May 03, 2012
 

Amazon to Develop and Distribute Original TV Shows

Amazon.com has announced plans to develop original comedy and children’s TV shows to distribute over the company’s video streaming service. The company says users will be able to submit ideas for television series, and it will option one new project per month and add it to a development slate where it will be tested for viability with an audience.
Within 45 days of getting pilot TV scripts, Amazon will either extend an option on the project or place the idea on the Amazon Studios website. If the company decides to distribute a full-budget series, the creator will get $55,000 and up to 5 percent of Amazon’s net receipts from toy and T-shirt licensing, and other royalties and bonuses, the company said.
 The project will be led by Joe Lewis, previously with 20th Century Fox and Comedy Central, and Tara Sorensen, who was previously with National Geographic Kids.

Jazwares to Introduce Line of Lalaloopsy Electronics
 
LalaloopsyJazwares, in agreement with MGA Entertainment, will develop the first line of Lalaloopsy electronics. The line will feature headphones, speakers, digital cameras, clocks, and walkie talkies. All products will feature familiar elements of the “sew cute” Lalaloopsy brand, including stylized patterns and the iconic Lalaloopsy buttons, which are found on Lalaloopsy characters such as Jewel Sparkles and Mittens Fluff ’n Stuff.

 

Pressman Toy Set to Launch Big Nate Products, Prepares for Smurfs 2

Big NatePressman Toy Corporation has announced a new line of products based on the HarperCollins children’s book series Big Nate. Pressman Toy plans to release games and puzzles at mass and specialty retailers nationwide in July. The series, originally a comic strip, launched in March 2010, and is now a 16-book series, with more than four million books in print. 
Following the success of The Smurfs, Pressman Toy Corporation will launch a line of products inspired by Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Animation’s The Smurfs 2, scheduled for release next summer. Pressman Toy’s preschool games and puzzles include a range of memory, action, and board games, as well as floor-size puzzles and puzzles in tins. The products are available for purchase at mass and specialty retailers nationwide.


Art Impressions to Launch So So Happy Products at Toys “R” Us

So So HappyBrand development and licensing agency Art Impressions will expand the reach of its teen/tween lifestyle brand So So Happy with dedicated space in Toys “R” Us stores nationwide and online at Toysrus.com.
The company will release an array of So So Happy products, including tees, luggage, accessories, stationery, and toys. Toys “R” Us will offer an exclusive selection of cosmetics and nail polish sets from Accessory Zone.

Winning Moves Releases Olympic-Inspired Bananagrams

BananagramsWinning Moves announces the launch of a London 2012 edition of Bananagrams. This new version stays true to the original game, while including five additional colored “joker” tiles that sport various Olympic pictograms. The London 2012 edition of Bananagrams is available at Target and select independent retailers.

 

 

 

 

 

FunGoPlay Teams Up with Miniclip

Games website Miniclip has forged a strategic partnership with FunGoPlay, a virtual sports theme park. As part of the partnership, Miniclip will drive FunGoPlay’s worldwide visibility on Miniclip.com among its core-targeted demographic of 6- to 11-year-olds. FunGoPlay, which features more than 30 single and multiplayer sports-themed games for online and mobile platforms, can be accessed through the site by going to www.miniclip.com/games/fungoplay.
FunGoPlay’s universe is filled with different sports-themed venues and events based on core sports such as basketball, baseball, soccer, and football to extreme and non-traditional sports such as skateboarding, robots, and radioactive hotdogs gone wild. FunGoPlay encourages kids to be active through “connected” sports gear that keeps track of usage and rewards kids for their real-world physical activity. 

NRF Urges FTC on Mobile Payments

The National Retail Federation is urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to “move cautiously in establishing regulations for mobile payments,” and said “any rules that are adopted should parallel those for the underlying form of payment and not be specific to the technology,” according to a release.
Last week, Mallory Duncan, National Retail Federation’s senior vice president and general counsel held a FTC workshop on mobile payments (“Paper, Plastic… or Mobile?”) as part of a panel discussion on privacy issues. Duncan notes that the phone is “just a device, not a payment,” and “any privacy rules developed for mobile payments should be no more restrictive than those for the underlying form of payment.” Duncan also says federal officials need to address the definition of what constitutes a mobile payment.

Edushape Ltd. USA Partners with Golden Sales
 
Edushape Ltd., USA has named Golden Sales as Edushape’s authorized sales representative for California, Nevada, and Hawaii.  
“Golden Sales’ quarter century of experience in the toy industry and reputation speaks volumes,” says Jeff Malmud, Edushape’s national sales manager. “Its participation in customers’ Play Days, in-store sales trainings, store inventory counts, and display management, along with Golden Sales’ other personalized go-to-market strategies, dovetails nicely with Edushape’s customer-centric practices and expectations.”


Toy Industry Foundation Accepting “Play Connects” Grant Nominations
 
The Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) is now accepting nominations for the 2012 “Play Connects” grants. Every year, TIF awards three $10,000 grants to children’s charities nominated by members of the Toy Industry Association (TIA). 
Each TIA member company (full and associate) can nominate one community-based charity by visiting PlayConnects.ToyIndustryFoundation.org. Nominated charities must submit completed grant applications to TIF on or before August 15. Qualifying applications will be reviewed by a committee composed of members from the TIF Board of Trustees. Up to three grant recipients will be chosen; they will be announced in December.
The 2011 Play Connects grant recipients were Boys & Girls Club of Stamford, Friends of the Children—Portland, The Magic House at the St. Louis Children’s Museum, and 826 Valencia.

CopCorp and TK Brand Group Form Knockout Licensing

CopCorp Licensing and TK Brand Group have formed Knockout Licensing, a full-service licensing agency for big-name brands. The new agency is a joint venture, with Carole Postal, president of CopCorp, and Tamra Knepfer, president of TK Brand Group, as co-presidents of Knockout Licensing. CopCorp and TK Brand Group will continue to maintain independent agencies and support their respective clients. 
Knockout has named its first client for global licensing, Boo—The World’s Cutest Dog. Chronicle Books released Boo: The Life of the World’s Cutest Dog, and plans to release Boo’s second book, Little Dog in the Big City, this summer as well as a 2013 calendar. Plush by Gund is already hitting retail, with additional items in development. Knockout is in discussions with domestic licensees, manufacturers, and other potential partners regarding licensing or representation overseas.

JPMA Elects New Board of Directors

The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) has elected its new board of directors for 2012-2013. Newly elected Chairman Dave Taylor of Dorel Juvenile Group succeeds Jason Macari of Summer Infant Products, who now holds the title of immediate past chair. Andy Keimach of Munchkin, Inc. was elected vice chairman, and Luanne Lager of Regal Lager was elected treasurer.
Joining the board are incoming directors Dennis Bruce of Graco Childrens Products, Rob Conley of Evenflo; and Mary Jo Romeo of Mom365.
Directors continuing to serve include Ellen Diamant of Skip Hop; Scott Doerstling of Diono; Mark Messner of Chicco USA; Ken Wittenauer of Britax; Andy Newmark of Kolcraft Enterprises, Inc.; and Joe Shamie of Delta Enterprises.

Fox Consumer Products Names Two New Executives

Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products has named entertainment marketing executive Nabil Kazi to the position of vice president of global promotions and digital marketing expert, and Morgan Chess to the position of vice president of digital strategy and commerce. Both Kazi and Chess will report directly to Fox Consumer Products President Jeffrey Godsick.
In his new position, Kazi will define and set the global licensed promotions strategy for Fox’s television properties. He joins Fox Consumer Products with 18 years of experience in entertainment marketing, including several positions within The Walt Disney Company and its affiliated companies Disney Consumer Products and ABC Television Network. Prior to joining Fox, Kazi was vice president of global marketing and publicity for Walt Disney Animation and DisneyToon Studios.
Chess will handle digital and e-commerce strategy planning for Fox Consumer Products’ portfolio. Previous to this position, Chess served as director of digital marketing for Twentieth Century Fox Studios. She also previously held positions at Universal McCann for Sony Pictures Entertainment, AOL Media Networks, and Initiative Media.

Amazon Releases Q1 Financial Results

Amazon.com, Inc. has announced its financial results for its first quarter, which ended on March 31. Operating cash flow increased 1 percent to $3.05 billion for the trailing 12 months, compared to $3.03 billion for the trailing 12 months, which ended last year on March 31. Net sales increased 34 percent to $13.18 billion in the first quarter, compared to $9.86 billion in the first quarter of last year. Net income decreased 35 percent to $130 million in the first quarter, or $0.28 per diluted share, compared to net income of $201 million, or $0.44 per diluted share, in the first quarter last year.
Common shares outstanding plus shares underlying stock-based awards totaled 464 million on March 31, compared to 466 million a year ago. During the quarter, the company repurchased 5.3 million shares, or $960 million, under its previously announced authorization to repurchase up to $2 billion of the company’s common stock.

Sears Announces Expected Financial Results for Q1

Sears Holdings Corporation announced its expected net income for the first quarter will be between $155 million and $195 million ($1.46 - $1.84 per diluted share), compared to a net loss of $165 million ($1.53 loss per diluted share) for the first quarter of last year. The range includes approximately $235 million, after tax and minority interest, of gains from the sale of certain U.S. and Canadian stores. These transactions generated $440 million of cash proceeds. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter will total $135 million to $195 million versus $58 million for fiscal 2011. The increase in adjusted EBITDA reflects an improved margin rate, particularly in appliances, and reduced expenses.
In a letter to the company’s shareholders, Chairman Edward S. Lampert announced the company intends to transfer direct ownership of the Sears Hometown and Outlet stores businesses, together as a separate company, to its shareholders. “Sears Holdings expects to receive a significant amount of cash in exchange for these businesses,” Lampert wrote.

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