October 03, 2013

China Toy Expo

Rubie’s Develops Marvel Costume Line for U.S. and Canada

RubiesRubie’s Costume Co. Inc., a leading manufacturer and distributor of Halloween products, will develop a line of Marvel costumes for the U.S. and Canada starting next year. Rubie’s currently produces Marvel product lines throughout Europe and other international markets.
Rubie’s will create a broad collection of Marvel Universe products for Halloween, including costumes, dress-up accessories, masks, makeup, high-end collector costumes and accessories, pet costumes, animatronic decorative props, costume shoes, seasonal décor, and more. Costume products will be available in toddler, child, tween, teen, and adult sizes.
The officially licensed products will encompass both classic Marvel properties and new Marvel films, including Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Ant-Man, and The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. Rubie’s will also produce costumes for the new ABC live-action TV series Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Gund, TCG, and Ganz Nab Worldwide Licensing Rights to Grumpy Cat Toys

Gund has worldwide licensing rights to manufacture and distribute Grumpy Cat plush. Gund’s Grumpy Cat was launched in July and is currently being sold to all upstairs channels and specialty markets. Delivery to stores will begin November 1.
The plush recreates Grumpy Cat’s famous frowning face. Voted the Most Influential Cat of 2012, Grumpy Cat has more than 1 million Facebook fans and appears in her own book, clothing, and giftware.
In related news, TCG and Ganz have been granted the worldwide licensing rights to manufacture, distribute, and market consumer products bearing the likenesses of Grumpy Cat and her brother Pokey. TCG will create puzzles and novelty plush for the mass market, while Ganz will create a full line of gift items and plush. TCG and Ganz products are expected to arrive in December, with a major launch in January.

The Bridge Direct Acquires Good Stuff Corporation

The Bridge DirectThe Bridge Direct has acquired the toy assets of Good Stuff Corp., which includes Good Stuff Toys and Basic Fun International. Basic Fun, a manufacturer of licensed toys for more than 20 years, sells to the largest specialty and mass toy retailers worldwide. Good Stuff Toys, a maker of licensed plush, balls, and novelties for more than 20 years, primarily sells to the mass entertainment trade including theme parks, family fun centers, and state fairs.
The companies will begin co-marketing their lines at current and upcoming trade shows in Dallas, Hong Kong, New York, and Orlando, Fla. 

The Beatrix Girls Signs Nine New Licensing Partners

Beatrix GirlsThe Beatrix Girls, an upcoming line of collectible dolls, continues to generate buzz before its official launch later this year. In addition to a promotional agreement with Peavey Electronics, its newly expanded list of brand partners now covers every major category in the teen and tween market.
Among the new partners, Children’s Apparel Network has been named the master apparel licensee, and is set to manufacture tops, bottoms, sets, dresses, and outerwear in both knit and woven fabrications in girls sizes 4 to 16. Berkshire Fashions has been signed for baseball caps, cut-and-sew fashion headwear, knitted and polar fleece hats, gloves, mittens, scarves, and more. Skyhigh International LLC is partnering for back-to-school stationery, including notebooks, memo books, portfolios, and binders. The other new partners are Hanover Group, Jay Franco & Sons, AME, Playa Vista Designs, and Fast Forward.

KaBOOM! and Mattel Raise Awareness of the Importance of Active Play

Mattel has partnered with KaBOOM!, a national non-profit organization, to build understanding of the critical need for active play in the lives of all children. To launch this partnership, Mattel and the Mattel Children’s Foundation provided $500,000 in financial support to create and promote a major study with kids about how they engage in play.
The goal of the partnership is to foster support around the cause of play, and ultimately, a world where kids have the time and engaging opportunities to play actively every day.
The partnership has produced a two-minute video, “I Believe in Play,” and a synthesis of play-related research titled Play Matters: Giving Kids the Childhood They Deserve. Both are available at kaboom.org/act. In the coming weeks and months, these products and others will be shared with parents, educators, play advocates, and additional stakeholders through a multi-channel marketing campaign.

TIF Seeks Adopt-the-Pig Sponsor

The Toy BankThe Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) has a year-long sponsorship opportunity that will allow a single toy company to help children in need throughout next year. The special donor would participate in the Adopt-the-Pig sponsorship program by contributing $10,000, tax-deductible, to TIF’s Toy Bank.
Sponsorship funds will fuel the work of The Toy Bank program next year and help the foundation engage the public. The sponsor company will be recognized through various intra-industry print and online publications, including TIF’s booth at the 111th American International Toy Fair.
Any company interested either in this sponsorship opportunity or learning more about other recognition opportunities may contact TIF at (646) 454-5581 by October 30.

VTech Forms Expert Panel to Support Commitment to Education

VTech, a world leader in age-appropriate and developmental stage-based electronic learning products for kids, has formed a new panel of experts to help support its continued commitment to developing innovative, educational toys. Together, the panel has a lifetime of experience in areas such as reading, science, math, STEM education, and childhood development, allowing them to provide feedback on the development of all-new product introductions. The company will also share the panel’s expertise in its Parent Resource Center to provide trusted knowledge on various topics and subjects.

TIA Seeks Input from Members on Proposed Health Canada Lead Limits

Health Canada might expand its requirement limiting total lead content in toys sold or imported to Canada. Currently, the 90 parts per million (ppm) lead limit is applicable to toys produced for kids age 3 and under. The expanded requirement would apply to toys produced for kids up to age 14.
The Toy Industry Association (TIA) has issued a short survey to learn how this potential requirement might impact the operations of TIA members. The survey asks if the proposed lead content limit would have no impact on companies, and why; would increase testing costs, and by how much on an annual basis; would force them to stop selling toys in Canada; or would reduce the number of toys sold in Canada.
The survey is available online, and responses are due October 7. Any questions may be directed to TIA’s Rebecca Mond at (202) 459-0352.

The Friend Group Acquires Majority Stake in Green Toys Inc.

Green ToysPrivate investment firm The Friend Group has acquired a majority stake in Green Toys Inc., a manufacturer of eco-friendly, socially responsible children’s products. As a strategic investor and active partner, The Friend Group brings decades of experience in manufacturing, operations, and executive leadership. Green Toys has experienced considerable growth since co-founders Robert von Goeben and Laurie Hyman founded the company in 2007.
Howard Friend will join the company as chief executive officer; Von Goeben will maintain his duties as president and chief creative officer; and Hyman will continue as the company’s vice president of marketing.

Nintendo World Hosts Event for Launch of Pokémon X and Pokémon Y 

Nintendo World in New York is hosting a Pokémon X and Pokémon Y launch event on October 11, to celebrate the release of the two new games for the Nintendo 3DS family of systems. These new installments in the Pokémon series will introduce a new generation of Pokémon and a ton of features.
At the event, fans will have the chance to play games, participate in activities, and be the first in the country to purchase the new games, which are also available on the new Nintendo 2DS system. Game sales will commence at midnight, but Nintendo World will remain open through the night. The event will feature a Pokémon costume showcase and more.

Licensing Expo, American International Toy Fair Join Forces for Cross-Promotion

Advanstar Licensing, organizers of Licensing Expo, and the Toy Industry Association Inc. (TIA), organizers of the American International Toy Fair, are joining forces to cross-promote attendance at their two complementary trade events next year.
Through this new alliance, Advanstar Licensing and TIA will introduce Licensing Expo exhibitors to current and emerging toy trends, and inform Toy Fair exhibitors of licensing issues and opportunities in emerging international markets. The collaboration will also provide cross-promotional opportunities via direct mail and electronic marketing, editorial content, and co-hosted seminars.
The American International Toy Fair will take place from February 16 to 19 at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Licensing Expo will take place from June 17 to 19 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.

Swaptober Kicks into Gear in Anticipation of Skylanders Swap Force

Skylanders Swap ForceActivision Publishing Inc. is using October, or Swaptober, to get gamers ready for the launch of Skylanders Swap Force on October 13. Lucky portal masters will have chances to win copies of the game, explore the world of Skylanders in Times Square, and more throughout the month.
To kick off Swaptober, Activision will give away one Skylanders Swap Force Starter Pack per day through October 31, via the official Skylanders Twitter channel (@SkylandersGame). For a chance to win, portal masters can visit Skylanders.com to mix and match their favorite character combination, and then tweet it with a suggested catch phrase using hashtags #SWAPtober and #Skylanders.
Meanwhile, on October 10, as part of a Swaptoberfest celebration in Times Square, fans will have the chance to be among the first to play the game before its release. Co-sponsored by Toys “R” Us, the event includes chances to win starter packs and Skylanders-themed merchandise.
Skylanders Swap Force will be available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii and Wii U, and Nintendo 3DS.

Dynamite Entertainment Expands with New Toys and Games Division

Dynamite Entertainment has created a new division, Dynamite Toys and Games, which is dedicated to producing and manufacturing action figures, novelty products, gaming cards, board games, and more.
With The Six Million Dollar Man celebrating its 40th anniversary, Dynamite Toys and Games will release action figures, a statue, and novelties related to the brand. A new line of figures will also be developed for the horror character, Vampirella, reflecting the character’s forty-five years of publication. Limited-edition reissues of classic sculpts are in the works as well, and other planned releases include properties such as Red Sonja and Army of Darkness.

Indoor Toys to Defeat the Colder Weather Blues

I could have sworn that yesterday was the first declared day of summer. Man, it totally flew by! Though I love autumn now, I remember hating the changing of the leaves as a kid—it meant no more pool parties or beach days, and very limited outdoor play as fall turned to winter. Fear not, kids of 2013: there are so many new toys to make indoor play equally as exciting as those water guns and slip ‘n slides. Though I can’t help you with the pool situation (even I will miss the sunshine and water combo), I can give you a list of some of the hottest remote-control and robotic toys for indoor play to get you through the colder weather. Read more…

Halloween Toys Extend the Spooky Season

It’s that spooky time of year again! Stores are setting up Halloween-themed displays, such as Toys “R” Us’ Trick “R” Treat Boo-tiques in store and online, which are stocked with Halloween must-haves to help parents and their little ones prepare for the spooky season. The seasonal costume stores are popping up again all over the city—and I could not be more excited. With a flair for the dramatic, Halloween is one of my favorite times of year. It’s full of fun disguises and costumes, elaborate makeup and wigs, and, of course, candy. Read more…

TCG Strengthens Sales Force with New Appointments

In a move to strengthen its Canadian sales force, TCG has promoted Laura Giger to vice president and appointed Moe Merali as sales director. Giger has nearly 20 years of experience as a senior level consumer packaged goods sales executive, more than half of which have been at TCG. Prior to joining TCG in 2003, she held the positions of national account manager for Hasbro Canada and sales representative for Hugh McIvor Agencies. She will oversee all account relationships in the Canadian market.
Merali joins TCG with more than 10 years of experience in the consumer packaged goods and IT sectors. Prior to joining TCG, he served as sales director for Canada at Innovation First International.

TIA Promotes Paul Vitale to Senior Vice President, Finance and Operations
Paul Vitale has been promoted to senior vice president, finance and operations of the Toy Industry Association (TIA) after serving for six years as vice president, finance and administration.
His scope of responsibilities includes oversight of the association’s accounting, finance, and human resources departments; management of IT services and facilities; and strategic direction of TIA’s credit interchange program and market research initiatives. Vitale is staff liaison to the audit, investment, and market research and data strategy committees of TIA’s board of directors. He also provides finance and operation support to the Toy Industry Foundation and its board of trustees.
Vitale joined TIA as vice president, finance and administration, in November of 2007.

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