Toys “R” Us Names Neil Friedman President of U.S. Business
Toys “R” Us, Inc. has announced the appointment of Neil Friedman as president, Toys “R” Us, U.S. Friedman most recently served as president, Mattel Brands. In his new position at Toys “R” Us, Friedman will oversee all merchandising, marketing, store operations, merchandise presentation, global sourcing, and product development, as well as merchandise planning and allocation for the company’s 866 stores and online business in the United States. Friedman will report to Gerald Storch, chairman and CEO, Toys “R” Us, Inc.
“We could not be more pleased that Neil is joining our leadership team,” says Storch. “Neil has extensive knowledge of, and has made significant contributions to, the toy and juvenile product businesses throughout his career. We look forward to working with Neil to further our growth strategy as we continue to advance our authority and specialist positions through our many initiatives ahead.”
CPSC Approves New Lead Testing Method
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) unanimously approved a new test method to measure lead in paint and other surface coatings of children’s products and household furniture. XOS, a provider of mission-critical materials analysis solutions, joined with the CPSC, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), leading third-party testing laboratories, and others over the past two years to develop this new test method. The new method, “ASTM F2853-10,” involves the use of HDXRF, an XOS-developed technique that measures lead and other regulated elements in coatings and substrates at much lower levels, with greater precision and reliability, than traditional XRF analyzers.
Until now, the only CPSC-recognized method for testing and certifying lead in paint involved the use of wet chemistry techniques that require lab personnel to perform multiple steps, starting with first scraping the paint off product samples, which
often destroys products in the process.
For more information on HDXRF as well as HDXRF analyzers, such as HD
Prime and HD Equity, visit www.xos.com/hdxrf.
Li & Fung Acquires Techno Source
Techno Source USA has joined the family of Li & Fung Limited, following a March 14, 2011 agreement under which LF Products has acquired the business assets of Techno Source USA, Inc. The Techno Source business will continue to operate under the management of founders Rich Migatz and Wayne Nathan, as well as Eric Levin, and will provide a platform for Li & Fung to continue to build and expand its toy business globally.
“We’re really excited about this opportunity,” says Eric Levin, president of Techno Source. “Because Techno Source and Li & Fung have been partners—they’ve been our agent—we’re just bringing our relationship even closer together, and we’re getting the opportunity to tap into the immense amount of resources that they have in terms of finance, network, customers, and supply chain, which puts us at an entirely new level in terms of our ability to take the business and drive it to the place that we’ve always hoped that it could go. “
LF Products is part of Li & Fung Limited, a Hong Kong-headquartered multinational consumer goods export and logistics group. The group manages the supply chain for retailers and brands worldwide from approximately 240 offices and distribution centers in more than 40 economies.
Made in USA Registered Mark Now Available for Labeling
On December 14, the Made in USA Brand Certification Mark became registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. American companies now have the opportunity to label their goods produced in the U.S. with the registered certification mark. The Made in USA Brand Certification Mark joins other symbols such as Certified Organic, Certified Gluten-Free, and Rainforest Alliance Certified.
Marcie Gabor, a principal at branding and marketing firm Conrad Phillips Vutech, developed the mark. The certification mark is based on the Federal Trade Commission’s regulations for complying with Made in USA origin claims. The certification mark is available for any U.S. business that meets the accreditation standards found at http://www.madeintheusabrand.com/form/.
Wild Creations Partners with FlipOutz
Wild Creations has partnered with Flipoutz, a new product that was recently featured on ABC’s Shark Tank. Wild Creations will help grow the product nationally with its manufacturing and distribution capabilities. Flipoutz is a kid-invented bracelet that contains five personalized coins. Kids can trade the themed coins with friends and, by using the unique serial number on the coins, can track the coins as they travel around the world with each trade, or “flip.” Kids can also create an owner profile page and coin profile page. On Shark Tank, creators the Johnson Family took a deal for a $100,000 investment by three of “the sharks” in return for the sharks 33 percent stake in the company.
Huffy Signs Bike Deal with Marvel
Bicycle company Huffy Corporation recently announced a licensing agreement with Marvel Entertainment, LLC, to produce products for five Marvel properties. Huffy will support Marvel Studios’ upcoming Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers movies with products at select online and brick-and-mortar retail outlets in the U.S. and Canada. Huffy bicycles and scooters for Spider-Man Classic and Marvel Heroes are also in development. The agreement marks the first partnership of the two brands.
Random House Strikes Collaborative Deal with THQ, Inc.
Random House Publishing Group (RHPG) and THQ have established a joint team to create and develop original intellectual properties (IP) for publication across multiple mediums. The team expects the new IP to first appear as a collection of games and books, while they further develop an IP universe that will allow for ongoing shelf life through other media. The collaboration is designed to immerse fans more fully in the fiction regardless of media.
The new IP incubator builds on Random House and THQ’s continuing efforts to bring THQ’s existing IP library to all book publishing formats, such as the recent Homefront: The Voice of Freedom prequel novel. In addition, THQ plans to increase Random House’s involvement in the creation of world bibles for prospective THQ properties through the Random House Publishing Group’s IP creation and development group, Random House Worlds.
Warner Bros. Picks Up DC Entertainment’s Licensed Publishing Business
Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) has become the licensor for DC Entertainment’s licensed publishing business. WBCP will license the DC Universe super heroes (Green Lantern, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman), as well as Mad Magazine and Vertigo properties for books worldwide.
Offerings are set to include storybooks, novelizations, chapter books, readers, coloring, activity and sticker books, how-to-draw books, educational books, and partworks.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Back This Summer as Comic
IDW Publishing and Nickelodeon announced a long-term agreement to offer a new installment of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics and graphic novels. The deal was announced last week at WonderCon in San Francisco. The comic series will premiere this summer.
Additionally, in the fourth quarter of 2012, Nickelodeon will premiere a new CG-animated version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise.
Peanuts Proclaims Happiness
Peanuts Worldwide, LLC proclaimed 2011 as “The Year of ‘Happiness Is…’” Special themed products, cross-branding partnerships, social media campaigns, and nationwide activities will promote the classic Peanuts concept, which cartoonist Charles M. Schulz coined in 1960 with “Happiness is a warm puppy.”
Among the partners with whom Peanuts will be working are Cedar Fair Amusement Parks, Hallmark, and Warner Premiere, which offers the Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown original movie, released on DVD and Blu-ray last month. The new special is available exclusively at Walmart and will move to other mass retailers nationwide. The Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown story will also be available in several formats including the first-ever Peanuts graphic novel from Kaboom! and a picture book version from Running Press.
Disney Junior Picks Up Guess How Much I Love You Series
SLR Productions announced that Disney Junior has picked up the preschool animated series Guess How Much I Love You—The Adventures of Little Nutbrown Hare for broadcast in the U.S. The 52 x 11 minute series has already been confirmed for broadcast with Disney Channel Australia and New Zealand and has secured sales in Germany, Australia, Canada, Finland, and Sweden. CCI Entertainment holds the worldwide distribution and licensing rights in Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
ToyQuest Develops Hot Wheels Electronic Motorized Vehicles
ToyQuest has signed a multi-year strategic licensing agreement with Mattel’s Hot Wheels to launch a new line of electronic motorized vehicles. The new product line will, for the first time, include re-creations of Hot Wheels models including the Twin Mill III, Rat Bomb, and Arachnorod. The vehicles will also be highlighted with light-up features, engine sounds, and motorized stunts. The Hot Wheels electronic motorized vehicles from ToyQuest will be available at major retailers this fall.
Moving Minds Forms Consumer Market Licensing Business
Moving Minds, LLC, a strategic marketing and Internet consultancy, has announced the formation of Tickle Me Silly, LLC, to create, distribute, and license a series of character brand properties to consumer markets. Product categories will include children’s entertainment, toys, apparel, publishing, and games. The spin-off represents a strategic shift for Moving Minds as the company formally separates its business-to-business branding and marketing consultancy from Tickle Me Silly, created to focus entirely on consumer markets, brands, and products.
Lou Hughes, principal and CMO of Moving Minds, will remain in his current role while also serving as the CEO and creative director for Tickle Me Silly. Kathryn Hughes, chief strategy officer of Moving Minds, will serve as executive vice president of business development for Tickle Me Silly.
JPMA Summit Fosters Growth for Juvenile Products Industry
The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) hosted a regulatory summit recently in Washington, D.C. to provide members and other industry participants with a comprehensive review of regulatory and legislative issues affecting the industry. Highlights of the Summit included keynote addresses from Consumer Products Safety
Commission Chairman Inez Tenenbaum and Toys “R” Us CEO Jerry Storch.
In her address, Tenenbaum focused on how CPSC and JPMA can work together to create safer sleep environments for babies and shared her 2011 goal: “Year to Get Connected with CPSC.” The summit concluded with a visit to Capitol Hill where attendees had
a chance to meet their Congressional representatives and discuss how the CPSIA and the continuing climate of intense product safety scrutiny is affecting the livelihood of the juvenile products industry.
TIA and HMA Offer Members Discounts for Trade Shows
The Toy Industry Association (TIA) and the Hobby Manufacturers Association (HMA) announced a one-year cooperative agreement that will offer members in each industry reciprocal member discounts for exhibit space at their respective trade shows—iHobby Expo 2011 (October 20 – 23 in Rosemont, Ill.) and the American International Toy Fair (February 12-15 in New York City). The arrangement will provide exhibiting members of each organization a chance to meet with a broader range of retail buyers and see expanded ranges of products and product categories.
International Broadcasters Scoop up Victorious
MTV Networks International, owned by Viacom Inc., has signed agreements that will see five international broadcasters air Nickelodeon’s live action show, Victorious. Recently launched for international syndication, Victorious is now airing on France’s
terrestrial broadcaster, TF1; Italy’s public broadcaster, RAI, through a new agreement with Fly Distribuzione; and is debuting on New Zealand’s Four, and in Latin America through deals with Chile’s Megavision and ATB in Bolivia.
Victorious is the latest live action teen-tween series from creator Dan Schneider (iCarly, Drake and Josh, Zoey 101). A Victorious-branded consumer products program will roll out globally in fall 2012.
Cricket Magazine Group Names Licensing Agency
Cricket Magazine Group (CMG), a division of Carus Publishing Company, has named Synergy Licensing, LLC as its new licensing agency of record. The magazine group publishes several children’s magazines, including Cricket, LadyBug, BabyBug, Click, and more.
With the new partnership with Synergy Licensing, CMG will be able to expand its brand portfolio with new licensed and brand opportunities for products. Synergy will license related CMG trademarks, characters, and content, such as LadyBug’s characters (LadyBug, Muddle, and Thud), BabyBug’s Kim and Carrots, and more.
Zevo-3 Expands Internationally
Skechers Entertainment is expanding its series Zevo-3 internationally to broadcasters in Europe and the Middle East. The series has been bought by broadcasters, including Nickelodeon (Italy), Canal Panda/Panda Biggs (Portugal), ATV (Turkey), QTV Channel (Ukraine), Orlando Kids (Albania, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Slovenia), and MBC (the Middle East). DVD rights have also been licensed to Hitlab in Russia and the Ukraine. International sales are handled by Moonscoop.
DHX Media Acquires Rights to SheZow! Animated Comedy
DHX Media has acquired worldwide TV, licensing, and merchandising rights (excluding Australia) to the new animated comedy SheZow!. Aimed at 8 to 12 year olds, the series follows 12-year-old Guy Hammon who one day finds a ring that transforms him into a superhero named SheZow!—he’s still a boy but trapped inside the crazy female superhero costume.
The series, which received development and investment funding from Film Victoria, is created by Obie Scott Wade and produced by Australia’s Moody Street Kids and LA-based Kickstart Productions for Channel 10. It has also pre-sold to ABC Australia.
MarVista Licenses Power Rangers Samurai to Nickelodeon
MarVista Entertainment and Nickelodeon have finalized a multi-territory agreement, which will see the new Power Rangers Samurai broadcast on Nickelodeon in European territories, throughout Latin America, and in Australia and New Zealand.
Nickelodeon has acquired all television rights to the 40 new Power Rangers Samurai episodes for Germany, Holland, and Flemish-speaking Belgium, and pay television rights for all other territories. Nickelodeon will start airing Power Rangers Samurai in May.
Coolabi and Walker Productions Partner for TV Series
Children’s and family entertainment producer and rights management company Coolabi, and Walker Productions, the production arm of book publisher Walker Books, have entered into a new co-development deal for Walker Books’ comedy book series Scream Street. Walker Productions and Coolabi jointly secured the TV, gaming, and licensing rights from the books’ author, Tommy Donbavand, and will develop the books as an animated TV series for 7-10 year olds. Scream Street will begin development this year with production slated to start next year.
The series follows the story of Luke Watson, a school boy and reluctant werewolf. When the Government Housing of Unusual Lifeforms (G.H.O.U.L.) finds out about his nature, they transfer him and his parents to Scream Street, a community filled with goblins, zombies, ghosts, vampires, and witches.
Big Ben to Develop Nintendo 3DS Game for Bella Sara
Hidden City Entertainment has granted Big Ben licensing rights in France to create a Nintendo 3DS game for Bella Sara. The game is expected to be available later this year. Francoise Bouvet of MJA Licensing brokered the deal.
M4E AG Buys TV Loonland Catalog
Brand management and media company m4e AG has acquired the available back catalog of former TV Loonland AG out of the bankruptcy trust. The extensive package of rights was purchased directly from the insolvency administrator by its subsidiary m4e Television GmbH and contains more than 1,400 episodes of animation and live-action programming, as well as 22 feature and short films. Among the acquired rights are The Cramp Twins, Babar (2D), Letters from Felix, Rudi & Trudi, Mowgli—The New Adventures of the Jungle Book, and more. The national and international distribution will be handled by m4e AG and its subsidiary Telescreen B.V.
The Juno Company Picks Manufacturer and Distributor
The Juno Company has selected Technicolor as its manufacturer and distributor. Under the agreement, Technicolor will provide the replication and manufacturing of The Juno Company’s DVDs from both the Juno Baby and Juno Jr. lines. Technicolor will also manage distribution and fulfillment of all Juno products.
Hit Signs Publishing Deals for Latin America
Hit Entertainment has signed three new Latin American publishing deals for Barney, Thomas & Friends, and Angelina Ballerina. Editora Fundamento has signed on to publish picture storybooks for Thomas & Friends in Portuguese, to be available at mass retailers across Brazil. Editora Vale das Letras in Brazil will be the new publisher of Thomas & Friends books, including coloring and activity, puzzle, bath, and book plus CD ROM formats in Portuguese. The books will be rolled out to mass and specialty retailers in June. Editorial Vértice will debut the first Angelina Ballerina publishing program in Latin America with story, coloring, and activity books for Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. The company will also publish coloring and activity books for Barney and Thomas & Friends, and the Thomas &
Friends magazine in Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay. In addition, Editorial Vértice will publish Barney coloring and activity books in Mexico.
Mind Candy CEO Talks MoshiTV at Cannes
Michael Acton Smith, CEO of Mind Candy, the company behind Moshi Monsters, hit Cannes this week to talk about its upcoming online kids platform, MoshiTV. Launching this year, Moshi TV is an all-new online kids program that will host video-on-demand programming, including Moshi Monsters content, moderated user-generated content, and third-party programming. Kids will be able to comment, rate, and recommend shows to their friends across Moshi Monsters’ network.
Moshi TV will initially roll out as a free-to-view service via the Moshi Monsters website. Mind Candy is currently in talks with third-party online media owners and other platforms about building the player into their content offerings. Mind Candy is also currently recruiting for roles within the Moshi TV team.
Little Tikes Partners with Sea Turtle Conservancy
To celebrate the 33rd anniversary of Little Tikes’ Sea Turtle Sandbox, Little Tikes is partnering with the Sea Turtle Conservancy, the world's oldest sea turtle research and conservation group. The companies will work together to raise awareness on imminent threats to sea turtles, including climate change, marine pollution, marine debris, oil spills, and artificial beach lighting. Little Tikes will sponsor a turtle in the yearly “Tour de Turtles” race and will donate a portion of the proceeds from the co-branded turtle merchandise to the Sea Turtle Conservancy.
Animal Planet Partners with GlobalGiving for R.O.A.R.
Animal Planet and GlobalGiving are working together to increase fundraising opportunities for participants in the network’s non-profit initiative, R.O.A.R. (Reach Out. Act. Respond.).
Beginning this fall, Animal Planet is enhancing its partnership with GlobalGiving by developing a matching campaign during which consumer donations will be matched dollar for dollar from the sale of Animal Planet licensed products.
The R.O.A.R. partners benefiting from this new donation platform help wild and domestic animals in the U.S. and abroad. Consumers will have the opportunity to donate to the R.O.A.R. Fund, which will be divided evenly among all of the R.O.A.R. partners, or contribute to projects individually.
Dinosaur Train Celebrates National Train Day
Dinosaur Train will celebrate National Train Day (May 7) the entire month of May with special programming and activities. On May 6, The Jim Henson Company will premiere a new episode of the series on PBS Kids that will celebrate the holiday. Additionally, select PBS stations across the nation will host train-themed events throughout the month, featuring Dinosaur Train screenings, Buddy costume character appearances, Buddy standees for photo opportunities, and hands-on educational activities. The Dinosaur Train interactive website, PBSKids.org/dinosaurtrain, will also feature specially themed activities during the month of May, including a new homepage and printable activities.
Discovery Kids Releases Secret Agent Apps
Discovery Kids is releasing two apps based on the virtual community and the Seek Your Own Proof secret agent game for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch. The apps, Seek Your Own Proof: Agent Arcade and Seek Your Own Proof: Field Missions, were developed by Rocketfuel Games. Agent Arcade is available now for download from the Apple iTunes App Store and Field Missions will be available later this spring.