China Toy Fair


Dan Sugrue Joins Jazwares LLC as UK Sales Director

jazwaresDan Sugrue has joined Jazwares LLC as its UK sales director, and will lead the London-based sales force at retailers across the region. Most recently, Sugrue served as business manager for Flair Leisure Products Ltd.

The news follows the recent announcement of an investment by Allegheny Capital Corporation, and marks the company’s continued global growth and firm commitment to the expansion of its UK operation.

Alleghany Capital Corporation Invests in Jazwares

jazwaresAlleghany Capital Corporation (ACC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Alleghany Corporation, has acquired an interest in Jazwares LLC.

Judd Zebersky, CEO and president of Jazwares, commented, “Jazwares has grown significantly over the past number of years by delivering high quality, must-have toys and consumer electronics to children worldwide. As we pursue our next stage of growth, we are enthusiastic to partner with ACC given its unique long-term perspective and history of backing entrepreneurial management teams.”

Valufinder Group Inc. acted as financial advisor while Seyfarth Shaw LLP acted as legal counsel to ACC. Marketing Management Group Inc. acted as financial advisor and Pryor Cashman LLP acted as legal counsel to Jazwares.

COMMENTARY: Video Game-Based Toys Can Ease Kids into Other Kinds of Play

KNEX.SuperMarioDesertIt’s summertime, which for a lot of kids means playing outside in the sunshine, swimming, and maybe even going on trips to visit nature. But for others, summer means staying indoors and playing video games all day. It’s probably best to moderate any activity that involves staring at a screen; however, the question is, how to get video game-obsessed kids to take up a different form of play? The answer may be toys based on popular video game titles, and there are quite a few of those available right now.

We kick off our non-comprehensive list with K’NEX, which since 2010, has partnered with Nintendo on construction toys based on its popular Mario property. Recently, I spoke to an executive at the company, who said that no small part of the partnership’s success came from replicating game elements in K’NEX’s construction sets: For example, many of its Super Mario building sets have a mechanism that simulates the avatar’s in-game jumping ability. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Teen Titans Go! Has Licensed Toys Ready to Go

Phil.TeenTitans1.RobinFunkoIt’s been a good year for superhero comics on TV, what with the success of DC Comics’ Arrow and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., not to mention the planned fall arrivals of The Flash and Gotham. But let’s not forget the animated side of small screen super-heroics, as the second season of Teen Titans Go! premieres next month. The series resurrects Teen Titans, which aired during the mid-to-late 2000s, as something wackier and anarchic. Both shows are based on the long-running comic book of the same name, which is centered on some of the best-known teenage characters in DC’s pantheon.

Along with everyone’s favorite young sidekick, Robin, the cast includes Starfire, Cyborg, Raven, and Beast Boy. While adept at defeating evil-doers, Teen Titans Go! more often depicts them hanging out unsupervised at their team headquarters, at which point trouble worse than any super-villain tends to break out. The series is a fun romp, not to mention a good antidote to the spate of more serious, live-action superhero adaptations of late. Teen Titans Go! is currently licensed by a number of toy companies, with items for collectors, young kids, and everyone in between. But in all cases, the property’s lighthearted attitude shines through. [Read more...]

Jazwares’ Gravity Falls Toys to Arrive This Fall

Jazwares.GravityFallsJazwares has created a new Gravity Falls toy line based on the popular Disney TV series. The line-up will include figures, plush, role-play, and play-set toys, and the first wave will see release this fall at retailers across the U.S.

The initial retail focus of the toy line will be in specialty stores nationwide. Currently, Gravity Falls is a top-rated show on Disney Channel among kids ages 2 to 11 and 6 to 11, and tweens ages 9 to 14. It follows the adventures of Dipper and Mabel Pines, twins spending the summer with their eccentric great-uncle Stan in the town of Gravity Falls, Oregon, where things are never as they seem.

Jazwares to Release Minecraft Series 2 Figures

Minecraft-gamesJazwares is expanding its core Minecraft action figure line to feature core-scale figure packs of Diamond Armor Steve, Iron Golem, Blacksmith Villager, and a deluxe Animal Mobs 6-pack.

The Diamond Armor Steve pack will include Steve with removable helmet, diamond sword, and diamond ore block. The Iron Golem pack will come with accessories including a poppy flower and a block of iron, while the Blacksmith Villager pack includes a removable apron and an anvil accessory. Meanwhile, the Animal Mobs 6-pack will include one of each of the following: Cow, Sheep, Tamed Wolf, Pig, Ocelot, and Chicken. The Series 2 items will all be available at retailers this spring.

Jazwares Melds Super Heroes and Athletes into NBA Heroes

Feb.20.JazwareslogoJazwares has entered a licensing agreement with the National Basketball Association (NBA) to create the first-ever line of NBA Heroes action figures, play sets, and role play toys. The line will be available in both the U.S. and Canada this fall.

These new basketball player-based toys will feature classic action figure attributes fused with super-heroic alter egos. The collection’s tagline helps establish character duality: Stars of the game. Heroes off the court.

NBA Heroes will start its lineup with some of the NBA’s top players, including LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony, and Deron Williams. Each fully articulated figure will be done in six-inch scale proportionate to each player’s height and build, and the collection will be accompanied by a separate, feature-filled environmental play set.

Jazwares Signs On for Peppa Pig, Flick-To-Stick Bungees

peppa_pigJazwares Inc. has entered a pair of licensing partnerships, including one for the top-ranked program on Nick Jr. for kids ages 2 to 5.

Thanks to a deal with Entertainment One Licensing, the company will serve as the new master toy partner for Peppa Pig. Jazwares will produce products for preschoolers across multiple categories, including plush, plastic figures, dolls, play sets, role-play toys, musical and talking toys, toy vehicles, and bath toys. The first Peppa Pig toy collection is scheduled to launch in mass and specialty retailers nationwide in spring of next year.

Airing seven days a week on Nick Jr., Peppa Pig follows the adventures of Peppa, a loveable, exuberant little piggy who lives with her brother George, Mummy Pig, and Daddy Pig. Globally, the show airs in 180 countries around the world and is translated into 40 languages.

Jazwares is also launching Flick-To-Stick Bungees, a competitive strategy game featuring 96 collectible action figures. Players aim their Bungees at scoring targets and flick their fingers to compete, collect, and potentially win. The action figure line will be enhanced by a Bungee Battleground arena, disk launcher, playing cards, and scoring disks. Flick-To-Stick Bungees, originally created by Barcelona, Spain-based Magic Box Int., will debut this fall.

Warner Bros. Consumer Products Brings Godzilla-Sized List of Licensees to Toy Fair

WB Consumer ProductsWarner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) enters this year’s American International Toy Fair with an extensive lineup of global licensees in support of its entertainment properties, milestone anniversaries, and upcoming theatrical releases.

Bandai America Inc. and Jakks Pacific Inc. will each support Godzilla, from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, with new toy lines. Jakks’ line of Godzilla products will include an Ultimate Large Scale Godzilla Figure with 12 points of articulation and a length of over 43 inches, making it one of the largest toys in Godzilla history. Other worldwide partners include Rubie’s Costume Co., NECA, and Sideshow Collectibles.

WBCP’s toy partners will also release toys and collectibles based on The Hobbit Trilogy. The Bridge Direct and Vivid Group will support the film series with new figures. Additional partners include Eaglemoss, Funko, Kosmos, and Ravensburger.

The Wizard of Oz will celebrate its 75th anniversary with Mattel‘s new line of dolls for The Wizard of Oz Barbie collection. Enesco, Tonner Doll, and Madame Alexander will each offer collectible figures. Warner Bros. will also continue its There’s No Place Like Home campaign in partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Gone with the Wind will also mark its 75th anniversary with new collectible figures from Madame Alexander and Tonner Doll. Mattel will offer an anniversary Barbie collection and Enesco will introduce a stone resin figure. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Sonic the Hedgehog: 22 Years and Still Going Fast!

Faster than greased lightning, Sonic the Hedgehog is one tough Erinaceinae to keep up with, and admittedly, I haven’t been trying. I had the first Sonic the Hedgehog game when it came out way back in 1991, but not long after, I went through a dry spell in which I kept away from video games. During the interim, Sonic evolved as both a pop culture icon and corporate mascot for video game publisher Sega, while I—well, I got slightly taller.

Now here we are in 2013, and with the Sonic franchise still going strong, I thought I’d rekindle my relationship with him by checking out some recent Sonic games and toys.

Phil.November20.3Sonic Lost World, by Sega: The original Sonic the Hedgehog was a side-scroller with pretty simple game play. By comparison, the latest installment is a radically different experience at times, with some levels consisting of “classic,” 2-D, side-scrolling play, while the others are immersive 3-D from an angled, top-down perspective. Players now have the option of moving in nearly all directions, and interact with terrain in ways that would have been impossible during the 2-D days.

Phil.November20.1In Sonic Lost World, players can use the trigger button on the Wii U controller to rev Sonic up, and send him zipping along extra fast (Be warned: He can get a little out of hand if you aren’t used to it yet). When approaching tight spaces, he can subsequently ricochet off walls and perform other special maneuvers. During my demo, I actually kept my finger mostly off that button, and the game still managed to be a kinetic, occasionally vertiginous experience, with lots of rocketing off springboards into the air and pinballing faster than the eye could keep up. [Read more...]