Toys “R” Us Extends Hours, Offers Last-Minute Deals for the Holidays

toysrus.croppedIn the days leading up to Christmas, Toys “R” Us will offer extended shopping hours at stores nationwide. From December 20 through December 22, stores will remain open from 6 a.m. until 2 a.m., while beginning at 6 a.m. on December 23, and continuing through 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve, Toys “R” Us stores will be open around the clock.

At Toys “R” Us stores between now and December 20, deals are available on all Barbie dolls, Charmazing kits, Transformers Stomp & Chomp Grimlock, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Combos or Blu-ray combo packs with ear buds and masks, Skylanders Trap Team Starter Packs, LeapTV systems, The Lego Movie DVD with Lego construction set, Imaginext toys, and select board games (while supplies last). [Read more...]

Toys “R” Us Inc. Reports Third Quarter Financial Results

toysrus.croppedOn Thursday, Toys “R” Us Inc. reported financial results for the third quarter ended November 1. Adjusted EBITDA for the third quarter improved by $43 million compared to the prior year period, while consolidated gross margin, as a percentage of net sales, increased by 90 basis points compared to the prior year period. Gross margin dollars were $908 million, compared to $896 million for the prior year period, an increase of $12 million.

Gross margin, as a percentage of net sales, was 36.9 percent, an increase of 0.9 percentage points versus the prior year period. The margin improvement was primarily attributable to the domestic segment, which increased by 1.8 percentage points, to 35.3 percent, as a result of promotional efficiencies. [Read more...]

FINRA Fines 10 Firms for Offering Favorable Research Coverage in Connection with Toys “R” Us IPO

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has fined 10 firms a total of $43.5 million for allowing their equity research analysts to solicit investment banking business and for offering favorable research coverage in connection with the 2010 planned initial public offering of Toys “R” Us.

FINRA fined the following firms: Barclays Capital Inc., $5 million; Citigroup Global Markets Inc., $5 million; Credit Suisse Securities (USA), LLC, $5 million; Goldman, Sachs & Co., $5 million; JP Morgan Securities LLC, $5 million; Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., $4 million; Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc., $4 million; Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC, $4 million; Wells Fargo Securities LLC, $4 million; Needham & Company LLC, $2.5 million.

In April 2010, Toys “R” Us and its private equity owners invited these 10 firms to compete for a role in Toys “R” Us’ planned IPO. FINRA found that each of the 10 firms used its equity research analyst as part of its solicitation for a role in the IPO. Specifically, Toys “R” Us asked equity research analysts from each of the 10 firms to make separate presentations to Toys “R” Us’ management and sponsors for the purpose of ensuring that the analysts’ views on key issues, including valuation factors, were aligned with the views expressed by the firms’ investment bankers. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Sibling Rivalries Exist in the Toy World, Too

FrozenproductsA real-life sibling rivalry exists between Disney’s Frozen Elsa and Anna products—with one sister clearly winning. According to a Wall Street Journal article published last month, Disney marketing executives expected the sisters to be equals in popularity. As such, they were caught off-guard by the overwhelming preference for Elsa, who outsells Anna in dolls, toys, costumes, and other items. Disney, in response, makes sure to keep Elsa items in-stock at stores: For example, about 10 percent more Elsa dolls are stocked than Anna ones at Wal-Mart, according to the same Wall Street Journal article.

To help combat the Frozen sibling rivalry, companies are selling dolls with both sisters, and sales data from last holiday season shows that girls want to play with dolls or role-play with costumes featuring both characters. In turn, companies such as Jakks Pacific, as well as retailers like Toys “R” Us, are making and selling products, respectively, that involve the two sisters. [Read more...]

Toy Fair 2015 Sells Out of Exhibit Space

ToyFair15LogoAs reported by the Toy Industry Association (TIA), exhibit space for the 112th North American International Toy Fair, scheduled for February 14 to 17, has officially sold out. The show has already surpassed a record-breaking 419,000 net square feet of exhibit space at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, and going forward, prospective Toy Fair exhibitors will be placed on a wait list (under no financial obligation).

The expanded show floor, equivalent in size to more than seven football fields, will feature hundreds of thousands of innovative new toys, games, and youth entertainment products. The North American International Toy Fair draws buyers, licensors, entertainment executives, and other play professionals from 100 countries, who will be on-hand scouting toy trends, spotting unique product lines and brands, and writing orders for next year.

Major global retail outlets already registered to attend include Toys “R” Us, Wal-Mart, Target, Amazon, Apple, and Hobby Lobby.

Encyclopaedia Britannica Launches Line of Kids Products

britannicakidsEncyclopaedia Britannica Inc. has partnered with Phoenix International Publications Inc. to develop and market a line of educational products under the Britannica Kids brand. JRL Group, Encyclopaedia Britannica’s licensing agency, brokered the deal.

The first product, Britannica Interactive Animal Library, is an 8-book boxed set including the titles Tooth & Claw, Reptiles, Birds, Bugs, Extinct Animals, Amazing Mammals, Sea Animals, and Hoof & Horns. Each book contains interesting facts and questions as well as vivid photos and illustrations about a number of captivating animals. The set also includes an interactive pen that lights up and provides audio answers to the quiz at the end of each section. Britannica Interactive Animal Library is now available at retailers including Costco, Costco Canada, and Toys “R” Us.

Wicked Cool Toys to Launch Wild Kratts Toy Offering at Toys “R” Us

Nov24.9MediaWild Kratts, the animated adventure series from Kratt Brothers Company and 9 Story Media Group, has reached the No. 1 spot for kids 4 to 8 and kids 6 to 11 across all networks. The strong performance of the brand also extends to toys and books.

Master toy licensee Wicked Cool Toys has launched a toy offering at Toys “R” Us, toysrus.com, and shop.pbskids.com. Due to the line’s strong initial performance, new items have been developed, including a Tortuga playset deluxe power suit with sound, as well as hero and villain packs. The new items were on display at the Dallas Fall Mass Market Preview and are expected to be available at retail next fall. Random House Kids has also released the fist Wild Kratts book in the U.S. and Canada, which needed to be reprinted because initial sales did so well.

The expansion comes shortly after PBS Kids greenlit a fourth season and 9 Story announced new sales of the series to France Télévisions (France), E Junior (United Arab Emirates) and Canal Panda (Portugal). Wild Kratts has previously been licensed to Discovery Kids (Latin America and Asia), Super RTL (Germany), Al Jazeera Children’s Channel (Middle East), Noga (Israel), TV3 (Spain), SIC (Portugal), Dublin Films (Ireland), VRT (Belgium), Chello Media (Eastern Europe), MediaCorp PTD Ltd. (Singapore), TV3 Catalunya (Spain), Minika (Turkey), and Primetime (Colombia).

Toys “R” Us to Celebrate 11 Days of Cyber Savings

toysrus.croppedToys “R” Us will be celebrating 11 days of savings at toysrus.com beginning Wednesday and continuing through December 6, the end of Cyber Week. Online shoppers will find daily deals, enhanced services, and free shipping offers during the period of gift shopping.

Toysrus.com will kick off Black Friday shopping on Wednesday night starting at 10 p.m. The website will also offer customers deals in the season’s most sought-after items throughout Cyber Week, with Cyber Monday sales beginning on Sunday, November 30 at 9 p.m.

In addition to daily deals, a three-day Big Brands sale will take place from December 2 through December 4, featuring brands such as Barbie, Fisher-Price, Frozen, Lego, Skylanders, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and more. Also, a two-day event from December 5 through December 6 will provide shoppers with bargains on big gift items like dollhouses and powered ride-ons.

Jakks Pacific Renews Global Toy License for Slugterra

slugterraJakks Pacific has extended its contract for the hit boys action property Slugterra from Nerd Corps Entertainment Inc. The toy manufacturer’s Slugterra toy line launched in the U.S. in February of 2013, several months after the series’ premiere in October of 2012.

Originally consisting of collectible slug figures, blasters, and darts, Jakks Pacific has since expanded the line to include human action figures, vehicles, plush, and stretchy velocimorph flyers. New styles of blasters and darts, as well as several waves of new slug figures have also been introduced.

To date, Jakks Pacific’s Slugterra toys have launched in dozens of countries, and the inclusion of exclusive game codes for Nerd Corps’ online Slugterra games and mobile game, Slug It Out!, will soon be implemented globally. The fourth wave of slug figures is slated to arrive at Toys “R” Us across the U.S. this fall, accompanied by a Toys “R” Us-exclusive 10-pack of the second wave of slugs.

Nerd Corps recently announced a green light for a third season of Slugterra, slated to begin rolling out next summer. Jakks Pacific, meanwhile, will introduce new waves of toys through next year.

Charmazing and Toys “R” Us Team Up for Upcoming Demo Events

A Charmazing display, from the October 19 launch event of Charmazing, at the Toys “R” Us Times Square store.

Charmazing, a brand of charm-bracelet-making kit from Wooky Entertainment, has upcoming events planned that will take place at Toys “R” Us-operated locations. These will be demo events, in which store associates will show off Charmazing kits, as well as hand out Charmazing bracelets while supplies last. The events are scheduled for November 22, and will take place at the FAO Schwarz flagship store at 767 Fifth Avenue, from 1 to 5 p.m.; and at Toys “R” Us stores chainwide.

In addition, on November 23, at Toys “R” Us Times Square from 8 to 10:30 a.m., Toys “R” Us and the Charmazing brand will host the Uniformed Firefighters Association Widow’s and Children’s Holiday Party, benefiting families who have lost a loved one in the line of duty. Activities will include Santa Claus arriving aboard a FDNY fire truck, as well as a marching band performance. In addition, some attendees will have the opportunity to take home charm bracelets.