September 28, 2012

ABC Kids Expo

China Toy expo

Saban Brands Acquires Digimon Franchise

Saban Brands has acquired the Digimon franchise, adding the long-running Japanese anime property to its growing portfolio of entertainment assets. Saban Brands will work with MarVista Entertainment for distribution of the series outside of Asia, while Japanese animation studio Toei Animation Co., Ltd., will handle licensing and distribution of the property in Asia.
Saban Brands will debut the newest season, Digimon Fusion, at MIPCOM, which will be held October 8 to 11 in Cannes, France. MarVista Entertainment has been appointed to handle international distribution of the new season, as well as distribution for more than 250 half-hour episodes of Digimon content from the library.

Zodiak Kids Signs Just Play for Tickety Toc

Tickety TocZodiak Kids has appointed Just Play, LLC, as the master toy partner in the U.S. and Canada for the Nick Jr. preschool show Tickety Toc. The show launched on Nickelodeon in the U.S. in September.Zodiak Kids has also granted U.S. rights for licensing and merchandising to U.S. licensing agency Established Brands. Zodiak Kids brokered the deal.
Just Play will launch a range of toys to mass retail partners in the U.S. and Canada next fall. The range includes plush, collectible figures, plastic play sets, track and vehicle play, role-play, and novelty items based on the Tickety Toc world and characters.
Anchor Bay Entertainment has picked up the North American and U.K. home entertainment rights to the series, and will launch next fall. Zodiak Kids has also secured deals with several other broadcasters internationally, including: PTS (Taiwan) and ATV (Turkey).
Established Brands will be working with Zodiak Kids to launch a consumer products program next fall. Vivid Imaginations is signed on as the UK and international master toy licensee.

ABC Anticipates Strong Retailer Attendance at Kids Expo

With about a month before the ABC Kids Expo in Louisville, retailer registrations are running 19 percent ahead of last year, during the same period prior to the show, organizers reported. Several product categories on the show floor are sold out, with a total of nearly 3,000 booths sold. For complete registration information, visit the ABC website at theabcshow.com.

Hasbro to Create Despicable Me Games

Universal Partnerships & Licensing and Illumination Entertainment have signed a master gaming agreement with Hasbro, Inc. Hasbro will join Universal in developing Despicable Me 2 games including Monopoly, Operation, and two collectible Minion Pods games. Hasbro joins global master toy licensee Thinkway Toys and master domestic apparel licensee Hybrid Apparel in support of Despicable Me 2.
Each of the four games includes collectible Minions that can be played across the entire line. The games will reach shelves next summer.
The upcoming motion picture Despicable Me 2 will be released in theaters July 3.

Cut the Rope to Appear in Movie Theater Pre-Show, Burger King Promotion

Om NomCut the Rope, the app from ZeptoLab, will be making its big screen debut exclusively
in National CineMedia’s FirstLook pre-show in movie theaters across the country.
Now through October 25, special Cut the Rope video content, including an all-new animated short starring Om Nom, will run in NCM’s FirstLook prior to select screenings of G- and PG-rated films.
ZeptoLab has also entered into a promotional partnership with Burger King. Beginning next March, the promotion will include a fully integrated marketing campaign that includes in-restaurant merchandising with a collection of toys featuring Om Nom. With the partnership, the toys will come to life through corresponding all-new game levels released weekly via the Burger King website. Patrons of the restaurant will receive one toy as part of the kids’ meal, plus a custom code that will unlock the themed game.
Additionally, Imagine Publications will launch a range of bilingual and French activity books for Canada. The deal was brokered by Studio Licensing, Inc. Activity books will include giant pads, puzzles, boards, magnets, sticker and coloring books, and paint books. Other items include flash cards and surprise bags. The products will be available next summer.

JibJab Creators Introduce StoryBots

StoryBotsEvan and Gregg Spiridellis, brothers and co-creators of JibJab, have launched StoryBots, a multi-platform entertainment property for kids and parents. The StoryBots, a line of personalized ebooks, videos, and activities featuring brightly colored, curious little creatures that live in the world beneath our screens (iPhones, iPads, computers, televisions).
StoryBots Starring You StoryBooks is a free iPad app that enables parents to create personalized, animated ebooks that include their child’s name and face in the stories. The app comes with one free book, and parents can sign up to receive a new book every month for $3.99. They can buy additional titles for just $1.99 each. Today, there are 18 books available with themes ranging from giant pizza and circus escapades to trucks and princesses.
Other StoryBots products include the StoryBots Starring You Band, a free video series on the web; the StoryBots ABC Jamboree, a collection of 26 one-minute, foot-tapping music videos designed to help kids recognize the sounds and shapes of the letters of the alphabet; and the StoryBots Beep & Boop iPhone app, which teaches kids good behavior using a reward chart.
Learn more at storybots.com.

Witches and Vampires Top Halloween Costume Survey

Traditional Halloween costumes, including pumpkins, princesses, witches, and vampires took the top spots in the National Retail Federation’s 2012 Top Costumes survey conducted by BIGinsight.
Nearly 6 million adults plan to dress as a witch this year, and 3.2 million will dress as vampires. For kids, princess costumes take the No. 1 spot (9.7 percent), with Batman (5.4 percent) and Spider-Man (4.6 percent) as the second and third choices. When it comes to costumes for pets, 12.7 percent of people are sticking with the traditional pumpkin.
Americans are expected to spend $2.87 billion on Halloween costumes, according to the survey. That number includes more than $1.1 billion on children’s costumes, $1.4 billion on adult costumes, and $370 million on pet costumes. The average person will spend $79.82 on Halloween candy, costumes and décor, bringing total spending to $8 billion—the most in the survey’s 10-year history.

ASTRA Launches Consumer Website Featuring Healthy Play Tips

The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association has launched a new consumer website to provide expert advice on toys and play for children of all ages. The site, yourneighborhoodtoystore.org, focuses on unique, quality toys that are available at independent toy stores. It also offers retailers and manufacturers opportunities to feature their products and to promote the advantages of shopping at locally-owned retailers.
YourNeighborhoodToyStore.org will be promoted to consumers through a variety of channels, including social media, bloggers, and media outreach by ASTRA retailers in local markets. In addition to increasing consumers’ understanding of the specialty toy advantage, benefits for ASTRA members include a store locater, posting of events at their store, and content calendars for their own blogs and newsletters. Visit astratoy.org for membership information.

Lawless Entertainment Named Worldwide Representative for Paddy’s Pages

Toonz Animation has appointed Lawless Entertainment as the worldwide representative for licensing and merchandising for Paddy’s Pages, a preschool series conceived by senior designer K.P.Muraleedharan, and developed by Toonz.
Paddy’s Pages chronicles the adventures of 6-year-old Paddy, who is fond of reading. His pet hamster, Hammett, is his ally in all of his adventures. Paddy’s Pages was an official selection to the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival in 2007.

Wish Factory Signs Deal with Design Plus for SuperPretzel Play Sets

Children’s consumer products company, The Wish Factory, Inc., has been named a licensee for SuperPretzel Soft Pretzels through a strategic licensing agreement with Design Plus. The Wish Factory will be producing SuperPretzel Soft Pretzel Making Kits that will hit retail in the third quarter of next year. The SuperPretzel soft pretzel license adds to The Wish Factory’s already extensive list of licenses, including 1D (One Direction), Cody Simpson, Icee brand, and Monster High.

Twisterz Educational Toys Acquired by Smart Toys and Games

TwisterzSmart Toys and Games, Inc., has acquired the Twisterz educational toy line. Developed by inventor Matt Sarconi, Twisterz are battery-free, handheld educational toys that support early learning skills such as spelling, language, reading, problem solving, and logic, along with fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Among the Twisterz products to be carried are the Story Starter, Alphabet Matcher, Word Builder, WordGirl Word Builder, and Clifford Category Matcher.
For more information about Smart Toys and Games, Inc., visit SmartTangoes.com.

Halloween & Party Expo Assembling Slate of Speakers

The Education/Demo Center will return next year as part of the Halloween & Party Expo. The Halloween & Party Expo is a global show for the party, costume, and Halloween industry, featuring thousands of buyers from more than 46 countries. The Education/Demo Center will feature a full slate of sessions and demonstrations emphasizing ways to improve and maximize any party, costume, and Halloween business.
Speakers will include Anne Obarski, of Merchandise Concepts, Charlie Scola, an industry-leading party-planner, and Edward Hecter, president of PartyPail, Inc.
Registration for buyers is free and currently open on the homepage of the Halloween & Party Expo website; registration for exhibitors is limited, with more than 90 percent of the floor currently booked. To stay up-to-date on new education and demo sessions, or for more information regarding the expo, visit HalloweenPartyExpo.com.

SeaWorld Orlando and Wowopolis Partner for Halloween Events

Wowopolis, LLC, has partnered with SeaWorld Orlando for SeaWorld’s annual Halloween Spooktacular events to be held in Orlando every weekend in October. The partnership will see Wowopolis’ Puzzle Match memory game integrated into SeaWorld’s family-friendly event, where children can trick-or-treat, dance with sea creatures, catch shows, and participate in a host of sea-themed activities, including the sampling of Wowopolis’ new game.
Wowopolis’ ocean life-themed Puzzle Match is a memory game in which kids must find two halves of one whole image, such as the bottom and top of a seahorse. Once the interlocking pieces are found, the images can be assembled into a giant illustrated scene.

The Bella Sara Company Launches New Trading Card App

The Bella Sara Company, LLC, of Seattle is launching its first trading card app based on Bella Sara, the brand of trading cards and virtual fantasy world of horses.
In cooperation with GetGiv Ltd., of Tel Aviv, Bella Sara uses technology that allows users to collect, trade, and play with Bella Sara trading cards via their iPhone, iPod, or iPad. Users are able to trade cards from one smart device to another, instantly building their card collections. The company plans to release two additional apps in October that will feature a series of games, also based on Bella Sara.
For more information, contact George Stetar at george@bellasaracompany.com.

Tocatì Festival Sees 300,000 Visitors

The 10th annual Tocatì International Festival of Street Games, organized by Associazione Giochi Antichi and the Municipality of Verona, ended on September 25.
About 300,000 people took part in the more than 40 traditional games. In addition to traditional Italian games, games from several European countries—including Spain, Croatia, Scotland, Greece, and Switzerland—were also played.

Sid Mathur Appointed Vice President of Hit Americas

Global toy manufacturer Fisher-Price, Inc., has appointed Sid Mathur as vice president of Hit Americas. Mathur will head Hit Americas’ operations from the New York City office, reporting directly to Edward Catchpole, senior vice president of Hit Entertainment. He will lead the strategic direction across all business touch points to include licensing, home entertainment, live events, broadcast, and retail.

MGA Entertainment Appoints Lauren Whitehead VP of Domestic Licensing

MGA Entertainment has appointed Lauren Whitehead to vice president of domestic licensing. Whitehead will be responsible for creating, maintaining, and growing domestic licensing programs and partnerships for MGA brand initiatives and expanding the licensing activities for all MGA and Little Tikes product categories.
Whitehead previously held positions with Jakks Pacific, Disney, Nickelodeon, Warner Bros., Sony, Black & Decker, and McDonalds.  

Mattel Appoints Former Disney Executive to Head of Licensing

Mattel, Inc., has appointed Jessica Dunne general manager and senior vice president for consumer products, responsible for overseeing licensing for Mattel’s brands, including Barbie, Hot Wheels, Monster High, Fisher-Price, and American Girl. Dunne most recently served as executive vice president of licensing for Disney Classic Characters and Disney Baby.

Spielwarenmesse eG Appoints Christian Medelnik as Creative Director

Christian Medelnik has been appointed to the marketing team at Spielwarenmesse eG as creative director, effective October 1. Medelnik has managed key brands in various
communications roles, including The Deutsche Bank, General Motors, Condor, and Absolut Vodka brands.

Scholastic Releases First Quarter Financial Results

Scholastic Corp. has reported results for the first quarter of the current fiscal year ending August 31.
Revenue was $293.6 million, compared to $318.0 million during the same period last year. The net loss per share from continuing operations was $1.02, compared to $0.81 in the prior year, which included one-time expenses of $0.04. Scholastic typically records a loss in its fiscal first quarter, when most U.S. schools are not in session and its school book clubs and fairs generate minimal revenue, the company said. On a consolidated basis, the net loss per share was $1.02 in the first quarter, compared to $0.87 a year ago.
Free cash flow for the quarter was $4.0 million, compared to a use of $68.0 million a year ago. At quarter end, cash and cash equivalents exceeded the company’s total debt by $39.7 million, compared to net debt of $166.3 million a year ago.

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