February 23, 2011

ALEX Toys

It was great to see all of you at Toy Fair last week. We were excited to deliver such a great issue of The Toy Book. If you didn’t get a chance to see it, you can check it out later this week at www.toybook.com. Just click on the image of our cover. We welcome any feedback you’d like to share regarding this issue, or for future issues of The Toy Book, The Licensing Book, or The Toy Insider—just email our editor, Jackie Breyer, at jbreyer@toybook.com.


Jonathan Samet, publisher

Toy Fair 2011 Saw Surge in Attendance

More than 25,000 players in the global toy industry attended the 108th American International Toy Fair last week to scout out more than 100,000 innovative products on display across 360,000 net square feet of exhibit space at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City, according to the Toy Industry Association.
Toy Fair 2011, held February 13-16, welcomed 10,305 buyers from 91 countries, and saw year-to-date increases in attendance across the board, including overall attendance excluding guests (up 2 percent to 15,335), international attendance (up 17 percent to 2,299), international buyers (up 8 percent to 1,534), and manufacturer’s reps (up 19 percent to 1,933).
The show also drew a 10 percent increase in trade guests, including a surge in licensors (up 8 percent), entertainment executives (up 31 percent) and international trade guests (up 26 percent). Canada, the U.K., Japan, Mexico, and Brazil were identified as the top five countries with the highest attendance numbers.
Overall media attendance grew by 15 percent and international media saw a 13 percent rise. More than 1,000 media representatives attended the show.
More than 5,900 unique retail outlets, as well as representatives from 21 of the top 25 toy retailers in the U.S. and 45 of the top 250 retailers worldwide, scoped out products from nearly 1,100 exhibitors (255 first-timers) from 26 countries. The diversity of the retailers spanned traditional toy sellers, ranging in size from specialty toy stores to big box and warehouse retailers to drugstores, supermarkets, and hypermarkets, as well as alternative toy and game distribution channels such as book and clothing stores, pet shops, and travel-themed retailers.
The 109th American International Toy Fair will be held February 12-15, 2012, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. 

TOTY Award Winners and Hall of Fame Inductees

The Toy Industry Association kicked off last week’s Toy Fair in New York with the 11th Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards program and Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Established in 1984, the Hall of Fame honors individuals who have made a significant mark on the toy industry. Joining the more than 55 people already on the distinguished roster are Al Verrecchia, chairman of the board of directors, Hasbro, Inc. and the late Donald Duncan, founder of Duncan Toys Company. 
The Sing-a-ma-jigs!, by Mattel, Inc., received the Toy of the Year title and was also awarded Preschool Toy of the Year and Innovative Toy of the Year. The Activity Toy of the Year was presented to Crayola Color Wonder Sound Studio, by Crayola, LLC. The Boy Toy of the Year was presented to Nerf N-Strike Stampede ECS Blaster, by Hasbro, Inc. The Educational Toy of the Year was presented to Leapster Explorer Learning Experience, by LeapFrog. The Game of the Year was presented to Scrabble Flash, by Hasbro, Inc. The Girl Toy of the Year was presented to Squinkies Cupcake Surprize! Bake Shop, by Blip Toys. The Infant/Toddler Toy of the Year was presented to My Own Leaptop, by LeapFrog. The Outdoor Toy of the Year was presented to Nerf Super Soaker Shot Blast, by Hasbro, Inc. Property of the Year was presented to Toy Story 3, by Disney Consumer Products. The Specialty Toy of the Year was presented to Hexbug Nano Habitat Set, by Innovation First Labs, Inc.

Spin Master Announces New Boys’ Property, Redakai

RedakaiAs a follow-up to Bakugan, Spin Master, Ltd. is bringing Redakai: Conquer The Kairu, a new boys’ action property, to television. A co-production between Spin Master and Zodiak Kids/Marathon Media, the series will debut on Cartoon Network in the U.S. in the second half of this year.
Redakai: Conquer the Kairu is an animated kids adventure series starring Ky, a 15-year-old student of ancient martial arts who embarks on a quest to find the Kairu, a primordial alien energy force. Helped by his friends Maya and Boomer, Ky travels the globe looking for the Kairu to protect it from his extraterrestrial teenage opponents, with the hope that one day he will become the greatest Kairu warrior of them all: a Redakai.
Cartoon Network Enterprises will serve as the exclusive licensing agent for Redakai in the U.S. and Canada. Zodiak Kids/Marathon Media holds worldwide television distribution rights to the series and all licensing and merchandising rights, excluding North America.

Hasbro Debuts Construction Toy Line, KRE-O

KRE-OThis fall, Hasbro will introduce a new construction toy brand, KRE-O. At launch, KRE-O, targeted to builders ages 6 and older, will offer 12 building sets featuring popular Transformers characters, including Bumblebee, Starscream, and Optimus Prime.
Each KRE-O Transformers set has two types of builds: create a robot and then disassemble to build a vehicle, or build the vehicle and then disassemble to create a robot. Most sets will come complete with themed accessories and a poseable KREON mini figure in robot or human form.

 

 

 

PBS Debuts PBS Kids Toy Line

PBS has announced its first-ever PBS Kids toy line, selecting Happy Kid Toy Group as the line’s master licensee. Happy Kid will manufacture and distribute the PBS Kids toy line, with the first products being available this spring. The line will initially include more than 20 individual wooden toys for preschoolers across key toy categories, including the PBS Kids Sounds of the World Rhythm Set, PBS Kids Puzzle Playset Safari, PBS Kids Exploration Blocks sets, and PBS Kids 3-Layer Puzzles.

The Orb Factory Acquires Curiosity Kits

The Orb Factory Limited has acquired the assets of Curiosity Kits, the makers of activity-based kits for children that are popular in the specialty market. The Orb Factory has assumed the rights to all of Curiosity Kits’ brand trademarks and copyrights. The company will introduce the products at summer shows for shipment beginning in July.

New Power Rangers Samurai Licensees Announced

Power Rangers SamuraiSaban Brands, LLC has expanded the reach of the new Power Rangers Samurai television series by signing several new licensees. The new agreements will bring a wide selection of products for kids based on the new television show, including apparel, accessories, bedding, bags, backpacks, footwear, toys, and watches.
Saban Brands has signed Mega Brands for a line of construction toys; Disguise for costumes; LF USA, Jem Sportswear, and Mighty Fine for apparel; Jay Franco and Sons, Inc. for bedding; Brown Shoe for footwear; and Berkshire and MZ Berger for various accessories.

 

 

 

NCP Unveils Victorious Product Lineup

VictoriousNickelodeon Consumer Products (NCP) announced its first toy lines for Victorious with products from Spin Master and Sakar International. The Victorious toy lineup, which debuted at Toy Fair, will feature fashion dolls, role play, play sets, and consumer electronics. Master toy licensee Spin Master will introduce the Make it Shine Doll, Tori Doll, Victorious Locker Decorator, and Victorious Microphone, all to be released in October. Beginning this fall, Sakar will ship more than 20 Victorious-branded electronics and computer accessories, including MP3/4 players, boom boxes, karaoke machines, text messengers, doorbell answering machines, digital cameras, and portable DVD players. Non-electronic merchandise, such as computer sleeves and gaming accessories, will also join the lineup.

Sakar Expands Hello Kitty Line, Announces Nerf Line

Sakar International is expanding its Hello Kitty product line with more than two dozen new products, making the 2011 line one of the company’s largest Hello Kitty installments. The products will include a Hello Kitty light-up message board; iPad sleeves and cases; a CDG karaoke machine; phone charms; computer accessories; iPhone, iPod Touch, and Blackberry protectors; earbuds and noise-canceling headphones; and a hot pink mini-fridge. Also to debut will be Hello Kitty-branded youth electronics, including walkie talkies, doorbell answer machines, keychain digital frames, and more. The products will ship over the next few months and will be sold in the U.S. and Canada.
In additional news, Sakar Electronics, under license from Hasbro, Inc., announced plans for a line of Nerf-branded audio and video electronics and optics. The collection will offer products inspired by the iconic Nerf brand and will be available during the 2011 holiday season in the U.S. and Canada.
The initial product lineup will feature digital and video cameras and cases, MP3 players, walkie talkies, binoculars, flashlights, and headlamps—all inspired by the Nerf brand.
Sakar is also introducing more than 20 Victorious-branded electronics this fall.

Cardinal Gets Exclusive Rights for Squinkies Games and Puzzles

SquinkiesBlip Toys, the maker of the line of Squinkies collectible figures, has signed a new licensing partnership with Cardinal Industries, Inc., which will expand the Squinkies brand into the games and puzzles categories.
Under the agreement, Cardinal was granted the exclusive rights to manufacture and distribute Squinkies licensed games, card games, skill and action games, and puzzles in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
The Squinkies products from Cardinal include new Squinkies 24-Piece lenticular puzzles, which are available now at major mass retailers. Other items, including the Squinkies Gumball Surprize Playhouse Game, will roll out later this month and throughout the spring.

 

MGA Entertainment’s New Characters, Licensing Partners for Lalaloopsy

LalaloopsyMGA Entertainment will introduce new characters to the Lalaloopsy line this spring, including the first Lalaloopsy boy doll, Patch Treasurechest, as well as an expansion to the Mini Lalaloopsy offerings including new characters and play sets. 
MGA Entertainment has also secured several new licensing deals for the brand, including Rubie’s for Halloween costumes; Ceaco for puzzles; Lee Publications for novelty publishing; Modern Publishing for color/activity books; Added Extras for cosmetics and role play; Jerry Leigh for apparel; Jay Franco for bedding, beach and bath; Berkshire for cold weather wear; and Pan Oceanic for sunglasses.  
Additionally, MGA Entertainment is currently in development for the first-ever Lalaloopsy feature-length movie. The made-for-DVD film will be released in spring 2012 and will star the original Lalaloopsy characters.  

 

SqwishLand Appoints Licensing Agent

SqwishLand has appointed New York-based TK Brand Group as the exclusive worldwide licensing agent for the brand. Tamra Knepfer, founder of TK Brand Group and a 20-year veteran of licensing, marketing, and brand management, will head the brand’s licensing and development efforts.
Knepfer has previously worked for brands such as Disney Consumer Products, Sesame Workshop, American Greetings Properties, Rodale, Chorion, and Peanuts Worldwide.

Happy Feet 2 Games and Puzzles to Debut from Pressman

Pressman Toy Corporation will premiere a line of games and puzzles based on the upcoming Warner Bros. film Happy Feet 2, to premiere November 18. The line will hit mass and specialty retail shelves this fall. Pressman Toy’s line of children’s games, appropriate for ages 3 and up, will include Happy Feet 2 Freezing Frenzy, a game featuring a battery-powered Erik who shivers and shakes, kicking ice cubes out of the ice ring; Happy Feet 2 Hold On Erik!, a game of skill featuring Erik balancing atop of blocks of ice that must be carefully pushed out one by one; and Happy Feet 2 Thin Ice, a skill game where players must place marbles on a “sheet of ice” without breaking through. Other games will also be available.
In addition, Pressman Toy will introduce several lines of Happy Feet 2 puzzles featuring real movie scenes, including a 100-piece puzzle assortment, pal-size puzzles, and a line of 96-piece 3-D Visual puzzles, complete with a 3-D viewer.

Learning Curve to Release Chuggington Wooden Railway at Specialty Only

ChuggingtonRC2 Corporation's Learning Curve Brands has announced its largest specialty-only launch with the Chuggington Wooden Railway, arriving in stores this month. The product willcombine the classic wooden train play with the world of Chuggington. Featuring a series of brightly colored engines and starter train sets constructed in high-quality wood, the Railway will also include modular “two-in-one” buildings and tunnels, which encourage kids to construct and re-shape their Chuggington world with simple, reconfigurable designs. Learning Curve's Chuggington Wooden Railway is expandable and compatible with all other major wooden train systems.

Disney Eco-Plush to Release this Summer

This July, Disney characters will make their debut as My Natural eco-plush by miYim.
Plush Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and other A.A. Milne characters will be made with certified non-toxic, earth-friendly fabrics, including bamboo and natural (unprocessed, unbleached) cotton. The low-impact reactive dyes are free of heavy metals and toxic substances, and miYim’s proprietary PureWaterWash uses plant and minerals in soy water for the dye bath.

Zodiak Media Group Forms Kids Division

Zodiak Media Group has formed a brand-new division, Zodiak Kids. The division includes all of the Zodiak Media Group’s kids production and distribution entities under one united banner. Zodiak Kids will include Zodiak Media Group’s dedicated children’s production companies: Marathon Media, Tele-images Productions, Zodiak Active Kids Entertainment Division, The Foundation, as well as Zodiak Rights’ Kids & Family TV sales division.
All Zodiak Kids TV sales will be carried out from London by the Zodiak Kids sales team, headed up by Karen Vermeulen, SVP global TV sales and co-production. Consumer products and licensing will be carried out by each production company’s own licensing teams.

Activision Premieres Toy-Video Game Hybrid, Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure

Spyro AdventureActivision Publishing, Inc. made the worldwide debut of Skylanders Spyro's Adventure, a game that allows players to transport real-world toys into virtual worlds, at American International Toy Fair. The toys can come to life inside the game on multiple gaming platforms, as well as handheld gaming devices, mobile devices, and on the web.
In Skylanders Spyro's Adventure, kids take on the role of a powerful Portal Master, who can control more than 30 different characters, including purple dragon Spyro. The heroes have been ejected from their world by the sinister Portal Master, Kaos, and are frozen in our world as toys. Players try to get them back into their world by embarking on a journey where they will explore mythical lands, battle menacing creatures, collect treasures, and solve puzzles.  
The game will remember achievements and level-ups. Other features include characters with their own unique powers and diverse experiences on different devices.
Toys “R” Us will join forces with Activision this fall for a global marketing partnership that will include several Skylanders Spyro's Adventure exclusives.

Jakks Unveils New Pokémon Toy Line

PokemonTo coincide with the launch of the Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version video games for Nintendo DS, and the new animated television series, Pokémon: Black & White, Jakks Pacific, Inc. is introducing a brand-new toy line aimed to bring to life the experience of a Pokémon Trainer.
The line, to hit retailers in May, includes a new skill & action line for older kids, allowing them to catch, train, and battle their Pokémon in interactive and competitive toy-based experiences. Jakks will also launch figures and plush featuring new Pokémon characters, play sets that emulate the new Unova region, and Trainer role play items inspired by the television series.

 

Thomas & Friends Licensees to Produce Tie-In Products for New DVD

Hit Entertainment has announced that the latest Thomas & Friends CG-animated feature-length movie, Day of the Diesels, will release on DVD from Lionsgate Home Entertainment this fall in the U.S, on September 26 in the UK, and across other international territories, including Australia, Germany, Benelux, and Spanish-speaking territories in Latin America, by the end of the year.
Thomas & Friends licensees worldwide—including Fisher-Price, Random House, Egmont, Mega Bloksand Learning Curve—will create more than 75 tie-in products, including books, games, engines, play sets, apparel, bedding, and accessories based on Day of the Diesels. In addition, Day of the Diesels-related mobile and tablet applications are scheduled for this year and a Day of the Diesels microsite will launch next month on the Thomas & Friends website.

Moshi Monsters Names U.S. Distributor, Launches Moshi TV and Magazine

MoshiMind Candy, publisher of Moshimonsters.com, is bringing its Moshi Monster toy range to the U.S. with a new distribution deal with Spin Master. The toy range, which premiered on UK shelves in January, made its U.S. debut at the Spin Master booth at American International Toy Fair.
The unveiled Moshi Monsters range includes soft toys based on the six key monster characters, as well as collectible figures based on the Moshlings (pets of the pet monsters). Many of the products feature special codes, which unlock extras on moshimonsters.com.
Moshi Monsters creator and CEO, Michael Acton Smith, also announced the launch of Moshi TV at the Kidscreen Summit in New York City. Moshi TV, a new online viewing platform that is currently in development, will combine elements of user-generated content, in-house production, and animated content from partners. Kids will be able to rate content, discuss it with their friends, and vote for what they would like to see. Mind Candy is looking for content creators who would like to show their work on Moshi TV.
Additionally, Mind Candy has launched Moshi Monsters Magazine, in association with SkyJack Publishing. Based on the game, the new monthly magazine includes 52 pages of Moshi Monsters content, including comic strips, competitions, free gifts, puzzles, top secret Moshi hints and tips, character fact files, and user-generated content. Each issue will also include exclusive giveaways and unique codes that unlock new content within the online universe.

New Deals for Chorion’s Olivia Property

OliviaChorion has secured several new licensing partners for its preschool property Olivia. Hedstrom has signed a deal for Olivia sports balls, sports toys, and pool toys, while Carson Dellosa will develop a line of themed classroom activities to launch next January at online, educational trade, and office supply outlets.
An interactive eBook of Olivia Acts Out will launch later this month on iTunes and a range of Olivia audio books, featuring CDs with storybooks from Toy Box, will follow in April. Also new in publishing, a collection of branded “Sound” and “Look & Find” books from PIL will launch in September to the book trade, clubs, and specialty book stores.
Other Olivia deals include a regular and deluxe costume range from Rubie’s to premiere for Halloween 2011 and a stationery line from Rock Paper Pencil, to be sold exclusively at Toys “R” Us.
Spin Master is the global master toy licensee for Olivia, and during 2011 the company’s toys will be supported by a major television advertising campaign and promotional in-store marketing programs.
Additional categories are still available for license.

New Licensees on Board for Tinga Tinga Tales

Tinga TingaClassic Media has announced new licensees for the newly premiered television series Tinga Tinga Tales, including Ravensburger for puzzles, Pressman Toy Corporation for games, and University Games for Colorforms activity products. The new licensees will join master toy partner Bandai and master publishing partner Grosset & Dunlap.   
Tinga Tinga Tales is an animated preschool series about how animals came to be. 
Inspired by traditional animal folktales from Africa and the colorful Tingatinga art style of Tanzania, the series is created by producer Claudia Lloyd (Charlie and Lola) and produced entirely on location in Africa by local artists. 
Tinga Tinga Tales premiered February 14 with the launch of the Disney Junior block on Disney Channel. The series, for kids ages 2-7, airs weekdays in the U.S. at 11 a.m. ET/PT. Bandai will release interactive toys based on the series in fall 2012.

New Production Company to Create Kids’ Programming

A new Canadian production company, Little Tugboat, has been formed to create original television programming for kids. Little Tugboat is owned and controlled by company
president and director Brenda Nietupski, who previously served as director of programming, Treehouse & Discovery Kids Canada at Corus Entertainment. Josh Selig, founder and president of Little Airplane Productions, is vice president and director of Little Tugboat and has an interest in the company. Steven DeNure, president and COO of DHX Media, will sit on the Little Tugboat board of directors as an independent member.
Little Tugboat is working with Breakthrough Entertainment and Little Airplane on its first project, The Adventures of Napkin Man. The series, now in development with the CBC, is live-action and animated and targeted to preschoolers. The Adventures of Napkin Man tells the story of Mister Anthony, a preschool teacher who draws a superhero named Napkin Man for his students. Napkin Man comes to life in an animated world and helps
children better understand and manage their feelings. Dr. Laura G. Brown (Ni Hao Kai Lan, The Wonder Pets) created the curriculum for the series.

Roary Toys Racing into Stores Next Month

Roary the Racing Car is zooming onto store shelves in the U.S. next month. Following the U.S. broadcast launch of the television series on Sprout, the new Roary line will hit Toys “R” Us stores and Toysrus.com in March. 
As the U.S. master toy licensee for the brand, Bandai will offer a full line of Roary toys, including die-cast, push-along Racing Stars, Talking Turbo Vehicles, Roary R/C, Silver Hatch Racetrack play sets, and more. The die-cast vehicles, Talking Turbo Vehicles, and Roary R/C will be packaged with a special episode of Roary the Racing Car on DVD.
Following the Bandai toy launch, K’nex will release sets that will allow kids to recreate their favorite Roary characters and scenes. 
The first Roary DVD, Roary The Racing Car, from Lionsgate Home Entertainment, will
launch at mass retailers in June. The series was created by Chapman Entertainment and is represented by Hit Entertainment in North America.

New CSI and NCIS Products to Launch

CBS Consumer Products is extending the reach for two of its top television franchises, CSI and NCIS, at retail with new partnerships. The extended merchandising program will include apparel, trading cards, die-cast vehicles, bobbleheads, and figurines.
The new CSI and NCIS partnerships include Bif Bang Pow for NCIS bobbleheads in the U.S.; Film World Toys for CSI resin figures in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Japan, and China; Green Light for die-cast vehicles in the U.S. and Canada for all CSI and NCIS shows; and Rittenhouse Achieves Limited for NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles trading cards in the U.S.

New Monster Jam Licensees

Feld Motor Sports has signed nine new Monster Jam licensees to expand its licensed merchandise program. The addition of the new licensees brings Monster Jam’s licensee list to more than 50.
The new partners include six-volt battery-operated ride-ons from Street Flyers; bikes from Strider Sports; hobby-grade R/C vehicles from Traxxas; soft storage, play tents, and slumber by Playhut; gift and novelty room décor from Square One Brands; wall graphics from Fathead; apparel by C-Life; online, customizable products from Ty’s Toy Box/Brand Performance; and flavored water and juice beverages from U and Me Marketing.
American Greetings will continue to create Monster Jam party goods, gift wrap, and social expressions, and Smilemakers will continue to make stickers exclusively for medical and dental offices.

Mega Bloks Launches Tour for Halo Vehicle

 Mega HaloMega Bloks has launched a North American tour for the Mega Bloks Halo Vehicle, inspired by Halo’s Warthog. The vehicle will be traveling across Canada and the U.S., making appearances at toy shows, convention centers, retail stores, and more. The vehicle’s first stop was at the Javits Convention Center in New York City during American International Toy Fair.

TIA Membership Available to Any North American Company in the Industry

Toy Industry Association (TIA) members voted at the Annual Business Meeting, held during American International Toy Fair, to amend TIA’s bylaws to make the association a stronger and more inclusive organization. Full TIA regular membership will now be open to any company that creates, manufactures, imports, or sells toys in North America.
The election of the new TIA board of directors also took place at the Annual Business Meeting. Members for the board through 2013 include William Campbell, president of sales and marketing at LeapFrog Enterprises (first term); Joel Berger, president of Cardinal Industries (second term); Leigh Anne Brodsky, EVP of consumer products at Nickelodeon Consumer Products (second term); Peter Henseler, president of Learning Curve Brands (second term); and Jamie Gallagher, CEO of Faber-Castell USA/Creativity for Kids (third term).
TIA elected Bryan Stockton, COO of Mattel, as chairman of the board; Soren Torp Laursen, president of LEGO Systems, as vice chairman of the board; and John Gessert, president and CEO of American Plastic Toys, as secretary-treasurer of the board. Members of the executive committee include David Hargreaves, COO of Hasbro, and Jamie Gallagher, CEO of Faber-Castell USA/Creativity for Kids. Each of the officers has been re-elected for another one-year term.

Hong Kong Mega Shows Announce New Show Dates

Reflecting an improvement in attendance numbers and business confidence during the October 2010 Mega Shows, Kenfair announces that strong exhibitor rebooking has already been received for the October 2011 shows.
Mega Show Part 1 will be held October 20-23 and Mega Show Part 2 will be held October 27-29, 2011. These two trade shows for the gift, home wares, premiums, and toy industries are timed to the Southern China sourcing calendar, allowing global buyers to attend both the trade shows, as well as visit China and Hong Kong factories and meet with a wide range of both Asian and international suppliers in the key sourcing season.
The two shows attracted just fewer than 70,000 worldwide buyers in last October.

Sandbox Summit to be Held April 28-29 at MIT

The annual Sandbox Summit—an industry and academic conference that explores how technology affects the way kids play, learn, and connect—will be held April 28-29 in Boston at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). This year’s theme is “Game Changers: People, Products, and Policies That Empower 21st Century Kids.” Featured speakers include Amy Bruckman, associate professor at the college of computing at Georgia Tech; Karen Cator, director of the office of educational technology, U.S. Department of Education; Alex Chisolm, executive director, Learning Games Network; Drew Davidson, director of the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon; Sara DeWitt, vice president of PBS Kids Interactive; Jane Gould, vice president, consumer insights, Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group Research; Carla Engelbrecht Fisher, children’s game designer and researcher; and more.
Registration is $695 for the two-day conference and includes daily presentations, breakfast, a networking lunch, and a choice of workshops.

Street Surfing Moves to Larger Worldwide Headquarters

Street Surfing has signed a multi-year lease for a new worldwide headquarters at 1360 Reynolds Ave., Irvine, Calif. The 14,000 square foot space occupies two floors and is more than triple the size of the company’s previous headquarters in Newport Beach, Calif. The facility employs more than 30 people and houses all departments, including product development/design, sales/marketing, administration, as well as the warehouse facilities. Street Surfing’s European office is located in Portugal and serves the entire European Union.

Ming the Minibus to Broadcast in South Korea

Good Link International has announced that Korea Telecommunications has picked up Ming the Minibus for broadcast on the ITV network. ITV will broadcast the show in its original English format as they want kids in South Korea to use the series to help with their English language studies.
Since Korea Telecommunciations is half owned by the South Korean government, the plan is to broadcast the show into every primary school in South Korea.

Octonauts and Gaspard and Lisa to Air on Disney Channel

OctonautsAs a part of a new program acquisition deal, Chorion has sold two of its preschool animated series, Octonauts and Gaspard and Lisa, to Disney Channel U.S. to premiere on the Disney Junior programming block next year.
The deal will complete the international rollout, which started in the UK and France last fall and will continue across major global territories through 2012.
Chorion will manage consumer products programs for both Octonauts and Gaspard and Lisa globally.

German Toy Shop Crowned Schleich Window Display Winner

Die Murmel Toy Shop, in Würzburg, Germany, was crowned the 2010 winning store in a competition to create the best Schleich Wild Life window, based around the company’s signature 75th anniversary piece, the Schleich Plane. More than 550 stores, in more than 20 different countries, participated in the competition. Stores applied for free display kits having committed to create the displays that would raise awareness with consumers across the globe.
The owners of Die Murmel Toy Shop were presented with a trip to Africa and a chance to see the wild animals that Schleich creates in figure form in real life. Runners up and regional winners also received product voucher packages.

Top Trumps Launches Second-Annual Tournament

Top Trumps has launched the 2011 National Schools Top Trumps Tournament, the second year of its existence. Elementary schools around the world have registered to participate in this year’s tournament, which began with the first in-school heats on February 1 and will end with the grand finale in London at the end of May.
The theme for this year’s tournament is “Wellbeing/Feeling Good.” Each school that registers receives a free Top Trumps Tournament game, a poster, and seven free packs of specially created Feeling Good Top Trumps packs for schools to use during the tournament. The packs include 30 cards on how to stay fit and healthy, in body and in mind. 
The 2011 tournament is played using the “Tournament” format of Top Trumps, rather than the traditional one-on-one format of Top Trumps. Last year’s top Top Trumper was Samuel Penkethman, 10, a student at St. Barnabas Church of England Primary School in Darwen, Lancashire.
To find out more information, visit www.toptrumpstournament.com/2011.

Learning Encounters Kicks Off Science Experiment Contest

Learning Encounters, LLC, has launched a contest inviting science buffs of all ages to submit homemade science experiments to win cash and prizes. The competition kicked off on February 14 and will run through March 15. Participants submit videos of their experiments that are under five minutes and highlight “scientific genius.” To qualify, all experiments must be safe, use the scientific method, be in English, and be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on March 15. If the applicant is under 18, an adult must be present while the experiment is conducted.
Prizes include a grand prize of $200 and the company’s MicroViewer 500x digital microscope, a second prize of $50 and the company’s MicroViewer 200x digital microscope, and a third prize of the company’s SkyViewer Telescope Kit.
For more information, visit http://www.leosciencelab.com/contest/index.php.

HABA

Fred Pannek to Succeed Marcia Miller as Mud Pie President

Mud Pie’s board of directors has appointed Fred Pannek as president, succeeding Marcia Miller, who will now serve as CEO and chairman of the board.
Pannek joined the Mud Pie product development team seven years ago and has served as executive vice president of product development and special sales.
Mud Pie has also appointed Dale Doss as vice president of operations. Doss, a 23-year veteran in the distribution and logistics fields, joined Mud Pie last October. He has worked at Tyco North America, Lenox Group, Inc., Microwarehouse, and Walmart Stores, Inc.

Wild Planet Hires First SVP of Product Development

Wild Planet Entertainment, Inc. hired Jon Guerra as the company’s first senior vice president of product development. In this new role, Guerra will lead the development, creation, and launch of new categories, brands, and products for Wild Planet. Guerra will manage the company’s internal product development/design team and oversee external inventor relations.
Most recently, Guerra served as global creative director of product development for toys, multi-property at Disney Consumer Products (DCP). Prior to joining DCP, Guerra held creative and design director positions at frogdesign, ASTROstudios, and Fitch+.

Scholastic Promotes and Re-Hires

Scholastic has promoted Doug Analla to director, marketing and creative services for Klutz. Analla was previously associate director. Also promoted was Anamika Bhatnagar to the position of executive editor and director of paperback reprints. She was previously senior editor and director of paperback reprints.
Additionally, Samantha Schutz has re-joined Scholastic as executive editor, licensed publishing. Most recently, Schutz was editor at Grosset & Dunlap/PSS!, a division of the Penguin Young Readers Group. Prior to that, she was associate editor for Scholastic Licensed Publishing.

Courtney Simmons Named SVP of DC Entertainment’s Publicity

Courtney Simmons has been named senior vice president of publicity for DC Entertainment at Warner Bros. Simmons will be based in Burbank, Calif. and will report to John Rood, EVP of sales, marketing, and business development.
In her new role, Simmons will oversee and manage media relations and internal communications for DC Entertainment (DCE) and its executives, and be responsible for developing and leading the public relations strategy for DC Comics’ portfolio of characters across all media platforms. In addition, she will oversee the New York-based DC Entertainment publicity team.
Prior to joining DCE, Simmons was vice president of communications for Disney
Interactive Media Group. She has also served as a communications executive for Sony Online Entertainment (SOE).

Walmart’s Net Sales for Fiscal Year, Fourth Quarter Rise

Walmart Stores, Inc. reported financial results for the fourth quarter and the year, which ended January 31. Net sales for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2011 were $115.6 billion, an increase of 2.5 percent from $112.8 billion in the fourth quarter last year. Diluted earnings per share (EPS) from continuing operations for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2011 were $1.41.
Net sales for the fiscal year were $419 billion, an increase of 3.4 percent over fiscal 2010. Net sales included a currency exchange rate benefit of $4.5 billion. Income from continuing operations attributable to Walmart were $15.4 billion, a 6.3 percent increase from $14.4 billion last year. For fiscal year 2011, reported EPS were $4.18 versus $3.73 per share in the prior year.

Jakks Pacific Reports Fourth Quarter and Year-End Results for 2010

Jakks Pacific, Inc. reported results for the company’s fourth quarter and full year, which ended December 31, 2010. Net sales for the fourth quarter of 2010 were $198 million compared to $198.8 million reported in the fourth quarter last year. Net sales for 2010 were $747.3 million compared to $803.7 million in 2009. Reported net income for the fourth quarter was $8.9 million, or $0.30 per diluted share, compared to a loss of $1.9 million, or $0.07 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2009. Reported net income for 2010 was $47 million, or $1.52 per diluted share (which includes a one-time pre-tax charge relating to the benefit payment of $2.8 million, or $0.06 per diluted share, to the estate of Jack Friedman pursuant to his employment agreement, as well as one-time tax benefit of $10.8 million, or $0.31 per diluted share), compared to a loss of $385.5 million, or $14.02 per share, which was reported in 2009.

RC2 Reports 2010 Fourth Quarter and Full Year Results

RC2 Corporation has announced its results for the fourth quarter and year, which ended December 31, 2010. The company reported net income for the fourth quarter 2010 of $10.1 million, or $0.45 per diluted share, compared with $8.3 million, or $0.38 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2009. Excluding the impact of costs related to a litigation settlement regarding pre-acquisition Learning Curve intellectual property and JJ Cole acquisition and integration costs, net income was $10.9 million, or $0.49 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2010, as compared with $9.4 million, or $0.43 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2009, which excludes the impact of impairment charges.
The company reported net income for the year of $29.7 million, or $1.34 per diluted share, compared with $27.0 million, or $1.39 per diluted share, for 2009. Excluding the impact of retailer product returns, inventory charges and costs related to infant sleep positioners, JJ Cole acquisition and integration costs, and costs related to a litigation settlement regarding pre-acquisition Learning Curve intellectual property, net income was $32 million, or $1.45 per diluted share, for 2010, as compared with $28.1 million, or $1.45 per diluted share, for 2009, which excludes the impact of impairment charges.

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