HoliDAY of Play 2015

Toy State, Mattel Enter Licensing Partnership for Monster High R/C

ToyStateLogoToy State will design a new line of R/C toys under its Nikko brand featuring Monster High under a licensing agreement with Mattel. The toys are scheduled to hit retail stores in the U.S. and Canada next fall.

This deal comes on the heels of Toy State signing agreements with Mattel for Barbie, Hot Wheels, and Thomas & Friends, marking the most recent expansion of the licensing relationship between the two companies.


Fisher-Price Enters Multi-Year Play Area Partnership with CBL and Playtime

FisherPriceFisher-Price Inc. has entered into a five-year partnership with CBL & Associates Properties Inc. and Playtime LLC to design soft play area attractions at select CBL malls nationwide. Each play area will resemble a larger-than-life toy box featuring brands such as Thomas & Friends, Little People, and more.

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WBCP to Show Off Toy Partnerships at Comic-Con International: San Diego

WB Consumer ProductsWarner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) will be at Comic-Con International: San Diego in support of its licensed toy partners, which will feature exclusive products ranging from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to DC Super Hero Girls, to Scooby-Doo, and more.

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Q&A with Andy Friess, President of Toy State

AndyFriess,headshotHaving recently been promoted to the position of president of Toy State, it seemed like a good time to sit down with Andy Friess to talk about the state of his company, its high-profile sponsorship agreement with Tommy Baldwin Racing, its upcoming plans for the R/C brand, Nikko, and more.

The Toy Book (TTB): How important are new licensing agreements to the growth of Toy State? 

Andy Friess (AF): Licensing plays a major role in our success. With the competition so tough in all toy categories, securing rights to strong licenses can provide the point-of-difference that separates us from our competitors. Toy State’s history of developing products featuring the highest levels of quality and innovation has been a great “selling” tool as we seek new licensing opportunities. We’ve been extremely fortunate to work with a core of outstanding global licensors, and these relationships have been instrumental to the successes we have achieved over our 30-plus-year history. The 13-year, multi-category relationship with Caterpillar has been the foundation of our licensing efforts.

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Q&A with Mattel: Social Media, 3-D Printing, and More

logo_Mattel logoThe Toy Book (TTB): In what new ways are you using social media to correspond directly with consumers?

Mattel: We engage with consumers across all brand and corporate social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, as well as retailer sites, like Wal-Mart and Kohl’s. At Mattel, we have a fully functioning reporting and engineering team dedicated to understanding what the consumer is saying and turning that data into actionable improvements for both our manufacturing and design process.

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Mattel’s HIT Entertainment to Develop New Thomas & Friends Digital Content

Thomas&Friends,70yearsThomas & Friends will embark on new adventures that will arrive on YouTube throughout this year. The global preschool content development division for Mattel Inc., HIT Entertainment, will develop 52 three-minute original digital videos for Thomas & Friends. The new short-form videos feature Thomas the Tank Engine having adventures off the Island of Sodor in fascinating destinations like London, Paris, and New York City, and coming to life in children’s playrooms. [Read more...]

Christine Kelly to Head Toy and Game Initiatives for National Geographic’s Brand Licensing Division

ChristineKellyNational Geographic has named Christine Kelly as its director of licensing, toys, and games for National Geographic’s Brand Licensing division. In this new role, she has been tasked with National Geographic’s toy business—both licensing and strategic retail partnerships. She will oversee marketing, retail strategy and product development, including new franchises. [Read more...]

Mattel Makes Changes to Executive Leadership Team

logo_Mattel logoMattel Inc. has made key changes to its executive leadership team, effective immediately. Richard Dickson and Tim Kilpin will assume expanded responsibilities as president, chief brands officer, and president, chief commercial officer, respectively. Both will report to Mattel Chairman and CEO, Bryan G. Stockton. [Read more...]

Fisher-Price Appoints Vinnie D’Alleva to SVP, Steve LaBella to Licensed Properties

FisherPriceFisher-Price Inc. has appointed Vinnie D’Alleva as senior vice president (SVP) at Fisher-Price Friends. D’Alleva will be responsible for the Thomas & Friends brand, as well as other HIT Entertainment properties such as Bob the Builder. He has more than 25 years of marketing experience, a majority of it spent in the toy and juvenile product space.

In addition, Steve LaBella, who currently seves as senior vice president of Fisher-Price Preschool, will also assume the additional role of being responsible for product development for licensed properties, including Dora and Friends: Into the City! and Jake and the Neverland Pirates.

Mattel Launches New Direct-to-Consumer Strategy for Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway

Thomas_Hero_CGI_ApprovedMattel is bringing a new shopping experience to Thomas & Friends fans nationwide, through a cross-company collaboration that began this month. Anchored by the Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway product line, the new experience includes the first ever Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway direct-to-consumer catalogue, e-commerce website, and partnerships with 20 independent specialty retail stores, which will serve as official Thomas & Friends Specialty Stations in the U.S.

Thomas & Friends will also introduce a limited-release wooden engine, Logan, a Shunter that works at the coal plant, and is only available in the U.S. through the new catalogue, e-commerce website, and official specialty stations. Logan will also be the first of a series of limited-release engines to be introduced by the new program annually.

The e-commerce website,, launches in August, and the Logan wooden engine will be available through December 31 of next year.

In addition, moving forward, Toys “R” Us will become the exclusive national chain retailer of Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway.