December 07, 2012

Laser Pegs

International Toy Fair

TIA: West Coast Port Strike Poses Threat to U.S. Toy Industry

The Toy Industry Association is warning of “irreparable” loss of holiday sales for the toy industry as a result of strikes at 10 of the 14 terminals at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, according to a TIA news release. Together, the affected ports handle an estimated 39.5 percent of all U.S. imports; the strike is costing the U.S. economy an estimated $1 billion per day.
“Toy companies are completely at the mercy of shippers to deliver their products,” said TIA president Carter Keithley, in a statement.  “It is crucial for them to be able to fill their standing and last-minute holiday orders so that they can have a profitable year and maintain their vendor reliability with retail customers.  If holiday sales are lost because product cannot be delivered, those sales will never be recovered and the hardship on hundreds of small toy companies will be irreparable.”
The TIA has sent a letter to the White House, calling for President Obama to intervene and take whatever action is necessary to facilitate negotiations and settle the dispute. The association has also joined as a signatory with nearly 100 other organizations in asking the president to take immediate action.
TIA is calling upon its members and other stakeholders in the toy industry to join in taking action by reading TIA’s letter and sending it to representatives in Congress. Questions or comments may be directed to TIA’s director of federal government affairs, Rebecca Mond, at rmond@toyassociation.org or (202) 344-4554.

President Obama Endorses American Manufacturing During Visit to The Rodon Group/K’nex Brands

President Obama and White House Staff converged at The Rodon Group’s facility last Friday to show support for American manufacturing companies, the jobs they create, and the working middle class. The President’s backdrop was filled with K’nex building toys, including an American flag made of 49,000 K’nex pieces.
“I want to reward manufacturers like this one and small businesses that create jobs here in the United States, not overseas,” said President Obama. “And, by the way, this is a company—one of the few companies in the toy industry—that have aggressively moved jobs back here. That’s a great story to tell because we’ve got the best workers in the world and the most productive workers in the world, so we need champions for American industry creating jobs here in the United States.”
The Rodon Group/K’nex Brands was chosen to host this event. “We’re incredibly proud,” said company CEO Michael Araten. “I think it means the President and his team recognize that manufacturing in the United States is important. That focusing on manufacturing and keeping confidence high, which is what the fiscal cliff is all about, is important. If you can do it with toys, you can do it with anything.”

DQ Entertainment Appoints Global Master Toy Partner for The Jungle Book     

The Jungle BookDQ Entertainment International has appointed Sun-Mate Corp. to be the global master toy partner for the new 3-D, CGI animated TV series The Jungle Book. As the global master toy partner, Sun-Mate will design and manufacture a variety of toys including play sets, figurines, plush, electronic toys, walkie-talkies, role-play, and outdoor adventure sets. Sun-Mate will preview the new toy line at the upcoming 2013 Hong Kong Toy Fair, Nuremberg Toy Fair, New York Toy Fair, and The Australian Toy Fair, as part of their initial global sales launches for the brand. The company will soon announce key appointments for regional distributors in conjunction with the new series’ growing international popularity.

Fuhu Introduces Learning Tablet Built for Kids

FuhuFuhu, Inc., has introduced the low-cost nabi Jr. tablet, featuring an NVIDIA Tegra dual-core processor, Android 4.0 ICS, 5-inch high-resolution touch screen, and rotating front and back camera. The nabi Jr., geared toward kids, is priced less than $100 for its basic model.
nabi Jr. is pre-loaded with the Wings Education System, covering Pre-K through sixth grade reading, writing, math, and arts. Wings was built with common core, state-standardized requirements in mind. The tablet also features the Wings Adaptive Learning System, which creates individualized lesson plans based on a child’s proficiency across more than 2,500 fundamentals in reading, writing, and math. It includes more than 40,000 challenging lessons with graphics and characters.
The tablet also includes a series of learning games, a comprehensive bookstore, and an incentive-based learning program that rewards a child with apps and games for his or her educational achievement. Parents can also use the N-Site Reports feature, which highlights a child’s progress and trouble spots.
The nabi Jr. will be available through nationwide retailers mid-December in 4GB and 16GB models. nabi Jr. will also be available in the UK, Japan, Korea, and China.

ASTRA Builds Consumer Engagement with Woohoo Them! Campaign

The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association has launched the “Woo Hoo Them!” campaign to generate social media buzz among parents and other toy buyers during the holiday season.
The “Woo Hoo Them!” campaign will reach consumers in three ways: by connecting with the social media outlets of ASTRA member retailers; by reaching out to local bloggers across the country; and through a Facebook advertisement.
The campaign asks consumers to tweet, “Woohoo Them this holiday season with ASTRA’s Best Toys for Kids,” using the hashtag #woohootoys.  All consumers who participate will be entered in a drawing for gift certificates from their local toy store.

Hasbro Launches Toys for Tots Campaign

Joy MakerHasbro and generationON have partnered for a holiday giving campaign. The third annual campaign, Be a Joy Maker, asks kids and teens to help children in need by completing an act of service. Through December 18, for each act of service completed and logged on the Be a Joy Maker website, Hasbro will donate a toy or game to Toys for Tots. Up to 100,000 items will be donated.

 

 

Zynga Partners with Toys for Tots for Giving Campaign

ZyngaApp creator Zynga has kicked off its “Oh, What Fun!” giving campaign just in time for the holiday season. The in-game charitable drive will benefit the Toys for Tots program that will bring toys and games to less fortunate children across the U.S. Players will be able to contribute directly through in-game purchases within participating games until December 31. All of the proceeds will go directly to Toys for Tots.
Seven of Zynga’s apps, including Words With Friends, FarmVille, CityVille, CastleVille, Draw Something, Bubble Safari, and Pioneer Trail, will allow players to purchase certain items, complete quests, and send text message donations to benefit the fundraiser. For more information, visit toysfortots.org or www.zynga.org.

The Franklin Institute Announces The Great Putty Drop of 2012   

The Great Putty DropThe Great Putty Drop of 2012 will take place at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia on December 8. Together with its official putty partner, Crazy Aaron’s Puttyworld, the Franklin Institute will drop 50 pounds of Thinking Putty from the ceiling of the museum’s Atrium. This experiment follows the Scientific Method and will reveal answers to questions such as what will happen when the putty hits the ground? Will it drip, stretch, bounce, or shatter? The experiment is free with museum admission. The audience will receive tins of Thinking Putty as a souvenir.
Puttyworld’s founder “Crazy” Aaron will provide an interactive 30-minute demonstration of putty science. Activities will include lessons on chemistry, mass, polymers, and more. For more information on Puttyworld, visit www.puttyworld.com.

TIA

Bravo Sports Appoints Two New Executives

Bravo Sports Corp. has added two new members to its team. Steve Sandler has been appointed senior vice president of business development and sales and Jennifer Maurus was named vice president of business strategy in the design development department.
Sandler will focus on new business development, as well as existing accounts. He brings with him more than 20 years in the consumer products industry, serving in similar capacities for companies such as Fitness EM, Playmates Toys, and Hasbro.
Maurus will focus on growing the business in new market channels and opportunities. She has more than 15 years of experience in the consumer products and toy industries, having served in similar capacities for entrepreneurial startups, mid-size privately held companies, and also publically traded corporations including MGA Entertainment, Atomic Toys, Warner Bros, and Snap TV Games.

NRF Survey: Return Fraud Will Cost Retailers Billions This Holiday Season

According to National Retail Federation’s 2012 Return Fraud Survey, completed by loss prevention executives at 60 retail companies, the industry will lose an estimated $8.9 billion to return fraud this year, and $2.9 billion during the holiday season alone. Overall, retailers estimate 4.6 percent of holiday returns are fraudulent.
According to the survey, nearly all (96.5 percent) retailers polled claim to have experienced the return of stolen merchandise in the last year, and 84.2 percent report that they have experienced the return of merchandise purchased on fraudulent or stolen tender. Wardrobing, or the return of used, non-defective merchandise, such as special occasion apparel and certain electronics, is a serious issue, with nearly two-thirds (64.9 percent) saying they have been victims of this activity within the last year. Additionally, 45.6 percent have found criminals using counterfeit receipts to return merchandise. Employee return fraud or collusion with external sources is also a big problem for retailers, with eight in 10 (80.7 percent) reporting that they’ve dealt with this issue in the past year.
When it comes to their company’s holiday return policy, most respondents (83.1 percent) say their return policies will remain unchanged compared to last holiday season, and 10.2 percent say they will actually loosen their policies to help ease the process for gift givers and recipients.

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