April 19, 2012
 
Note from the Publisher

As a follow-up to our outstanding February Toy Fair issue, I want to recommend being “on the lookout” for our upcoming April issue of The Toy Book.  It includes outstanding and timely content that is a “must read” for all. I hope you agree!

Jonathan Samet, Publisher

CPSC Prevents More Than 647,000 Hazardous Toys from Reaching U.S. Consumers

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced that it has prevented more than a half million potentially dangerous imported products from reaching consumers during the first quarter of this year. Working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents, the two organizations screened more than 2,900 imported shipments at ports of entry in the U.S., preventing more than 240 unique SKUs (in total, 647,000 units) from reaching consumers between October 1-December 31, 2011. Topping the list of products stopped were children’s products containing levels of lead exceeding the federal limits, toys and other articles with small parts that present a choking hazard, and toys and child care articles with banned phthalates.

Spin Master to Release Traditional Games Based on Temple Run

Spin Master Games and Imangi Studios have teamed up to deliver Temple Run, a popular app for iOS and Android phones, to mass retails stores this fall. As part of a global licensing agreement, initiated and brokered by Dimension Branding Group (DBG), Spin Master Games will capture the essence of Temple Run’s mobile gaming in traditional games, including card and board games with electronic features. Temple Run has been downloaded more than 60 million times, and was recently named one of Time Magazine’s Top 30 Apps to download.

Marvel and Toys “R” Us Assemble Retail Experience

AvengersMarvel Entertainment and Toys “R” Us have teamed up to create a retail experience in support of the summer blockbuster film Marvel’s The Avengers, in theaters May 4. Toys “R” Us has unveiled in-store boutiques dedicated to the multi-character movie event in nearly 600 stores across the country.
Located at the front of every Toys “R” Us store in the U.S., fans can find boutiques showcasing Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye. Toys “R” Us Times Square is showcasing products based on the heroes in a dedicated boutique on Level Two.
Marvel has developed a worldwide licensing and merchandising campaign in support of the film. The in-store boutiques feature a collection of toys, including action figures, R/C vehicles, role-play items, and play sets, based on the film and its Marvel Super Hero all-stars. Two assortments of Marvel Universe Collector Base action figures are exclusively available at Toys “R” Us stores and online.

Jazwares Named Master Toy Licensee for Regular Show TV Series

Jazwares has been awarded the master toy license for Cartoon Network’s Regular Show. The animated comedy follows best friends Mordecai, a six-foot-tall blue jay, and Rigby, a hyperactive raccoon, on their adventurous journeys as irresponsible groundskeepers at a park.
Jazwares’ Regular Show line will include pull-string plush with sound as well as figures with interactive features. Jazwares will also release a line of Regular Show novelty items, including sunglasses and pullback vehicles. The entire line will be available this fall. 

Tonner Doll Awarded License for Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games

Tonner Doll Company, a manufacturer of high-end collectible dolls and figures, has been granted the license for character figures based on the film The Hunger Games, which arrived in theaters nationwide last month.  
Sculpted in the likenesses of the film’s lead characters, including Katniss Everdeen (as portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence), Peeta Mellark (as portrayed by Josh Hutcherson) and Gale Hawthorne (as portrayed by Liam Hemsworth), The Hunger Games Tonner Character Figure (TCF) dolls will range from 16-17 inches tall with multiple articulated joints for expressive poses and mobility. The dolls will feature hand-painted facial features, high-quality Saran hair, and authentic costuming based on actual costume samples from the film. Robert Tonner, CEO and doll artist, will oversee the creation of the figures, which will be made to a one-fourth scale.

Sony Announces Licensing Program for Men In Black 3

Men in Black 3Sony Pictures Consumer Products (SPCP) has inked deals with multiple partners around the globe in time for the release of Men In Black 3 on May 25. For global deals, SPCP has teamed up with Activision for video games across multiple platforms; Gameloft for mobile games; SEE for an online game; and Sony Computer Entertainment Europe for digital costumes within the existing Little Big Planet game.
Jakks Pacific, master toy licensee, has created action figures, accompanying accessories, and more. GreenLight has created die-cast MIB cars and vehicle model kits. In collectibles, Enterbay has figurines, Factory Entertainment is making replicas of props and gadgets, Kotobukiya has created PVC statues, and Studio Art & Technology is also making prop replicas. Other licensees have signed on for apparel and accessories.

 

 

Big Tent Partners with Mezco Toyz for Domo Collectibles

DomoBig Tent Entertainment and Mezco Toyz have signed a licensing agreement for a new line of collectibles featuring the Domo character. The new Domo line, which is expected to hit stores later this year, will include bobbleheads, clip-on figures, action figures, and wind-up walking toys. The new Domo collectibles will be available at specialty stores later this year.

 

 

 

Funnybone Toys Picks Keena as Rep

Funnybone Toys has picked Keena, a San Francisco-based manufacturing representative group, to represent the company’s line of products across the western United States.
Funnybone Toys products will also be featured at the Keena booths of the California Gift Show in Los Angeles, to be held July 25-30, and the San Francisco International Gift Fair, to be held August 4-7. The Funnybone products will also be on permanent display in Keena’s San Francisco and Los Angeles showrooms.

Warner Bros. Licenses Tie-in Novels for The Dark Knight Rises and The Hobbit

The Dark Knight RisesWarner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ The Dark Knight Rises, the final chapter in writer-director Christopher Nolan’s film trilogy featuring the DC Comics character Batman, will be adapted into an official tie-in novel written by award-winning author Greg Cox and published by Titan Books, under a licensing agreement with Warner Bros. Consumer Products. 
The publishing of Titan Books’ The Dark Knight Rises is timed to reach consumers worldwide on July 24, to coincide with the Warner Bros. Pictures release of The Dark Knight Rises, which opens in theaters on July 20.
HarperCollinsPublishers has acquired the exclusive worldwide publishing rights from Warner Bros. Consumer Products for tie-in books for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again, which are directed by Peter Jackson and produced by New Line Cinema and MGM.

 

 

Geoworld Launches Dino Dan Toy Line at TRU

Dino Dan toysGeoworld’s new Dino Dan line of toys is stomping into Toys “R” Us stores this month. Designed by world-renowned Italian paleontologist and geologist Dr. Stefano Piccini, the educational line contains museum quality replicas and interactive toys based on dinosaurs that have appeared in the television series. Recommended for ages 5 and up, the toys come with scientifically accurate information and “paleontologist-approved” facts about the dinosaurs. Products include Geoworld Dino Dan Dinocular Kit, Geoworld Dino Dan Bonus Pack, and Geoworld Dino Dan Two Pack.  

Ruckus Media Group Launches Ruckus Reader

Ruckus ReaderRuckus Media Group has released the new Ruckus Reader, an entertainment and learning program for the iPad featuring digital storybooks. The Ruckus Reader is designed to help younger kids practice key age-appropriate reading skills and develop a love of reading, while also helping parents and caregivers assess a child’s reading with weekly reports and an online dashboard. In addition, a parent can add a teacher or other relative to the list so they will also receive the email reports. Ruckus iReaders (digital storybook titles) feature characters such as The Wiggles, Hasbro’s My Little Pony, and Transformers, as well as a range of activities based on brands such as Crayola, SeaWorld, Dino Dan, and Cyberchase.

 

 

 

Dover and Sesame Workshop Release Science Book

Sesame science bookDover Publications has partnered with Sesame Workshop to publish Sesame Street Simple Science Experiments with Elmo and Friends: Water and Earth by Gina Gold, one of the first books to highlight Sesame Street’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) curriculum. Available this month, the book has 96 pages and invites kids ages 3 and up to join Elmo, Super Grover 2.0, and the rest of the gang to learn about science. The book includes simple at-home experiments including making a tabletop volcano, an indoor rainstorm, bubbles, and more, complemented by numbered steps. Sidebars, fun facts, and games are also included.

SMC Appoints Vice President of Interactive and Digital Media

SMC Entertainment Group, Inc. (SMC) has named Heather Smith Noback as vice president of interactive and digital media. The company has also formed a new division to manage online and social media strategies for its brands.
Noback will be responsible for the development and execution of brand strategies and for overseeing the licensing and merchandising of categories, including electronic toys, interactive gaming, and all forms of digital media across all SMC brands. Noback will manage traditional licensing partnerships, build partnerships with developers of gaming and digital distribution, and seek retail partnerships and promotions with online retailers and digital partners. 
Noback joins SMC from Encore Software, where she managed outbound licensing and business development for the Carmen Sandiego, Hoyle, Disney, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, Scrabble, and Broderbund brands. 

Waboba Names New Marketing Director

Waboba USA has named Jordan Sullivan as its director of marketing and sales manager. Sullivan will work with National Sales Director Buck Bowers to coordinate the international group of sales representatives and distributors. Sullivan will also work with PR Power, a public relations agency, to communicate special events and promotions via newsletters and press releases. Sullivan began working with Waboba’s parent company last year, handling social media. She was brought on board corporately in the second quarter of this year.

Mattel Reports Q1 Results, Declares Quarterly Dividend

Mattel, Inc. has reported its first quarter financial results for this year. For the quarter, the company reported net income of $7.8 million, or $0.02 per share (which includes the negative impact of $0.04 of the Hit Entertainment acquisition and integration costs), compared to last year’s first quarter net income of $16.6 million, or $0.05 per share.
Net sales were $928.4 million, down 2 percent compared to $951.9 million last year. On a regional basis, first quarter gross sales decreased 9 percent in the North American region, which consists of the U.S., Canada, and the American Girl brand. For international, gross sales increased 7 percent. Operating income for the quarter was $28.7 million, compared to last year’s operating income for the quarter of $36.8 million.
Mattel’s board of directors declared a second quarter cash dividend of $0.31 per share on the company’s common stock. The dividend will be payable on June 15 to stockholders of record on May 23. The dividend is the second of four quarterly dividends Mattel expects to pay this year.

Jakks Reports First Quarter Results, Declares Cash Dividend

Jakks Pacific, Inc. reported results for this year’s first quarter, which ended on March 31. Net sales for the first quarter were $73.4 million, up from $72.3 million reported in the first period of 2011. The reported net loss for the first quarter was $16.0 million, or $0.62 per diluted share, which includes $1.4 million, or $0.03 per diluted share, related to financial and legal advisory fees and expenses. This compares to net loss of $10.6 million, or $0.39 per diluted share, reported in the same period in 2011, which included $0.3 million, or $0.01 per diluted share, of financial and legal advisory fees and expenses.
This year, the company said it continues to expect an increase in net sales of 6.2 to 7.4 percent to approximately $720 million to $728 million. Jakks Pacific expects diluted earnings per share in the range of approximately $1.01 to $1.07, excluding any financial and legal advisory fees.
The Jakks board of directors has declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.10 per common share. The dividend is payable on July 2 to shareholders of record at the close of business on June 15.

Vornado Mulls Options Including Selling Stake in TRU

In Vornado Realty Trust’s letter to shareholders, Chairman Steven Roth wrote that the company is considering an array of options to combat decreasing share prices, including selling its stake in Toys “R” Us. According to Forbes.com, Vornado has a 32.7 percent stake in the retailer. “Other suggestions have been: we are too big, nothing moves the needle—buy back shares,” Roth wrote, “we are too complicated—simplify, sell non-core, Mart, even retail. Some say, split up the company into smaller, pure play(s). Everything is on the table.”

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