Toy Fair NY to Feature Three-Meter Touch Screens of Exhibitor Information
This year’s American International Toy Fair, to be held in New York next month, will feature an interactive, digital wall called “Fair Necessities.”
“Fair Necessities will be an interactive gateway to all things Toy Fair,” said Kimberly Carcone, senior director of trade show and event marketing at TIA, in a press release. “With the tap of a finger, multiple users will be able to simultaneously access floor plans, event schedules, exhibitor listings, photos, videos and news clips, apps, and more on the huge three-meter touch screens.”
The LCD multi-touch display screen was designed by European IT firm Uma, and will be located in the main concourse of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center during the four days of the show. For more information about Toy Fair, visit www.ToyFairNY.com.
Holiday Sales Beat NRF’s Forecast
National Retail Federation (NRF) recently reported that last year’s holiday sales beat expectations. Sales rose from 4.1 percent to $471.5 billion, slightly surpassing NRF’s forecast of a 3.8 percent growth. According to NRF, December retail industry sales, excluding automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants, increased 4.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year and decreased .06 percent seasonally adjusted from November.
December retail sales released by the U.S. Commerce Department show total sales, including non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants, increased 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted compared to November and 6.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
Exclusive Worldwide Rights for Roxx Granted to TCG
TCG (formerly The Canadian Group) has been granted the exclusive worldwide rights to the new collectible brand Roxx. The brand, invented by Itzchak Bar-Yona and Inbar Lushi, is licensed by Bar-David. The Roxx product line is expected to hit retail shelves worldwide this summer.
May Cheong Group Acquires Muscle Machines Brand
The May Cheong Group (MCG), manufacturers of the die-cast and radio control brands Maisto and Bburago, have announced the acquisition of tooling and intellectual property of the Muscle Machines brand from Bodylines/Bruce Schultz, the 3-D artist who worked on the original models. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Muscle Machines was first launched by Funline Merchandising Company in 1999. The company was sold to Action Performance in 2003, which then merged with Motorsports Authentics. The Muscle Machines brand, which features American muscle car replicas with exposed chrome-plated engines, beefy rear wheels, and on the larger scales, steel-braided hoses, was introduced in early 2000. The distorted cars with cartoon-like features were represented on trading card art created by Australian artist Rohan Day, which accompanied the 1:64 models and much of the packaging. Day has also been retained by MCG to create new artwork for the line.
The company is planning to unveil the Muscle Machines line at the Nuremberg and New York Toy Fairs this February, and plans to ship to the market toward the end of Q2 2012. The official re-launch will include original castings in 1:64 and 1:24 scales, at least two original 1:18 models, and a 1:18 radio control item. New tools for 1:64 and 1:24 scales are scheduled for Q4 2012.
More information will soon be available at www.musclemachines.com and www.maisto.com.
Cardinal and Rubie’s Named as Licensees for Snow White and the Huntsman
An initial list of licensees for Snow White and the Huntsman, the upcoming epic action-adventure movie that stars Kristen Stewart (Twilight), Charlize Theron (Monster), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), and Sam Caflin (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides), has been announced.
Committed licensees for Snow White and the Huntsman include Cardinal for trivia-based games and puzzles in the U.S., Canada, and Latin America; Rubie’s Costume Co. for costumes in the U.S. and Canada; High IntenCity for costume jewelry, novelty, and hair accessories in the U.S.; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for a young adult novelization, distributed worldwide; and Pacific Solutions for prop replicas in the U.S. Other deals include HBA, accessories, decorative calendars, and apparel.
The movie releases June 1. Products will launch up to six weeks prior to the film’s release at a range of retail outlets. For more information on the movie, visit www.snowwhiteandthehuntsman.com.
Disney Store to Expand Its New Design Concept to 12 Countries This Year
Disney Store announced that its new store design will be in 12 countries by the end of this year. The store opening slate includes an inaugural location in Shanghai, to open this fall, making China the 12th country to receive the interactive retail model. The city of Sendai recently held the grand opening of its first newly designed location in Japan. The Disney Store in Milan will host the grand opening of its newly designed store in February. In total, 13 new and remodeled Disney Store locations are scheduled to open this year. Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Utah, and Virginia will receive their first new concept store in their respective states.
“This Is Retail” Video Contest Launches for Retailers
As part of its “Retail Means Jobs” campaign, an initiative by the National Retail Federation (NRF) that aims to raise awareness of the retail industry’s economic impact, NRF has launched the “This Is Retail” video contest.
“We’re on a hunt to find the best retail stories in America—from marketing geniuses to customer service superstars to small business owners,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay in a press release.
To participate, retail employees or business owners must submit a two-minute video that shares their retail story for a chance to win up to $25,000. NRF will accept video submissions from March 5-16. A panel of retail executives will narrow the videos down to the top 20, and finalists will be prominently featured on RetailMeansJobs.com. The winners will be chosen based on votes, and announced during NRF’s Washington Leadership Conference in May. For more information, visit www.retailmeansjobs.com/contest.
Last Chance to Nominate for the 8th Annual Wonder Women Awards Dinner
Nominations are open for the 8th Annual Wonder Women of Toys, Licensing, and Entertainment Awards, celebrating the most “Make it Happen” women in the industry.
This year’s Wonder Women Awards Dinner (February 12) will be held at a brand-new location, The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers. Nomination categories that will recognize the powerhouse movers and shakers in the toys, licensing, and entertainment industries include designer/inventor, digital and gaming, entertainment, entrepreneur, journalism/social media, licensee, licensing agents, licensor, lifetime achievement, manufacturer, marketing/advertising/branding, public relations/communications, publishing, retailer, rising star, sales, and social responsibility.
Nominations are being accepted through January 25, and cost $150 per nomination, per category. Sponsorships and tables for the event are also available. To date, the 2012 list of sponsors include The Toy Book, Brandberry, Imperial Toy, Jakks Pacific, Serenata Group, The Bridge Direct, Toy Industry Association, and Toys “R” Us.
To nominate, for dinner reservations or sponsorships, or to join Women in Toys, visit www.womenintoys.com.
Worms Keyring Plush Collection Premieres
AT New Media and Team 17 have launched the Worms Keyring Plush collection from IGS, based on the turn-based strategy video game franchise. The new range, licensed by AT New Media and Worms creator Team 17, features a detailed series of plush in an initial line of four different characters (Original Worm, Army Worm, Pirate Worm, and Super Sheep). Products are also available in multiple traditional collectible plush sizes. The new range adds to the Worms lineup of apparel, squeezies, mugs, figurines, collectibles, and more. New partners are currently being sought for multiple product categories.
Beamz Interactive Partners for Laser Music Product Offerings
Beamz Interactive, an interactive music products company, and Cypher Entertainment are partnering to develop and market a family of interactive laser instruments and controllers.
Pursuant to the partnership, the laser music products will provide consumers with music making and video game content powered by Beamz Interactive music technology. Cypher Entertainment will exclusively manufacture and market the consumer retail versions of the products, and Beamz Interactive will exclusively manufacture and market the DJ, professional, and education/special needs versions of the products.
JPMA Releases Study on 2010 Juvenile Sales
The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) recently released its sales report on the juvenile products market in the U.S. for 2010. Sales totaled approximately $2.76 billion in manufacturer sales for 2010, down slightly from $2.8 billion in 2009.
In 2010, 88 percent of respondents sold products through e-tailers, 86 percent sold products through independent retailers, and 84 percent sold through mass merchandisers/discounters/specialty retailers. Additionally, more than 50 percent of mass market shipment dollars went through Walmart or Babies “R” Us. More high chair/feeding products were sold in 2010 than any other juvenile product.
The Serenata Group to Exclusively Handle Licensing for Martha Speaks
The Serenata Group has been appointed the exclusive licensing representative for Martha Speaks, and will handle licensing and merchandising for the property. The series, based on the books by Susan Meddaugh, is in its fourth broadcast season on PBS Kids and online at PBSKids.org/Martha. WGBH Boston produces Martha Speaks.
Joan Packard Luks, partner at The Serenata Group, will work closely with current partners, including Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (publishing), Kids Preferred (plush), Ty’s Toy Box (personalized apparel and accessories), JCP Live Productions (character costume rentals), and Theatreworks USA (live musical productions). Martha Speaks aims to increase kids’ vocabulary through stories and colorful characters.
Joan Ganz Cooney Center Releases Second Study on iPhone/iPad Apps
A new study by The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop has found that most top-selling educational apps in Apple’s App Store are aimed at preschoolers. The study, “iLearn II: An Analysis of the Education Category of Apple’s App Store,” was presented at the 2012 Consumer Electronic Show (CES).
Using a 2009 analysis conducted by The Joan Ganz Cooney Center (“iLearn: A Content Analysis of the iTunes App Store's Education Section”) as a benchmark, the new report examined nearly 200 top-selling educational apps for the iPad and iPhone. According to results, only 14 percent of apps were tagged for intended school usage. Of the entire sample, only two iPhone apps (and zero iPad apps) were based on well-known branded characters. Other key findings included that 109 different publishers were represented in the sample (89 of those publishers were not represented in the previous study’s sample), and the average price of children’s apps has risen by more than $1 since 2009.
To read the full report, and to see The Joan Ganz Cooney Center’s recommendations for growth and development, click here.
Coolabi Signs Home Entertainment Deal with eOne for Poppy Cat
Coolabi has secured a U.S. home entertainment and digital distribution deal with Entertainment One (eOne) for its animated property Poppy Cat. eOne plans to launch Poppy Cat on DVD this coming fall.
Poppy Cat debuted on Sprout in November. The series is based on the preschool book series by Lara Jones, and is co-produced by Coolabi Productions and King Rolla Films.
The brand also has a licensing presence in North America through local agent The Joester Loria Group, which is currently in discussions with potential partners for toys and other key categories.