Author: James Zahn

Exclusive: Tim Kilpin Named President of PlayMonster

When Tim Kilpin left Activision Blizzard last year, it was said that he planned on heading home to Wisconsin to “retire.” Well, retirement was short-lived as Kilpin is back in the game as president of Beloit-based PlayMonster LLC. Reporting to Chief PlayMonster Bob Wann, Kilpin will focus on expanding and accelerating PlayMonster’s business with an emphasis on sales, marketing, design, and business development. Wann, in addition to continuing strategic and operational oversight, will increase focus on international growth and acquisitions. “Tim is one of the most experienced, highly accomplished and respected executives in the whole of the industry,” says...

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Sesame Workshop, LEGO Foundation partner for ‘Elmo’s World News’ COVID-19 Special

Sesame Workshop and the LEGO Foundation are bringing a new Sesame Street special to kids around the world. Elmo’s World News finds the iconic red Sesame Street Muppet hosting a pretend news program from his bedroom, calling on Muppet correspondents and kids around the world to share news on how they’re playing and learning while staying safe in an unusual world. “With so many children around the world navigating new routines, it’s more important than ever to give families the tools they need to cope with challenges and foster playful learning at home,” says Sherrie Westin, president of social...

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ViacomCBS Brings The Smurfs to Nickelodeon

The iconic blue mushroom dwellers are getting a major brand relaunch. LAFIG Belgium and IMPS, global licensors for The Smurfs, are partnering with Nickelodeon for an update of the property aimed at a new generation of kids and families around the world. Under the new deal, Nickelodeon licensed global rights to the franchise to produce an original CG-animated series while parent company ViacomCBS takes the reigns to manage consumer products licensing for The Smurfs across the North America, the UK, Singapore, and Malaysia. Papa Smurf, Smurfette, Brainy, Hefty, Clumsy, and others will be back for the new series which...

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2020 ASTRA Best Toys for Kids Award Winners Revealed

Two months after revealing the full list of nominees, the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) pulled back the curtain on the 2020 Best Toys for Kids Award winners. “ASTRA’s Best Toys for Kids award program is different from other top toy lists because it reflects the collective expertise of hundreds of toy retailers who know toys inside out,” says ASTRA President Kimberly Mosley. “The list of winners is a well-balanced representation of the fun, top-quality, high play value products consumers can find in locally-owned neighborhood toy stores around the country.” The 2020 Best Toys for Kids Award Winners:...

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America Falls in Love with Healthy Roots Dolls

Earlier this month, amid the winds of social unrest and sweeping change, something wonderful happened: Thanks to a viral tweet, America discovered a doll named Zoe. Zoe is the first character from Healthy Roots Dolls, “a toy company that creates dolls and storybooks that empower young girls and represent the beauty of our diversity.” Zoe is an 18-inch doll with hair that kids can wash and style. Kids can use real styling products to create puffs, braids, and original styles spawned from the power of imagination. The Founder: The Product: — Yelitsa Jean-Charles (@TheYelitsa) June 6, 2020  ...

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‘That Girl Lay Lay’ Inks an Overall Deal with Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon is banking on a new star. The network inked an overall deal with 13-year-old social media star and hip-hop artist, Alaya “That Girl Lay Lay” High to develop a host of content built around Lay Lay’s brand. The company plans to work with Lay Lay to create music, multiplatform programming, and a full consumer products program spanning fashion, accessories, publishing, and more. “I’m so excited to be joining the Nickelodeon family! I grew up watching Nick and this opportunity is seriously a dream come true,” says Lay Lay. “I have the best fans in the world, and I...

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Cyber Group Studios Enters Production on ’50/50 Heroes’

At MIFA 2020 in Annecy, France, Cyber Group Studios revealed that it has entered production on its latest animated series, 50/50 Heroes. Developed in collaboration with France Télévisions, 50/50 Heroes is the story or Mo and Sam, half-siblings who inherited superhero powers “from their great-great-great-grandma who had a fling with a superhero many moons ago.” According to Cyber Group, the half-siblings have to split their powers down the middle, acting as “sorta superheroes” with no suits and no missions. “I am particularly happy to work with France Télévisions on this new comedy series and to work together with such...

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Little Tikes’ Camp Play@Home Is Open for Business

MGA Entertainment’s (MGAE) Little Tikes is gearing up to help families plan a fun summer filled with adventures at home. Little Tikes Camp Play@Home is a new collection of fun, affordable, easy-to-do projects and activities that Little Tikes is sharing across its website and social channels every Monday through Friday for seven weeks. With many families staying home together this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the related closures of parks, pools, summer camps, and outdoor attractions, Camp Play@Home can help turn bored kids into cheerful campers. And at the end of the day, if parents wish to...

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Toysmith Inks Distribution Deal with Anne McGilvray & Co.

The past few months have brought lots of change for Toysmith. Following the news that the company parted ways with some of its long-time sales reps early this spring, the company inked a deal with Anne McGilvray & Co. (AMCI) to sell its entire portfolio of products in the U.S. Under the new pact, AMCI will begin selling the Toysmith line beginning July 1. “We’ve been looking to rep the Toysmith line for many, many years,” says Anne McGilvray. “I was determined to partner with them and we are ecstatic that this alliance has finally come to fruition.” Liesl...

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Hasbro Reveals Animatronic Deadpool’s Head

Hasbro‘s long-running Marvel Legends collection is getting a unique new addition. During a Hasbro Pulse livestream hosted by Marvel‘s C. B. Cebulski and Ryan Penagos, the company unveiled a new, Deadpool-themed wave of its popular 6-inch scale Marvel Legends series action figures and an animatronic head. Marvel Legends EXCLUSIVE Reveal w/ C.B. Cebulski and Ryan Penagos Happy 6-16, Fans! Check out this EXCLUSIVE #MarvelLegends reveal with @agentM and @CBCebulski. You're going to want to see this one.#Hasbro #Pulse #Marvel #MarvelLegendsSeries #MarvelLegendsCollection #MarvelFan Posted by Hasbro Pulse on Tuesday, June 16, 2020 Deadpool’s Head is described as a “premium interactive...

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