13.
The first is a Super Best Friends Forever: Poison Ivy PVC Figure, designed by Lauren Faust and sculpted by Irene Matar. Super Best Friends Forever is from the interstitial shorts shown during DC Nation on Cartoon Network. Poison Ivy measures approximately 6.625 inches tall.
The second Con exclusive is a DC Comics Super Heroes: Hal Jordan & Saint Walker Action Figure 2-pack, sculpted by Robert Lynders.


Skylanders Giants Remains Best-Selling Video Game in the U.S. and Europe

Activision Publishing Inc.’s Skylanders Giants is the No. 1-selling console and hand-held video game year-to-date overall in dollars, including toys and accessories, in the U.S. and Europe. In its first two weeks, Skylanders Giants sold more than 500,000 starter packs and portal owner packs worldwide.
Additionally, Skylanders figures are expected to have outsold the top action-figure properties in the U.S. and Europe for the first eight months of the year. The Skylanders franchise has generated more than $1.5 billion in worldwide retail sales.
Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure and Skylanders Giants were developed by Toys For Bob, and Skylanders Swap Force is being developed by Vicarious Visions.

Hasbro Announces 2020 Sustainability Goals

Hasbro Inc. has new environmental sustainability goals that it aims to achieve by the end of 2020. The company plans to further reduce the environmental impact of its global operations by minimizing waste, improving energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and conserving water at its owned and operated facilities. These new 2020 goals build on commitments the company set in 2008 that were achieved by the end of last year.
Hasbro’s end of 2020 sustainability goals for its owned/operated facilities include the following reductions from last year’s levels: waste to landfill by 50 percent; energy consumption by 25 percent; global Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions by 20 percent; and water consumption by 15 percent.
In addition to these reduction goals, Hasbro continues to drive environmental improvements through its sustainable packaging initiatives, including reducing packaging material, eliminating PVC from packaging, increasing recycled content, and sourcing paper responsibly.

The Wonderful 101 Launches for Wii U Console

The Wonderful 101The Wonderful 101 from Nintendo has launched for the Wii U console. The characters in the game are led by Wonder-Red, but players can meet other heroes that will join Wonder-Red’s team, such as the Wonder-Blue and Wonder-Pink.
Players can recruit citizens to become heroes in battle, and the more citizens players recruit, the more powerful are their Unite Morph attacks—attacks combining multiple heroes. Players can also track and recruit the rest of the Wonderful 100, such as Wonder-Guitar, Wonder-Locomotive, Wonder-Signal, and Wonder-Toilet.
The in-game Wonderful Mart lets players spend O-Parts acquired during battles to unlock additional Unite Morphs, new abilities, and upgrades.

Grand Theft Auto V Is Now Available

Grand Theft Auto VRockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto V is available worldwide for the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360, and also for digital download from the PlayStation Network.
For the first time, players can jump in and out of the lives of three playable lead characters, experiencing all sides of the same story. Grand Theft Auto V offers the freedom to explore the urban metropolis of Los Santos and the countryside of Blaine County, to plan and execute a series of heists, and to meet a vast array of characters. Players can also participate in a host of activities such as golf, arms trafficking, base jumping, and yoga.

Be a Rock Star—Through Play!

From the ages of 9 to about—oh I don’t know—now, few things got me more excited than hearing a Spice Girls song. I remember the days of standing in front of my mirror with a hair brush belting out all of Britney Spears’ greatest hits. Everyone—whether you have an extreme case of stage fright or, like myself, were a diva-beyond-compare since the age of 5—loves the fantasy of being a rock star. It takes a lot of guts and gall—and boy does it seem glamorous. Read more…

Doc McStuffins Means More for Girls than Barbie

When I was a kid, my mom worried about my sister’s obsessive interest in Barbie dolls and various baby dolls—not that there is anything wrong with these little girl staples. I think she just wanted to make sure that Anna understood that there was more to look forward to than having babies, looking like Barbie, and finding her Ken. When we got a little older, we had a board game called Mystery Date, where the sole objective was to find your perfect cutie for a mystery date. Similar to this was Dream Phone, a game that revolved around calling every boy in the deck of playing cards until you found Mr. Right. Maybe, though, rock bottom was Mall Madness, a game in which the winner is the girl who finds the best sale at the mall. And our parents wonder why we were boy-crazed teenagers who most loved to frequent the mall, meanwhile our brother, Jesse, is attending medical school—I blame my parents. Read more…

Toys “R” Us Inc. Reports Second Quarter Financial Results

Toys “R” Us Inc. has reported financial results for the second quarter ending August 3. Comparable store net sales were down 3.5 percent in the domestic segment and 3.8 percent in the international segment. The overall decrease in comparable store net sales resulted primarily from decreases in the juvenile and entertainment—which includes electronics and video game hardware and software—categories. Compared to the first quarter of this year, comparable store net sales improved 490 basis points in the domestic segment and 200 basis points in the international segment.
Net sales were $2.4 billion, a decrease of $175 million, or 6.9 percent, versus the prior year. The decline in net sales for the quarter was attributable to a decrease in comparable store net sales, as well as a foreign currency translation impact of $66 million.
Gross margin dollars were $920 million, compared to $1,018 million for the prior year. Foreign currency translation decreased gross margin dollars by $23 million. Gross margin, as a percentage of net sales, was 38.7 percent, a decrease of 1.2 percentage points versus the prior year. The decline was concentrated in the domestic segment and was primarily attributable to margin rate declines principally within the juvenile and learning categories.

Activision Blizzard Inc. Completes Syndication of $2.5 Billion Term Loan Credit Facility

Activision Blizzard Inc. has completed the syndication of a seven-year secured term loan credit facility totaling $2.5 billion (Term Loan B). The company expects to also secure a revolving credit facility of $250 million. The closing of the Term Loan B and the revolving credit facility are subject to customary closing conditions.
The borrowings under the Term Loan B, along with the proceeds from the issuance of the recently priced $2.25 billion aggregate principal amount of senior unsecured notes, are expected to total $4.75 billion. The weighted average interest rate for all such indebtedness is expected to be less than 5 percent.
Activision Blizzard Inc. intends to use the net proceeds of the Term Loan B, along with cash on hand and proceeds from the notes offering, to finance the consideration to be paid by the company to Vivendi S.A. in connection with the stock purchase agreement entered into on July 25 among the company, Vivendi, and ASAC II LP; and to pay the company’s fees and expenses incurred in connection with the transactions.

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