February 29, 2012

 Toy Fest West

Toy Fair 2012 Saw Attendance Increases Across Multiple Categories

Toy Fair 2012The Toy Industry Association (TIA) has reported that nearly 27,000 industry professionals from more than 100 countries attended the 109th American International Toy Fair. TIA reports that Toy Fair 2012 welcomed increased attendance across nearly all categories, including a 3 percent increase in buyers, a 5 increase in international participants, a 14 percent increase in licensors, and a 23 percent increase in entertainment executives. Total attendance during the four-day show was 26,730, which was a 2 percent increase compared to last year.
The top five international countries identified with the highest attendance numbers at the show were Canada, the UK, Japan, Mexico, and Australia. Significant year-to-date increases in visitors came from Colombia (+33 percent), Japan (+17 percent), Australia (+13 percent), Mexico (+11 percent), Canada (+10 percent), and Panama (+200 percent). This year’s Toy Fair also boasted the largest exhibit area since 2000 with 366,489 net square feet of exhibit space, which held the 100,000-plus products on display.
Buyer delegations from Target, Toys “R” Us, and Walmart also saw increases of 39 percent, 24 percent, and 90 percent, respectively. The 110th American International Toy Fair will be held February 10-13, 2012 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City.

Women in Toys Honors ‘Wonder Women’ in the Industry

On the opening night of the 109th American International Toy Fair, more than 50 of the most influential and impactful women business leaders in toys, licensing, and children’s entertainment were honored at the 8th Annual Wonder Women of Toys, Licensing, and Entertainment Awards Dinner in New York City. More than 300 industry executives attended the newly revamped event, hosted by Women in Toys (WIT), as they honored the 2012 Wonder Woman Award winners.
The winners were Lori Rotter of Blip Toys for designer or inventor; Laurie Zoob Hyman of Green Toys for entrepreneur; Jackie Breyer of Adventure Publishing for journalism and social media; Jennifer Richmond of Richmond Management Group for licensing agent; Lauren Whitehead of Jakks Pacific for licensee; JoAnn McLaughlin of Disney Consumer Products for licensor; Joanne Oppenheim of Oppenheim Toy Portfolio for lifetime achievement; Jennifer Caveza of Jakks Pacific for manufacturer; Sasha Junk of Kidz Bop for marketing, advertising, and branding; Laurie Schacht of Adventure Publishing for publishing; Janis VanTine of Imperial Toy of public relations and communications; Lori Costley of Walmart for retailer of the year; Elizabeth Miller of Hasbro for rising star; Renee Lochhead of Spin Master for sales; and Deidre Lind of Mattel for social responsibility. You can see all of the nominees on the Women in Toys Facebook page at www.facebook.com/womenintoys.
Additionally, through the WIT Foundation, scholarships were granted to students whose focus and major in college is toy design. This year’s scholarship recipients are from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York; Avni Institute of Art & Design in Jerusalem, Israel; Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles; and the Ontario College of Art & Design in Toronto, Canada.

More than $1.2 Million in Facility Improvements Planned Before ABC Kids Expo

ABC Kids Expo has announced that the Kentucky Exposition Center and its partners are investing more than $1.2 million for improvements before the 10th annual expo is held at the facility October 14-17.
Improvements planned include: additional healthy option menus and kosher options; more concession and specialty coffee locations throughout the hall; new food and beverage offerings; cash and credit card acceptance at all concession and dining locations; more seating in and around food and beverage locations; new state-of-the-art WiFi equipment; increased signage, security, maintenance, and housekeeping; and an improved exhibit hall lighting and HVAC. Additionally, ABC Kids Expo reports that a larger staff of customer service representatives will be available during set-up, the show, and teardown; a permanent business center to be run by UPS or FedEx (pending bid award) will also be available; and there will be free parking for exhibitors on load in/out days, lower flat-fee daily rates during the show with in/out privileges, increased staffing, and easier payment options, among other improvements.
Registration for this year’s show is available online at www.theabcshow.com, or by calling the ABC Hotline at (210) 691-4848.

Tollytots Signs Master Toy License for Little Angels

Little AngelsTollytots, the infant and preschool division of Jakks Pacific, has signed a worldwide master toy license to manufacture, market, and distribute a line of toys for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers based on the Little Angels faith-based educational DVD series from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.
Little Angels, created by executive producer Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel) and writer Phil Lollar (Adventures in Odyssey), is an animated DVD series that teaches children practical learning skills (such as the alphabet and numbers) and also introduces kids to the spiritual, moral, and ethical principles of the Bible. Little Angels books, CDs, and apps are also available.
The new Little Angels toy line from Tollytots, expected to launch in fall 2013, will cover a broad range of categories, including dolls and accessories, plush, preschool, role play, electronic learning toys, games and puzzles, educational and musical toys, building and construction toys, kids’ furniture, ride-ons, and more.


Winning Moves Signs Three-Year Extension for Rubik’s

Winning Moves Games has signed a three-year term extension with Seven Towns, licensor of the Rubik’s brand. The three-year extension covers 2012 through 2014.
Winning Moves introduced its new Rubik’s Void puzzle at American International Toy Fair. The item appears to be a regular three-by-three Rubik’s cube, but without a center piece. The company will also continue to produce its current line of Rubik’s products.
Winning Moves Games first began working with the Rubik’s license in 2001.





EDC Discontinues Sales of Its Books on Amazon

Educational Development Corporation (EDC), which publishes Usborne and Kane Miller books in the U.S., has announced that it will no longer sell any of its
books on Amazon or to any entities that resell to Amazon, effective immediately.
In 2009, EDC decided to stop selling its Kane Miller list on the website, and now the company has ceased selling its Usbourne line on Amazon.
EDC President Randall White says the decision is in response to Amazon trying to “gain control of publishing and other industries by making it impossible for other retailers to compete effectively.” Last week, Amazon requested higher discount rates from Independent Publishers Group (IPG), a major distributor of books nationwide.

Disney XD Named U.S. Broadcaster for Pac-Man Series

Pac-ManNamco Bandai Games, Inc., Arad Productions, and 41 Entertainment LLC (“41e”), have granted the U.S. television rights to Disney XD for a new animated action comedy series tentatively titled Pac-Man—The Adventure Begins (26x22), set for a fall 2013 airing.
Based on the brand owned by Namco Bandai, the series is created in stereoscopic 3-D, and executive produced by Avi Arad (Spider-Man, Iron Man, Hulk, Fantastic Four, and X-Men) and Rick Ungar (Biker Mice from Mars, X-Men Evolution, and Legend of the Dragon).

Halfbrick Names Licensing Partners for Fruit Ninja

Fruit NinjaMobile developer Halfbrick has partnered with Mattel, Jazwares, Basic Fun, and Nanco to bring Fruit Ninja-licensed products to fans worldwide.
Bringing the Fruit Ninja app game to products, licensee partners include Basic Fun for handheld electronic devices and key chains; Jazwares, Inc. for plush, figures, and electronics; Mattel for card and board games; and Nanco-Nancy Sales, Inc. for amusement plush and novelty toys. Apparel partners include Bioworld Merchandising, Hybrid, and MjC. In other categories, Coveroo signed on for phone cases, Calendar Holdings for 2013 calendars, Healthy Food Brands for fruit snacks and gummies, and SmileMakers for stickers.

All Baby & Child (ABC) Makes Four Appointments

All Baby & Child, Inc. (ABC), the parent company of the ABC Kids Expo, Spring Educational Conference, and the Baby Product Experts consumer program, has made four new appointments.
DeAnna Mohr has been named advertising and sponsorship coordinator. Mohr was most recently national accounts manager for American Exhibition Services (AES), and is experienced in analyzing exhibitor needs and matching those needs to event sponsorship and advertising opportunities.
Taylor Hamman has been named logistics manager. Hamman is responsible for exhibitor customer services, joining Jonathan Walton and David Rice. Most recently, Hamman was senior exhibitor service representative at The Freeman Company, and exhibitor services manager at Convention Decorating Services (CDS).
Jacque Sternquist, currently the director of marketing and store support for the Baby Product Experts program, has assumed the additional responsibilities of manager of attendee acquisition. In that role, Sternquist will research and procure attendees for participation in All Baby & Child events.
Lastly, Sarah Binkley, coordinator of the fall New Product Showcase, has assumed the additional responsibilities of exhibitor logistics manager for the Spring Educational Conference and trade show, as well as manager of the fall show’s Modern Child pavilion.

Big Tent Entertainment Appoints New VP of Global Business Development

Branded entertainment company Big Tent Entertainment has appointed Kirsten Fallon as vice president of global business development. In her new role with the company, Fallon will be responsible for development of pop culture icon Domo and PixFusion in Latin America, Europe, Russia, Turkey, Middle East, and North Africa. Additionally, Fallon will be responsible for select global retailers for all Big Tent Entertainment brands.  
Fallon brings to Big Tent Entertainment more than 20 years of licensing experience in brand management, sales, product, and retail development. Most recently, Fallon served as Ludorum’s U.S. vice president of retail marketing and development. Prior to Ludorum, Fallon worked for Peanuts Worldwide, formerly United Media, where she led retail strategy and development for Peanuts, Fancy Nancy, Beatrix Potter, and Mary Engelbreit. Fallon also represented adult brands, including Food Network, Iron Chef America, History Channel’s Ice Road Truckers, Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch, Dilbert, and Hallmark’s hoops&yoyo, during her tenure at United Media.

Target Reports Q4 and 2011 Financial Results

Target Corporation has reported fourth quarter net earnings of $981 million, or $1.45 per share, and full year net earnings of $2.929 billion, or $4.28 per share. Adjusted earnings per share were $1.49 in the fourth quarter and $4.41 for the full year, representing increases of 8.3 percent and 14.3 percent, respectively.
Target’s sales in fourth quarter 2011 increased 3.3 percent to $20.9 billion from $20.3 billion a year ago, due to a 2.2 percent increase in comparable-store sales and the contribution from new stores. Segment earnings before interest expense and income taxes (EBIT) were $1.63 billion in the fourth quarter 2011, an increase of 1.1 percent from $1.61 billion in 2010. Fiscal 2011 sales increased 4.1 percent to $68.5 billion from $65.8 billion in 2010, due to a 3.0 percent increase in comparable-store sales and the contribution from new stores.

Sears Reports Q4, Full Year Results

Sears Holdings Corporation has reported its fourth quarter and full year 2011 results. Total revenues decreased $518 million to $12.5 billion for the quarter. Full year revenues decreased $1.1 billion to $41.6 billion. The company attributes the declines to lower comparable store sales and the effect of having fewer Kmart and Sears full-line stores in operation. The fourth quarter and full year 2011 revenues included a decrease of $20 million and an increase of $171 million, respectively, due to foreign currency exchange rates.
For the quarter, domestic comparable store sales declined 3.4 percent, composed of declines of 4.1 percent at Sears Domestic and 2.7 percent at Kmart. For the year, domestic comparable store sales declined 2.2 percent, with declines of 3.0 percent at Sears Domestic and 1.4 percent at Kmart. The declines were driven mostly by the consumer electronics category. Online sales increased 1 percent and 16 percent over last year for the fourth quarter and the year, respectively. Total online sales, which includes order online and pickup in store, as well as ship direct to customers, increased 12.6 percent for the quarter and 19.4 percent for the full year.

Kid Brands Updates Its Expected Financial Results

Kid Brands, Inc. has provided an update on its expected financial results for 2011. The company now anticipates that its net sales results for the full year will be slightly below its previously issued guidance for a year-over-year decline of 7 to 8 percent. The company also expects that its non-GAAP, adjusted net income per diluted share for 2011 will be significantly below the previously issued guidance of approximately $0.40 per diluted share. The company does not expect to roll out new product introductions until late spring, therefore sales and profitability are expected to remain soft in the first half of this year.

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