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NRF Forecasts Holiday Sales to Increase Between 3.6 and 4 Percent

The National Retail Federation (NRF) expects holiday retail sales in November and December—excluding automobiles, gasoline and restaurants—to increase between 3.6 and 4 percent for a total of $678.75 billion to $682 billion, up from $655.8 billion last year. Read more…

Tech 4 Kids, The Bridge Direct Announce Company Name

Following the February merger between Tech 4 Kids and The Bridge Direct, and the subsequent acquisition of Uncle Milton, principles of the new company announced that the company’s name as Basic Fun. The newly formed company is part of an ongoing merger and acquisitions roll-up strategy. Read more…

Spin Master Unveils What's Inside Hatchimals Surprise

Spin Master Corp. is celebrating its second annual Hatchimals Day tomorrow with the release of Hatchimals Surprise. The new iteration of Hatchimals features new eggs, hatching process, and species, with the big surprise revealing that there's two Hatchimal twins inside each egg.
Like the original Hatchimals launched last year, kids can care for the egg and guess what's inside. There are two species of creatures available—Giravens and Peacats—each with its own unique personality. Kids will need to nurture each Hatchimal in order to help it hatch, and then through interactive play to help their creatures progress from baby, to toddler, to kid. The twin creatures will interact and recognize one another, including telling secrets, playing games, and dancing.
Hatchimals Surprise will be available in-store and online tomorrow, October 6.

First Licensees Announced for Zing's Stikbot

The first licensees for Zing's Stikbot will be in the toys and bedding and apparel categories in the U.S. and Canada. The deal was brokered by The Joester Loria Group, the exclusive licensing agent for the brand.
Basic Fun will release Stikbot plush and figural stretch toys, which may include sound, construction, and roleplay items. Hybrid Apparel will release girls, boys, and young men's t-shirts and tops.

WowWee Retains Striker Entertainment as Worldwide Licensing Agency for Fingerlings

WowWee retained Striker Entertainment to serve as the worldwide licensing agency for the Fingerlings toy line. The toys cling to kids’ fingers and react to sound, motion, and touch with more than 40 animations.
Striker will work with WowWee to develop a worldwide licensing strategy to expand the growing consumer interest and retail demand for additional consumer products categories.

Toys "R" Us Selects Mirakl to Launch Online Marketplace

Toys "R" Us Inc. entered into an agreement with Mirakl to for the creation of a new online marketplace for the Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us businesses in the U.S. and Canada. The platform, set to launch in 2018, will enable Toys "R" Us to increase its product selection and decrease time to market for new merchandise.
Beyond expanding the online selection, the online marketplace will allow Toys "R" Us to leverage data from third-party products and sellers to identify potential, new retail partners and influence the company's in-store offerings.

WIT to Host NYCC Panel

Women in Toys, Licensing, and Entertainment (WIT) will host a panel for New York Comic Con on "The Power of Narrative: Iconic Characters and How They Reflect a Dynamic Culture." The panel will take place on Thursday, Oct. 5 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.
Panel moderator, Zuri Rice, vice president of production and development at Nickelodeon, will lead the panel, which will explore the ways storytelling and narrative in the contemporary world reflect and reinforce cultural changes from gender to interaction and identification. Panelists include Casey Collins, executive vice president, consumer products at WWE; Melissa Flores, director of development and production at Saban Brands; Tonya Lindo, director of licensing for North America at Nelvana; and Random House kids author Bill Doyle.

Beasts of Balance Now Available at Apple Stores and Online

Sensible Object's Beasts of Balance is now available on and in Apple stores in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.
Beasts of Balance fuses augmented reality with a tabletop game. Players build a tower of beasts by scanning physical pieces into an app using the Plinth, and must must evolve the world before the tower falls over. To succeed, players have to keep their tower and the ecosystem of their world in balance, stacking all 24 pieces and caring for the virtual beasts they create.
Already available on the Apple App Store for iPhone and iPad, the connected Beasts of Balance app is now also available on the App Store for Apple TV in nine different languages. The Beasts of Balance edition sold on and in Apple Stores includes an exclusive new beast ‘The Ghost Crab,’ which has different properties—depending on if it is dead or alive.

Sakar Showcases New Youth Electronics

Sakar International partnered with Spin Master, Beat Bugs, Sony, and more for new youth electronics based on popular kids properties. The company will showcase these new products at Fall Toy Preview in Dallas from Oct. 3 to 5. Read more…

Spin Master Continues Global Expansion with New Poland Office

Spin Master Corp. further expanded its presence in Central Eastern Europe (CEE) with a new sales and marketing office in Warsaw, Poland.
Pavol Vano has been appointed to the new role of CEE general manager of Spin Master, reporting directly to Hedley Barnes, general manager of Spin Master Northern Europe. Vano will be based in Prague and oversee sales and marketing activities in Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. Centralized European Operations and Finance functions will remain in Bratislava, Slovakia.
Direct distribution includes Smyk, TRU, and Carrefour hypermarkets. Developing additional relationships in Poland is the next step of the Polish market expansion. The traditional trade business is managed through wholesalers including M&Z, Euro TRADE, Rekman, and NAVO Orbico-Libra (including exclusive distribution for: Kinetic Sand, Spy Gear and Chubby Puppies).

ICTI CARE Seeks Toy Industry Views on Program Enhancements

ICTI CARE currently seeks consultation of proposed enhancements to its program. These updates include an enhanced, graded ICTI CARE Audit Checklist—the standard against which all factories are certified—and the introduction of a new Star Rating System for ICTI CARE Certification.
These updates provide a more sophisticated assessment of factory performance, helping to ensure that the ICTI CARE program remains relevant and continues to meet the evolving needs of all stakeholders that use it. Developed with input from our initial consultation with program stakeholders and an extensive benchmarking exercise, these proposals better align the program with the evolving needs of brands, retailers, and factories.
ICTI CARE now encourages all toy brands and retailers to review the proposed updates and share any feedback here. Consultation on the proposed changes is now open and will run until Nov. 3.

Kids India Exhibits Products from 150 Exhibitors

The fifth Kids India took place in Mumbai from Sept. 21 to 22, with 4,154 attendees seeing products offered by 150 exhibitors from eight countries. The trade show was shortened to two days due to heavy monsoon rains. Kids India is organized by Spielwarenmesse India Pvt. Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Spielwarenmesse eG.
Both well-known brands and start-ups were represented at the show, and Spielwarenmesse eG's World of Toys program brought international companies together. The World of Toys programme by Spielwaremesse eG brought international companies together.
Kids India featured a new TrendingNow special area, a seminar program dealing with current market topics and the Value of Play initiative. With the Value of Play initiative, an awareness campaign on the importance of play, Kids India is promoting the use of toys in an emerging market such as India. This campaign also included a donation drive, with participating companies donating their products to  Toybank.
The next Kids India will take place from September 10-12, 2018 in Mumbai.

Mattel Names New Members to Leadership Team

Mattel Inc. appointed Joseph J.  Euteneuer as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) effective Sept. 25, and Sven Gerjets as Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Amy Thompson as Chief People Officer (CPO), and Nancy Elderas Chief Communication Officer (CCO), effective immediately. The executives will work closely with CEO Margo Georgiadis and the Mattel leadership team to support Mattel's strategy focused on delivering enhanced and sustainable growth. Read more…

October 5, 2017
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