April 05, 2012

Mega Brands and Mattel Announce Worldwide Licensing Partnership

Mega Brands, Inc., recently inked a multiyear global licensing partnership with Mattel, Inc., to develop construction toys based on the Barbie and Hot Wheels kids’ brands. The new lines will be available at retail beginning next spring.
The Mega Bloks Barbie collection will focus on creative play and customization. The line will feature Barbie and her friends in a buildable world of fashion and dream locations. The Mega Bloks Hot Wheels collection will center on performance, stunts, and cars, and will allow boys to customize through construction.

Nelvana Acquires Chorion’s Interest in Max & Ruby

Max & RubyNelvana Limited has acquired Chorion’s Silver Lining Production Limited’s interest in preschool property Max & Ruby. Nelvana now has the complete worldwide TV production and merchandise licensing rights to the brand.
Max & Ruby follows the adventures of bunny siblings, the irrepressible and mischievous Max and his older sister, Ruby. In each story Max wants one thing, Ruby wants another thing, and even though they love each other, they have very different ideas on just about everything.





DeNA and Disney to Bring Mobile Social Games Worldwide

DeNA Co., Ltd., a mobile social gaming platform operator, and The Walt Disney Company have agreed to bring mobile social games to millions of players worldwide, through DeNA Group’s Mobage social gaming platform. The two companies launched their first jointly developed social game, Disney Party, on March 28 on the Mobage network in Japan, which currently serves more than 35 million in the country. DeNA and Disney launched their second title, Disney Fantasy Quest, on April 2, and the third title, based on Marvel Comics characters, will launch this summer in Japan. Under the agreement, the two companies plan to work together in areas beyond social games, such as Disney movies, Disney TV programs, and Disney smartphone apps.

Discovery Signs Poof-Slinky for Mythbusters

MythbustersDiscovery Communications has announced a new licensing deal, brokered by licensing agent The Joester Lorina Group, with Poof-Slinky for the Discovery Channel’s science series MythBusters. Poof-Slinky will handle the production of the MythBustersscience activity kits, formerly overseen by licensee Giddy Up.
The updated MythBusters kits feature new packaging and will debut at Dallas Toy Fair. The kits will be distributed at mass, book, department, and specialty store chains; e-commerce sites; and retailer and mail order catalogs.

Evolution Management Group Appoints Zydeco for the Floppets Brand

FloppetsEvolution Management Group, Inc. (EMG) has been appointed by Zydeco Studios to handle the global licensing, sales, and brand management for Floppets, a gender-neutral brand of customizable characters for kids ages 4-12, in an effort to extend the brand across multiple consumer channels.
Under the multiyear agreement, EMG will help extend the sales and distribution of Floppets into a variety of retail channels and categories, including toys, footwear, gift, amusement/theme parks, and vending machine capsules. EMG will assist Zydeco to expand their current product offerings with the addition of new licensed characters.

Spielwarenmesse eG and NürnbergMesse GmbH Extend Contract

NürnbergMesse GmbH, one of the largest exhibition companies in the world, and Spielwarenmesse eG have extended their general agreement until 2021. Part of the agreement is the addition of a new hall to extend the exhibition site, to be completed by the start of the 2014 Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair. The supervisory bodies of both companies have already approved this package for the future.
NürnbergMesse Managing Director Roland Fleck stated the essential points of the new contract: “The extension of the general contract until 2021, the earlier construction of hall 3A, and the co-financing of this investment by NürnbergMesse through a loan granted by Spielwarenmesse eG to NürnbergMesse GmbH—these are the three mainstays of our new package for the future. This means the International Toy Fair once again functions as a growth accelerator for the Nuremberg exhibition venue.”

NYC’s J&R Opens Kids’ Boutique

J&RFor more than 40 years, family-owned J&R has brought electronics, computers, and more to NYC and the world. Now, the retailer introduces J&R Jr., a 15,000-square-foot super-boutique featuring baby gear, strollers, kids’ electronics, toys, and more. The boutique, located at 1 Ann Street, offers Manhattan’s growing downtown community a family place to play, hang out, and have fun. For more information, visit JR.com/jr.



The Joester Loria Group Signs on Kiddieland Toys for Pinkalicious Ride-ons

The Joester Loria Group and Kiddieland have teamed up to create a line of outdoor rides inspired by Pinkalicious, a book series that celebrates individuality and all things pink. The initial line, set to launch this fall at mass accounts nationwide, includes a ride-on, tricycle, and scooter that feature iconic images from Pinkalicious, as well as special light and sound features. The companies plan to expand the line to mid-tier, sporting goods stores, specialty chains, and online accounts by spring 2013. 
The new items will join an already successful line of Pinkalicious sporting goods, including bikes and skateboards from Kent and skates from Street Flyers.

Coolabi’s Poppy Cat Finds Additional Home on U.S. TV Channel

Poppy CatPoppy Cat, the preschool animation series from entertainment producer Coolabi, has secured a U.S. broadcast home within the new Sprout-programmed NBC Kids, a three-hour preschool block that will air on Saturday mornings beginning in July. Licensed by agent The Joester Loria Group, the new platform takes Poppy Cat into more than 110 million U.S. homes, and will launch on DVD next spring through an agreement with Entertainment One.
UK channel CITV recently acquired the 52x11-minute animated series, which has been airing on commissioning broadcaster Nick Jr. UK since May 2011, and will broadcast it in the UK beginning this May. Poppy Cat has also been sold to a number of broadcasters in other international territories including Scandinavia; France 5; Disney Junior in Spain and Latin America; Nick Jr. Australia; RTE Ireland; and TVO, SCN, and Knowledge Network in Canada.

Disney Mobile’s GM to Keynote Digital Kids Conference

The sixth annual Digital Kids Conference will host Bart Decrem, senior vice president and general manager of Disney Mobile, as its day-two keynote speaker. Decrem, leader of the business unit behind the Where’s My Water? mobile game, will speak at the Pasadena Convention Center in Los Angeles on April 26 to discuss “Growing Up Mobile—Developing a Global Franchise for the Mobile Generation.”
Decrem will address how content producers are changing their ways to reach a generation growing up with mobile and tablet devices as their screens of choice. He will also speak about how entertainment companies, such as Disney, are changing their character development and consumer experiences to serve their next generation of guests. Online registration for Digital Kids Conference ends April 20.

A Squared Elxsi Announces Stan Lee's Mighty 7 Deal

Stan Lee's Mighty SevenA Squared Elxsi Entertainment LLC (A2E2), a joint venture between A Squared Entertainment and Tata Elxsi, Ltd., is developing stories across multiple platforms and formats based on the recently released Stan Lee’s Mighty 7 comic series. Stan Lee's Mighty 7 introduces Lee’s new group of extraterrestrial superheroes, and the series features the creator of Spider-Man and the X-Men appearing alongside his new creations. The deal includes the development of transmedia content based on the new characters, such as Strongarm, Laser Lord, High Rise, and others, whose powers range from super strength to shrinking ability.
A2E2 will lead the global licensing program for the property, with new toys, digital and entertainment products, accessories, apparel, books, and additional branded merchandise.




Zodiak Kids Signs Deal for New Preschool Series

Zodiak Kids, Zodiak Media’s children’s production and distribution arm, has secured a three-way international co-production deal for 3-D animated preschool series Quick, Quack, Duck! Based on a short film called The Happy Duckling, the Quick, Quack, Duck! series was created and produced by Zodiak Kids’ production company, The Foundation, in partnership with Korean animation studio High 1 Entertainment and Tel Aviv-based QQD Limited. The series features the adventures of a 7-year-old boy named Remi and his duck named Quack. In their pop-up world, they use tabs, pulls, and other devices to trigger pop-ups that create an interactive story for them and the preschool audience in every episode.

Dorel Juvenile Group Partners with Best Brands Consumer Products

Dorel Juvenile Group USA, a division of Dorel Industries, has licensed Best Brands Consumer Products, in a brokered deal with Synergy Licensing, for a full line of Safety 1st merchandise designed for parents on the go. The Safety 1st licensed line will include products such as shopping cart covers, sunscreen, cold packs, hand sanitizers, and wipes. Safety 1st also introduces bath time products ranging from bath mitts and poufs to shampoo and towels. Safety 1st  Essentials will be a comprehensive line with special features, including relevant safety tips on all packaging, and will be available early next year.

Sprout Plans to Premiere New Show, Justin Time

Justin TimeGuru Studio will debut its first adventure series, Justin Time, on 24-hour preschool channel Sprout, in the U.S., beginning April 22. Sprout acquired two seasons of Justin Time, an animated preschool show that also airs on networks around the world, including Discovery Kids Latin America and Disney Jr.  
Justin Time features a young boy named Justin, who embarks on imaginary adventures with his make-believe friends Squidgy, a shape-shifting piece of yellow clay, and Olive, the group’s trusty navigator and guide.  
Following the news of its new partnership with Sprout, Guru Studio is gearing up its licensing program for Justin Time,with plans to announce more deals later this year.

Hasbro and FashionPlaytes Reveal My Little Pony Fashion Design Studio

My Little PonyFashionPlaytes and Hasbro, Inc. are launching the My Little Pony Design Studio, an e-commerce experience where girls can create their own fashions and have them produced to wear. The My Little Pony Design Studio is an extension of the FashionPlaytes and Hasbro relationship, and will further extend the My Little Pony brand into the world of fashion design. 
The My Little Pony Design Studio includes a variety of customizable apparel and accessory options, including dresses, tops, bottoms, and bags. Site users can create designs for their FashionPlaytes.com portfolio that can be purchased and shared with other designers on the site.

All Inclusive Collection Launches Kids’ Club Partnership with Hit

HIT EntertainmentThe All Inclusive Collection has partnered with Hit Entertainment for exclusive rights in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and the Caribbean to bring children’s brands to its resorts in the region. The newly designed kids’ clubs and interactive kids’ areas open this summer at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana, Cancun Palace (soon-to-be Hard Rock Hotel Cancun in August), and Aventura Cove Palace (soon-to-be Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya in early 2013). These three properties are owned by the All Inclusive Collection, and are operated by an affiliate of the All Inclusive Collection under licensing
agreements from Hard Rock International.
Interactive play areas for kids at each Little Big Club will include Angelina Ballerina, Thomas & Friends, Barney, and Bob the Builder themes.

Queen Games Names ACD as U.S. Distributor

Queen Games has entered into an exclusive distribution agreement with ACD Distribution. Effective immediately, ACD Distribution will become the sole distributor for Queen Games in the U.S. “We are looking forward to working directly with Queen to create great programs to help our retailers succeed with Queen’s exceptional games,” said Bob Maher, president of ACD Distribution in a statement. “ACD has supported Queen Games since they entered the U.S. market, and we are pleased to be their exclusive distributor.”

2012 White House Easter Egg Roll Features Popular Characters

The 134th annual White House Easter Egg Roll, which takes place on the South Lawn of the White House, is focused on promoting health and wellness with the theme “Let’s Go, Let’s Play, Let’s Move!” All of the activities, including sports courts, dancing, and cooking encourage children to lead healthy and active lives, which is a central part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, a national campaign to combat childhood
Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!, Babar and his grandson Badou, Moshi Monsters Katsuma and
Poppet, Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Captain America, and Suzy’s Zoo’s Witzy Quacker
will make special appearances to meet and greet children.

Target Names New EVP and CMO

Jeffrey J. Jones, II has been named Target Corporation’s new executive vice president and chief marketing officer, effective immediately. Jones has extensive experience in leading global marketing strategy and operations across a variety of industries, including consumer products and retail. Most recently, Jones served as partner and president of McKinney, a Durham, N.C.-based advertising agency. Prior to his work at McKinney, Jones held several leadership positions at Gap, Inc., including serving as executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He also managed Gap, Inc.’s gift card subsidiary, Direct Consumer Services, LLC, serving as president of the division. In addition, Jones has held leadership positions at marchFIRST, Inc.; Coca-Cola Company; Leo Burnett Worldwide; and LB Works.

VIZ Media Names Ken Sasaki President and CEO

VIZ Media, publisher, distributor, and licensor of manga, graphic novels, and anime in North America, has announced that Ken Sasaki has succeeded Hidemi Fukuhara as president and CEO. Sasaki joined VIZ Media in 2008 and most recently served as senior vice president and general manager for VIZ Media, leading the company’s digital content distribution strategy for animation. Fukuhara, who joined the company in 2004, moves up to vice chairman for VIZ Media at the end of April, leaving his day-to-day operations of financial and operational concerns to his successor.

Tudor Games Appoints Former Matchbox Toys President as VP of Sales

Tudor Games has appointed James Baum as its vice president of sales. Baum brings more than 40 years of toy industry experience to the company, having previously worked with and for top-tier manufacturers and retailers, including Toys “R” Us, Target, Walmart, and Mattel. Baum was also president of Matchbox Toys, later acquired by Mattel, and president of Leisure Dynamics, later acquired by Hasbro. At Tudor Games, Baum will be responsible for strategic development and the implementation of a world-class distribution network. 

U.S. Container Imports Fall Compared to Last Year, Last Month

U.S. containerized imports in February fell for the first time in four months on a year-over-year basis, dropping 5.8 percent to 1,193,157 twenty-foot-equivalent units. For month-to-month, the decrease was even more dramatic, as February imports dropped 18.6 percent from January.
Mario O. Moreno, economist for The Journal of Commerce/PIERS, attributed the decrease to the timing of the Lunar New Year holiday and related factory closings. February imports from Asia fell 10 percent year over year, following a 3 percent increase in January.

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