Toy Industry Unveils Nominees for 2015 Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards

TOTY2015logoToday, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) announced the 83 finalists for the prestigious 2015 Toy of the Year Awards (TOTY). Between now and January 11, toy consumers of all ages can visit www.toyawards.org to vote for their favorite toys, games, and properties across 12 categories.

The 2015 finalists were selected from more than 600 nominees submitted for consideration by 159 companies. Sixty academics, journalists, toy trend experts, play therapists, toy inventors and designers, and toy retailers staffed the nomination committees that narrowed the field to the slate of finalists.

Votes from mass retailers, specialty toy retailers, media, TIA members, and consumers will be weighted and used to determine each of the 12 category winners. The winners—including the overall Toy of the Year and the People’s Choice awards—will be announced at the TOTY Awards ceremony held on February 13, 2015 as the kick-off to the 112th North American International Toy Fair. [Read more...]

Mattel Reports Third Quarter Financial Results, Including Lower Barbie and Fisher-Price Sales

Mattel_logoLast Thursday, Mattel Inc. reported third quarter financial results, including net income of $331.8 million for the quarter, or $0.97 per share. This includes a negative impact of $0.05 per share from Mega Brands integration costs and a tax benefit of $0.04 per share. This compares to last year’s third quarter net income of $422.8 million, or $1.21 per share, which included a tax benefit of $0.05 per share.

For the quarter, net sales were $2.02 billion, down 8 percent compared to $2.21 billion last year, while on a regional basis, third quarter gross sales decreased 7 percent in the North American region. For the international region, gross sales decreased 7 percent, including an unfavorable impact of currency exchange rates of 1 percentage point. [Read more...]

Thanks to The Lego Movie, Lego Is World’s Largest Toy Maker

LEGO_LogoAs reported by The Wall Street Journal today, Lego is currently the world’s largest toy maker.

Denmark’s Lego A/S said that revenue during the first six months rose 11 percent, boosted by The Lego Movie products. This makes Lego the biggest toy company in the world in terms of both revenue and profit, ahead of Mattel Inc. The jump also puts Lego slightly ahead of Mattel in sales for the first six months of the year.

A sequel to The Lego Movie, The Lego Movie 2, is scheduled for release in 2017, and Warner Bros. has already set the release for the Ninjago movie next year.

The licensing of the movies themselves isn’t a significant element of sales for Lego compared with the sales of movie-related boxes of bricks. Overall first-half sales for Lego rose to 11.5 billion Danish kroner ($2.03 billion) from 10.4 billion kroner in the same period last year, the company said. [Read more...]

Richard Dickson Appointed Chief Brands Officer for Mattel

logo_Mattel logoMattel Inc. has created a new, unified marketing and creative division to span the company’s global portfolio of consumer brands. To lead this new global brand team, the company has tapped Richard Dickson to be its chief brands officer, with responsibility for growing and strengthening the company’s portfolio of beloved brands, including Barbie, Hot Wheels, Fisher-Price, and Thomas & Friends.

Dickson will oversee all aspects of marketing strategy, creative execution, product development, and content creation across Mattel’s legacy and new brands, and will be responsible for driving innovation throughout the portfolio. He will report directly to Mattel CEO Bryan Stockton and will serve as a member of the company’s executive leadership team. [Read more...]

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.

WWE Slam City Launches with Mattel Toy Line

WWESlamCityMattel Inc. and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) recently launched WWE Slam City, a new kids property that includes a complete line of WWE Slam City merchandise as well as an original animated short-form series co-produced by WWE and Mattel’s Playground Productions. WWE Slam City toys, including action figures, ring sets and more, are currently available at major retail stores. In addition to toys, books and graphic novels will be available by year’s end, while a WWE Slam City mobile game will be in stores next year.

Episodes will be aired on WWESlamCity.com, Cartoonium, and YouTube in addition to TV broadcasts, live events, digital version, and social media. Other platforms include Hulu, Mattel.com, iTunes, and Playstation.

The series was filmed in the next generation of stop-motion animation. A new WWE animated character will fire all of the WWE Superstars and send them to Slam City to find day jobs. The characters, including John Cena, Randy Orton, and Sheamus will have a new lifestyle outside of the ring but will stay true to their personas.

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...]

Mattel, WWE Extend Partnership Until 2019

WWEMattel Inc. and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) will be extending their global master toy licensing agreement through 2019.

Since 2009, Mattel and WWE have developed a diverse portfolio of toys currently available in more than 50 global markets around the world. WWE has ranked as the No. 1 action figure property in the U.S., ranging from FlexForce figures that incorporate signature WWE Superstar moves to plush Brawlin’ Buddies.

“We are excited to continue our partnership with WWE as they expand their global footprint and leverage our global scale to deliver WWE toys to kids around the world,” said Doug Wadleigh, Senior Vice President, Global Brands Marketing, Boys and Entertainment for Mattel.

Ghostbusters Celebrates 30th Anniversary with Licensing Program

Ghostbusters Minimates, from Diamond Select Toys

Ghostbusters Minimates, from Diamond Select Toys

Ghostbusters, one of the most successful film franchises of all time, will be celebrating its 30th  Anniversary next year. Sony Pictures Consumer Products (SPCP) will launch an all new program targeting the core fan base with products in categories such as apparel, toys, construction, collectibles, and publishing through partnerships. SPCP will participate in events and engage in new partnerships sure to excite fans new and old.

SPCP has partnered with pop culture art gallery, Gallery 1988 to create a traveling art show designed by top artists, which will include their interpretations of Ghostbusters over the last 30 years. Limited-edition screen prints and posters will be available during each stop of the tour, which will conclude at Comic-Con International in San Diego.

Some of the global toy, publishing, and apparel licensees supporting the anniversary are Mattel Inc., IDW Publishing, World Tech Toys, Quantum Mechanics, Factory Entertainment, Diamond Select and Medicom Toys, Mad Engine, Titan Figures, Uniqlo, Kientai, and BCI. Funko and Underground Toys will produce collectibles and novelty products.