China Toy Fair


Cartwheel Kids Acquires Smart Toy

CartwheelKidsSmart Toy, formerly known as Ubooly, has been acquired by Cartwheel Kids. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Created in 2012 by husband-and-wife team Isaac Squires and Carly Gloge, Smart Toy is an interactive, huggable plush toy that uses apps and speech recognition software to interact with children. It encourages creative, active play by telling stories, embarking on adventures, and guiding activities. It also speaks five different languages.

According to Sunny Lauridsen, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Cartwheel Kids, the Smart Toy acquisition is in line with Cartwheel Kids’ strategy to expand its product portfolio into new categories that deliver meaningful play experiences to children. The next-generation Smart Toy will debut at International Consumer Electronics Show in January.

Gloge and Squires will join the Cartwheel Kids team as directors of technology and will continue to oversee development of the Smart Toy product line.

Minecraft Will Join Microsoft Studios

Minecraft-gamesMicrosoft Corp. has reached an agreement to acquire Mojang, the Stockholm-based game developer behind the popular Minecraft franchise.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Mojang team will join Microsoft Studios. Microsoft will acquire Mojang for $2.5 billion, and expects the acquisition to be break-even in fiscal year 2015 on a GAAP basis. Subject to customary closing conditions and any regulatory review, the acquisition is expected to close later this year.

Available across multiple platforms, players have downloaded Minecraft more than 100 million times, on PC alone, since its launch in 2009. Minecraft is also the most popular online game on Xbox, and the game’s community is among the most active in the industry, with more than 2 billion hours played on Xbox 360 alone in the past two years. [Read more...]

Toy State Acquires Nikko and Nikko Entertainment

ToyState.logoToy State has secured the worldwide rights to Nikko by acquiring the consolidated operations of its Japan and Hong Kong offices. Toy State has also acquired Nikko Entertainment BV, the European arm of the company’s R/C toy category.

Nikko manufactures R/C toys, from custom vehicles, boats, and flying items to an array of preschool R/C toys. These toys are marketed through licensing partnerships with global automakers, as well as brands such as Transformers, Hello Kitty, Fast & Furious, and Angry Birds.

The acquisition expands Toy State’s presence to Amsterdam and Japan, as well as in Hong Kong, the location of its current headquarters. The acquisition will also serve as a platform for the company’s continued expansion into Europe. Toy State’s U.S. office is located in Boston.

Mattel Completes Acquisition of Mega Brands

Mattel Inc. has completed the acquisition of Mega Brands Inc., the No. 2 player in the multi-billion-dollar construction toy category, through a wholly owned subsidiary of Mattel Inc. for approximately $460 million.

Mattel plans to maintain Mega Brands’ manufacturing facilities in Montreal and Tennessee, and the company’s headquarters will remain in Montreal. Geoff Massingberd, named chairman and president of Mega Brands by Mattel, has assumed full leadership responsibility.

In connection with the closing of the acquisition, Mega Brands’ common shares and warrants will be de-listed from the TSX Venture Exchange. Mega Brands has also applied to Canadian securities regulators to cease to be a reporting issuer in each of the provinces and territories of Canada, in which it is currently a reporting issuer.

Ralph Thielert Acquires Distributor iToy

iToy.LogoRalph Thielert has acquired iToy, a distribution company specializing in the distribution of toy-related products and services. The Lichtenstein-based company will act as a full service distributor to German-speaking territories, providing warehousing, invoicing, and trade market services.

iToy will also act as a sales agency and distribution and logistics consultant to domestic and international toy producers. The company’s distribution will continue to cover specialty stores, food retailers, online trade, and wholesale.

Thielert has more than 20 years of experience in the toy industry, including positions at Studio 100 Media GmbH and Altenburger Spielkarten, Leinfelden.

COMMENTARY: Inside the Mega Bloks Factory, Where Innovation Is Their Building Block

March19.MegaBloksFactoryThere’s been a trend of late among North American toy manufacturers to either move manufacturing back home or to stay put entirely. Recently, I had a chance to visit the Mega Bloks factory in Montreal, where Mega Bloks—the signature toys of Mega Brands Inc.—are produced, and it only strengthens the argument not to export toy-making abroad. Jean-Francois Albert, vice president of manufacturing for the company, offered a guided tour that showed off the facility’s various innovations, which keep it cost-effective, even compared to China and other countries that traditionally offer cheap labor. [Read more...]

Tommo Completes Acquisition of Humongous Entertainment

Tommo Inc. has completed the acquisition of the Humongous Entertainment Brand and most of its assets. The acquisition was initially announced last summer, when Tommo acquired the Humongous Entertainment Brand and over 100 classic game IP’s from Atari Inc. during the Atari assets bankruptcy auction. Humongous Entertainment was originally formed in 1992 and has sold more than 15 million games over 20 years.

Classic Humongous titles Putt-Putt Joins the Circus, Pajama Sam: Thunder and Lightning, and Spy Fox: Dry Cereal are currently available for download on the iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon app stores.

Mattel to Acquire Mega Brands

logo_Mattel logoMattel Inc. and Mega Brands Inc. have signed a definitive agreement for Mattel’s acquisition, through a wholly owned subsidiary of Mattel Inc., of Mega Brands for $460 million.

The acquisition advances Mattel’s global growth strategy of building upon its world-class portfolio of brands by expanding into two of the fastest-growing toy categories. Mega Brands is the No. 2 player in the $4 billion construction building sets category with its Mega Bloks brand, as well as a competitor in the $2 billion arts and crafts category.

mega brands logoMattel’s portfolio of brands will complement Mega Brands’ flagship Mega Bloks brand and existing licensed brands, including Halo, Skylanders, Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Power Rangers, Hello Kitty, and SpongeBob SquarePants. The acquisition will give Mattel the opportunity to broaden its relationship with its entertainment partners.

Mega Brands ranks among the top 15 toy companies globally in terms of sales, according to statistics published by The NPD Group last year. Additionally, the company achieved record sales of preschool construction toys. [Read more...]

The Friend Group Acquires Majority Stake in Green Toys Inc.

GreenToysPrivate 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, which has had success in the consumer products industry, 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.

The Bridge Direct Acquires Good Stuff Corp.

The 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, has reimagined many classic toys, and sells to the largest specialty and mass toy retailers worldwide. Good Stuff Toys, a maker of licensed plush, balls, and novelties, 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.