February 03, 2011


Report: 2010 Toy Sales Generated $21.87 Billion, A 2 Percent Increase

According to The NPD Group, U.S. toy retail sales generated $21.87 billion last year compared to $21.46 billion in 2009, an increase of 2 percent. Fourth quarter (October-December) sales were strong, topping $10.2 billion, which represents nearly half of the year-end total. December generated $5.64 billion, a 4 percent increase over December 2009, and fourth quarter 2010 sales increased 3 percent over fourth quarter 2009.
Looking at super-categories, plush and building sets saw the most significant increases compared to 2009 at 18 percent and 13 percent, respectively. Outdoor & sports toys increased 9 percent, while dolls and infant/preschool both increased 6 percent. Youth electronics, action figures/accessories/role play, and games/puzzles super-categories saw declines at 22 percent, 15 percent, and 9 percent, respectively.
Unit sales mirrored revenue sales trends in most respects, with the largest increases coming from dolls, building sets, and outdoor & sports toys super-categories (23 percent, 13 percent, and 12 percent). Overall unit sales increased 4 percent.
With respect to retail channel performance, online/Internet sales saw the most revenue growth over 2009 at 22 percent. Toy stores and food/drug channels grew 4 percent and 6 percent, respectively. Department/major chain and mass merchant/discount stores declined at 11 percent and 2 percent, respectively.
Top properties for the year based on total dollar sales (in alphabetical order) included Barbie, Crayola, Nerf, Star Wars, and Toy Story. Licensed toys represented 25 percent of total industry sales last year. Based on dollar sales, Cars: The Movie, Disney Princess, Star Wars, Thomas and Friends, and Toy Story were 2010’s best-selling licensed properties (in alphabetical order).

CPSC Votes to Extend Stay for Lead Rules

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) and 32 other associations, organized by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), joined together to submit a letter to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requesting a one-year extension of the stay following the adoption of rules regarding the lead substrate standard of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). The rules include “Testing and Labeling Pertaining to Product Certification and Conditions” and “Requirements for Testing Component Parts of Consumer Products.” The stay would have expired on February 10.
On February 1, CPSC voted 4-1 to extend the stay of enforcement until December 31. The stay of enforcement was initially recommended to be extended until September 14. According to the Product Safety Letter, CPSC considered the extension because of “the unanswered question of whether the lead content limits should be lowered to 100 parts per million and other reasons.”

Warner Bros. Announces Licensees for Green Lantern

Green LanternWarner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) has announced the worldwide licensing program for Warner Bros. Pictures’ Green Lantern, to hit theaters June 17. The program will be led by DC Entertainment’s master toy licensee, Mattel.
Mattel will debut a toy line that will include the Green Lantern Ring Blast Jet Figure & Vehicle, the Green Lantern Battle Shifters Figures, and the Green Lantern Movie Masters Figures. The company’s multi-category toy line will include basic and deluxe action figures, figure/vehicles, role-play, play sets, games, puzzles, and vehicles. Each basic action figure will come with a Green Lantern ring that can make kids feel as if they have been “chosen” to be a Green Lantern, too.
Additional key licensees include Rubie’s, with a line of Green Lantern costumes and costume accessories; the Noble Collection, offering high-end ring and lantern prop replicas; NECA, with a Green Lantern Projection Ring and other accessories; as well as Pressman Toy, Hewlett-Packard, Funko, Horizon Group USA, Hy-Ko Products, Kidz Toyz, LPG International, Mezco Toyz, SRM Entertainment, Toy Factory, Trend Setters, Ltd., Formation Marketing Canada, Ltd., and University Games.

Raven Tree Press Named Exclusive Publisher for StinkyKids

Stone America Licensing has appointed Raven Tree Press as the exclusive publisher for StinkyKids traditional soft and hard cover story books, as well as electronic/digitized formats.
Raven Tree Press will reprint and publish StinkyKids and the Runaway Scissors, the first in the series of StinkyKids books. The book will complement the current doll line created by licensee Madame Alexander, now available at retail stores such as FAO Schwarz, Nordstrom, Amazon.com and Fat Brain Toys, to name a few.

ID Toys Named Master Toy Licensee for Caillou in North America

CaillouCPLG, the licensing arm of Cookie Jar Entertainment, has signed Montreal-based ID Toys as the North American master toy licensee for Caillou. The line, to launch in the U.S. this spring, will introduce more than 14 new SKUs of Caillou-branded toys, including figures, play sets, puzzles, bath toys, and plush. Among the toys are Caillou wood puzzles, figure tubes, bath time vehicles, and 14-inch classic dolls. The line will be showcased at Toy Fair in New York City.

CPSC Announces Soft Launch of SaferProducts.gov

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has initiated a “soft launch” of the new consumer product safety complaint database, SaferProducts.gov. During the trial, CPSC intends to work out any kinks in the application and internal operating procedures before the official launch, scheduled for March.
The CPSC will process all comments and claims during the trial, just as the agency would when the database is fully operational. All appropriate notifications will be sent out and submitted comments and claims will be reviewed. However, complaints filed during this trial period will not be published on the website, even after the website goes live.
Registration for the website is available by clicking on “Business Portal,” at www.saferproducts.gov. Registration will allow companies to receive electronic notice of reports, respond to reports online, and test internal procedures before the official launch.
The Toy Industry Association (TIA) is advising members to be prepared to respond promptly to potential harmful reports, although the CPSC says consumer reports during the soft launch will not be published.

“Buy Local” Campaigns Increased Revenue, Says Survey

For the fourth year in a row, a national survey has found that independent businesses in communities with an active "buy local" campaign have experienced stronger revenue growth compared to independent businesses without a “buy local” campaign. The survey gathered data from more than 2,700 independent businesses—including retailers, service providers, restaurants, and others—during an eight-day period in January.
Revenue growth for those businesses in communities with a “buy local” initiative averaged 5.6 percent, while businesses in communities without average 2.1 percent.
Among independent retailers, which accounted for nearly half of respondents, those in "buy local" communities saw a 5.2 percent increase in holiday sales, while those elsewhere gained only 0.8 percent in holiday sales.
Survey respondents reported a variety of positive impacts on their businesses because of the “buy local” campaign. Nearly half reported that the campaign had brought new customers to their business, while 55 percent said it had made existing customers more loyal. More than two-thirds said local media coverage of independent businesses had increased and 51 percent said that local government officials were now more aware and supportive of independent business needs.
"Buy local" campaigns run by Independent Business Alliances and Local First groups are currently active in approximately 140 U.S. cities.
The Institute for Local Self-Reliance conducted the survey in partnership with numerous national and local business organizations, including the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA).

Storm Hawks to Air on Disney XD

Disney XD has picked up all 52 episodes of Nerd Corps Entertainment’s original comedy/adventure series, Storm Hawks. The 3-D animated series follows the adventures of five teens on flying transforming motorcycles, as they battle nasty villains in the sky.
The series was launched in 2007, and is targeted to boys 6 to 11 years old. Storm Hawks has been picked up in more than 150 territories, including Cartoon Network in the U.S., UK, France, Eastern Europe, and Latin America; GMTV in the UK; YTV and VRAK in Canada, France 3; and RTL II in Germany.

Rubbabu Expands Distribution Nationally

RubbabuRubbabu, Inc. is showcasing its entire product line at the American International Toy Fair, to be held February 13-16 in New York City. Rubbabu’s collection features more than 200 children’s toys, constructed from pure rubber foam derived from rubber tree sap. The company’s line consists of soft, antimicrobial toys in basic shapes and bright colors, from balls and action vehicles to building blocks and magnetic upper-case letters. Until now, Rubbabu products were available exclusively through boutique toy stores from the Midwest to the West Coast. Starting this February, the toys will be available across the U.S. Through their global distribution network, Rubbabu products are also available on four continents.


Konami to Launch Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG Mall Tour

Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. is launching a 10-city mall tour for the Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game. At each mall stop, attendees not familiar with the game will also get a chance to play with one of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG experts. Each attendee will walk away with a demo pack.
Advanced players can stop by and Duel as well. Additionally, Yu-Gi-Oh! trivia buffs can show off their knowledge and win packs during Yu-Gi-Oh! trivia contests.
The Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game Mall Tour will run from February 12 through March 13 at Simon malls in the New York City area, Philadelphia area, Chicago area, Houston area, and Tampa/St. Petersburg area.

K'NEX Launches New Competition with Amusement Park

K’NEX and the amusement park/resort Cedar Point, in Sandusky, Ohio, have joined forces to launch the first-ever Cedar Point K’NEX Great Thrill Ride Build-Off. The competition will ask classrooms and other student groups to build the most innovative and thrilling amusement park ride model using K'NEX building sets. The Build-Off, which will run through April 3, is designed for middle and high school classes, as well as student organizations such as a science clubs. Participating classrooms and organizations must design and build a ride, then submit a photo/video of the project on www.knex.com. The five winners will have their rides displayed at the park during Cedar Point’s Math and Science Week, scheduled from May 16-20.
Prizes include K’NEX building sets, gift certificates, and complimentary admission tickets to Cedar Point. For more information, visit www.cedarpoint.com or www.knex.com.

WordWorld Launches Direct-Service Licensing Model

WordWorld, the TV series created by Don Moody, has concluded its agency agreement with 4Kids Entertainment and has launched an in-house licensing model focused on service, strategic partnerships, and profitable growth. It will manage all territories for consumer products, home videos, and digital and broadcast rights, with select exclusions. France Televisions Distributions will continue to license broadcast and Home Video rights in English and French, as France 5 continues to air the show; and Exim will continue to manage Home Video and Consumer Products licensing rights in Latin America.

Sandstorm Productions Picks Up New Game Titles with New Deal

Fishin' FrenzySandstorm Productions, LLC has entered into a new business partnership with Giant Tree House, creators of children’s indoor and outdoor activity games. Sandstorm has hired Neal Applefeld, the founder of Giant Tree House, to serve as vice president of business development. The lineup will include Fishin’ Frenzy, Buzzy Badminton, Funny Face Yard Pool, and more. A number of new products in development will be showcased at the American International Toy Fair, held in New York City. Other studios under the Sandstorm banner include Closet Nerd Games, Glowfly Games, Posthuman Studios, and Wildfire, LLC.

LittleMissMatched Appoints Stone America as Exclusive Licensing Agent

Stone America Licensing has been appointed as the exclusive licensing agent of LittleMissMatched, a fashion and lifestyle brand that specializes in whimsical, coordinating-yet-mismatching items, and encourages its consumers to express creativity and individuality through mixing and matching.
LittleMissMatched launched in 2004 with non-matching socks in odd numbers to encourage girls to express themselves. Now the company has expanded to accessories, apparel, room décor, books, baby, and more.
Stone America will offer manufacturers and retailers the opportunity to license school supplies, apparel accessories, health and beauty aides, room décor, and a full array of gifts and novelties that feature LittleMissMatched’s color schemes, designs, and patterns.

Bif Bang Pow! Teams with BBC for Doctor Who Toys and Collectibles

Bif Bang Pow! and BBC Worldwide have entered into a new licensing partnership that will bring a line of Doctor Who-branded toys and collectibles to stores. The license covers all eras of the show from 1963 until present day. Doctor Who currently airs on BBC America.   
The Doctor Who collection from Bif Bang Pow! will feature an array of articulated retro action figures, play sets, and bobble heads, each with the distinctive look and feel of the show. The first arrivals into stores are planned for this summer. Other products will include themed collectibles such as license plate frames, journals, tin boxes, coasters, magnets, and glassware.  

French Happy Meals to Contain Bella Sara Toy

Happy Meals throughout France will soon contain a Bella Sara toy, thanks to a partnership between Hidden City Entertainment, Inc., the rights holder for the property, and McDonalds. Each French Happy Meal will contain one toy horse (either Bella, Foxglove, Sunflower, and Violet), and a card with a secret code. The secret code will provide an animated toy of the same horse for the online game Bella Sara Adventures.
The toys will be featured in Happy Meals beginning February 9.

TIF to Collect Toy Donations at Toy Fair

The Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) will once again close the American International Toy Fair with a Toy Bank collection, to be held Thursday, February 16. At the close of the show each year, TIF works with Kids in Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.) to scour the showroom floor, collecting toys for children in need. Volunteers will be wearing bright orange T-shirts. Following the show, toys will be sent to New York City children’s charities and TIF national partners.
To participate, visit TIF at Booth No. 5201 on Level 1 or the TIA Information Center on Level 3. Or, submit the 2011 Toy Fair Product Donation Agreement, found here, by email or fax.

Mom Loves U Becomes Exclusive Distributor for JC Toys

JC Toys Group, Inc. has signed an exclusive distribution agreement with toy retailer and distributor, Mom Loves U Co., Ltd. Mom Loves U will now serve as the exclusive distributor of JC Toys dolls and accessories in South Korea. Mom Loves U has offered JC Toys products through its online store and retail partners since last year.

The Wiggles to Launch Line of Original Lovies

Original LoviesThis March, The Wiggles will launch its own line of Original Lovies, available exclusively through Komet Creations. Original Lovies are a security plush toy that can become a sleepy-time friend. Each Original Lovie is made of soft, huggable fabric and has satin trim that can be personalized.
This year marks the 20th birthdays of both The Wiggles and The Original Lovie Security Blanket, and to celebrate, two of The Wiggles most popular characters, Dorothy the Dinosaur and Wags the Dog, will have Original Lovies created in their honor.




Ballooniac Gets 12-Foot TRU Space

Good Link International’s new licensed property Ballooniac, based on a real balloon twister and stage performer in New York named Mike Gold, has been awarded a 12-foot merchandise department in all Hong Kong Toys “R” Us stores. The Ballooniac department space has 30 SKUs of various products based on the property with 12 SKUs of toys. The department opened on January 22.
Last week, Gold performed three 40-minute shows a day in the Toys “R” Us Ocean Terminal Store before he returned to New York. Junior “Ballooniacs” now man the stage in the department to do daily balloon-twisting shows.
Additionally, in March, a 52-episode, half-hour live action and cartoon series based on the property, The Ballooniac Show, will begin production.

Chorion Relaunches Noddy Property with New Toy Line and More

NoddyChorion is relaunching children’s property Noddy with a brand refresh and new product lines to come this fall. The relaunch will be supported by an integrated marketing campaign around the theme “Noddy Takes to the Air,” which kicked off with Pilot Noddy making a special character appearance at London Toy Fair on January 25. Other appearances will continue throughout the year.
Bandai will launch toys based on the property such as My Friend Noddy Pilot, Take Off in Toyland Airport Playset, Noddy Toyland Playmat with Vehicles, the Tiny Toyland Chase Playset and Racecar, and more. Some other new products for the year include a Nintendo DS game from Avanquest, a DVD release from Universal, books from Harper Collins, and an outerwear range from Smith & Brooks.
The relaunch will include TV advertising and substantial PR support on the range. The new toy line will also be supported by in-store activities, events, and themed POS materials.

Tenenbaum Delivers Keynote Address at Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair

On January 12, Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Chairman Inez Tenenbaum delivered the keynote address at the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair, commenting on the past year in toy safety as well as the Commission’s plans for the future.
“Only three of the 44 toy recalls last year were the result of lead violations,” said Tenenbaum. “Those three recalls represented a drop from nine in 2009 and 19 in 2008.  Now that’s progress.” She went on to add that there have been “far too many toy recalls due to design flaws,” and called for manufacturers to “design out product hazards and build in safety.” Tenenbaum also cited the creation of an Office of Education, Global Outreach, and Small Business Ombudsman (approved last September) as a “critical component” of CPSC’s goal to be more accessible to the public.
Tenenbaum’s full keynote address can be found on the CPSC website.
She will also deliver the keynote address at Toy Fair Safety Seminar, on February 15 at 9:30 am. The seminar will provide an update on pending state and federal legislation, as well as an overview of TIA’s efforts to prevent passage of any harmful legislation or regulation.

New Sports-Themed Virtual World to Launch This Spring

FunGoPlayA new virtual world offering sports-themed games, FunGoPlay, is launching this spring for online and mobile platforms. An online sports theme park, FunGoPlay is targeted to children ages 6 to 11, and features “connected” sports gear that rewards kids every time they use them in the real world by tracking their play periods and giving them the opportunity to earn medals, points, and power-ups in the online world.
When children enter the virtual world they are greeted by a universe filled with different sports-themed venues and events. Games include those that are quick, along with more elaborate ones that are single and multiplayer games. Other features of the new virtual world include a storyline and customizable avatars.
FunGoPlay will use a Freemium subscription model, offering kids access at a variety of levels. Pricing will be announced at a later date. The virtual world was created by an executive team of industry veterans, including children’s content development, TV distribution, merchandising, and licensing veteran David Jacobs (Sesame Workshop/Hit Entertainment), music industry pioneer and start-up expert Steven Lerner, and writer and franchise director of kids’ properties Fabian Nicieza (Batman, X-Men, Transformers).
For more information, visit www.fungoplay.com.

Moshi Monsters Toys Hit UK Shelves

Moshi MonstersMind Candy, publisher of MoshiMonsters.com, has premiered its first-ever Moshi Monsters toy range in the UK. The range is from master toy partner Vivid and was showcased at London Toy Fair.
The spring/summer range, which recently hit UK shelves, includes talking monsters, soft toys, collectible figures, and backpack buddies. The initial range focuses on six Monster characters, Poppet, Katsuma, Diavlo, Zommer, Furi, and Luvli, as well as the collectible Moshlings, which are the pets of the pet monsters. More products, including feature plush, a play set, games, and more will premiere this fall/winter.


Power Rangers Returns to Prime Time on February 7

Pwer Rangers SamuraiSaban Brands' Power Rangers franchise is returning to primetime on February 7 with a new series, Power Rangers Samurai, to be aired on Nickelodeon. Power Ranger Samurai will feature a new cast of five rangers who must master the ancient Samurai Symbols of Power, which give them control over the elements of Fire, Water, Sky, Forest, and Earth. The new series will also feature a new cast of villains.

Uncle Milton Founder Passes Away

Uncle Milton Industries’ founder, Milton Levine, passed away on January 16. He was 97 years old.
Levine was best known as a toy industry pioneer and inventor of the Ant Farm. According to the company, more than 20 million Uncle Milton Ant Farms have been sold around the world, and the product was recognized as one of the Top 100 Toys of the Century by the Toy Industry Association (TIA).
Beyond Levine’s contribution to the toy industry, his focus was on his family, including his wife of 65 years, Mauricette, and his children, Steve, Ellen, and Harriet Levine.

ITV Studios Appoints New Director of Consumer Products

ITV Studios Global Entertainment has appointed Jean-Philippe Randisi to the newly created role of executive vice president & director of consumer products. Reporting to Maria Kyriacou, managing director of ITV Studios Global Entertainment, Randisi will lead the division’s full consumer products strategy, which will include DVDs, publishing, licensed products, and other off-air activities.
Randisi formerly served as senior vice president and managing director, international at Nickelodeon and Viacom Consumer Products. Prior to joining Viacom, Randisi held senior roles at Saban Consumer Products Europe, a former division of Fox Kids Europe.

Walmart Appoints Mac Naughton to CMO, U.S. Position

Walmart U.S. has appointed Duncan Mac Naughton to chief merchandising officer for U.S. stores, effective immediately. Mac Naughton will oversee all merchandise categories across more than 3,700 stores in the U.S. business. He will continue to report to Bill Simon, Walmart U.S. president and CEO.
Mac Naughton joined Walmart in 2009 as chief merchandising officer for Walmart Canada. Last October, he was named executive vice president of merchandising for Walmart U.S., where he was responsible for consumables, health and wellness, and Walmart.com. Before joining Walmart, Mac Naughton held leadership roles at Kraft Foods, Inc., H.E. Butt Grocery Company, and Albertson's, Inc. He also served as executive vice president of merchandising and marketing at Supervalu, Inc.

Chorion Appoints Executives for Americas Team

Chorion is expanding its Americas team with several executive appointments. Bob Traub returns to Chorion as SVP, Licensing for the Americas, charged with building the Americas licensing program through developing retail-first strategies designed to develop long-term growth across Chorion’s portfolio of classic and TV brands; Joan Grasso is appointed vice president, Toys and Games Licensing, responsible for building the company’s toys and games business for the Americas and managing partnerships with global master toy partners for Olivia, The World of Eric Carle, Noddy, and Mr. Men and Little Miss; and Lindsay Martinez is vice president Brand Management and Marketing, responsible for the strategic development and execution of brand plans and brand marketing initiatives across consumer and trade for Chorion’s portfolio in the Americas.

Little Airplane Names New VP, Production and Operations

Little Airplane Productions has named Tom Brown, vice president, production and operations. Brown joined the company in 2002 as an assistant director and then subsequently served as head of production for the company starting in 2004. Since joining Little Airplane, Brown has overseen the development and production of The Wonder Pets! for Nick Jr., Oobi! for Noggin, 3rd & Bird for Cbeebies, and the upcoming Small Potatoes for Cbeebies and Playhouse Disney.
In his new role, Brown will be working to build strategic partnerships for Little Airplane and the Little Light Foundation in the areas of sponsorships, publishing, licensing, games, international co-productions, and feature films.

RandomLine Hires New Business Manager

Acting Out’s Andrea Cohen Nasstrom has joined RandomLine, the maker of Squiggle art pads and board games. Cohen Nasstrom is serving as business development manager. She will continue to be involved with Acting Out, along with Anna Hazard, through the end of March.

Warner Bros. Consumer Products Appoints Licensing Reps in Asia
Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) has appointed Pacific Licensing Studio Pte., Ltd. (PLS) and Smarthead Holdings, Ltd. as the consumer products licensing representatives for the company in territories throughout Asia. Under the appointment, PLS will represent the licensing business in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, while Smarthead will oversee The People’s Republic of China, including Hong Kong and Macau. Both deals give access to WBCP’s portfolio of brands and licensing categories.

Mattel Reports Fourth Quarter, Full-Year Results and Announces Dividend

Mattel, Inc. has reported its 2010 fourth quarter and full-year financial results. For the fourth quarter, the company reported net income of $325.2 million, or $0.89 per share, compared to last year’s fourth quarter net income of $328.4 million, or $0.89 per share. For 2010, the company reported net income of $684.9 million, or $1.86 per share, compared to last year’s net income of $528.7 million, or $1.45 per share.
For the fourth quarter, net sales were $2.12 billion, a 9 percent increase from the $1.96 billion reported last year. Operating income for the quarter was $428.6 million, or 20.2 percent of net sales. For the year, net sales were $5.86 billion, an 8 percent increase from the $5.43 billion reported last year. Operating income for the year was $901.9 million, or 15.4 percent of net sales, compared to 2009’s 13.5 percent of net sales.
Additionally, Mattel announced that its board of directors declared a first-quarter cash dividend of $0.23 per share on the company’s common stock. The dividend will be payable on March 11 to stockholders of record on February 24. The dividend is the first of four quarterly dividends Mattel expects to make this year, reflecting an annualized dividend of $0.92 per share, which represents an increase of $0.09, or 11 percent, versus last year’s annual dividend of $0.83 per share.

Jumbo Reports Six-Month Sales

According to Balkans.com, Greek retailer Jumbo reported that its six-month sales, which ended in December, dropped less than 1 percent, compared to the same period in 2009 in which the loss was $395.2 million. The company expects a full-year net profit of 60-65 million euros, a fall of 18-24 percent. The company expects revenue to increase 0 to 2 percent this six months, ending in June. The retailer runs 50 outlets in Greece, Cyprus, and Bulgaria.

Shareholders Vote for Walmart Takeover in South Africa

According to a report from online news site Business Day, shareholders of South African general retailer Massmart voted in favor of the company being taken over by Walmart. However, a coalition of trade unions opposing the deal has vowed to take its fight against the acquisition to South Africa’s competition authorities.
Wal-Mart’s cash offer to acquire 51 percent of Massmart at R148 (South African rand) a share received the backing of 97.67 percent of votes. The vote brings the deal closer to finality, with only the approval of the high court and the Competition Commission still needed.

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