Author: Jackie Breyer

Spin Master Expands Global Presence with Australian Subsidiary

Spin Master Corp. is forming an Australian subsidiary Spin Master Australia (Pty) Ltd. Spin Master Australia will begin trading in 2017 and will assume distribution for the majority of the company’s brands for Australia. Based on NPD data, Spin Master was the fourth largest toy, games, and entertainment company in North America in 2015 and ranks in the top 10 globally based on Euromonitor data. Spin Master has distributed product in Australia and New Zealand for over 15 years. Overseeing business operations will be Jacqui Webster, recently appointed as general manager, Australia and New Zealand, reporting into Derek Seidewand, vice president, International Sales. Prior to joining Spin Master, Webster held senior roles with Hasbro, Mattel, Paramount Pictures, and several international consumer packaged goods companies. Spin Master Australia will be based in Sydney, NSW, and a warehouse location will be finalized in the coming...

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UNESCO and CJ E&M Partner to Support Girls’ Education Global Campaign

CJ E&M, an Asian content and media company, and UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, have partnered to support UNESCO’s girls’ education global campaign with Rainbow Ruby, CJ E&M’s new preschool animation series. “Rainbow Ruby is the first original global animation series created by CJ E&M as a co-production project with China Entertainment that will reach out to a global audience,” said Sang Gill (Tschaik) Lee, EVP, CJ E&M. “Rainbow Ruby is a 3D CGI animation series that follows a 6-year-old girl named Ruby as she transports to Rainbow Village, where her toys come alive. Throughout the series Ruby experiences different professions, introducing preschool girls to the concept of a dream job, letting them imagine how their jobs can improve their lives in the future. I strongly believe it will be a fun and exciting experience for girls.” The “Better Life for Girls” campaign, launched in November 2014 by CJ E&M and UNESCO, aims to help address the lack of access to quality education faced by girls in developing regions. It is the first time that UNESCO joins a global partnership centered on an animation-based character for its key initiative. Rainbow Ruby aims to help empower young girls to dream big and look to a bright future. The animation series also brings awareness to the harsh reality that girls and young women in many developing regions...

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Statement from Tech 4 Kids on Passing of Elise Lachowyn

Tech 4 Kids announced the sudden passing of Elise Lachowyn on Friday, February 12. Elise was involved in a tragic accident in New York City on her way to North American International Toy Fair. Lachowyn leaves behind her husband Drew and 6-year-old daughter, Skyler. Lachowyn was a veteran of the toy industry and a friend and colleague to many.  As a member of the senior leadership team of Tech 4 Kids, Elise was a highly respected, admired, and accomplished individual who will be greatly missed by all. In loving memory of Elise Lachowyn, Tech 4 Kids has set up a trust fund for Skyler and will be matching all donations....

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VTech to Acquire LeapFrog in $72 Million Deal

VTech will acquire 100 percent of the outstanding common stock of LeapFrog through an all-cash tender offer followed by a second-step merger. In the tender offer, VTech will offer LeapFrog investors $1.00 per share for LeapFrog’s Class A and Class B shares, which represents a 75.4 percent premium over the closing price of LeapFrog’s Class A shares on February 4, 2016. The total purchase consideration amounts to approximately $72 million. VTech will fund the tender offer through internal resources. The tender offer will commence on or around March 3, 2016, and will be open for a minimum of 20 business days. The closing of the transaction is subject to satisfaction of certain conditions set forth in the merger agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies. LeapFrog’s Board has agreed to unanimously recommend to its stockholders that they tender their shares of LeapFrog common stock pursuant to the tender offer. “We are delighted to have the LeapFrog brand joining VTech, bringing together two of the great names in children’s learning and entertainment,” says Allan Wong, chairman and group CEO of VTech Holdings Ltd., in a press release. “VTech has been a pioneer in the electronic learning toy category for 35 years. The acquisition will allow us to offer the broadest portfolio of products that enhances the education and development of children across the...

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Hasbro and Mattel in Merger Talks

Bloomberg is reporting that Hasbro Inc. and Mattel Inc. have held talks about merging two of the world’s biggest toymakers, according to people familiar with the matter. Hasbro approached Mattel about a potential transaction late last year, and the companies have held on-and-off talks about a deal, the people said. Representatives for Mattel declined to comment, while representatives for Hasbro didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Mattel shares rose 4 percent to $33.03 today, valuing the company at about $11.2 billion. Hasbro rose 1.6 percent to $76.19 after climbing as high as $78.45, valuing the company at about $9.5 billion. Last week, Mattel unveiled Barbie dolls with a wider array of body types and skin tones in an effort to expand the brand’s appeal. Hasbro is the toy licensee for Disney’s top properties, including Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Disney Princess, and Disney...

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BREAKING: Patch Enters STEM Category with Acquisition of Roominate

Patch Products expands from puzzles, toys, and games into the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) category with the acquisition of Roominate. STEM has become a prominent topic within the toy industry, as it builds and supports education through play. Roominate is an award-winning line of complete building sets that are designed for girls in order to bridge the gender gap in STEM fields. The line was started with the goal of opening up possibilities for girls by showing them that creativity and engineering are fun. Roominate currently consists of 12 sets, for ages 6 and up. Children can build interactive sets including a school bus, an amusement park, and more that come to life through the use of devices such as motors and lights. An interactive app allows kids to remotely control their builds, and get design ideas from fellow “Roominaters.” Roominate’s founders will remain involved and play a vital role in the future of the brand, according to Patch. “Patch’s entrepreneurial spirit and innovative culture is exactly what we were looking for to help grow Roominate,” says Alice Brooks, co-founder of Roominate. “We’re happy about this significant development and look forward to working with the Patch team to continue to inspire the next generation of innovators.” “We are excited and honored to take on a concept that gets girls excited about engineering through play,” says Bob Wann,...

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Super Impulse Expands into Blaster Category

Super Impulse, the company behind the World’s Smallest line, is set to release Precision RBS (Rubber Band System), a new twist on traditional foam dart blasters, in the spring. Precision RBS is a line of rubber band launchers that allows for safe and intense fun. Super Impulse says that the Precision RBS line with feature more ammo, more power, and more accuracy than any other launchers currently on store shelves. The company will launch the brand with various events hosted across North America throughout the year. The Precision RBS line will include the lightweight Talos, which holds up to 20 rubber bands in two sizes, launches up to 30 feet, and includes a built-in extender.The Chiron has storage for up to 100 rubber bands and features a quick-loading design and a release option to separate into two completely different RBS Shooters, including a hand launcher. At the top of the line is the Hyperion. It offers pinpoint accuracy and extended range. It has the capacity to hold three different band sizes, with extra side storage. It also boasts a burst feature, which allows it to launch 14 bands at once. Each of the Precision RBS blasters is recommended for ages 8 and up....

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Global Toy Sales Rise Seven Percent

Toy industry sales are up 7 percent overall (January-September 2015) across 11 global markets, according to The NPD Group. Russia, Mexico, and Poland show growth that surpasses established markets, with double-digit growth through the third quarter of this year. Russia is showing the fastest growth among the markets that NPD tracked globally. Despite the country’s high inflation, Russian consumers are spending more money on toys and are buying more of them. The largest super-category in Russia is building sets, which has been growing 50 percent faster than the rest of the toy market. The study also shows that the top three best-selling toys in the U.S. is the Hot Wheels Car Basic Assortment from Mattel, Minecraft Mini Figures Assortment from Mattel, and Paw Patrol Basic Vehicle with Puppy Assortment from Spin Master.     Top Three Best-Selling Toys, By Country* United States 1) Mattel – Hot Wheels Car Basic Assortment 2) Mattel – Minecraft Mini Figures Assortment 3) Spin Master – Paw Patrol Basic Vehicle with Puppy Assortment Canada 1) LEGO – LEGO Minifigures 2) Mattel – Hot Wheels Car Basic Assortment 3) LEGO – City Great Vehicles United Kingdom 1) LEGO – LEGO Minifigures 2) Flair Preziosi – Shopkins 2 Pack 3) Mookie Toys – Smart Trike 4-in-1 Trike Assortment Russia 1) Mattel – Hot Wheels Car Basic Assortment 2) Hasbro – Furby Boom 3) Hasbro – Furby...

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You’re a Box Office Hit, Charlie Brown!

The Peanuts Movie launched in the U.S. this past weekend to box office success. The film earned $45 million over its first weekend, and will roll out globally to 100 countries over the next six weeks. Digital efforts leading up to the movie launch included the PeanutizeMe website. To date, more than 6 million characters have been created. The Wah Wah machine brought the iconic Peanuts “adult voice” into the digital age. There is also a designated Peanuts Movie Sticker Pack on Facebook. Peanuts has also invaded the toy aisle, where the property hasn’t had much presence in the past, with Just Play’s Happy Dance Snoopy leading the charge. Peanuts Worldwide/Iconix Entertainment recently announced that Peanuts shorts based on the strip will be on air in the U.S. on Cartoon Network and Boomerang. This December will mark the 50th Anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas, and consumers can expect to see special events surrounding this milestone, including a new TV special hosted by Kristen Bell airing on ABC focusing on the enduring power of the original special. In additional news, Snoopy will fly in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Peanuts gang will star in Macy’s holiday windows, and Snoopy will serving as Macy’s 2015 Holiday...

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