February 22, 2012

 Toy Fest West

Neil Friedman Resigns as President of Toys “R” Us, Inc., U.S.

In a SEC filing on Friday, Toys “R” Us, Inc. announced that Neil Friedman has resigned as president of U.S. operations after 10 months at the company. His resignation will be effective on February 24. The filing says Friedman will “become an advisor to the broader toy industry,” and the company “intends to retain his advisory services, on a non-exclusive basis, for new ventures and business alliances.”

Hobbico Acquires Revell Germany

Hobbico, Inc., announced today that it has acquired Revell Germany. Revell Germany, established is 1956, will continue to operate from its headquarters in Bünde, near Hannover, Germany, and will be led by Hans Remfert, president of Revell Germany. For the past four years, Revell has been a market leader in the plastic model building segment and a key player in toy radio control vehicles in the European toy market. Several new product lines were announced at this year's Nuremberg Toy Fair.
Hobbico manufactures and markets model hobby products, including radio-controlled models, plastic model kits, flying model rockets, and other hobby and toy products. The 100 percent employee-owned company sells products through several subsidiaries including Revell, Estes, Great Planes Model Distributors, and Tower Hobbies.

TIA Identifies Top Trends from Toy Fair 2012

After viewing tons of the 100,000-plus products that were on display during the 109th American International Toy Fair last week, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) identified six toy trends for this year. A presentation was made during a “Toy Trends Tea,” hosted by TIA.
The six top trends identified were: toys that work with smart devices and apps; toys that glow in the dark or light up; educational games and toys for infants, preschoolers, and children of all ages; toys that have multiple play patterns or customizable toys; higher-priced toys that pack a “wow” factor; and toys that teach music basics or allow older kids to emulate their favorite pop stars.
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WBCP Partners with PPW Toys, Cardinal, and Wonder Forge

Mr. Potato Head BatmanWarner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) has partnered with PPW Toys, under a licensing agreement with Hasbro, to launch a line of Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head figures dressed like DC Comics characters. The collectible Mr. Potato Head figures will launch this summer, including Batman as The Dark Knight and Classic Superman. Wonder Woman Spuds will launch this holiday season. More figures will launch next year. The figures will be sold at specialty retailers and e-tailers beginning this summer.
WBCP has also partnered with Cardinal Industries to create a line of children’s games and puzzles based on the upcoming films The Dark Knight Rises and Man of Steel. Cardinal will also create games and puzzles based on DC Comics characters Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Supergirl. Cardinal will create a variety of 48- to 100-piece puzzles in different styles, including lenticular, wood, and Super 3D, as well as basic and floor versions, packaged in a tin featuring a super hero character. The games and puzzles will be available at specialty retailers this spring. WBCP has also partnered with Wonder Forge for DC Super Friends: The Joker Fun House Game. It will be available this fall at mass and specialty retailers nationwide.

Jakks Signs Deals for DC Comics Heroes and Songify

The Dark Knight RisesJakks Pacific has announced a licensing agreement with Warner Bros. Consumer Products to manufacture, distribute, and market a line of novelty and large-scale figures and plush under its Creative Designs International (CDI) division, based on the DC Comics Super Heroes and Super Villains. CDI will launch the DC Comics product line to coincide with the release of The Dark Knight Rises. The deal includes the right to produce products based on Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, The Flash, The Joker, and Darkseid. The DC Comics and The Dark Knight Rises product lines from CDI will be available at major retailers this summer.
Additionally, Jakks Pacific announced a new licensing agreement with Khush, a developer of intelligent music applications, to create a product inspired by the Songify app. Songify launched last summer as the first mobile app that turns speech into music. This summer, Jakks’ Songify toy will allow users to simply press record and talk directly into the toy, which instantly analyzes their speech, slices it into a chorus and verses while mapping it to a melody, and produces a beat to go along with the corrected voice pitch. The Songify toy will combine all of these into a finished song. Users can then listen to the song in a variety of styles, select their favorite one, save it, and play it.

Global Toy Conference at Nuremberg Toy Fair Examined the Future

At the 3rd Global Toy Conference at Nuremberg Toy Fair, themed “Tomorrow’s Toy Industry – Opportunities and Challenges,” manufacturers and retailers examined the risks and opportunities of the future. Experts discussed various aspects of the industry based on the four modules of “Tomorrow’s Consumer,” “Prospects for the Toy Trade,” Marketing 3.0,” and “Toy Safety.”
Speakers gave the approximately 200 international participants various tips for a successful business, including trend expert Reyne Rice who presented “Tech
Trends for iKids to iTeens.” The presentations at the Global Toy Conference will be available starting next month as webcasts on www.yourtoycom.com, a business community for professionals from the global toy industry.
The Global Toy Conference 2012 was organized by Spielwarenmesse eG in cooperation
with DVSI (German Association of the Toy Industry) and TIE (Toy
Industries of Europe), and supported by sponsors Bureau Veritas, Intertek, and
DAMCO. The topics for the 4th Global Toy Conference will be announced by November at www.globaltoyconference.de.

TIA Names Chairman, Elects First Retail Exec and Sales Rep to Board of Directors

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) has announced the election of two new members to its board of directors at its Annual Business Meeting on February 14. Julia Fitzgerald, chief digital engagement officer of toys and sporting goods at Sears Holdings Corporation, and Jeffrey Kennis, president of Enchanted Moments, Inc., were elected, becoming the first retail executive and sales representative to join TIA’s board. Fitzgerald and Kennis will each serve their first term through 2014.
Additionally at the meeting, retiring chairman Bryan Stockton, CEO of Mattel, passed the gavel to Soren Torp Laursen, president of Lego Systems, who will take over as chairman of the board for a one-year term. Laursen previously served as vice chairman, and John Gessert, president and CEO of American Plastic Toys, will now assume that role. As immediate past chairman, Stockton becomes an advisor to the governance body.
Rounding out the executive committee, David Hargreaves of Hasbro will serve as secretary-treasurer, and Chuck Scothon, general manager and SVP of Mattel’s digital networks, and Bob Wann, CEO of Patch Products, will join as the newest members of the committee. 

Nerd Corps Entertainment Brings Juli Boylan Aboard           

With the fall launch of the action series Slugterra on Disney XD approaching, Nerd Corps Entertainment has recruited Juli Boylan to head its consumer products activities. Boylan was previously at Sony Consumer Products where she was SVP of global licensing, managing global brands including Spider-Man and Ghostbusters. She also worked at Warner Bros. Consumer Products on the Looney Tunes brand and the Batman film franchise.
Slugterra has secured a television deal with Disney XD channels around the world, and Nerd Corps recently signed a deal with Televix Entertainment, which grants the company free TV distribution rights throughout Latin America.

Wal-Mart Reports Q4, Fiscal 2012 Results

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has reported financial results for the fourth quarter and full year ended Jan. 31, 2012.
Net sales for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 were $122.3 billion, an increase of 5.8 percent from $115.6 billion in last year’s fourth quarter. Net sales for the quarter included $2.4 billion of positive impact from the acquisitions of the Netto stores in the U.K. and Massmart in South Africa. Net sales included approximately $1.0 billion of negative impact from currency exchange rates. Before acquisitions, and on a constant currency basis, net sales grew 4.5 percent to $120.9 billion.
Income from continuing operations attributable to Walmart for the quarter was $5.2 billion, up 3.4 percent from $5.0 billion last year.
Consolidated net sales for the full fiscal year were $443.9 billion, an increase of 5.9 percent over fiscal year 2011. Net sales included approximately $4.7 billion of positive impact from acquisitions and approximately $4.0 billion of positive impact from currency exchange rates. Before acquisitions, and on a constant currency basis, net sales grew 3.9 percent to $435.1 billion.
Income from continuing operations attributable to Walmart was $15.8 billion, a 2.7 percent increase from $15.4 billion last year.

Jakks Pacific Reports Results for Q4 and 2011

Jakks Pacific, Inc. has reported results for the company’s fourth quarter and full year, which ended on December 31. Net sales for the fourth quarter were $141.1 million, compared to $198 million that was reported for fourth quarter 2010. The reported net loss for the fourth quarter was $20 million, or a loss of $0.77 per diluted share. Net income for the fourth quarter were $8.9 million, or $0.30 per diluted share, which included a tax benefit of $5.9 million, or $0.17 per diluted share, which was reported in the comparable period in 2010.
Net sales for 2011 were $677.8 million, compared to $747.3 million in 2010. Net income for the full year was $8.5 million, or $0.32 per diluted share, compared to net income of $47 million, or $1.52 per diluted share, in 2010.
As of December 31, the company’s working capital was $374.7 million, including cash and equivalents and marketable securities of $257.5 million, compared to working capital of $387.3 million, including cash and equivalents and marketable securities of $278.6, as of December 31, 2010.

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