China Toy Fair


Angelina Ballerina and Thomas and Friends Premiere in Latin America

HIT Entertainment and Discovery Kids have debuted new episodes of Thomas and Friends in CG animation, as well as the new CG animated series Angelina Ballerina the Next Steps, in Latin America. In its first week of launch, Angelina Ballerina the Next Steps received the top ratings for girls ages 4-11 across all kids pay-TV networks in Colombia and Brazil, and ranked as the No. 2 kids’ program for girls 4-11 across all kids pay-TV networks in Mexico and Argentina.

Thomas and Friends
introduces new characters including Charlie, a small engine with a reputation for fun and mischief, and the Japanese engine Hiro. Joining them are Kevin the crane and Victor, an engine from the Sodor Steam Works. The characters were first unveiled in the feature-length special Thomas & Friends: Hero of the Rails, which aired on Discovery Kids on May 7.

Angelina Ballerina the Next Steps
is an extension of the original Angelina Ballerina books by author Katharine Holabird and illustrator Helen Craig. Each episode stars Angelina and consists of two 11-minute CG animated stories linked with a live-action segment featuring all types of young dancers and musicians.

Upper Deck, HIT Entertainment Release Thomas and Friends Trading Cards

The Upper Deck Company, in conjunction with HIT Entertainment, has released the first trading cards of long-running television show Thomas and Friends. The trading cards, Thomas and Friends Sodor Adventures Collectipak, is an 18-card set including stickers, tattoos, and pop-up cards features characters from the show.

The set is targeted to children ages 3 to 6, and is based on the travels of Thomas and the other characters around the Island of Sodor. Players journey around the islands and help the engines get back to Tidmouth Sheds.

Upper Deck plans to release additional trading card sets based on the series. The second set will launch in November.

HIT Entertainment and Dizzy Feet Partner for Youth Dance Program

HIT Entertainment is collaborating with the Dizzy Feet Foundation (DFF) to expand its youth dance program nationally. The Angelina Ballerina Stars of Tomorrow campaign successfully ended its pilot program in the Bronx earlier this year, and the organizations plan to expand into at least three other cities’ Boys & Girls Clubs outside of New York this fall.

The partnership with DFF includes a dance scholarship–four to be awarded locally and one nationally–as well as access to DFF choreographers and special appearances by celebrity members of the Foundation.

Board members for DFF include Nigel Lythgoe, producer of So You Think You Can Dance and American Idol, and Katie Holmes, who will help guide the program as it develops. These members, as well as others on the DFF steering committee, will make public service announcements promoting the program, to be aired during the Angelina Ballerina The Next Steps television show on PBS KIDS.

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HIT Entertainment Launches Dance Education Program

HIT Entertainment has launched a new pro-social campaign to increase accessibility to dance programs for children through the Angelina Ballerina brand, the Angelina Ballerina Stars of Tomorrow campaign. The company will be working with the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club, located in the Bronx, who will pilot the program.

The campaign will provide access to dance education for children ages 5 to 12 to raise awareness of the benefits of dance, including building confidence, inspiring creativity, and promoting physical health. The campaign will also feature a microsite on www.AngelinaBallerina.com, which will include the program’s mission, partners, local news, events, and ways to get involved. The site will also feature videos from the Stars of Tomorrow classes.

The pilot program at Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club will offer Angelina Ballerina dance classes in ballet, hip hop, latin, and African dance. Teachers will receive in class materials specific to the program, including an Angelina Ballerina Tip of the Week, posters, and nutritional information. Each class will begin with a warm-up routine based on the new PBS KIDS series, Angelina Ballerina the Next Steps.

HIT Entertainment plans for the campaign to be a multi-year endeavor.

HIT Entertainment Realigns Business Units

Hit Entertainment has announced an internal realignment of its business units. As a part of the realignment four new divisions will be created. The divisions will form two new lines of business: one focusing on Thomas & Friends, and the other on HIT Global Brands (Angelina Ballerina, Barney, Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam, Pingu, and Rainbow Magic). The realignment is effective immediately.

The Thomas & Friends line of business will comprise three divisions: the New York-based “Thomas Americas,” London-based “Thomas EMEA, ” and the Hong Kong-based “Thomas Asia.” The HIT Global Brands business unit will be managed from London as one global division.

HIT’s Finance, Legal, HR, and IT groups will remain centralized staff units supporting both lines of business. As a part of the restructuring, Peter Byrne, executive vice president of International Consumer Products and Home Entertainment, will be leaving the company

K’NEX Signs On to Produce “Roary” Building Sets

K’NEX Brands has signed a licensing deal with Chapman Entertainment and HIT Entertainment to manufacture and market a line of construction toys based on the Sprout series, Roary the Racing Car.

K’NEX will produce Roary building sets, including builable figures and buildable vehicles. The sets will be available at mass retailers in the U.S. and Canada in fall 2011.

Last month, Bandai America announced that it was named the U.S. master toy licensee for the brand, and will manufacture a full line of Roary toys, available exclusively at Toys “R” Us stores.

Barney and Other HIT Properties to Become Stage Shows

HIT Entertainment has signed deals with several producers of live stage musicals to develop, produce, and tour new shows for the HIT brands Barney, Angelina Ballerina, and Thomas & Friends.  The shows will debut in the U.S. this fall and will tour through 2011.

Vee Corporation has signed on to be the exclusive producer of Barney Live. The preschool stage show, touring in North America and the Caribbean, will feature Barney, BJ, Baby Bop, Riff, and others.

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HIT Adds to Global Development Team, Names New Execs and Projects

HIT Entertainment has expanded its Global Development Team by naming four experts to the newly created Global Advisory Committee. The members of the committee include Dr. David Buckingham from The Institute of Education in London, and head of the Centre of Study of Children, Youth and Media in the UK; Dr. Sandra Calvert, professor in the department of psychology at Georgetown University, and director of the Children’s Digital Media Center; Dr. Renee Cherow-O’Leary, president of education for the 21st Century, a research and consulting firm in New York City; and Dr. Wendy Sims, associate chair of the department of learning, teaching, & curriculum at University of Missouri-Columbia and director of music education at the university’s School of Music.

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HIT Partners with New Licensees for Thomas & Friends

thomas-group2

HIT Entertainment has signed new licensees to develop, manufacture, and market new Thomas & Friends products. The agreement marks the first time HIT has worked with Tara Toys, Think Wow Toys, The Toy Workshop, and Upper Deck.

Tara Toys will develop a new arts and crafts line for the property including magnetic sets, rolling art desks, activity cases with pads, markers, crayons and stampers, giant activity floorpads, Sit n’ Play activity trays, and 5-in-1 activity easels.  All of Tara Toys’ Thomas items will be available at both mass and specialty stores starting this fall.

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The Toy Book’s Toy Report 12/01/09

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Catch up on last week’s news! Read The Toy Book Toy Report for 12/01/09.

To view click here.