Mattel Launches WWE Toy Line Worldwide
World Wrestling Entertainment and Mattel, Inc. have debuted a comprehensive portfolio of WWE action figures and toys for both kids and collectors on store shelves worldwide. Mattel will manufacture, market, and distribute the line. Mattel’s FlexForce Action Figures utilize flex-loaded arms and legs to execute the trademark maneuvers made famous by WWE Superstars such as John Cena, CM Punk, and Rey Mysterio. Other products designed specifically for kids will include Superstar Rings, Championship Belts, Ring Action Megaphone, and motion-activated Tough Talkers that deliver WWE Superstar catch phrases and striking sounds. With all action figures featuring “Superstar Scale,” fans can experience the differences in height and size between WWE Superstars. Mattel’s portfolio of action figures also features an Elite Collection designed with precise detail. This extensive line also comes packed with a collector stand and name card for display. Basic figure single packs will be released every month, while two-packs and Elite figures will roll out every other month. In addition to the global retail launch, Mattel’s line will be available to purchase at the more than 300 live WWE events held throughout the year.
RC2 to Pay $1.25 Million Lead Settlement
RC2 Corp. has agreed to pay a $1.25 million penalty settlement for importing and selling Thomas & Friends children’s toys that contained excessive lead that were above legal limits. As part of the settlement, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said, RC2 Corp. denied that it knowingly violated federal lead laws.
The commission alleged that the company and Learning Curve Brands, Inc., one of its subsidiaries, knowingly imported and sold Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway toys that contained lead levels above the .06 percent by weight.
RC2 recalled approximately 1.7 million units in June and September 2007. The products—which were more than 24 styles of vehicles, building, and train accessories—were sold between May and September 2007.
CPSC Approves Mandate on Registration of Infant, Toddler Products
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) unanimously approved a new rule requiring manufacturers of durable infant or toddler products to establish and maintain a registration card program. As mandated by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, each manufacturer of a durable infant or toddler product will be required to: provide a postage-paid consumer registration form with each product; keep records of consumers who register their products with the manufacturer; and permanently place the manufacturer’s name and contact information, model name and number, and the date of manufacture on each product.
This new rule concerns 18 product categories including full-size cribs and non-full-size cribs; toddler beds; high chairs, booster chairs and hook-on chairs; bath seats; gates and other enclosures for confining a child; play yards; stationary activity centers; infant carriers; strollers; walkers; swings; bassinets and cradles; children’s folding chairs; changing tables; infant bouncers; infant bathtubs; portable toddler bed rails; and infant slings.
ToyQuest Named Master Toy Licensee for Megamind
DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. and ToyQuest have entered into a licensing agreement for DreamWorks’ upcoming movie, Megamind, to be released November 5. ToyQuest will serve as the worldwide master toy licensee, producing a line of products based on the film that includes action figures, vehicles, plush, roleplay products, and playsets. The line will be available in the fall.
THQ, WWE, JAKKS Pacific Reach Settlements
THQ Inc., World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., and JAKKS Pacific, Inc. have reached settlement agreements with respect to the WWE video game and toy licenses, and the THQ/JAKKS Pacific joint venture.
Under the three-party settlement, all claims have been withdrawn and all litigation ended among the parties without any party admitting any wrongdoing. THQ will pay WWE $13.2 million and, additionally, THQ has entered into a new eight-year video game license directly with WWE starting January 1. The license is three years longer than the renewal term under the previous arrangement.
THQ will also pay JAKKS Pacific $20 million over the next four years, in addition to its preferred return payment to JAKKS for the period ending December 31, 2009. The THQ/JAKKS Pacific joint venture will terminate effective December 31, 2009. For more information regarding the new license agreement between WWE and THQ, visit http://investor.thq.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=96376&p=irol-news&nyo=0.
Madame Alexander Launches Exclusive Lines in Stores
New dolls from Madame Alexander have premiered in Wal-Mart, Costco, Sears, Toys “R” Us, and Target stores. The 18-inch play dolls range in price from $24.99 to $29.99, and feature outfits that can be changed and shared with the other dolls and easy-to-style hair. Madame Alexander’s in-store exclusive lines of play dolls include: Friends 4 Life for Walmart, Madame Alexander for Target, Dollie & Me for Sears, Alexander Girlz for Costco, and Mia Bella for Toys “R” Us.
Battat Appointed Master Toy Licensee for Baby Genius
Pacific Entertainment Corporation has appointed Battat as the master toy licensee for its Baby Genius brand for infants and toddlers, launched earlier this year. Under the written agreement, Battat will continue manufacturing an extensive line of Baby Genius pre-school learning and development toys.
The initial assortment includes activity, musical, and role-play toys that incorporate the Baby Genius principle of music as a tool for engaging and learning. The Joester Loria Group, exclusive licensing agency for Baby Genius, brokered the deal.
Buffalo Games to Introduce William Wegman Puzzles
Buffalo Games is partnering with award-winning artist William Wegman to release four of his photographs in 500-piece jigsaw puzzles. Each puzzle will feature a unique visual interpretation of his classic Weimaraners images. The William Wegman 500 Piece Series of jigsaw puzzles will include Roller Rover, Stanley, Dockers, and Farm Days, and will be released this month.
Wal-Mart’s Cost-Saving Plan
According to a Financial Times report, Wal-Mart Stores plan to cut costs by combining purchasing for several countries. Eduardo Castro-Wright, head of Walmart's U.S. stores, says that shifting to direct purchasing could reduce costs by 5 to 15 percent across the supply chain within five years, with potential savings of $4 billion to $12 billion if the retailer meets its long-term goal of shifting to sourcing about 80 percent of purchases directly.
Discovery Bay Games to Develop Norman Rockwell Products
Discovery Bay Games has inked a licensing deal with The Norman Rockwell Licensing Company to produce a line of products based on the images and illustrations by the American artist. The Norman Rockwell line of products will include playing card decks, wood puzzles, high quality 500- and 1000-piece jigsaw puzzles, and paint-by-number kits. The products will be available in the fall. The exact Norman Rockwell images to be used for the products have yet to be determined.
Day After Christmas Named Second-Biggest Shopping Day of Holiday Season
According to ShopperTrak, the day after Christmas was the second-biggest shopping day during the U.S. holiday season. Shoppers spent $7.9 billion on December 26, although traffic in stores fell 6.6 percent compared to the day last year. Black Friday was the biggest shopping day of the U.S. holiday season, with sales totaling $10.66 billion.
Sales during the week ending December 26 rose by an estimated 8.8 percent, while traffic at U.S. stores fell 1 percent. ShopperTrak co-founder Bill Martin concluded that consumers purchased more compared to last year but with fewer trips. ShopperTrak predicts a 1.6 percent retail sales increase and a 4.2 percent U.S. foot traffic decline, compared to last year.
Fresno Duo Sue JAKKS Pacific for Copyright Infringement
According to The Fresno Bee, mother and daughter Cindy Reichman and Shelly Conte are suing JAKKS Pacific for $100 million in damages for copyright infringement. Reichman and Conte are representing themselves in the lawsuit, which accuses the toy manufacturer of patent infringement, unfair competition, and trade secret misappropriation.
The mother and daughter created and patented a doll called Hide-N-Seek Hayley, manufactured by Kid-riffic toy company, which was sold nationwide at Toys “R” Us and Kmart stores in 2005. According to the report, after becoming a top seller that year, sales from the doll plummeted after Play Along Toys, a division of JAKKS Pacific, introduced the Hide ’N Seek Care Bear. The two also developed a companion hide-and-seek toy dog named Sammie. In the lawsuit, Reichman and Conte say the $100 million includes punitive damages, loss of sales, and potential royalties.
German Toy Fair to Include Global Toy Summit
The first Global Toy Summit will premiere at February’s Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair Nurnberg. The summit, “Understanding Markets and Implementing Marketing Strategies,” will feature a trade summit February 8-9 and a manufacturers’ summit on February 9.
The trade summit will be focused on boosting sales by inspiring customers and will conclude with a lecture by consultant and author Alexander Christiani, where he will reveal successful strategies by the world’s top sales people.
The manufacturers’ summit will feature a panel discussion on toy safety by industry representatives Luis Montoya, head of Unit for International Regulatory Agreements, Toy Safety, and Maureen Logghe, policy officer, toy safety legislation. Other speakers will include Carter Keithley, president of the American Toy Industry Association, and Hsiao-Ni Liu from the inspection body TÜV Rheinland. For more information, visit http://www.toyfair.de/summit.
Scholastic to Release The Baby-sitters Club Prequel Book
Scholastic will publish an original new novel, called The Summer Before, as part of The Baby-Sitters Club seriesby Ann M. Martin. The Summer Before will be a prequel to the first book in the series, and will be released in hardcover in April. Scholastic also plans to re-issue new paperback editions of original The Baby-sitters Club books starting in April with Kristy’s Great Idea (book No. 1) and Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls (book No. 2), followed by The Truth About Stacey (book No. 3) in June. Additional titles will be re-issued in the fall.
Department, Toy Store Websites See Big Traffic Gains in November
Nearly four out of five consumers who went online in November visited an online retail site, according to a comScore Media Metrix. The report, a part of a monthly analysis of U.S. online activity the company conducts, also showed that websites of department stores and toy stores saw the biggest traffic increases from October.
Websites for department stores tied for the top-gaining retail category, growing 33 percent from October to November with nearly 81 million visitors. Walmart.com saw an increase of 62 percent, Target.com increased by 43 percent, and Sears.com gained 36 percent. According to the report, toy websites also increased 33 percent to 27.4 million visitors. Toys “R” Us, Inc.’s websites led the way with an increase of 82 percent compared to October, and LEGO’s retail websites increased by 12 percent.
Original Writer Confirms New Ghostbusters Film
Harold Ramis, the co-writer of the original 1984 Ghostbusters film, has confirmed to Heebmagazine.com that there are plans for the third film in the series to be filmed next summer and released in 2011. The Ghostbusters 3 project is expected to include many members of the original cast and new, younger Ghostbusters.
Nocopi Renews Exclusive Licenses with Elmer’s Divisions
Nocopi Technologies, Inc., a company that provides solutions for product counterfeiting, diversion, and creative ink technologies for national and international clients, has renewed its exclusive license with Giddy Up and Color Loco, divisions of Elmer’s Products, Inc. Giddy Up and Color Loco’s product lines include Blendy Pens, ColorSplitz, Dotza, SprayZa, Water WOW, Color-N-Carry, and Surprize Ink.
The World of Beatrix Potter to Come to Animated TV
Frederick Warne & Co., Ltd, owner of the Beatrix Potter property, and Chorion are creating a new animation based on Beatrix Potter’s characters, including Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle-duck, Benjamin Bunny, and Mr. Jeremy Fisher. The animated TV series will be distributed internationally.
Chorion’s Copyrights Group has been Frederick Warne’s licensing agent for more than 25 years. Chorion and Frederick Warne will continue to develop the licensing program for Beatrix Potter’s characters, while Warne will retain all publishing rights to the property.
Green Toys Premieres New Infant Toys
Green Toys is introducing a new line of eco-friendly toys for infants called My First Green Toys. The line includes a new stacker, tugboat, and cooking play ware. The Green Toys Stacker features colorful nesting pieces that stack together from large to small without a center post. The Green Toys Tugboat is made from recycled plastic milk containers like the rest of the company’s products. The Green Toys Blocks include 18 boldly colored, lightweight blocks in a variety of shapes for stacking and building. The company also will unveil new cooking play ware that is safe to eat off of, such as BPA-free feeding utensils, spoons, bowl set, and plate set.
Chuggington to Premiere on Playhouse Disney
Ludorum’s first preschool property, Chuggington, will premiere on Playhouse Disney in the U.S. on January 18. The train-centric series features 26 interactive episodes, following three best friends who explore, work, and play. Each episode teaches social-emotional values for “riding the rails of life.”
Chuggington debuted in the UK on BBC Two in September 2008 and CBeebies in January 2009. The CGI-animated show is also broadcasted in France, Australia, Germany, Japan, and Canada. Episodes will air Tuesday through Friday at 10:30 a.m. ET/PT and weekends at 7:30 a.m. ET/PT.
Mary Meyer Appoints Exclusive Canadian Distributor
Mary Meyer has named Auralim Gifts as its exclusive Canadian distributor. The agreement took effect on January 1. Auralim Gifts is based in Markham, Ontario.
There’s Still Time to Submit Toy Fair Products
The Toy Book’s editorial deadline for Toy Fair submissions has passed. If you would like to make a submission for our February Toy Fair issue, please contact Jackie Breyer, firstname.lastname@example.org, to request an extension. If you are interested in advertising, there’s still time. Please contact Jonathan Samet: email@example.com.
The Toy Book Is Now Online!
It is now even easier to keep up with the latest trends, news, and products in the toy industry. Check out The Toy Book’s November/December issue, now available online, by clicking here. You can also check out The Licensing Book online by clicking here.