Southard Communications Adds to Its Roster

Southard Communications has landed several major accounts and relocated its New York office to the downtown area. New account wins include School Zone Publishing, for which the agency will launch a new Little Scholar kids tablet; eCarrot, a Reno-based kids technology and software company; and Maverix USA, which is launching a line of electric skateboards in the U.S.

Meanwhile, after almost two decades in the flatiron district, Southard has expanded its New York headquarters with new space at 111 John Street.

Along with toys, other industries of expertise for Southard include juvenile and baby products, consumer electronics and technology, digital applications and software, fitness, and more.

New Affiliation Between TIA and CTA Now in Effect

A new affiliate agreement between the U.S. Toy Industry Association (TIA) and the Canadian Toy Association (CTA) went into effect on July 1. As previously reported by TIA, the partnership was formed to help strengthen the products, services, and events both organizations offer their collective members and industry stakeholders throughout North America.

Under the terms of the initial three-year partnership agreement, any TIA member with operations in Canada will be eligible to become a member of the CTA with one membership fee, while current CTA members will pay a single set of dues to access the benefits of CTA and TIA membership. A representative of each organization will sit on the leadership committee of the other body, and CTA will maintain its Canadian incorporation, mission, and bylaws.

Every CTA member is now in the TIA membership database and has unrestricted, members only access to TIA’s online products and services, including free educational webinars, proprietary reports on market research and industry practices, legislative bulletins on industry issues, and more. [Read more...]

Toys “R” Us Inc. Names Michael J. Short Chief Financial Officer

Toys “R” Us Inc. has named Michael J. Short executive vice president and chief financial officer, Toys “R” Us Inc., effective June 23. Short was most recently executive vice president and chief financial officer of AutoNation for seven years. He will serve as a member of the company’s global executive committee and report to Antonio Urcelay, chairman of the board and chief executive officer, Toys “R” Us Inc.

Prior to his role at AutoNation, Short was executive vice president and chief financial officer of Universal Orlando, where he served in a variety of finance roles earlier in his career.

TIA to Host Webinar on U.S. Customs and Border Protection Enforcement

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) will host a webinar on June 26 to provide toy industry stakeholders with a behind-the-scenes view of U.S. Customs and Border Protection enforcement and trade facilitation. It will also provide insight into how to streamline the importation of products during the upcoming peak shipping season.

The webinar, Beyond the Ports: Customs and Border Protection Enforcement, will take place from 3 to 4pm. Registration is now open and free for TIA members. More information is available at the TIA website’s Education page.

ASTRA Takes Up New Strategic Goals

The board of directors for the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) has adopted four key goals to guide the organization’s work over the next few years. They include:

  • Building the viability of the specialty toy industry by developing a plan to increase and stabilize the number of independent toy stores over the next three to five years
  • Promoting stronger cooperation and collaboration among ASTRA’s manufacturers, retailers, and sales reps to increase information flow, innovation, and efficiency among member segments
  • Increasing the professionalism of the specialty toy industry by developing new educational and certification programs that address technology, marketing, child development, healthy play, and other issues that contribute to the success of specialty toy businesses
  • Providing tools that can help ASTRA members adopt technology to strengthen their businesses

Members of the ASTRA board of directors evaluated the emerging needs of all segments of the specialty toy industry. They will present the key goals to the full ASTRA membership during the annual ASTRA business meeting on Monday, June 9, at its Marketplace & Academy in Phoenix, Ariz.

Lund and Company Wins First TOYPAC Raffle; Second Fundraiser Kicks Off This Week

Lund and Company Invention LLC was selected as the winner of the Toy Political Action Committee (TOYPAC) Phase I raffle drawing, which was held this past Monday. The company will receive a Toy Fair 2015 prize package, including free booth space, accommodations, and travel.

Every Toy Industry Association (TIA) member company that submitted a Prior Approval Form—which allows TOYPAC to contact company personnel to ask for financial contributions—was entered into the raffle. “TOYPAC enables TIA to collect voluntary personal donations from the Association’s members, combine those funds into a more substantial amount, and direct those contributions to support key legislators on both sides of the aisle through a transparent process,” said Ed Desmond, TIA’s executive vice president of external affairs. [Read more...]

World Congress Promises Comprehensive Look at the Play Industry

Members of all play-related industries are invited to attend the 2014 World Congress of Play, presented by Global Toy Experts and Creativity Inc. The objective is to foster new relationships, ideas, and businesses, and to engage in conversations about the rapidly changing play market.

The Congress will feature a cast of global speakers who touch on all aspects of play, including video games, traditional toys, digital play, board games, music, entertainment, theme parks, and more. There will also be out-of-the-box discussions on where the business of play might be headed.

The event is scheduled to take place from September 8 to 10 at the Parc 55 Wyndham San Francisco in Union Square. Registration can be found online.

WIT Restructures, Unveils New Committees

Women in Toys (WIT), which recognizes and promotes the achievements of outstanding female leaders within the toy industry, recently underwent an organizational change and restructuring. Along with appointing Ashley Mady, president of Brandberry Inc., as its new board president, WIT’s other board appointments are as follows: Stephanie Barone, vice president of product development for Innovative Designs, as treasurer; Caitlin Gutekunst, senior manager, content acquisition and business development at LeapFrog, as regional chapter chair; Jennifer Quattrock, independent design contractor, as design chair; and Mali Baum, CEO of Beezeebee, as chair of international chapters.

WIT also has a new committee-based structure to support the organization’s goals and mission. These committees will focus on such topics as community involvement, empowerment initiatives, public relations, scholarships, and more.

Anyone seeking information about WIT should contact Heidi Schwartz at hschwartz14@gmail.com, or visit the WIT homepage.

U.S. CPSC Now Accepting Comments on Third-Party Testing Costs

Last Thursday, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) hosted a day-long public workshop to gather technical information and evidence that could help to reduce third party testing costs for manufacturers of toys and children’s products sold in the U.S.

Held at the CPSC’s National Product Testing and Evaluation Center in Rockville, Md., the workshop featured presentations of technical data by representatives of industry, consumer groups, and academic institutions. Alan Kaufman, senior vice president of technical affairs for the Toy Industry Association (TIA), and Rebecca Mond, TIA director of federal government affairs, were both on-hand on behalf of the toy industry.

The technical data will assist the CPSC in determining which material types do not contain any of the six banned phthalates, lead, and/or heavy metals listed in the ASTM F963 Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety, and therefore do not need to be routinely tested. [Read more...]

40th Annual ICTI Meeting Starts Today in Tokyo

ICTILogo.pdfRepresentatives of national toy trade associations are convening in Tokyo today for the International Council of Toy Industries (ICTI) 40th annual general meeting. Hosted by the Japan Toy Association and scheduled for April 6 to 9 at the Grand Prince Hotel Takanawa, the meeting will explore issues currently affecting the worldwide toy industry.
In preparation for the meeting, each participating country has submitted a state of the industry report to be discussed during the proceedings. The reports touch on topics such as toy safety, as well as issues of concern to the toy industry, including chemical and environmental impacts.

For more information, contact Molly Carroll at (202) 459-0355 or Tatsuya Kobayashi at 81-3-3829-2513.