Spin Master Ltd. Acquires Key Brands from Wild Planet
Children’s toy and entertainment company Spin Master, Ltd., has acquired the worldwide rights to Wild Planet’s Hyper Dash and Spy Gear brands. Intrepid Investment Bankers LLC acted as exclusive financial advisor to Wild Planet in connection with this transaction.
Founded in 1993, San Francisco-based Wild Planet is a designer and marketer of branded toys that actively engage children ages 4 to 10 and promote imaginative, evergreen play patterns. Launched in 1998, Wild Planet’s Spy Gear line is an active spy brand for kids. Spy Gear products integrate technology and functionality in an easy-to-use format for children. Spy Gear and Hyper Dash will provide new and sustainable growth for Spin Master.
Toy Industry to Induct Judy Ellis and Russ Berrie into Hall of Fame
The Toy Industry Association (TIA) has announced that Judith (Judy) Ellis and the late Russ Berrie have been selected as the next inductees into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame.
Ellis is the founder and chair of the nation’s first baccalaureate program in Toy Design, which she launched at the Fashion Institute of Technology in 1989. The FIT program boasts more than 350 alumni who work in leading toy design, manufacturing, and inventor groups throughout the U.S. and across the globe. An estimated 3,500-plus products have been designed by FIT Toy Design Alumni.
Berrie was CEO and chairman of Russ Berrie & Company, an Oakland, N.J., business he founded in a rented garage in 1963. Under Berrie’s leadership, Russ Berrie & Company (RUSS) became one of the largest gift companies in the world, with more than 1,500 employees around the world and some $300 million in annual sales.
The latest inductees will be honored at the 13th Annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards on February 9 at The Plaza Hotel in New York City. The ceremony will kick off the 110th American International Toy Fair.
CPSC, CBP to Hold Holiday Toy Safety Press Conference
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will release new data on toy seizures at the ports during a press conference on November 29 at 1:30 p.m. The press conference, to be delivered by Inez Tenenbaum, chairman of the CPSC, will be held at the Port of Elizabeth East Coast Warehouse.
CPSC will also release a new report with data on toy-related injuries and deaths for children, new statistics on toy-related recalls, and the types of toys that are most likely to be involved in incidents.
For more information, contact the CPSC’s Office of Communications at (301) 504-7908.
Retail Foot Traffic Up 8.2 Percent During Black Weekend
ShopperTrak, the world’s largest counter of retail foot traffic, estimates that, when compared to “Black Weekend” (Thursday through Sunday) last year, retail foot traffic rose 8.2 percent, to more than 594 million store visits. Retail sales increased 2.7 percent, with shoppers spending about $22 billion across the weekend’s four days. Thursday’s doorbuster deals drove sales and traffic earlier in the weekend.
Last year, Black Weekend accounted for 8.6 percent of sales during the entire holiday season of November and December.
During Black Weekend last year, shoppers spent $21.4 billion, compared to this year’s $22 billion. Though Friday’s sales dipped a bit, both Saturday and Sunday saw foot traffic and sales increases when compared to last year.
Aurora Signs Plush License Agreement for Sad Sam & Honey
Aurora World, Inc., has secured the licensing rights for Sad Sam & Honey, the property featuring two basset hounds with sad eyes. Aurora will produce a variety of Sad Sam & Honey plush for release in January, including the 14-inch Hug Me, the 10-inch Snuggle, the 8-inch Classic, the 6-inch Take Me Home, and the Honey Fancy Pals Carrier.
Tamagotchi Website Launches
Bandai has launched the first-ever website for its new Tamagotchi L.I.F.E. (Love Is Fun Everywhere) brand of lifestyle products. The website will offer visitors several activities in which to engage, with intuitive navigation made easy in its distinctive and colorful design layout. Among its features are a “stories” section where fans can upload images of their original Tamagotchis and share fond memories of raising their virtual pets. There will also be Tamagotchi webisodes.
The Tamagotchi has sold more than 78 million units in 54 countries and territories since the digital pet was introduced in Japan in 1996 and in the U.S. one year later. It was this original fan base, now young adults, that inspired the evolution of Tamagotchi into Tamagotchi LIFE, a new line of lifestyle products that embodies the spirit and qualities of that original experience.
Pressman Toy Releases Dork Diaries Game
Pressman Toy will be releasing the first licensed Dork Diaries product. The Dork Diaries Not-So-Truth-Telling Game captures the irreverent and sassy style of the books and translates it into a board game for girls ages 8 to 12. This game will be the first in a range of Dork Diaries board games by Pressman and will be available in bookstores, specialty, and mass market retailers in the spring.
JLK Brand will be working with licensees to introduce additional Dork Diaries products with an emphasis on youth products, accessories, room décor, and other tween-appropriate categories. Contact Kathie Fording at (917) 974-3561 or Kathie@jlkbrand.com for licensing opportunities.
Women in Toys, Walmart Enter Women's Global Empowerment Partnership
Women in Toys (WIT) is teaming up with Walmart for a women’s global empowerment partnership. During New York Toy Fair in February, WIT will offer its own version of a speed dating experience in which women-owned businesses of all sizes will pitch their products to Walmart. One source has pledged up to $3 million to develop the approved products, and Hong Kong manufacturers are willing to prototype products. In addition, packaging experts are willing to develop packaging, and publishers have committed to write about the program.
There will be a customary WIT booth on the floor to promote the initiative and organize the pitches. In addition, the Toy Industry Association will make private meeting rooms available for the pitches.
Walmart believes the partnership will encourage women's interest in WIT and will help to find and source women-owned businesses, part of an initiative the company is investing $20 million. For more information, contact Patti Becker at (203) 322-7396, or PBecker@beckerassoc.com.
Toy Industry Foundation Announces CASA for Children as New National Partner
The Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) has announced a new national partner, CASA for Children (CASA), for next year.
In communities across the country, CASA’s volunteers provide one-on-one advocacy for children in the foster care and family court systems. Appointed by a judge, CASA volunteers fight for and protect a child’s right to be safe, to be treated with dignity and respect, and to learn and grow in the safe embrace of a loving family.
A $200,000 grant and ongoing toy donations from TIF, CASA will expand its network of volunteer advocates serving more than 234,000 foster children next year. The partnership also aims to provide kids with stability and emotional support by helping CASA volunteers bond with children through toys.
All Baby & Child Supports Industry
Through Retailer Funding
Beginning January 1, All Baby & Child will provide funding to Brixy and will no longer provide funding to individual independent retail associations, including Baby News, Baby Furniture Plus, NINFRA, and USA Baby. Brixy is a community of independently owned baby and children’s retailers that foster strong relationships with manufacturers; create strategic consumer-oriented marketing; and provide resources, education, advocacy, and programs to help participating retailers grow and thrive.
For more information on Brixy, contact Executive Director Jill Cartwright at jill@Brixy.com.