January 18, 2011


Tollytots Signs on as Master Toy Licensee for Baby Genius

Jakks Pacific’s Tollytots division has signed a worldwide master toy licensing agreement with Pacific Entertainment Corporation for its Baby Genius brand of musical “edutainment” for infants and toddlers.
As a result of the new five-year agreement, Tollytots will immediately begin development on a comprehensive line of musical and early learning toys, incorporating the music, characters, and themes of the Baby Genius series of videos and CDs. The new toy line will cover exclusive categories, including learning and developmental toys, most plush toys, and musical toys, as well as several other non-exclusive categories.

Giochi Preziosi Named European Master Toy Licensee for ZhuZhu Pets, Picks Up Pocoyo in Italy

Zhu Zhu PetsGiochi Preziosi Group has been named the European master toy licensee, outside of the UK, for Cepia LLC’s ZhuZhu Pets. The announcement was made by the company and Lisle International Licensing (LIL).
As a part of the multi-territory, multi-category licensing agreement, Giocho Preziosi will be responsible for the development of ZhuZhu Pets merchandise across a number of categories, such as mini-collectibles, action games, plush, consumer electronics, back-to-school, food, publishing, and footwear.
The agreement also enables many of the Giochi Preziosi divisions to be involved in the development of ZhuZhu Pets products, including Grani and Partners.
Additionally, Zinkia and master toy licensee Bandai have appointed Giochi Preziosi as the master toy distributor for Pocoyo in Italy. The company will release an extensive range of Pocoyo-branded products in Italy this spring. The products will include plush, figurines, vehicles, and activity toys. Worldwide distribution rights for Pocoyo in Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Latin America are handled by Zinkia, with rights for the rest of the world handled by ITV Studios Global Entertainment.

Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair Reports Record Buyer Attendance

The HKTDC Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair, which concluded on January 13, reported a new record: more than 34,000 buyers participated in the fair. The fair welcomed buyers mainly from the Chinese mainland, the U.S., Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Russia, Australia, the UK, Malaysia, and Thailand.
Benjamin Chau, HKTDC deputy executive director, said the fair welcomed more buyers from the U.S. and Europe, and turnout from emerging markets, including India, Brazil, South Africa, Vietnam, Russia, and Turkey rose by 20 to 60 percent.
More than 25,000 visitors attended the HKTDC Hong Kong Baby Products Fair, and the 9th HKTDC Hong Kong International Licensing Show drew more than 15,000 visitors. Combined, the four fairs (Toys & Games, Baby Products, International Licensing Show, and the 11th HKTDC International Stationery Fair) brought in 2,600 exhibitors.
The fairs were organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and took place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Ganz to Launch New Virtual World in March

Tail TownsOn International Women’s Day, March 8, Ganz is planning to launch a new social website targeted to female players and collectors age 13 and older. The new website, Tail Towns, will be an online social world with accompanying collectible woodland creatures. Each detailed figurine includes a code that allows collectors to become a member on the Tail Towns website. As a virtual villager, players complete tasks and grow their town.
Once registered, players get an estate and then can start their own private town, alone or with friends. Items and money are earned by completing quests and jobs. Additionally, players can chat freely with thousands of other members as they explore the world.


Hit to Produce Animated Show on Diary of a Worm, Fly, Spider Books

Diary of a SpiderHit Entertainment has acquired the rights to develop entertainment based on Diary of a Worm, Diary of a Fly, and Diary of a Spider. Based on the books by author Doreen Cronin and illustrator Harry Bliss, and published by Joanna Cotler Books/HarperCollins, Hit will develop the books into an animated program that will take kids on the adventures of Worm, Spider, and Fly as they learn all about the world around them. The deal was brokered on behalf of Cronin and Bliss by Holly McGhee of Pippin Properties and Jason Dravis of Monteiro Rose Dravis Agency.
Told from a child’s point of view, Diary of a Worm, Spider, and Fly (working title) is an animated series geared toward kids ages 3-5 years old. The series will encourage kids to explore their world as they follow the adventures of unlikely best friends Worm,
Spider, and Fly. A coordinating science curriculum with a focus on earth science will be developed alongside the series and new characters will also be introduced.

America Exceeds One Million Minutes in Million Minute Family Challenge

Participants of the Patch Products’ Million Minute Family Challenge, which encouraged families across the nation to play games for at least one million minutes from September through December, exceeded their goal and logged a total of 1,063,129 game-playing minutes.
Patch Products reports record-high participation, a 93 percent increase in the number of people that joined the challenge last year. A total of 851 groups, clubs, classrooms, and families participated. Washington was crowned the highest-scoring state with 96,964 minutes and Hogwarts of Augusta, Maine was the highest-scoring group with 73,755 minutes.
Other top groups included the Game Theorists of Gresham, Ore., the top logging family with 19,413 minutes; the Masonic Home of Missouri with 49,635 minutes; Tulsa Area Homeschoolers with 32,097 minutes; and the FCCC Coleman School with 51,620 minutes.

Pokémon Embarks on Mall Tour, Celebrating New Games

PokemonThe Pokémon Company International is celebrating the upcoming U.S. release of its new Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version video games with a 14-city mall tour. The tour will launch on February 5, a month before the March 6 U.S. launch of the Nintendo DS games.   
Each two-day stop along the Pokémon Black Version and White Version Tour will allow fans to immerse themselves in the new world found in the video games. Video game demo areas will showcase the games and families can attend a free screening of the new Pokémon feature-length film, Pokémon—Zoroark: Master of Illusions, at theaters located at the mall tour stops. Other activities will include a meet and greet with the new starter Pokémon characters Snivy, Tepig, and Oshawott; a mall-wide scavenger hunt; a
special Celebi character distribution at GameStop stores; plus contests, prizes, and more.
To view the mall tour schedule, click here.

Scholastic Launches Monthly Children’s Bestsellers List

Scholastic Book Clubs has launched a monthly bestsellers list designed to inform Scholastic book fans and readers of the most popular children’s titles. Accessible online at the Scholastic Book Clubs blog Book Talk (booktalk.scholastic.com), the Scholastic Book Clubs bestsellers list is released on the second Tuesday of each month. It lists the five most popular children's books based on books purchased through Scholastic Book Clubs in each of the following categories: picture books, transitional readers, early chapter books, chapter books, middle grade, young adult, and nonfiction.

Those who wish to receive the list by email each month can sign up by posting in the comments on the blog or sending an email to bookclubsbestsellers@scholastic.com. The list is also posted on the Scholastic Book Clubs Facebook page.

4Kids Entertainment’s Al Kahn Retires

4Kids Entertainment announced that its longtime Chairman and CEO, Alfred R. Kahn, has retired and has left the company with immediate effect.
The board of directors has appointed Director Michael Goldstein as the interim chairman of 4Kids. The company will be conducting a search for a new CEO.
"I want to thank Al Kahn for his years of service at 4Kids as its Chairman and CEO," said Michael Goldstein in a statement. "Under his leadership, 4Kids served as the merchandise licensing agent for some of the most successful properties of the last two decades, such as Nintendo, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Cabbage Patch Kids. We wish Al success in his future endeavors."
"After almost 25 years, I have reached the point in my career where I want to relinquish my responsibilities at 4Kids. The last several years have been particularly difficult and demanding with the business of 4Kids being buffeted by the financial crisis. After helping steer the company through challenging times, I have decided that it is the right moment for me to retire. I believe that going forward, Michael Goldstein and the team of experienced 4Kids executives will do an excellent job for our clients and for our shareholders."

Target to Acquire Interest in Canadian Real Estate from Zellers, Inc.

Target Corporation has agreed to pay C$1.825 billion to purchase from Zellers, Inc., a subsidiary of the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), the leasehold interests in up to 220 sites currently operated by Zellers, Inc. This transaction will allow Target to open its first Target stores in Canada beginning in 2013.
Target will pay Zellers, Inc. two equal payments in C$912.5 million. These payments are expected to be made in May and September. Zellers, Inc. will sublease these sites from Target and continue to operate them under the Zellers banner for a period of time.
Target expects to open 100 to 150 Target stores throughout Canada in 2013 and 2014. Target has also announced that it intends to actively pursue the sale of its credit card receivables portfolio, which totaled US $6.7 billion as of October 30.

Hasbro Announces Preliminary Results for the Fourth Quarter, Full-Year 2010

Hasbro, Inc. has reported that its 2010 revenues, based on preliminary full-year results, totaled approximately $4 billion, compared to $4.07 billion in 2009. For the fourth quarter 2010, the company expects revenues to be approximately $1.3 billion compared to $1.4 billion in 2009.
The company expects earnings per diluted share for 2010, inclusive of its television investments, to increase compared to the $2.48 per diluted share reported for 2009. However, the company said, excluding a favorable tax adjustment of $21.2 million ($0.14 per diluted share) recorded during the first quarter 2010, the year-over-year earnings per diluted share increase is expected to be modest.
The company will report its final fourth quarter and full-year results on Monday, February 7.

LeapFrog Releases Preliminary Financial Results for 2010, Fourth Quarter

LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. has released its preliminary, unaudited financial results for 2010. LeapFrog expects to report an increase in net sales of 13 to 14 percent, compared to 2009, which will be the company's highest net sales growth rate in seven years. The preliminary results indicate that net sales growth was 12 percent in the U.S. and 20 percent internationally.  
Net income per share is expected to be between $0.03 and $0.06, an improvement of $0.07 to $0.10 compared to 2009. Excluding the $8 million, or $0.12 per share, tax benefits in 2009, the year-over-year net income per share improvement would be $0.19 to $0.22.  
LeapFrog will report its final 2010 financial and fourth quarter results on Thursday, February 10.

Sears Holding Reports Q4 Results

According to Reuters, Sears Holding Corp., the parent of Sears and Kmart, reported earnings of $370 to $450 million, or $3.39-$4.12 per share, for the fourth quarter of 2010, which ended January 29.
Sales at Sears domestic stores open at least a year were down 6 percent in December.
The company attributes the decline to consumer electronics, appliances, and tools, while footwear, jewelry, and automotive categories did well.
Comparable store sales at Kmart were up 2.3 percent. The company reported strong sales in toys, home, sporting goods, apparel, and footwear categories were partially offset by a decline in food, consumables, and pharmacy categories.

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