February 17, 2012

 Toy Fest West

Toy Fair 2012 Attendance Expected to Report a 4 Percent Increase

When the final numbers are in, TIA expects to report that more than 34,000 attendees from more than 110 countries swarmed New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center for the Toy Industry Association’s (TIA) 109th American International Toy Fair, which was held earlier this week.
Toy Fair 2012 (February 12-15) is projected to have welcomed a 4 percent increase in overall attendance compared to last year, including nearly 16,000 buyers, 1,000-plus exhibitors, and 1,300-plus media representatives. More than 100,000 toys, games, and youth entertainment products were showcased across 366,339 net square feet of exhibit space. Figures are also expected to report a spike in licensor attendees (up 11 percent) and entertainment executives (up 41 percent).
TIA trend experts scouted the 13 product zones and identified major trends, including toys and games that work with smart devices and apps; glow-in-the-dark or light-up products; a broad array of toys and games for little learners, which aim to build cognitive and developmental skills; toys that feature customizable play; musical toys; and more.

TOTY Award Winners Announced

More than five hundred toy industry executives and guests from around the globe gathered in New York City on February 11 to honor their peers at the 12th annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards and Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
A Toy Industry Association (TIA)-administered event in support of the Toy Industry Foundation, the gala held in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center kicked off the 109th American International Toy Fair and paid tribute to today’s superstars, tomorrow’s bright up-and-comers, and illustrious toy industry icons. To check out the award winners, click here.

Hasbro and Zynga Announce Global Partnership

Hasbro and Zynga have announced a partnership that grants Hasbro the rights to develop a range of toy and gaming experiences based across Zynga’s social games and brands, including FarmVille, CityVille, and Words With Friends.
Through this agreement, Hasbro has obtained the license to develop and distribute product lines based on Zynga’s game brands in a number of toy and game categories. This deal also creates an array of opportunities for co-branded merchandise, featuring a combination of both Hasbro and Zynga brands. The two companies expect the first products to be available beginning this fall.

Moshi Monsters Expands Offerings for North America

Moshi MonstersMind Candy is expanding its North American toy lineup. Joining the recently released Nintendo DS game from Activision, building sets from Mega Bloks, and range of plush and collectible figurines from Spin Master, the newest Moshi Monsters “menagerie” includes Bobble Bots robotic toys and customizable play sets from Innovation First, Colorforms board games and puzzles from University Games, and puzzles from Mega Bloks.



NY Giant Victor Cruz Promotes Bleacher Creatures at Toy Fair

Victor CruzNY Giants Super Bowl winner Victor Cruz joined Bleacher Creatures at this year's Toy Fair to help celebrate Bleacher Creatures’ successful first season. Officially licensed by NFL Properties LLC and NFL Players, the licensing and marketing arm of the NFL Players Association, Bleacher Creatures has taken iconic NFL stars and created plush alter-egos dressed in team uniforms.
Bleacher Creatures also showcased its sports themed wind-up toys, and debuted its mascot hand puppets, hero capes, princess tiaras, and magic wands, which showcase the logos of favorite sports teams.
The wide receiver was at the company’s booth on Tuesday during Toy Fair and signed a limited number artwork piece created by Bleacher Creatures featuring Victor Cruz. 
Bleacher Creatures is licensed with all the major U.S. sports leagues and their players. For more information about Bleacher Creatures, visit www.bleachercreaturetoys.com.



Warner Bros. Grants The Bridge Direct License for Looney Tunes

Looney TunesWarner Bros. Consumer Products has appointed The Bridge Direct, Inc. as the master toy licensee for the Looney Tunes brandand the new animated television series The Looney Tunes Show. Under the agreement, The Bridge Direct will develop a comprehensive collection of products based on the Looney Tunes characters, including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Sylvester, Tweety, Taz, and Road Runner, among others. The multi-category product line will include plush, figures, figure play sets, vehicles, and role-play items, and will be available at retail this fall.

Discovery Communications Partners with Gamenamics

Discovery KidsDiscovery Communications has announced a new partnership with product manufacturer Gamenamics under the Discovery Kids brand.
Gamenamics will produce a collection of Discovery Kids-branded, build-your-own science and robot kits. Targeting kids of all ages, the line will let them bring science into their homes by building everything from air-powered cars to fruit-powered clocks. The products will debut this year across all retail channels.
The deal was brokered on behalf of Discovery Communications by Big Tent Entertainment, the North American licensing agent for the Discovery Kids brand.


TCG Partners with Imperial Toy for Roxx Distribution

RoxxTCG (formerly known as The Canadian Group) is introducing a new collectible, tradable, and competitive game of skill called Roxx. In an exclusive arrangement, TCG has partnered with Imperial Toy to launch the Roxx brand in the U.S. market.
Roxx are collectible game pieces that feature art in diverse themes, targeted to boys ages 7 and up. The game’s freestyle play features open-ended games using only the Roxx pieces. Trixx play uses launchers, play sets, and other accessories to enhance the Roxx experience.
To reinforce collectibility and game play, Roxx will feature uniquely numbered proprietary and licensed designs in each series. Licensed assortments will include Marvel Super Heroes, Spider-Man, and Marvel’s The Avengers distributed worldwide. TCG will also launch NHL assortments in Canada this year. An online component will also be available, allowing Roxx game play to continue to be enhanced on the web, on an iPhone, or on an iPad. Roxx and related accessories are expected to hit retail shelves this summer.

Twentieth Century Fox Announces Ice Age 4 Lineup Exclusively at TRU in North America

Ice Age 4Toys “R” Us will be the exclusive North American toy destination for Twentieth Century Fox’s Ice Age 4: Continental Drift, which debuts in theaters July 13. The movie-inspired products and promotions will launch on July 1.
Just Play leads the program with its exclusive line of plush and novelty toys based on core characters from the franchise. The range includes bean-size and medium plush assortments, 2.5-inch poseable figures, and the Shivering Scrat, a vibrating plush programmed with sound effects. The Promotions Factory will add to the toy lineup with a range of play sets and figures. Cardinal will release an exclusive Memory Match game, a wood puzzle box complete with four puzzles, and an Ice Fishing game. Accessory Innovations will introduce an exclusive line of backpacks and lunch bags. A new publishing line from HarperCollins will be merchandised alongside the toys.

Aurora to Produce Raggedy Ann and Andy Dolls

Raggedy Ann & AndyAurora World, Inc. has signed a licensing agreement with Hasbro, Inc. to bring to market a new line of plush dolls based on the Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy brand. Aurora will produce a range of Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls from eight to 25 inches. The Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls will be available in June through Aurora’s retail channel of more than 25,000 specialty stores and gift shops as well as online.






Pressman Toy Signs Deal for Tinga Tinga Tales Games

Tinga Tinga TalesPressman Toy Corporation has signed a licensing deal with Classic Media to develop games based on the new preschool series Tinga Tinga Tales. Pressman Toy’s range of skill, action, and memory games will be available at mass and specialty retailers nationwide in August.  
Tinga Tinga Tales features children’s favorite safari animals, including Monkey, Elephant, and Lion, and brings their adventures to life through stories. Each story is told with a funny twist about how they came to be, such as “Why Elephant has a trunk” or “Why Monkeys swing in the trees.” The series launched on Disney Junior in February 2011.




Hasbro Teams Up with CBS Consumer Products for Star Trek Toy Line

Hasbro and CBS Consumer Products have signed an agreement to manufacture and globally market a variety of products based on the Star Trek property, beginning in 2013. The toy line will launch in support of the Star Trek movie sequel from Paramount Pictures, to be released next year.
The product will be a line of Kre-O Star Trek building sets, featuring spaceships and characters. The Kre-O Star Trek sets will offer Kre-O bricks and new Kreon figures. Among its additional new play experiences, Hasbro will also offer a line of role-play toys for kids and fans to act out the intergalactic saga, as well as select new figures.

TCG Partners for Infant and Preschool Puzzles

TCG has partnered with Fisher-Price, Inc., to develop, manufacture, and market infant and preschool puzzles for the U.S. and Canadian markets. The new line will provide age-appropriate developmental learning content and will feature the characters from the Laugh & Learn and Little People brands. The puzzles will use a variety of materials including wood and traditional paperboard.

NPD Reports on Kids’ Current Favorite Toys

As part of its Kids Industry Data Service (KIDS), The NPD Group compiled 2,958 mentions of kids’ (ages 0-14) current favorite play items, after asking “What one item did your child play with most this week?” The top 10 answers were: Lego (4 percent), a laptop (4 percent), Nintendo’s Wii (3 percent), toy cars (3 percent), Microsoft Xbox (2 percent), books (2 percent), video games (2 percent), Nintendo DS (2 percent), Barbie (2 percent), iPod (2 percent).
The top five product categories included toys (54 percent), video games (20 percent), consumer electronics (12 percent), sporting goods (5 percent), and books (3 percent). The top five properties mentioned across product categories included Lego, Barbie, Crayola, LeapPad, and Thomas & Friends. Brands that are emerging in popularity include Lightning McQueen from Cars 2, LeapFrog LeapPad, Exersaucer by Evenflo, Dinosaur Train, and VTech InnoTab.

Innovation First Appoints Paul Warner as VP of Sales

Innovation First Labs, Inc. has appointed sales and marketing veteran Paul Warner as vice president of sales for national accounts, including Toys “R” Us, K-Mart, and Costco. In his new role, Warner will oversee U.S. sales and account operations for growing product lines. 
Warner has more than 30 years of sales, marketing, and purchasing experience, having served in executive positions at companies such as Mega Brands, Rose Art, Mega Bloks, and MGA Entertainment. Most recently, Warner served as an independent sales and marketing representative for PawToys, LLC, an independent sales force representing lines such as Meccano Erector. 

The Jim Henson Company Promotes Two Creative Team Members

The Jim Henson Company has promoted two members of its creative team to serve as directors in feature and television development. Meghan Sheridan has been named director of children’s entertainment, and will report to Halle Stanford, executive vice president of that division. Blanca Lista is now director of feature development, and will report to Lisa Henson, CEO of The Jim Henson Company. Lista will oversee the development of feature film projects, for which both executives will be responsible for bringing in new projects, writers, and talent for the development slate at the company.  
Sheridan joined the children’s entertainment department in 2010, and has worked on production teams for Sid the Science Kid, Dinosaur Train, Me & My Monsters, The Possibility Shop, Pajaminals, and Wilson & Ditch: Digging America.   
Lista began as a story editor in the company’s feature film department in 2009. Current projects in development include Pinocchio and The Doubtful Guest. Before joining Henson, Lista was a creative assistant at Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Nickelodeon Names SVP, NickMom

Last week, Nickelodeon announced that General Mills, Target, and Reckitt Benckiser have signed on as charter sponsors for NickMom, Nickelodeon’s new multiplatform content destination that targets moms. The just-announced deals will include brand integration, content development, and sponsorships across the new NickMom TV block, launching this fall on Nick Jr. The deal also includes NickMom.com, which launched last year.
Nickelodeon has announced that Bronwen O’Keefe has been named senior vice president of NickMom. In this newly created position, O’Keefe will spearhead the creation and development of all television and online content for NickMom.
O’Keefe will be responsible for managing the content creation, editorial, and programming development, in addition to overseeing the planning and execution of all linear and digital content for NickMom. She will also work with senior management to set and champion the creative strategy for NickMom.
A 15-year Nickelodeon veteran, O’Keefe was most recently senior vice president of event and original programming, where she was responsible for overseeing the production of network television events, specials, and shows such as Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Awards, TeenNick HALO Awards, Worldwide Day of Play, Speed Racer, Kappa Mikey, The Secret World of Alex Mack, and Degrassi, among others.

Build-A-Bear Reports Fiscal 2011 Fourth Quarter and Full-Year Results

Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc. has reported results for the 2011 fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2011. For the 13 weeks ended December 31, 2011, total revenues were $119.1 million, compared to $125.8 million in the fiscal 2010 fourth quarter. The fourth quarter of fiscal 2011 included $1.5 million in net retail sales due to an adjustment to deferred revenue related to the loyalty program, compared to a $4.3 million adjustment in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010. Excluding the impact of foreign exchange, total revenues declined 6 percent. Consolidated comparable store sales decreased 4.9 percent. Consolidated pre-tax income of $9.8 million increased 6.3 percent from $9.2 million in the fiscal 2010 fourth quarter.
For fiscal 2011 full-year results, total revenues were $394.4 million, compared to $401.5 million in fiscal 2010. Fiscal 2011 included $1.5 million in net retail sales due to an adjustment to deferred revenue related to the loyalty program, compared to a $4.3 million adjustment in fiscal 2010. Fiscal 2010 total revenues included $6.4 million from non-recurring commercial transactions. Excluding the impact of foreign exchange and the non-recurring commercial transactions in fiscal 2010, total revenues declined 1.2 percent. On a consolidated basis, comparable store sales declined 2.1 percent.
At year end, the company operated 346 company-owned stores—288 in North America and 58 in Europe, compared to 290 in North America and 54 in Europe at the end of fiscal 2010. In fiscal 2011, the company’s international franchisees opened 16 stores, net of closures, finishing the year with 79 stores.

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