April 26, 2011

Laser Pegs

Notice: The Toy Book is Moving!

Adventure Publishing Group, home to The Toy Book, The Toy Report, The Toy Insider, The Licensing Book, The Total Licensing Report, The Halloween Insider, and TheBigToyBook.com, is moving its office. Starting Monday, May 2, Adventure Publishing will be located at 307 7th Avenue, Room 1601, New York, NY 10001.

MGA Wins Court Battle over Mattel for Bratz Rights

BratzA jury has sided with MGA Entertainment, Inc. over Mattel, Inc. in the retrial over who owns the rights to the billion-dollar Bratz franchise. The decision came on the morning of April 21 in federal court in Santa Ana, after eight days of jury deliberations and nearly three months of testimony.
The eight-person jury, made up of four men and four women, rejected Mattel’s copyright infringement claims; said Mattel did not own the rights to the dolls, early models, or accessories; and said MGA did not steal trade secrets. Awards of monetary damages in the case were read in court, including an $88.5 million dollar award based on MGA’s claims that Mattel stole trade secrets.
The decision was a major turnaround from the first trial in 2008, when a jury in Riverside sided with Mattel. The company, which had claimed copyright infringement and breach of contract, was awarded $100 million in damages; MGA was ordered to turn over the franchise to Mattel and stop making and selling Bratz products.
The 2008 jury decision was overturned last year by a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that MGA deserved credit for manufacturing and marketing the dolls.

California Toy Day Set to Open June 7

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) is gearing up for its first-ever California Toy Day. Similar to TIA’s annual DC Fly-In, the event will feature meetings and small group discussions that will bring toy company representatives together with California’s most influential decision-makers to discuss industry issues and concerns.
According to TIA, more than 20 percent of the organization’s members are located in California, and collectively, toy companies, retailers, wholesalers, and distributors account for approximately 32,750 jobs in California.
The event, to be held June 7-8, will kick off with a reception and dinner with state Assembly Speaker pro Tempore Fiona Ma. The following day will be packed with meetings, breakout group discussions, and a legislative reception in the State Capitol Building, allowing attendees to interact with leading California lawmakers.
There is no fee to participate in California Toy Day, but advance registration is required. For more information and to register, click here.

Report: Toys and Games Rule in Easter Baskets

According to The NPD Group, toys and games were the No. 1 gift in kids’ Easter baskets this year. During the week of April 11, NPD asked parents of kids ages 0 to 14, “besides Easter eggs and chocolate, what’s in your child’s Easter basket this year?” Out of the 442 mentions of items, 48 percent were toys and games. Other responses included books (24 percent), candy (12 percent), arts and crafts (10 percent), clothes (6 percent), and movies (5 percent). Most toy and game products fell into three main categories: plush (22 percent), games and puzzles (17 percent), and dolls (6 percent).

U.S. Games Launches App, Wizard Game Night Event

Wizard Card GameU.S. Games Systems, Inc. has launched the Wizard Card Game app for selected Apple devices, including the iPhone and iPad. The launch coincides with the launch of the company’s Wizard Game Night Event program. For game players and retailers who want to host Wizard Card Game nights, the company has put together a complete kit, including complementary copies of the Wizard Card Game, bidding coins, score sheets, table set-up instructions, and $25 for prizes or snacks. Winners of these events will have the opportunity to participate in the Wizard National Tournament to be held in Orlando, Fla. in September. The International Wizard World Tournament will be held in October near Budapest, Hungary.

Spin Master’s Liv and Zoobles to Come to Happy Meals

Liv DollsSpin Master, Ltd. is teaming up with McDonald’s USA to introduce its toy lines Zoobles and Liv to the McDonald's Happy Meal line-up. Beginning April 29 throughout North America, McDonald's guests can collect eight Zoobles characters in a variety of different colors. Spin Master is also working with McDonald’s to feature its girls’ fashion doll line, Liv, in Happy Meals globally throughout this year. Zoobles will also be featured in McDonald's Happy Meals in various regions globally beginning this fall.




Kung Fu Panda 2 Licensing Roster Announced

Kung Fu Panda 2DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. announced its marketing, licensing, and promotional partners for Kung Fu Panda 2, premiering in theaters on May 26. VTech is launching new Kung Fu Panda 2 software cartridges, featuring Po and the Furious Five for the V.Reader Interactive E-Book System and the MobiGo Touch Learning System. THQ has released the Kung Fu Panda 2 video game on Kinect for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, uDraw GameTablet, and Nintendo DS. Master toy licensee Mattel has created a full line of toys including action figures, collectibles, a cannon launcher, and more. Additionally, Hallmark will release Kung Fu Panda 2-themed party goods and greeting cards, and the Kung Fu Panda 2 publishing program will include storybooks from Penguin Books, color and activity books from Dalmation Press, comic books from Ape Entertainment, an interactive cookbook from Castle Builders, and apps from iStoryTime and Palace Press.
Other partners include Airheads, AT&T, Best Buy, General Mills, Hint Water, House Foods America, HP, Jem Sportswear, McDonald’s, and Sun-Maid.

Worms Announces Initial Licensees

Video game franchise Worms has announced new licensees for its initial merchandising push across Europe. Initial products will include those ranging from large plush and squeezies to beanies, keyrings, and ceramic mugs from Gaya Entertainment and IGS Corporation. The products will be available later this year. Additional licensing agreements will be announced, including more plush, toy, and collectible product categories.

Monsuno Toys to be Distributed in Australia

MonsunoJakks Pacific, Inc. continues to expand its boys’ action property, Monsuno, internationally by appointing Hunter Product Pty, Ltd. as the exclusive marketing and distribution partner in Australia for toys based on the Monsuno original animated television series. Jakks is the master toymaker for the Monsuno toy line, which is expected to hit U.S. retail shelves to coincide with the U.S. TV series premiere, anticipated for spring 2012.
The Monsuno series is being produced by Pacific Animation Partners, LLC—a joint venture between Jakks Pacific, Inc. and Dentsu Entertainment USA, Inc.—and FremantleMedia Enterprises.

TRU to Open New E-Commerce Distribution Center

Toys “R” Us, Inc. is opening a new e-commerce distribution center near Reno, Nev. to support the company’s growing online business. The dedicated e-commerce fulfillment center—located within the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center in the town of McCarran, approximately 10 miles east of Reno—is scheduled to open in July. The McCarran distribution center, spanning 300,000 square feet, will employ approximately 350 full- and part-time associates at the peak of the holiday season. The new distribution center, dedicated to Toysrus.com and Babiesrus.com, will become the 12th Toys “R” Us, Inc. facility for store distribution and e-commerce fulfillment.

Sprig Co-Founders Start New Company

According to The Coloradoan, Chris Clemmer and David Bowen, co-founders of Sprig Toys, Inc., have started a new toy company called Begin Again. In February 2010, Sprig Toys was acquired by Wham-O, Inc.
Clemmer and Bowen tell The Coloradoan that Begin Again will be an eco-friendly company like Sprig, with a range of sustainable, non-battery powered toys. The first disclosed toy is a scooter that will be co-produced with Panda Bicycles, a company that uses bamboo in its bikes. The duo will formally announce the new company and debut the toy lines at ASTRA marketplace in June.

New Licensees for Marvel vs. Capcom Franchise

Marvel vs. CapcomMarvel Entertainment, LLC, is introducing a new merchandising program for video game franchise Marvel vs. Capcom. Licensees for the program include Diamond Select Toys and Collectibles, LLC for the Marvel vs.Capcom Minimates. The two-pack set will be available at Toys “R” Us stores and comic/specialty stores beginning this August. Also onboard is Hollywood Collectibles Group for high-end collectible statue sets inspired by the characters featured in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Each set, available this September through Diamond Distribution and www.hollywood-collectibles.com, will include one character from each Universe. Additional licensees include Udon for an art book; Mad Engine, Inc. and Philcos Enterpriser Limited for T-shirts and sweatshirts; and Mad Catz Inc. for the now available Marvel Vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds—Arcade FightStick: Tournament Edition, for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Possible “Wii 2” to be Released Next Year

Nintendo Co, Ltd. has confirmed that it will launch a new video game console to succeed the Nintendo Wii next year. The company plans to show a playable model of the new system at E3 Expo, to be held June 7-9 in Los Angeles. At the expo, Nintendo will also announce more specifications for the upcoming console.

Eitech Premieres Online Shop

Eitech America has launched its new online shop, The Eitech Shop, at eitechusa.com. The Eitech Shop features the company’s entire product line, including both Eitech steel construction sets and Teifoc brick and mortar construction sets. The new shop also features an assortment of accessories and supplemental sets. Teifoc and Eitech toys are manufactured and engineered in Germany.

Production Underway for Gogo’s Crazy Bones Animated Series

Gogo's Crazy BonesTelevix Entertainment has been picked to serve as the worldwide distributor of a new animated comedy series based on the Gogo’s Crazy Bones collectible figurines. The property was recently re-launched in the U.S. and Canada in partnership with JDNA-Jonic Distribution North America.
Magic Box International and PPI Worldwide are teaming with Lima-based Aronnax Animation Studios for the series. Production on a pilot is underway for completion by October, and the remaining episodes will be ready in 2012.


Mind Candy Appoints NY-Based Licensing Executive

Mind Candy, the maker of Moshi Monsters, has opened a New York office and has appointed Eric Karp as head of licensing Americas, reporting to Darran Garnham, Mind Candy?s head of global licensing. Karp will be tasked with developing, expanding, and rolling out an Americas licensing program for Moshi Monsters. He will also build a U.S.-based team to drive brand growth in the territory.
Karp joins Mind Candy from Massiverse, where he was head of global licensing for transmedia boys’ action property Dragons Vs. Robots. He has also served in senior roles at Chorion; MGM Studios; Copyrights, Ltd.; and Saban/Fox Family Worldwide.

Rick Darling Picked as Licensing Expo Keynote Speaker

Rick Darling, president of LF USA, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-headquartered Li & Fung Limited, will deliver the keynote address at Licensing International Expo 2011. The address will kick off the expo, which runs June 14-16 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.
Darling oversees LF USA, which has a portfolio of owned and licensed brands, including entertainment companies; celebrity names such as Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, and Rachel Zoe; and fashion labels such as Sean John, Ecko, and Calvin Klein.
Darling currently serves as chairman of the board of the American Apparel & Footwear Association, is a board member for Fashion Delivers Charitable Foundation, and serves on the board of governors for the Parson’s School of Design.

Former SmartLab VP Joins Schleich

Schleich North America, Inc. has hired Aaron Tibbs to be its new U.S. key account sales manager. He will join the U.S. sales team that aims to grow Schleich sales in the U.S.
Formerly, Tibbs served as vice president of sales and marketing for SmartLab Toys. He has more than 20 years of experience in the toy industry.

Bernie Stolar Joins The Juno Company’s Board of Advisors

Industry veteran Bernie Stolar has joined The Juno Company’s board of advisors. Stolar has more than 30 years of experience in the interactive entertainment industry. He served as executive vice president of Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) and oversaw the successful launch of the PlayStation platform before joining Sega of America as president, where he launched the Dreamcast platform. Stolar also served as president of Mattel Interactive, CEO of AdScape Media, and led in-game advertising at Google.

Jakks Pacific Reports First Quarter 2011 Results

Jakks Pacific, Inc. reported results for the company's first quarter, which ended March 31.
Net sales for the first quarter 2011 were $72.3 million, compared to $77.3 million reported in the first quarter of 2010. The company reported a loss for the first quarter of $10.6 million, or $0.39 per diluted share, compared to a loss for the first quarter 2010 of $5.2 million, or $0.19, which included a tax benefit adjustment of $4.9 million, or $0.18 per diluted share. Excluding the tax benefit adjustment, the 2010 first quarter loss would have been $10.1 million, or $0.37 per diluted share.
Operations provided cash of $7.9 million for the first quarter 2011, and as of March 31, Jakks Pacific’s working capital was $370.7 million, including cash and equivalents and marketable securities of $274.7 million.

Tomy Completes Tender Offer for RC2 Corporation

Tomy Company, Ltd. announced the successful completion of a tender offer through its wholly owned indirect subsidiary, Galaxy Dream Corporation (the purchaser), for all outstanding shares of common stock of RC2 Corporation for $27.90 per share, net to the seller in cash, without interest, and less any applicable withholding taxes.
The tender offer and withdrawal rights expired at midnight Eastern time at the end of April 20. Computershare Trust Company, N.A., the depositary for the tender offer, has advised that, as of the expiration time, 19,357,708 shares (including 719,638 shares subject to guarantees of delivery) were validly tendered and not withdrawn, representing approximately 89.4 percent of all outstanding shares of common stock of RC2. All shares that were validly tendered and not validly withdrawn have been accepted for purchase. Galaxy Dream Corporation will promptly pay for the shares, at the offer price of $27.90 per share. Galaxy Dream Corporation also provided a subsequent offering period for all remaining shares of RC2 common stock to permit stockholders who had not yet tendered their shares, at the same offering price. This offer expired at midnight Easter time at the end of Monday, April 25. If Galaxy Dream Corporation obtains at least 90 percent of outstanding shares of RC2 through the tender offer or otherwise, Tomy intends to complete the acquisition of RC2 without a meeting of RC2’s stockholders through the “short-form” merger procedure available under Delaware law. Following the merger, RC2 will become a wholly owned indirect subsidiary of Tomy, and RC2’s common stock will cease to be traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market.

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