April 12, 2012

CPSC Grants Exception to Lead Content Limit Rule Under CPSIA

Last week, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced that it has granted an exception to the 100 parts per million (ppm) lead content limit rule under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) The exception is for certain aluminum alloy components of children’s die-cast, ride-on pedal tractors, and similar component parts made of aluminum alloy on similar ride-on children’s products for kids ages 3 and older. As of April 5, these aluminum alloy components must continue to meet the 300 ppm lead standard previously in place.
“This was a noteworthy decision from the CPSC,” says Alan Kaufman, senior vice president of technical affairs for the Toy Industry Association (TIA). “Based on the decision reached in response to this petition, it is reasonable to assume that the CPSC may be willing to favorably consider petitions for exemption for other products, materials, and components where the 100 ppm lead level cannot readily be met for technical or other reasons, the product is intended for children over the age of 3 years, and the items at issue are unlikely to be mouthed or otherwise are unlikely to contribute to a measureable increase in blood lead level.”

Jazwares Named Master Toy Licensee for Yo Gabba Gabba!

Yo Gabba Gabba!Wildbrain Entertainment has tapped Jazwares to expand the Yo Gabba Gabba! toy line, serving as the master toy licensee. Jazwares, which joins a robust Yo Gabba Gabba! consumer products program featuring more than 40 licensees in the U.S., will manufacture, market, and distribute a line of preschool toys based on the television series. The company’s line will include a broad range of categories, including figures and accessories, plush, play sets, vehicles, and musical toys. Products will be available at mass and online retailers nationwide by next spring.



Crayola Teams Up with Mattel for Branded Products

Mattel, Inc. and Crayola have joined forces in a global partnership what will bring the Barbie and Hot Wheels properties to life with Crayola colors. The companies have launched two new Crayola-branded Barbie- and Hot Wheels-themed product lines. The products include branded Mess Free Color Wonder art activities, featuring markers and paints that only appear on Color Wonder paper, and Giant Coloring Pages, both of which are in stores now. A third branded product, the Crayola ColorStudio HD and iMarker, will launch later this year. Global distribution of Crayola’s Mattel licensed items will include the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Italy, Mexico, Latin America, Asia, and Australia.

Chicago Toy and Game Fair Moves to Bigger Space

The Chicago Toy and Game Group has signed a contract with Navy Pier to host the 10th Annual Chicago Toy and Game Fair, which will be held November 17-18. As the nation’s largest public toy and game fair, this year’s exhibition is expected to draw more than 25,000 visitors. The increased space at Navy Pier will allow for more visitors, exhibitors, and play. Exhibitors can now register online at www.chitag.com for this year’s event.

Hasbro Studios Signs Deal with Netflix to Provide Content in the U.S.

Hasbro Studios has announced a multiyear deal with Netflix, Inc. The deal will make Hasbro franchises available on Netflix instant stream. Currently, Netflix account holders can watch Transformers Prime, My Little Pony, Pound Puppies, G.I. Joe: Renegades, and The Adventures of Chuck & Friends on the site’s “Just for Kids” section. Series available later this year includeJEM & The Holograms, Transformers: Generation 1, G.I. Joe: Real American Heroes, Transformers: Beast Wars, and Transformers: Rescue Bots.  

Target and Disney Host National Princess Week

The Princess DiariesTarget and Disney have teamed up for the first-ever National Princess Week, celebrating the magic and mystique of royalty. From April 22-28, Target will showcase Disney-inspired merchandise, including Blu-ray DVDs, books, toys, bedroom décor, and games.
In addition, Target will also unveil the 10th anniversary release of The Princess Diaries and The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, starring Anne Hathaway and host of Princess Week, Julie Andrews. In addition to Andrews’ movies, shoppers will also find The Very Fairy Princess: Here Comes the Flower Girl, the newest addition to Andrews’ Very Fairy Princess series.




Activision Debuts Skylanders App for iOS Devices

SkylandersActivision Publishing, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, Inc., is expanding the reach of its Skylanders franchise with the debut of Skylanders Cloud Patrol, an app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
Skylanders Cloud Patrol is set in a new region of Skylands that has been overrun by the evil minions of Portal Master, Kaos. With all 30-plus Skylanders available to unlock, the game lets players take command of a sky-ship and use their favorite Skylander to dispatch the bad guys. Fans can also unlock Skylanders and Magic Items in the app by using the code bundled with each Skylander action figure. Additionally, new Portal Masters may earn or purchase in-game currency to build their virtual mobile Skylanders collection, Magic Items, and more.

Ape Entertainment Enters Licensing Agreement with Sesame Workshop

Sesame StreetApe Entertainment has partnered with Sesame Workshop to produce a comic book series featuring the cast of Sesame Street that emphasizes education while entertaining young readers. The books will be available this fall in standard comic-sized printed editions for $3.99, and digest-sized hardcover comic book editions for $7.99. A digital comic book will be available through Apple’s App Store for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.







Hasbro to Reduce Product Packaging Materials in New Intitiative

Hasbro, Inc. plans to reduce materials used in product packaging for many of its global brands. The company’s new initiative will result in an approximate 15 percent improvement in the average product-to-package ratio of brands and products included in the initiative, to be available at retail this year.
Over the next two years, a broader range of packaging efficiencies will be put into place, including redesigned disposable boxes and blister packs that use less material. Packaging that serves the dual purpose of long-term storage, such as game boxes, are not included in the initiative.

TCG Partners with Funtastic for Australian Distribution

In an exclusive arrangement, TCG (formerly The Canadian Group) is partnering with Funtastic Limited to launch the Roxx brand in Australia. The brand targets tween boys with tradable, playable, head-to-head competitive games. In addition to in-person play, Roxx expands its play to online and mobile apps. Roxx and related accessories, for kids ages 7 years and up, will hit Australian retail shelves in September.

Simon Spotlight and CBS to Release Children’s Book Series, Club CSI

Club CSISimon Spotlight, of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, will publish the first two books in its new Club CSI series this month. Based on the CBS television series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, the middle-school series of chapter books by Dave Lewman features a crew of junior high school investigators inspired by their forensic science class to form a “Club CSI” to solve crimes and capers at school.  
The first books, Case of the Mystery Meat Loaf and Case of the Missing Moola, will be released simultaneously in hardcover and paperback. Lewman has also penned additional titles for release later this year. The Club CSI series is licensed through an agreement with CBS Consumer Products. 

Brian Dunn, Best Buy CEO, Resigns

Brian Dunn resigned earlier this week as CEO and director of Best Buy Co., Inc. Director G. Mike Mikan has been named interim CEO to lead the company while a search for a new CEO is underway. Richard Schulze, the founder of Best Buy, continues to serve as chairman.
In a statement on Tuesday, the company said, “there were no disagreements between Mr. Dunn and the company on any matter relating to operations, financial controls, policies, or procedures. There was mutual agreement that it was time for new leadership to address the challenges that face the company.” Claire Koeneman, a Best Buy spokesman, later said in an email statement, “Certain issues were brought to the board’s attention regarding Mr. Dunn’s personal conduct, unrelated to the company’s operations or financial controls, and an audit committee investigation was initiated. Prior to the completion of the investigation, Mr. Dunn chose to resign.”

Jakks Appoints New President of International Division

Jakks Pacific, Inc. has appointed Carmine Russo as president of Jakks Pacific’s international division. The international division coordinates the company’s growing international sales, marketing, advertising, promotions, and distribution operations across all product divisions. Russo, a 28-year veteran of the toy industry, was the COO of Toymax. Jakks Pacific acquired Toymax in 2002 and Russo was named the senior vice president of Jakks International. He was promoted to executive vice president of Jakks International in 2009.

The Wildflower Group Expands Executive Team and New Division

The Wildflower Group has expanded its executive team with the addition of Christina Nix Lynch and Rory Flynn. Nix Lynch joins The Wildflower Group as sales director to lead licensing initiatives, after 13 years as the executive director of Peanuts Worldwide, LLC. Flynn, a recent graduate from the University of South Carolina, has experience interning with CBS Sports Network and Wicked Cow Entertainment. As licensing coordinator, Flynn will provide support for sales, operations, and product development.
The Wildflower Group has also promoted agency veterans, Jeanne Perry to executive vice president of business affairs, and Cheryl Chua to vice president of creative services. In addition, The Wildflower Group now offers a new consulting service through the TWG consulting division. The service offers solutions for manufacturers, retailers, and other companies looking to expand licensing revenue potential.

American Greetings Properties Appoints New Director of Licensing

American Greetings Properties (AGP) has named Lindsay Martinez as the new director of licensing and business development for the company’s New York office. This marks Martinez’s return to the company, where she previously worked as the director of marketing for Holly Hobbie and Madballs. In her new role, Martinez will direct the building of AGP brands including Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake through new and existing licensing and retail strategies. Prior to her return to AGP, Martinez served as vice president of brand management and marketing for Chorion, overseeing strategic development and execution of brand marketing and retail initiatives.

Iris Solomon Named BeginAgain VP of Sales

BeginAgain, a new toy company devoted to nurturing kids and their planet, has hired Iris Solomon as the vice president of sales. Solomon comes to the company with years of sales experience, including co-founding and serving as director of sales for Swingset Press. She has also served as an independent sales consultant.

Irving Glickman, founder of the Rodon Group, Turns 100

On April 25, Irving Glickman will celebrate his 100th birthday. As the founder of the plastics manufacturing company Rodon Group, Glickman has spent most of life creating toys and other plastic-based products. In addition to his many business accomplishments, he is also the father of K’NEX inventor Joel Glickman.

Target Reports March Financial Results

Target reported that its net retail sales for the five weeks ended March 31 were $6.427 billion, an increase of 7.9 percent from $5.955 billion for the comparable five weeks last year, which ended April 2, 2011. On this same basis, March comparable-store sales increased 7.3 percent. On a year-to-date basis, sales totaled $11.559 billion, an 8 percent increase compared to this period last year.  On this same basis, comparable-store sales increased 7.2 percent.

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