February 10, 2012

 Toy Fest West

Nuremberg Toy Fair Welcomes 77,500 Visitors

Approximately 77,500 buyers and retailers from all over the world (119 countries) came to Nuremberg for the 63rd Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair Nuremberg. The share of international visitors increased to 55 percent, which Spielwarenmesse EG attributes to the new Wednesday start date of the fair. Most of the buyers came from the U.S., Russia, and Great Britain.
Most exhibitors plan to return for the fair next year. Of the 2,776 exhibitors, 92 percent said they will come back for International Toy Fair 2013, and 87 percent of visitors said they will attend the fair next year. Additionally, 347 exhibitors presented their products for the first time at this fair, compared to 325 new exhibitors in 2011.
The 2013 show is slated to run from January 30 to February 4.

NPD Signs Agreement with Walmart for POS Information

The NPD Group, Inc. has reached an agreement with Walmart to receive and analyze its point-of-sale information. NPD currently receives information from more than 900 retailers, representing 150,000 retail doors worldwide. 
Under the agreement, NPD will receive sales data from Walmart U.S. stores and walmart.com. The agreement covers a broad set of general merchandise categories spanning the toy, entertainment, apparel, home, and hardlines merchandise units. 
Walmart will also use NPD as the primary provider of data for the general merchandise categories tracked by NPD and NPD DisplaySearch, as a new supplier of forecasting analysis for the electronics team. NPD recently signed an agreement with Sam’s Club to receive point-of-sale information from Sam’s Club and samsclub.com.

Techno Source Partners with Global Holdings for Domestic Distribution

Techno Source, a division of LF Products, is forming a strategic partnership with Global Holdings, a distributor in the entertainment and gaming sectors, that will allow Techno Source to use Global Holding’s infrastructure to flow products domestically to customers who wish to purchase goods in this manner. To date, Techno Source’s business model has primarily focused on a direct import basis. As a result of this partnership, Global will now distribute Techno Source’s full product line domestically. Techno Source says the partnership will allow Global to use LF Products’ sourcing power to bring new products to market in a cost-effective manner. It will also allow Global to utilize LF Products’ international presence to extend its distribution.

Bachmann Europe Named Distributor for W. Britain

First Gear, Inc./W. Britain has appointed Bachmann Europe, Plc as the distributor of all W. Britain products in the UK and continental Europe, effective immediately, as part of W. Britain’s expansion. W. Britain remains wholly owned and operated by First Gear, its parent company since 2005. The new deal is not a change of ownership. For more information about First Gear, Inc. and W. Britain, visit www.wbritain.com.

Nominations Are in for 2012 Wonder Women Awards

Women in ToysThe nominations are for Women in Toys’ (WIT) 2012 Wonder Women in Toys, Licensing, and Entertainment Awards. More than 50 of the most powerful women in the industry will compete for the titles. With support from dozens of companies, including Hasbro, Imperial Toy, Jakks Pacific, Mattel, Spin Master, Toy Industry Association, Toys “R” Us, and The Toy Book, more than 300 people are expected to attend the awards ceremony, which is the largest number of people in WIT’s history.
The 2012 ceremony will be held February 12 at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers in New York City.




Daron Worldwide Named North American Distributor for 50Fifty, Jumpin Banana

Daron Worldwide Trading, Inc. has been named exclusive North American distributor of 50Fifty and Jumpin Banana toys, souvenirs, and novelties. Products include the Chuckle Buddies, Chitter Chatters, Mad Mutt, and Krazy Kats lines of battery-operated plush toys.
The new products will be unveiled at the American International Toy Fair in New York City at Daron’s booth, No. 5218.

TIF to Collect Plush, Toy, and Game Donations During Close of Toy Fair

The Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) is once again asking exhibitors to end their American International Toy Fair stay with donations. During the close of the show, 4 p.m. on February 15, exhibitors can donate their samples of plush, toys, and games to TIF’s signature program, The Toy Bank. The volunteers for the collection will wear bright orange T-shirts.
To participate, companies must complete the one-page donation form, and submit it before Toy Fair via email, fax (212-675-1328), or on-site at booth No. 5201. 
The annual collection is made possible through TIF’s partnership with Kids in Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.). All donations will benefit TIF’s partnerships with My Stuff Bags Foundation and Boys and Girls Clubs of America Military Services. Products will also be distributed to The Toy Bank’s NYC-area network of charity recipients.

TRU Times Square to Feature Beyblade Boutique

Nelvana Enterprises and Hasbro, Inc. have teamed up to bring the latest in Beyblade action to Toys “R” Us Times Square. Throughout this month, a Beyblade boutique will showcase Beyblade products in the international flagship store in New York City. The multi-category boutique will offer a variety of items in a Beyblade-branded environment, including exclusive New York-themed T-shirts from Hybrid, electronics from Jazwares, and DVDs from Vivendi. Beyblade product demonstrations will also take place in the boutique.

Creative Play Day to be Held on April 28

Saturday, April 28 has been named Creative Play Day by the Creative Play Project. On the day, a portion of proceeds collected during the day from participating retailers will go toward putting games into the hands of kids. Retailers are encouraged to sign up at
www.creativeplayproject.org/participate/retailers to receive marketing support. Creative Play Day events will range from in-store sales to charity tournaments and auctions.
This event will help raise funds to distribute games to 200 youth centers throughout the U.S., along with additional training materials that will complete the package. Publishers backing the project include Calliope Games, Glow Fly Games, Highpoint Games, Out of the Box Publishing, Patch Products, Sandstorm Productions, Looney Labs, Mayfair Games, and Moosetache Games. The Creative Play Project is a 501c3 charity organization dedicated to providing games, gaming programs, and training to youth activity centers throughout the U.S.

Hasbro Teams Up with Britney Spears for Twister Dance
Twister DanceHasbro has partnered with pop icon Britney Spears for a new Twister Dance game. The game combines dance music with the Twister spots, and will give girls a new way to learn dance. Britney Spears will be featured on game packaging, in a television ad, and in dance instruction videos that will be released this fall.






The Orb Factory Limited Announces VeggieTales Partnership

The Orb Factory Limited and Big Idea Entertainment have partnered to introduce the VeggieTales collection. The new line of craft kits is inspired by the VeggieTales animated series. Children follow a numbered legend, and peel and stick sparkling foam and jewel tiles to create crafts featuring their favorite characters. The initial products will be available in the U.S. and Canada starting this month, and the second crop of new products will begin shipping in June.

Dentsu Entertainment and Namco Bandai Partner for LBX Series

LBXDentsu Entertainment USA, Inc. and Namco Bandai have announced a multi-territory partnership for the master toy license covering distribution of toys throughout the Americas. Namco Bandai has also signed a separate master toy license agreement with TV Tokyo for European territories.  
The LBX, “Little Battlers Experience,” animated television series and franchise based on miniature customizable robots, airs on TV Tokyo in Japan. 
As the Japanese program grows, it is being adapted by Dentsu Entertainment USA throughout the Americas. Bandai’s toy products for the Americas are anticipated to debut in fall 2013. In European territories, Bandai and TV Tokyo will broadcast with a similar timeline. Bandai America will also develop a new line of toys based on the LBX series, which will include figures, role-play, vehicles, and action model kits.

Arc Productions Named Studio for Hit Entertainment’s Thomas & Friends

Arc Productions has been appointed the animation studio for the CGI-animated television program Thomas & Friends. The deal marks the first global television series the studio will produce, following a series of theatrical movies including Gnomeo and Juliet and 9.  
Arc Productions will provide animation for all 11-minute episodes of the upcoming 17th series of Thomas & Friends and a one-hour feature-length special. New Thomas & Friends episodes are set to broadcast starting in fall 2013.

Little Airplane Productions Joins with Laurie Berkner

Sing It, Laurie!Little Airplane Productions and children’s music artist Laurie Berkner have joined together to develop the new animated preschool television series Sing It, Laurie!  
Sing It, Laurie! follows a little girl named Laurie who loves to sing and play her purple guitar. Each episode features songs written by Laurie Berkner.   
The Sing It, Laurie! educational curriculum was written by Dr. Christine Ricci and focuses on two core themes: creativity curiosity and music appreciation. In each 11-minute episode, Laurie will use music and singing to help her explore and understand her world.



The Licensing Shop, Inc. appointed as Agent for The Trash Pack

The Trash PackMoose Toys has appointed The Licensing Shop, Inc. as its exclusive merchandising and licensing agent for its new product line, The Trash Pack, for the U.S. and Canada. The Trash Pack includes squishy, collectible mini figures based on items you might find in a kid’s trash bin. Kids can collect all the Trashiecharacters such as Mouldy Milk, Rancid Roach, and Putrid Pizza.


Venture Products Picks Up License for Eric Carle Artwork

Venture Products has licensed children’s author and artist Eric Carle’s artwork for a new lineup of play and nap mats. The new 12mm-thick, interlocking foam play mats display an assortment of Carle’s collage artwork. The products offer an interactive, safe play experience for kids 6 months and older.
The products range from circular, interactive mats with pop-out play pieces (including “The Very Hungry Caterpillar Puzzle Play Mat”) to three-foot by three-foot mats that promote language development and creative storytelling. Each play mat emphasizes a different educational theme, including the alphabet, days of the week, numbers, colors, shapes, and more.

Figures Toy Company to Release Retro KISS Action Figures

KISSKISS collectors and rock fans can now add to their collections, with Figures Toy Company KISS action figures. The figures are reminiscent of the original figures released in 1977-1978 by Mego Toy Company. The figures will have rooted hair, cloth clothing, 16 points of articulation, and, for the first time, will be available in an eight-inch size. A re-release of the 12-inch will also be available. Collectors will be able to find the figures at toy stores, comic shops, music stores, and online retailers beginning in March.




Scholastic Media Inks Clifford Deal with Bendon Publishing

Scholastic Media, a division of Scholastic, Inc., has signed a deal with Bendon Publishing International, Inc. for Clifford The Big Red Dog. Bendon will develop a series of Clifford-branded coloring and activity books, workbooks, flashcards, activity sticker books, and coloring box sets.

Imagination Acquires Humphrey B Bear
HumphreyImagination Ventures recently completed the acquisition of Humphrey B Bear, the preschool property, and other Banksia Productions assets, from the liquidator, at an undisclosed sum. Humphrey B Bear was a children’s television program that first aired on NWS 9 in Adelaide, Australia, in 1965, and later broadcast in Asia, North America, and Latin America.







New Animated Series, Mr. Dragon’s Park, to Premiere Early Next Year  

CCTV Animation, Inc., along with production partners Dalian Tsanghao Digital Technology Co., Foxfield Entertainment, and Studio CHOPS, have announced the production of Mr. Dragon’s Park, a 26-episode preschool series in production for delivery early next year. The series was developed by CCTV Animation and Foxfield Entertainment, and introduces a friendly dragon that is the host of a magical park.
Mr. Dragon's Park fuses elements of Chinese culture, along with American, Latin American, and European cultures. The series is for children ages 3-6, and in each 11-minute story, a group of five children are taken on a fantasy adventure.

Toys “R” Us Appoints Two Executive Positions

Richard Barry, former vice president, general merchandising manger for Toys “R” Us, has been promoted to senior vice president, chief merchandising officer for Toys “R” Us U.S. In this new role, Barry is responsible for all merchandising initiatives for TRU’s U.S. operations. In his former role, Barry oversaw the learning, electronics, and entertainment product categories.
Toys “R” Us has also appointed Lisa Harnisch to senior vice president, general merchandising manager, toys. Harnisch will oversee the merchandising function for the core toy, seasonal, and learning product categories.

Kidz Bop Names Christina Tom as Vice President of National Sales

Kidz Bop U.S. has appointed Christina Tom to vice president of national sales. Tom will spearhead ad sales for KidzBop.com, the social network and video sharing website for kids and tweens. Tom will also play a role in securing strategic sponsorships for Kidz Star USA, an online talent search for kids ages 15 and under.  
With more than 10 years of sales experience, Tom has worked for top names in the kids’ and family industries, including Disney Publishing Worldwide, Nickelodeon, and Stardoll Entertainment. Most recently, she was senior vice president of sales for Sweetyhigh.com where she oversaw advertising sales, branded entertainment, and national integrated marketing programs.

Hasbro Reports 2011 Growth

Hasbro, Inc. has reported revenue and earnings per share growth for 2011. For the full-year 2011, the company reported record revenues of $4.29 billion, an increase of 7 percent, compared to $4.00 billion in 2010. Foreign exchange had a $64.3 million positive impact on full-year 2011 revenues. Absent this impact, revenues grew 5.5 percent. Net earnings for the full year were $385.4 million, or $2.82 per diluted share, versus $397.8 million, or $2.74 per diluted share in 2010.
For the fourth quarter of 2011, the company reported net revenues of $1.33 billion, an increase of percent versus $1.28 billion in 2010. Foreign exchange had a $13.3 million negative impact on revenues in the quarter. The company reported net earnings for the quarter of $139.1 million, or $1.06 per diluted share, versus $140.0 million, or $0.99 per diluted share in 2010.
For the full-year 2011, worldwide net revenues grew in the boys and preschool categories. The boys category increased 35 percent to $1.82 billion led by growth in Transformers and Beyblade, and the preschool category grew 4 percent to $553.0 million supported by the introduction of Sesame Street. These increases were partially offset by a 10 percent decline in the games and puzzles category to $1.17 billion and an 11 percent decline in the girls category to $741.4 million.
U.S. and Canada segment net revenues were $2.25 billion for full-year 2011, compared to $2.30 billion in 2010. Full-year 2011 international segment net revenues increased 19 percent to $1.86 billion versus $1.56 billion in 2010. Absent a positive $59.3 million impact of foreign exchange, full-year 2011 international segment net revenues increased 16 percent year-over-year. The international segment reported an operating profit of $270.6 million, up $60.9 million, or 29 percent, versus $209.7 million in 2010.
Entertainment and licensing segment net revenues for full-year 2011 were $162.2 million, up 19 percent from $136.5 million in 2010. The growth in the segment reflects the sale of television programming globally, as well as movie and merchandise related revenue from Transformers: Dark of the Moon. The entertainment and licensing segment reported an operating profit of $42.8 million, versus $43.2 million in 2010.

THQ Reports Financial Results for Third Quarter

THQ, Inc. reported financial results for the third quarter, which ended December 31. Non-GAAP net sales totaled $404.4 million, 25 percent higher than last year and in line with the company’s revised guidance issued in December 2011. Earnings from Saints Row: The Third and WWE ’12 were offset by poor results for uDraw hardware and software. Lower uDraw revenue, high inventory reserves, price protection, and concessions at retail had an approximate $33 million impact on the company’s operating income in the quarter.
The company ended the quarter with $47.7 million in cash and cash equivalents, and no outstanding borrowings on its $50 million credit facility. THQ’s digital revenues for the third quarter were more than double those in the quarter a year ago. Digital revenues for the nine months, which ended on December 31, were 81 percent higher than the same period one year ago.
The company recently announced its updated business strategy to exit the traditional kids’ licensed video game category and focus on its core game franchises and digital initiatives.

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