January 14, 2011


Generator Rex Costumes from Rubie’s to Premiere This Halloween

Generator RexRubie’s Costume Co., Inc. has signed a deal for Halloween costumes based on the action-adventure series Generator Rex. The upcoming Generator Rex costume line will be for kids and will be based on the most popular characters from the television show, such as Rex and his evil counterpart Van Kleiss. Rubie’s Costume Co. signed the deal with Cartoon Network Enterprises (CNE).


Sakar Partners for Gummy Bear and Monster High Products

Gummy BearsSakar International is debuting a new line of Gummy-textured electronics based on the Gummy Bear brand. The line is being produced under a licensing agreement with Street Players Holding Corporation. In the molded category, the line will include MP3 players, walkie talkies, and digital photo frames. Gummy Bear-branded earbuds will replicate the Gummy Bear shape. Other SKUs will range from a digital camera, with the same translucent look as the candies, to an Apple iPhone case and a Nintendo DSi cover packaged with a molded game stylus. The line is scheduled for Q1 2011 release in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and the UK.
The company has also signed a deal for a “monster chic” line of branded youth electronics based on Mattel’s new franchise, Monster High. For girls’ rooms, products will include a light-up message board, a room doorbell answering machine, a room phone, and a mini-fridge. In the personal electronics arena, products will include text messengers, wireless intercom sets, earbuds, MP4 and CD players, walkie talkies, digital cameras, digital video recorders, and more. All SKUs will incorporate the franchise's pink and black graphic motif and skullette logo. The line is scheduled for release over the next few months in the U.S. and Canada.

Blip Toys Signs Deal for Squinkies Video Games

SquinkiesBlip Toys, the maker of the Squinkies line of collectible figures, has granted Activision Publishing, Inc. the exclusive worldwide rights to develop, manufacture, and distribute video games based on the Squinkies brand and characters. The agreement covers entertainment software products across multiple platforms such as handheld, console, and connected platforms, as well as PC and mobile devices. The new Squinkies video games are expected to debut throughout 2011, with the first Nintendo DS title for girls releasing in April.

The 2011 Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair Opens

Asia’s largest toy show, the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair, organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), opened on Monday. The trade show is also the second largest in the world and expects more than 1,800 exhibitors to be in attendance from 40 countries.

Premiering at this year’s show is the new Eco Toys and Baby Products Display zone, featuring exhibitors with green elements in the products’ design, function, materials, and manufacturing. Other highlights included a networking reception held on Monday evening and attended by Financial Secretary John Tsang, and the launch of Toy Town, a newly published book on the history of the Hong Kong toy industry. Additional details can be found at: www.hktdc.com/hktoyfair. For the full list of seminars and events held during the show, visit HKTDC.com. Three other trade shows organized by HKTDC are also being held during the week: the HKTDC Hong Kong Baby Products Fair, the Hong Kong International Stationery Fair, and the HKTDC Hong Kong International Licensing Show.

Bella Sara Picks Up New Partners in Germany, France

Bella SaraHidden City Entertainment, the rights holder of Bella Sara, has signed a deal with Funny Farm that will allow the company to sell and distribute Bella Sara trading cards in Germany. Bella Sara-licensed products already have a presence in Germany, including an assortment of toys, puzzles and games, apparel, books, DVDs and the Bella Sara Fan Magazine.
Hidden City Entertainment has also partnered with WVG Medien GmbH for a licensing partnership. The new deal gives WVG the rights to distribute Bella Sara Tales in Germany with other programs and products. The DVD is expected to be available in Q1 2011. Anita Vanesch of Active Merchandising brokered the deal.
In France, the company signed a deal with HFN. The agreement, which was brokered by Francoise Bouvet of MJA Licensing, grants HFN the rights to produce an action board game based on Bella Sara. The game will include major horses, characters, and friends and is expected to be available in the fourth quarter of this year.

A2 Partners with India-Based Tata Elxsi for Kids’ Entertainment Venture

A Squared Entertainment (A2) and India-based Tata Elxsi, part of the Tata Group, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to create a joint children’s entertainment venture. Together, the companies will create, develop, and distribute original brands, including animated entertainment and digital gaming.
Tata Elxsi’s Visual Computing Lab (VCL) has been associated with award-winning animation and VFX projects for motion pictures, television programs, and TV commercials. Tata Elxsi also has game development experience across multiple platforms.

Madame Alexander Celebrates 90th Anniversary of Miss America

Miss America dollMadame Alexander is hosting a special event to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Miss America Pageant. The event, to be held January 29 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Golf Resort & Convention Center in Orlando, will feature a meet and greet with the newly crowned Miss America 2011, as well as former Miss America 2004 Ericka Dunlap.
Attendees will receive a limited-edition Cissette doll commemorating Miss America’s milestones, a light breakfast, and a raffle ticket to win the opportunity to purchase a Cissy centerpiece. Admission costs $105. To pre-register (required), visit MadameAlexander.com, or contact Nancy Richards at nancyr@alexdoll.com. Registration form and payment must be received by January 25.



New Report Releases on Mobile Phone Use for Retail Purposes

ForeSee Results has released new research that show that consumers are increasingly using mobile phones for retail purposes. The study surveyed nearly 10,000 visitors to the biggest retail websites in the U.S. (determined by revenue, according to Internet Retailer).
According to the results, one third (33 percent) of respondents have used their phone to access a retailer website, and an additional 26 percent plan to access retailer websites or mobile apps by phone in the future. Most consumers accessed retailer websites to compare price information (56 percent). Other reasons included to compare different products (46 percent), look up product specifications (35 percent), and to view product reviews (27 percent). During the 2010 holiday season, more consumers purchased from their mobile phones (11 percent), compared to the year before (2 percent).
The report also states that 69 percent of shoppers that used their phone to access a retailer website in a physical store did so to visit that store’s website. Nearly half (46 percent) accessed a competitor’s website.
In general, shoppers rate their satisfaction with traditional retail websites higher (78 on the study’s 100-point scale) than with mobile experiences, such as mobile websites and apps (75).

Fox Unveils Rio Licensing Program

RioFox Consumer Products has unveiled its licensing program for the upcoming 3-D animated comedy, Rio. The film, from the makers of the Ice Age franchise, debuts April 15, and product begins rolling out in March. Products include figurines, plush, and beanies from global toy partner ToyQuest; a multi-platform video game from THQ; storybooks from HarperCollins; greeting cards with sound from Hallmark; and kids’ apparel from JEM Sportswear and Awake.




Wild Creations Places QR Codes on Packaging

QR codeWild Creations’ products will now feature Quick Response scanner codes to help customers make informed purchasing decisions. Quick Response (QR) codes can be scanned by most smart phones using free, downloadable applications. Shoppers will be able to scan the image of the QR code, and then will be whisked away via their mobile devices to different websites where they can read customer or media reviews, see YouTube videos, check out awards, and more. The codes will be available on Wild Creations’ toy boxes.



U.S. Judge Dismisses Plagiarism Case Against J.K. Rowling

On Thursday, a U.S. judge dismissed a lawsuit that accused Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling of copying another author’s work. The estate of late author Adrian Jacobs said that the plot in Rowling’s fourth Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, copied part of the plot in Jacobs’ book, The Adventures of Willy the Wizard, including a wizard contest and the idea of wizards traveling on trains.
The judge was quoted as saying “…the contrast between the total concept and feel of the works is so stark that any serious comparison of the two strains credulity."
According to the Jacobs estate, Jacobs had sought the services of literary agent Christopher Little, who later became Rowling’s agent. Bloomsbury, the UK publisher of the Harry Potter books, said Rowling never heard of Jacobs’ book before the copyright claim was first made in 2004. Scholastic Corp. is the U.S. publisher of the Harry Potter series of books.

Danish Punk Singer Sues Mattel Over Rockabilly Barbie

Rockabilly BarbiePatricia Day, the lead singer of Danish punk band HorrorPops, has filed a lawsuit against Mattel and Hard Rock Café accusing the companies of fashioning one of their Hard Rock Barbie dolls in her image without permission.
The series of Barbie dolls released in early 2010 features the likeness of several female rock and roll stars, including Debbie Harry Doll, Joan Jett Doll, and Cyndi Lauper Doll. According to the trademark infringement suit, Mattel sought permission from the rock and roll stars but failed to contact Day about the doll she claims is based on her, Rockabilly Barbie. The lawsuit describes similarities between Day’s image and Rockabilly Barbie, including the 1950s black hairstyle, bright red lipstick, 1950s-style pencil skirt over fishnets, and an upright bass that features a blue sparrow, a five-point star, and a red heart.
Day is seeking an injunctive to block sales of the dolls, and punitive damages, according to Reuters.

CPSC to Open Consumer Product Safety Office in China

The Consumer Product Safety Commission will set up its first office outside the United States in China in an effort to reduce the number of dangerous products reaching the American market.
Commission head Inez Tenenbaum told reporters the office also aims to make it easier for the U.S. to raise concerns with the Chinese government about product safety problems, including toxic metals in toys. Tenenbaum said choosing China as the commissions first overseas location made sense because 45 percent of the consumer products and 90 percent of all toys sold in the United States come from China and Hong Kong.
The CPSC office, to be located within the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, will have two employees to start, an attaché and a safety specialist, who will work with their Chinese counterparts and help educate Chinese manufacturers about American product standards, Tenenbaum said.

Tetris to Come Directly to Internet-Connected TVs with New Licensing Deal

Oberon Media has announced an agreement with The Tetris Company, LLC, the licensor of the Tetris brand worldwide, for exclusive licensing rights for Tetris on internet-connected televisions and other TV-related devices, including Blu-ray players. The company plans to launch its first connected television partner in Q1 2011.
The game will feature an all-new mode, “Space Mode.” In Space Mode, mini games and challenges are played in order to proceed to the next step in the journey. Space Mode mini games include “Light-Speed,” “Debris,” “Meteorite,” and “Alien.”

Neil Friedman Leaving Mattel

Mattel, Inc. has announced that Neil Friedman, president of Mattel brands, is leaving the company in March. Bryan Stockton, president of international, will become COO effective immediately. Stockton has been head of Mattel’s international division since 2003. He joined the company in 2000 as executive vice president of business planning and development.

ASTM Elects New Chairman of the Board

Catherine (Kitty) H. Pilarz has been elected as the 2011 chairman of the board of directors of ASTM International. Chairman of the board is the highest elected position at ASTM International.
Pilarz is the senior director of Mattel/Fisher-Price product safety. She has served on the ASTM board of directors since 2006, and is vice chairman of new projects for ASTM Committee F15 on consumer products; co-chairman of Subcommittee F15.18 on Cribs, Toddler Beds, Play Yards, Bassinets, Cradles, and Changing Tables; and a participant in many other F15 subcommittees.
Pilarz is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Society for Quality. She has served as symposium chair for the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization, and as president and board member of that group.

NASCAR Names New VP of Licensing and Consumer Products

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) has promoted Blake Davidson to vice president of licensing and consumer products, effective immediately.
Davidson is now responsible for developing and leading NASCAR’s entire licensing and merchandising strategy and managing the company’s traditional and non-traditional licensing, including NASCAR publishing, retail, and business development efforts. Davidson is also responsible for NASCAR’s international merchandising efforts.

TRU Reports December and Holiday 2010 Sales

Toys “R” Us, Inc. has announced its total sales and comparable store sales for the month of December and the 2010 holiday season.
For the month of December, the U.S. domestic segment’s total sales grew by 5.4 percent, which the company says was driven by new stores including Toys “R” Us Express pop-up stores. Comparable store sales grew 2.2 percent. For the nine-week holiday season, the domestic segment’s total sales grew 5.3 percent, including a comparable store sales increase of 2.2 percent. Toys “R” Us says online sales growth, which is included in comparable store sales, was particularly strong during the holiday season. 
In the international segment, total sales declined by 3.6 percent in December. For the nine-week holiday season, the international segment’s total sales declined 3.4 percent. Sales declined in the UK and Spain, but grew in Canada and Japan. 
The company said the core toy and learning categories generated the strongest total sales growth. But the entertainment category, which includes video game hardware and software, was the weakest.

Target Reports Financial Results for December 2010

Target Corporation reported that its net retail sales for the December five weeks, which ended January 1, were $9.9 billion, an increase of 1.4 percent from $9.7 billion for the comparable five weeks in January 2. On this same basis, December comparable-store sales increased 0.9 percent.
“December sales were below expectations, as strength in grocery and apparel was offset by softness in electronics, toys, and some home categories,” said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president, and CEO of Target Corporation.
The company expects that its fourth quarter comparable-store sales will increase in the range of 2 to 4 percent.

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