Saban Brands Acquires Zui
Saban Brands has acquired Zui, which provides access to a collection of curated, kid-friendly online content. The addition of Zui will add 12 employees to the organization, as well as a new physical presence in San Diego, where Zui is headquartered.
Zui’s flagship site, Zui.com, allows children to access a large library of videos and online games. Zui.com also features a safe social media experience for kids.
Content available through both Zui and KidZui is reviewed and approved by an advisory board of parents and teachers. The Zui editorial staff reviews and adds access to new content each month to keep it fresh and engaging for kids.
Toy of the Year Nominations Open
The Toy Industry Association is now accepting toy, game, and property submissions in 12 product categories for consideration for the 2013 Toy of the Year Awards, according to a TIA news release. The nominations period will close October 12.
New is the eConnected Toy of the Year category, which will recognize the top “appcessory” or other physical toy that interacts with a smartphone, tablet, or gaming device. The Innovative Toy of the Year category has been broadened to include toys that use innovative design or manufacturing processes, in addition to technological components, to enhance play value.
Each product nomination must include a brief (75 words) product description plus a statement (up to 300 words) explaining why the product is deserving of recognition on the TOTY Awards ballot. A nomination committee comprised of play experts, journalists, academics, retailers, and other toy experts will determine which toys and products for each category will be selected for the ballot. Judges will consider the product’s creativity, originality and innovation, design and promotion, excellence, and marketplace acceptance.
The finalists will be unveiled in a national press conference in New York City on November 19. Five ballots will be launched for consumers, retailers (one each for mass and specialty), media, and TIA members. At that time, public voting will open at ToyAwards.org through mid-January.
One winner in each category, as well as an overall Toy of the Year, will be announced at the awards ceremony on February 9 at The Plaza Hotel.
For more information, visit the TOTY website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nerd Corps Entertainment Rolls Out New Original Property
Nerd Corps Entertainment’s newest global kids property, Slugterra, is set to roll out this fall with the launch of the animated television series. Disney XD is the global television partner for the show, which premiered in Canada on September 8, and will hit U.S. airwaves on October 15. The series, geared toward boys ages 6 to 11, is the kick-start to a full property rollout from Nerd Corps, which includes an online flash adventure game, and iPhone and iPad apps based on the series. A toy line from Jakks Pacific will hit shelves early next spring, and several key licensees are in place for consumer product launches next year.
Disney will launch the show around the world through next year. Full episodes will be showcased at the upcoming MIPJunior in Cannes, France. Nerd Corps is continuing to secure agents in key territories, as well as terrestrial broadcast.
Baby Abuelita Signs Deal with Kids Preferred
Baby Abuelita Productions, creator and distributor of Hispanic singing grandparent dolls and children’s media, has closed a deal to expand its product line and sales through a licensing agreement with plush toy manufacturer Kids Preferred, LLC.
The deal also brings growth opportunities to Kids Preferred by expanding its catalog to include a unique line of culturally specific dolls and books.
NPD Group Study Shows Decrease in Gift-Giving
According to Juvenile Products Report: 2012, the latest report from The NPD Group, the percent of U.S. consumers who buy gifts for kids up to 2 years old in a typical year has declined from 40 to 37 percent since 2010. However, the average price paid for new baby gifts has increased significantly.
With an average of $87 spent per new baby gift—an increase of $15, or 21 percent, since 2010—grandparents are the biggest spenders for baby gifts. Excluding grandparents, those buying new baby gifts spend between $27 and $53 on a gift, an increase of between 8 percent and 36 percent depending on the relationship to the recipient.
The mass merchants channel is the most popular for juvenile product gift purchases, followed by department stores and baby stores. Online retailers were as likely to be shopped as children’s clothing stores, but slightly below that of toy stores. Clothing and layette remains the most common juvenile products category purchased as a gift in the past year (71 percent), followed by toys (57 percent), and then books/music/video (42 percent).
Wanderful Launches Collection of Interactive Storybook Apps
Wanderful has launched a new collection of multilingual interactive storybook apps for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch based on classic titles originally published as Living Books by Brøderbund Software. The three new apps—Mercer Mayer’s “Little Monster at School,” Marc Brown’s “Arthur’s Teacher Trouble,” and Aesop’s “The Tortoise and the Hare”—are now available on the App Store.
Each app features custom music, extended animation, and interactive hot spots and antics, providing interactivity on each page. Each app also includes Read to Me mode, which lets young readers watch and listen to the story play automatically.
Wanderful has created a language function that allows readers to switch languages at any point in the story. Launching first in English, Spanish, and French, future versions of the apps will be available in Japanese, German, Italian, U.K. English, and Brazilian Portuguese.
Tenth Annual International Festival of Street Games Taking Place This Month
Tocati, the 10th International Festival of Street Games, organized by the Associzione Giochi Antichi in collaboration with the Cultural Department of Verona Muncipality, is taking place this month in Verona’s Historical Center in Italy.
This year, each country will be assigned an area of the city center in which they can host cultural events and showcase the traditions of their regions, with the collaboration of embassies, tourist offices, and cultural institutes. A large area will be devoted to the associations and institutions that deal with gaming (playrooms, Playbus, leaders, experts in museum education, among others) and in this area children will find a special welcome and workshops tailored to them.
In the Auditorium of the Forum of Culture Ludica (Cortile Mercato Vecchio), game enthusiasts will find speakers who are not only players from all over Europe, but who are also academic experts in the history of traditional sports.
Beanpatch & Co. Imports Exclusive New Line to the U.S.
Beanpatch & Co. is importing a new line of toys exclusively to the U.S. The Baghera line includes the Speedster Fire Truck and the Speedster Plane. The toy cars come with a padded seat, a sturdy metal body, and rubber tires and are appropriate for ages 1 to 3. Also new is the Monaco Pedal Car. This racing pedal car comes with adjustable pedal positions, a sturdy metal body, and rubber tires. It is recommended for children ages 3 to 5. Beginning in October, the cars will be available at Restoration Hardware, Right Start, Nordstrom, and other independent retailers. For more information, visit www.beanpatchandco.com.