March 30, 2011

ALEX Toys

Laser Pegs

Toys “R” Us Launches Rio Merchandising Program

RioStarting next month, Toys “R” Us customers can experience Rio via an exclusive partnership between the retailer and Twentieth Century Fox. Toys “R” Us stores and Toysrus.com/Rio will offer consumers a first look at the upcoming family film, scheduled to premiere in theaters April 15.
At Toys “R” Us, customers will be able to find a merchandising assortment, including an exclusive toy line from ToyQuest, featuring poseable 3.75-inch mini figures in two packs, eight-inch basic plush pals, 10-inch animated talking plush, nine-inch feature plush and beanies, a nine-inch interactive plush version of Blu and Jewel chained together, and a seven-inch walking and talking plush Luiz bulldog.  
Customers who buy the Rio video game, from THQ, for the Xbox and Wii will receive a DVD featuring never-before-seen sneak peeks of the film, while supplies last. Those who purchase the video game for the PlayStation 3 will receive a free Blu-ray version of the DVD.
The retailer has also launched a microsite for Rio merchandise, Toysrus.com/Rio. The website includes movie trailers, exclusive downloadable coloring pages from the Modern Publishing coloring books, and more.

Clue, Scrabble, The Game of Life, and More Join The Hub’s Upcoming Lineup

Scrabble ShowdownNine new original programs will join The Hub’s 2011-2012 lineup, announced president and CEO Margaret Loesch at the network’s upfront meeting in New York City last week. The new series include The Aquabats Super Show, from the creators of Yo Gabba Gabba; Blythe Loves The Littlest Pet Shop (working title), inspired by the Littlest Pet Shop brand; Clue, featuring six teens who are brought together when they believe they’ve witnessed a terrible crime; The Game of Life, a live-action family game show; and Scrabble Showdown, another family game show. Additionally, The Hub is adding Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters (working title), Majors & Minors (working title); Rescue Bots (working title); and Secret Millionaire’s Club; and has acquired Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?
Returning series include The Adventures of Chuck & Friends, Animal Mechanicals, Dan Vs., Family Game Night, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic, Pound Puppies, R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour: The Series, Strawberry Shortcake’s Berry Bitty Adventures, Transformers Prime, and The WotWots.

Giochi Preziosi Named Master Toy Licensee for Huntik

HuntikRainbow has announced that it is investing $10 million into the second season of its boys’ property, Huntik. Additionally, Rainbow has inked a multi-territory master toy deal for action figures, role-play, and play sets with Giochi Preziosi, covering Europe and Russia.
In Italy, where Series Two debuts this fall, Giochi Preziosi will distribute several merchandise ranges such as back to school and gifts. The rollout will coincide with the launch of 26 brand-new Huntik episodes, for a total of 52 episodes. Rainbow now owns 100 percent of the rights to the property.
Additionally, there will be Huntik-themed attractions at the upcoming Rainbow Magicland Theme Park, including the first 4-D attraction in Europe, “Dark Ride.”
Huntik is an action-adventure property targeted to 6- to 12-year-old boys. The storyline revolves around two rival groups: The Huntik Foundation’s Seekers and the evil Organization. The Seekers’ mission is to search the world for long lost ancient amulets containing the magic energy of the Titans, and keep them out of the hands of the Organization.

TIA’s First “California Toy Day” Scheduled for June

The Toy Industry Association has scheduled its first “California Toy Day” in Sacramento for June 7-8. The event will feature a series of small group meetings to be attended by representatives of toy companies, importers, members of California’s legislature, and other key decision makers and influencers. Meetings will start on June 7 in the afternoon and will continue through June 8. Joe Gregorich, TIA director of state government affairs, and Andy Hackman, TIA senior director of state government affairs, will schedule and coordinate all local activities. 
More than 20 percent of TIA’s members are located in California. Including toy companies, retailers, wholesalers, and distributors, the toy industry accounts for more than 32,750 jobs in California and the industry has a total economic impact in the state of more than $10 billion.

Lego’s Ninjago to Air as Animated Series

NinjagoThe Lego Group’s original property Ninjago is headed to television screens as a 13-episode animated series. Written by Kevin and Dan Hageman, Ninjago tells the story of four young Ninja heroes who train to master the ancient martial art, Spinjitzu, to save the world from evil.
The series, produced in HD CGI by Wil Film, will air in the U.S. on Cartoon Network later this year. To launch the story and establish the characters, the network aired two 22-minute animated specials, Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu, in January and March.

Schylling to Distribute Imagination Brands’ Doodle Roll

Doodle RollImagination Brands has signed a distribution agreement with Schylling Associates for Imagination’s Doodle Roll. Schylling will distribute the product nationally.
Doodle Roll is an all-in-one craft kit featuring a roll of blank paper that is four inches wide and 15 feet long and include non-toxic crayons. The packaging is designed to be easy for kids to open and close, and the paper roll curls downward toward the table so children can draw easily. The packaging also features a specially shaped well for each crayon. Doodle Roll is also available in a larger size, measuring six inches wide and 30 feet long.

Licensing Deal Renewed for Giochi Preziosi-Dino Bikes Partnership

Giochi Preziosi has renewed its licensing agreement with bike partner Dino Bikes for an extended range of Gormiti-inspired wheeled toys for Italy. The company says the exisiting range has been a success with Gormiti fans across the region and the new agreement will see the addition of new designs, based on Gormiti’s third TV series, The Neorganic Evolution, which is co-produced with Marathon Media.

Warner Bros. Characters to Be Featured in Latin American Theme Park

Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) and Latin American theme park company Hopi Hari have entered into licensing agreement that grants Hopi Hari the rights to bring WBCP franchises to the theme park. This long-term partnership, granting Hopi Hari brand licensing rights to the names, likenesses, and logos of Warner Bros.’ intellectual properties, will mark WBCP’s first entrance into the amusement park market in Brazil.
Expected to be completed by January, the themed areas—Infantasia and Aribabiba—will feature state-of-the-art attractions as well as experiential shops and restaurants. Infantasia will be Looney Tunes themed and Aribabiba will target teens and feature superheroes from DC Universe. The agreement also includes Penelope Pitstop, in an entirely new themed environment for guests.

Book Club Coming to Everloop Social Network Via Simon & Schuster

Dork DiairiesSimon & Schuster Children’s Publishing has partnered with Everloop, social media company offering tweens an online community platform. Through this exclusive partnership, Simon & Schuster will launch an online interactive book club for Everloop members, named “In the Book Loop.”
Everloop members will have access to two free age-appropriate books each month via a web view e-reader. The book club will launch with Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life by Rachel Renee Russell and SPHDZ Book #1! by Jon Scieszka. Simon & Schuster also plans to connect members with leading authors via virtual chat sessions, as well as provide access to other book-related media, virtual goods, programs, and more.
Everloop allows tweens to experience all the core features they would find on social networks designed for adults, such as creating profiles, communicating with friends, and joining fan groups. The social network has four layers of protection, including user authentication, real-time moderation, a parental dashboard, and a reputation engine.

Nickelodeon Characters Come to Nook Kids

Barnes & Noble, Inc. has partnered with Nickelodeon to offer the kids’ entertainment brand’s first-ever digital books. Books featuring SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer are now available in a digital format exclusively for Barnes & Noble customers through the Nook Color Reader’s Tablet and the free Nook Kids for iPad application. Barnes & Noble now offers a dozen interactive Nook Kids Nickelodeon titles, and will expand to more than 20 next month.
Coming soon, select Nickelodeon Nook Kids titles will also include Barnes & Noble’s Read to Me feature of professional narration, so kids can choose to read the books by themselves or hear them read out loud.

Hidden City Signs MSZ as Partner for Bella Sara

Media Service Zawada signed a licensing agreement to publish books and a fan magazine based on Bella Sara, announced rights holder Hidden City Entertainment. Media Service Zawada will also distribute the ongoing Bella Sara Adventures DVD series in Poland.
“Poland has huge potential for the Bella Sara brand and partnering with MSZ as our licensee for Bella Sara books and the fan magazine is certainly the right fit,” said George Stetar, senior vice president of licensing and international business for Hidden City. “We also signed MSZ as our marketing partner and official distributor of Bella Sara trading cards in Poland, with plans to launch this coming fall.”

CopCorp Signs Licensees for New Property, Zoodorable

ZoodroableCopCorp Licensing has been appointed to launch and coordinate the global licensing program for Zoodorable, a new property from pop artist and illustrator Han L. Lee, the creator of the Bobby Jack brand. CopCorp has already signed three manufacturers as anchor licensees for the Zoodorable program in the U.S.
License 2 Play, Inc. has been granted the right to make a line of Zoodorable plush, plush pillows, as well as vinyl & PVC figures in all sizes. Additionally, Hybrid Apparel will produce and sell Zoodorable branded T-shirts, fleece, 2fers (short sleeve T-shirts with long sleeves sewn into them), thermals, junior novelty bodies, tanks, and GWP’s (gift with purchase) with T-shirts, and H.E.R. Accessories will create a line of Zoodorable jewelry and hairwear.

 

Moonscoop Shows to Air on Russia’s Channel One

Chloe's ClosetMoonscoop has signed a double deal with Channel One in Russia. The broadcaster will air Moonscoop’s preschool shows Chloe’s Closet and Dive Olly Dive! Chloe’s Closet currently airs on Sprout in the U.S., and on various channels in France, Germany, Spain, Israel, Romania, Turkey, Australia, Canada, and more. Bandai is the global master toy licensee for the property. The second season of Dive Olly Dive! has been sold to broadcasters in France, Sweden, Finland, Canada, and more.

 

Design Shopp and Peatoes Partner

Branding and marketing company Design Shopp International, Inc., has acquired a stake in Peatoes Inc., an organic online store for children’s clothing and toys, as part of a new joint ownership. Under the agreement, Design Shopp International will be responsible for the marketing and branding of Peatoes to a wider public, while Peatoes current management will focus on product development and research in new and improved organic processes.

Sesame Street eBookstore App Launches for iPad

Sesame Workshop has launched the Sesame Street eBookstore iPad app. The app provides access to more than 150 Sesame Street eBooks, which are also available via an online subscription at ebooks.sesamestreet.org.
Although the app is available for free in Apple’s App Store (user can browse titles for free), to read the eBook titles users subscribe to either one month of full access ($3.99) or one year of unlimited access ($39.99). Current subscribers of the Sesame Street eBookstore can use the app to access their bookshelf with an iPad and will not need to make an additional subscription purchase.

The Orb Factory’s First Sticky Mosaics App

The Orb Factory has released its first Sticky Mosaics app for the iPad, created by EverAge Apps. The Sticky Mosaics Butterflies iPad app includes four butterfly templates that kids decorate with a collection of jewels. Each of the templates has numbered placeholders, corresponding to different jewels. Kids drag the jewels from the legend to the correct place by using their finger. When the last jewel is added, the butterfly comes to life and flies around. The butterfly will also land on a finger if the finger is held to the screen.

Jumbo Adds Upcoming Chapman Entertainment Show to Roster

Raa RaaJumbo Games has extended its existing preschool portfolio by announcing a new licensing deal for Raa Raa the Noisy Lion, which will debut on the BBC’s CBeebies channel in May.
The license, for games and puzzles, was signed with Chapman Entertainment, the creator of the property. The products are slated for an early 2012 release. Jumbo’s existing roster of preschool properties include Peppa Pig, Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom, Fireman Sam, and Guess with Jess.


Power A Launches Nintendo 3DS Accessories

Power A, the retail consumer products brand of Bensussen Deutsch & Associates, Inc. (BDA), has launched a line of branded accessories specially designed for the Nintendo 3DS game system. The collection of accessories includes starter kits and protective cases.

HABA

Hasbro Makes Two Executive Appointments

Hasbro has appointed new executives. Natalie Harvey has been appointed European franchise development and marketing director. Led by Bryony Bouyer, Harvey will work closely with the global brand licensing franchise development and marketing team.
The company has also hired Katherine Buckland as the UK director of brand licensing and publishing. Most recently, Buckland led Disney Consumer Products’ UK toys and stationery team.

eBay to Acquire GSI Commerce

eBay Inc. is acquiring GSI Commerce, a provider of ecommerce and interactive marketing services, for $29.25 a share, or a total of approximately $2.4 billion. The acquisition, which will be financed with cash and debt, is expected to close in the third quarter of 2011.
The merger consideration represents a 51 percent premium over GSI's March 25th closing price and a 47 percent premium over the average closing price of GSI Commerce common stock over the 30 trading days prior to March 28. The acquisition is subject to regulatory and GSI shareholder approval, as well as other customary closing conditions.
As part of the transaction, eBay will divest 100 percent of GSI's licensed sports merchandise business and 70 percent of ShopRunner and Rue La La. These assets will be sold to a newly formed holding company, which will be led by GSI founder and CEO Michael Rubin.
Under the terms of the merger agreement, GSI Commerce may solicit acquisition proposals from third parties for a 40-day "go-shop" period continuing through May 6. The company does not anticipate to disclose developments regarding this process. There is no guarantee that this process will result in a superior proposal.

Tomy Starts Acquisition of RC2

Tomy Company, Ltd. and RC2 Corporation have announced that Tomy’s wholly owned indirect subsidiary, Galaxy Dream Corporation, has commenced the previously announced tender offer for all the outstanding shares of common stock of RC2 for $27.90 per share, net to the seller in cash, without interest and less any required withholding taxes.
Earlier this month, the companies announced that they had signed a definitive merger agreement. RC2’s board of directors approved the terms of the merger agreement, including the tender offer.
Pursuant to the merger agreement, after completion of the tender offer and the satisfaction of waiver of all conditions, Galaxy Dream Corporation will merge with and into RC2.
The tender offer is scheduled to expire at midnight (Eastern) on April 20, unless extended or earlier terminated.

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