EU Bans Six Chemicals from Products
The European Union has decided to ban six substances of “high concern” from products in the next three to five years. The chemicals include DEHP, BBP, and DBP—commonly used plastic-softening phthalates—as well as musk xylene, a musk fragrance; HBCDD, a flame retardant; and MDA, a hardener for epoxy resin.
Individual companies will be granted authorization to use the chemicals if they can demonstrate that required safety measures have been taken to control associated risks, or that the benefits for the economy and society related to the use of the chemicals outweigh the risks.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) restricts the presence of phthalates in toys and child-care articles in the U.S. Three phthalates are permanently restricted and three others have temporary restrictions while additional research is being completed.
TIA to Hold Webinar on CPSC Consumer Product Database
On March 9, TIA is hosting a webinar entitled “A Toy Industry Introduction to SaferProducts.gov… The New CPSC Consumer Product Database” to provide toy industry stakeholders with information about the planned “official launch” of www.SaferProducts.gov on March 11. Topics during the webinar will include background/history/scope of authority, the definition of key terms, process flow, the timeline for submission and response to complaints, feedback received during the “soft launch,” and what toy companies can do to prepare for the official launch.
Webinar presenters Ed Desmond, executive vice president of external affairs at TIA, and Frederick B. (Rick) Locker, general counsel at TIA, will also provide an update on comments filed to the Commission and Congress, and report on ongoing discussions/actions.
The webinar will start at 3 p.m. ET. Questions may be submitted in advance to TIA (CPSIAinfo@toyassociation.org). Registration is free for TIA members and $49 for TIA non-members.
“Netflix for Toys” Website Launches
Toygaroo.com, a new toy rental company, has launched its online service, which has a similar format to Netflix. The website allows families to rent toys for as long as they want, or choose to exchange them in 30- or 60-day intervals. If a child grows to love a toy, parents can choose to purchase it at a discounted price.
Membership plans start as low as $35.99 for a shipment every other month, with the average shipment, according to the company, being worth more than $120. Targeted to families with children under age 6, the website features more than 300 toys and free shipping from FedEx.
Toygaroo's founder will appear on ABC’s Shark Tank on March 25 at 8 p.m. ET. The show features entrepreneurs who pitch their business ideas to a panel of successful investors.
For more information on Toygaroo, visit www.Toygaroo.com.
CPSC Recalls Manhattan Toy Activity Center
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Health Canada, in cooperation with Manhattan Group, has announced a voluntary recall of approximately 400 units of Manhattan Toy’s Parents-branded Busy Time Activity Centers.
The Parents Busy Time Activity Center is a wooden, cube-shaped, activity center that has a multi-colored bead run on the top. The toy’s wooden pegs on the xylophone activity can come loose, posing a choking hazard to young children. Only items with wooden pegs bearing the date code “400090GC” are being recalled. The date code can be found on the bottom of the product packaging near the UPC code and on the tags on the bear character. The toys were sold at specialty and gift stores nationwide, through mail order catalogs, and online from December 2010 through February 2011 for approximately $90.
CPSC has received one report of a child putting a peg in his mouth, but no injuries have been reported. The Commission is telling owners to immediately take the recalled toy from young children and return it to the store for a full refund. For additional information, visit www.manhattantoy.com.
28,000 Rhino Toys Rattles Recalled
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Health Canada, in cooperation with Rhino Toys, Inc., have also announced a voluntary recall of approximately 28,000 OBall Links & Mini Rattles (14,000 in U.S. and 14,000 in Canada). The hard plastic C-links on both ends of the soft plastic chain on Rhino Toys’ rattles can break, posing a choking hazard to young children. Rhino Toys has received one report of a broken C-link, and no injuries have been reported.
The rattles were sold at Toys “R” Us and other specialty toy stores nationwide from April to December 2010, for approximately $8. CPSC is telling owners to immediately take the recalled rattle away from children and contact Rhino Toys to receive a full refund.
For additional information, contact Rhino Toys or visit the company’s website at www.rhinotoys.com.
Mind Candy Signs Licensing Agent for Australia and New Zealand
Mind Candy has signed licensing agent The Fusion Agency to represent Moshi Monsters in Australia and New Zealand. Hunter Toys and Penguin Books are also now on board in the territory as master toy and publishing partners.
Fusion is tasked with building on the existing licensing foundations within the territory and is currently in discussions with partners for most product categories.
The Moshi Monster initial toy range hit Toys “R” Us shelves in early February and the initial lines will be followed by a range this upcoming holiday season, including interactive feature plush, a play set, games, and more collectibles.
Fusion, Hunter, and Penguin plan to coordinate to ensure best possible retail placement across all categories.
Pocoyo Named Global Kids’ Ambassador for Earth Hour
Preschool character Pocoyo has been named the newly appointed Global Kids’ Ambassador for Earth Hour, encouraging kids and their caregivers to turn off the lights during Earth Hour to raise environmental awareness. Last year during Earth Hour, hundreds of millions of people switched off their lights in more than 4,616 towns in 128 countries.
Through animation and online activities, Pocoyo will encourage children around the globe to get involved in the 2011 Earth Hour initiative. Children will be asked to turn off lights in their homes for one hour beginning at 8:30 p.m. (in their respective time zones) on March 26 as part of a worldwide display of commitment to protect the planet.
Executives from Earth Hour Global, World Wildlife Fund, and other organizers are looking to extend Earth Hour “Beyond the Hour” by inspiring the public to make small changes in daily habits, such as taking the bus instead of a car or riding a bike to work.
Earth Hour activities can be found at www.pocoyo.com/earth_hour_2011.html.
Word Shout Available as App
Patch Products is bringing its dice game Word Shout to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch with a new app. Created by Paze Interactive, Patch’s Word Shoutapp uses sound effects, music, customization, achievements, and more.
In the game, the 10-lettered dice is presented randomly, and then players find a word. Then, swipe up to play the word and find another before the 30 seconds (or 60 seconds based on players’ choosing) are up. The longer the word, the higher the score.
The Word Shout app can be played solo or against friends. The game features various difficulty levels, game lengths, and round lengths.
Jessica Dunne Named EVP, Mom and Babies, at DCP
Disney Consumer Products (DCP) has appointed Jessica Dunne as executive vice president, mom and babies. A new mom herself, Dunne is responsible for establishing and growing the Disney Baby brand and implementing new marketing and communications strategies developed with new moms in mind. In this role, Dunne reports directly to Andy Mooney, chairman, Disney Consumer Products, and oversees the identification of new product categories and develops unique consumer propositions that drive loyalty and can grow into lifetime customer engagements for Disney Baby across The Walt Disney Company.
Previously, Dunne held the role of executive vice president, global licensing at DCP overseeing global licensing businesses, including fashion and home; food, health, and beauty; infant; stationery; and toys.
Hasbro Studios Restructures
Hasbro Studios has split its boys/action and girls/preschool creative teams into separate series development and current programming groups to meet increased production output. The former heads of both units have taken on new roles leading the revamped teams.
Mike Vogel has been promoted from executive director, boys and action programming, to vice president, development. Vogel will be charged with re-imagining all boys, action, girls, and preschool creative efforts by the studio.
Linda Steiner, who had served as senior vice president, girls and preschool programming, has taken on a new role as senior vice president, current programming, managing studio-produced shows once they are on the air.
Additionally, Vice President of Production Kathy Page will lead an expanded team to support the restructured departments with production and post-production services, while continuing to assist in oversight of outside production service relationships.
Marie Baker Named Social Media Director at Child’s Play
Child’s Play Communications has promoted Marie Baker to director of social media. In her new role, Baker will be responsible for expanding and managing the agency’s social media immersion, including Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other channels. She will continue to serve as director of Team Mom, the agency’s network of mom review bloggers, as well as its offshoot, Music Moms, a music-industry-specific program targeted to mom bloggers.
Baker joined Child’s Play in January 2009 as senior account executive and was promoted to account supervisor the following year. At Child’s Play, Baker has managed traditional and social media campaigns for companies such as The Goddard School, Mega Brands, and Universal Music.
TRU Reports Fourth Quarter, Full Year Financial Results
Toys “R” Us, Inc. reported financial results for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2010, which ended on January 29. For the fourth quarter, the company reported net sales of $6 billion, an increase of 2 percent compared to the same quarter in 2009. Comparable store net sales grew 1.8 percent in the domestic segment. Adjusted EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization) was recorded at $802 million, an increase of 1.6 percent compared to $789 million last year. Net earnings were $330 million compared to $387 million.
According to the company, the core toy and learning categories were the strongest in the quarter, generating net sales growth of 6 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively. The entertainment category, including video games hardware and software, was the weakest, declining 7.5 percent. Excluding the entertainment category, net sales were up 4.4 percent for the quarter.
For the full year, net sales were $13.9 billion, an increase of 2.2 percent compared to the prior year. Comparable store net sales grew 1.7 percent in the domestic segment and declined 3.1 percent in the international segment.
The company reported that the core toy and juvenile categories were the strongest categories for 2010, generating net sales growth of 6.2 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively. The entertainment category was, again, the weakest, declining 9.6 percent. Excluding the entertainment category, net sales were up 4.3 percent for the year.
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