May 4, 2010

Walmart Sets New Testing Standards for Cadmium

In addition to pulling items reported to contain unsafe levels of cadmium from store shelves earlier this year, Walmart has announced new testing standards very similar to the British Standard Safety of Toys-Part 3, widely considered a leading safety standard. All toys, child care articles, children’s costume jewelry, and children's jewelry craft making kits tested on or after April 9, 2010 must meet these new Walmart requirements. Walmart has communicated this in detail to its suppliers, and requires full compliance.

Report: HDTVs and Laptops Grow in Popularity Among Kids

According to a new report by The NPD Group, high-definition televisions (HDTVs) and laptops have become more popular with kids, while all other consumer electronics have remained stable in popularity.
The report, Kids & Consumer Electronics 6, states that HDTVs and laptop computers surpassed digital cameras last year in percentage of households that acquired one in the past 12 months. Cell phones, however, remain the most acquired consumer electronic device, with 30 percent of households with kids ages 4 to 14 purchasing mobile phones in the past year.
When asked about future purchases within the next 12 months, 18 percent of parents surveyed stated they plan to purchase an HDTV for their child in the coming year, compared to the 17 percent of parents who plan to purchase a cell phone or digital camera for their kid.
Televisions (both standard and high definition) remain the most widely used consumer electronic devices among kids, with 74 percent of children in the 4-14 age group watching TV. Computers (both desktop and laptop) are second at 70 percent.
Additionally, the report shows that, with the exception of desktop computers, more households are downloading content to various devices for kids such as portable and console video game systems, cell phones, laptop computers, and personal digital music players.

Bandai to Launch Pocoyo Line This Fall

PocoyoBandai America, Inc. the master toy licensee for Pocoyo in the U.S. and Canada, is launching an extensive toy line for the animated series. The line will hit store shelves in North America this fall.
Bandai’s Pocoyoproducts will include a ten-inch basic plush of Pocoyo, Elly (the elephant), and Pato (the duck); Squeeze n’ Play plush of the characters; 2.5-inch bath figures; a bath water taxi; a six-inch mini-plush assortment of Pocoyo, Elly, Pato, and Loula the dog; and Bump n’ Go, an electronic car of Pocoyo that stops, turns, and moves backward.
Co-produced by Zinkia and ITV Studios Global Entertainment, Pocoyo will debut later this spring on Nick Jr. in the U.S. The show has been broadcast in over 100 territories worldwide.
ITV Studios Global Entertainment handles the worldwide distribution rights for Pocoyo, excluding Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Latin America, which are handled by Zinkia. Home entertainment rights for Pocoyo in the United States are handled exclusively by NCircle Entertainment. 

TIA Submits Letter to CPSC on Proposed Testing Rules

Toy Industry Association President Carter Keithley has written a letter to Inez Tenenbaum, chair of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which expressed the TIA’s concerns regarding the CPSC’s proposed rules for testing and labeling products, as well as testing component parts under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).
The TIA letter states: “Small to medium-sized companies will have to add extensive administrative staff or retain outside assistance to meet their obligations. Large companies with extensive safety assurance mechanisms in place will have to substantially amend their processes unnecessarily in ways that will not enhance safety assurances.”
TIA also commented that “the definition of ‘high degree of assurance’ is too narrow in that it does not recognize manufacturers’ process control programs” and “compliance and documentation requirements far exceed the capabilities of small to medium size toy companies in volume and sophistication.”
For more information on the letter, click here.

U.S. Consumer Confidence Rises Slightly in April

According to Reuters, the U.S. consumer confidence index in April improved slightly to 57.9, compared to 52.3 in March. Many retailers, says Rothman Research, are revising their marketing strategy to attract as much traffic to their stores for the summer. Giant discounters such as Walmart Stores, Inc. and Target Corp. performed extremely well during the recession, and are now trying to attract even more people to these stores as consumer confidence grows.
"Even if it is a fact that Walmart is a great shopping haven in times of economic turmoil, we believe that the company will still be attracting many more people to its stores even as the economy gets back to its feet," said Mathew Collier of Rothman Research. "The largest U.S. discounter had been ahead of the competition in 2009 and has been able to attract consumers to its stores even when the economy was hitting rock bottom, so it will surely be able to maximize on news that consumer confidence is slowly gaining grounds."

A2 Premieres Secret Millionaire’s Club

Secret Millionaire's ClubA2 Entertainment premiered Secret Millionaire’s Club, a new animated series inspired by the teachings of Warren Buffett, at the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting on May 1. Created in partnership by A2 and AOL, Secret Millionaires Club teaches kids about finance through a series of webisodes, online games, and other activities.
The show tells the story of four kids who save their community center by selling old baseball memorabilia. Little did they know, the memorabilia was worth millions, and after paying off their creditors the kids turn to Buffett (who voices himself in the series) to help them manage their newfound wealth. The animated Buffett teaches the group about business and how the world around them works, exploring concepts such as supply and demand, the importance of location, pursuing your dreams, understanding the best investment you can make is in yourself, and more.
Kids can view the weekly webisodes (26 in total) at The website will also feature games, a Buffett Bucks rewards program, the “Ask Warren” feature (which allows kids to interact directly with Buffett), and other activities.
AOL created and developed in partnership with Area 17 and MGX. 
A television series based on Secret Millionaire’s Club is in development.

Shout! Factory to Distribute Marvel Knights Animation DVDs

Marvel KnightsUnder a multi-year agreement, Shout! Factory has been named the exclusive U.S. home entertainment distributor with licensing rights to Marvel Knights Animation properties, including Astonishing X-Men: Gifted, Black Panther, Iron Man: Extremis, Spider-Woman, and more to be announced.
Marvel Knights Animation merges Marvel comic book graphics with dynamic animation to create motion comics.
Earlier this year, Shout! Factory was named the exclusive U.S. home entertainment distributor for Marvel’s animated series, The Super Hero Squad Show.




Spielwarenmesse eG Opens Chinese Subsidiary

Spielwarenmesse eG has extended its international sales network by opening a new, independent subsidiary in China. Spielwarenmesse (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. coordinates the marketing of the services of Spielwarenmesse eG in China and organizes Chinese participation in the fair. Isaac Meng has been appointed as general manager.
The Shanghai subsidiary makes it easier for Chinese companies to have direct access to the fair and the marketing services of Spielwarenmesse eG. The new office is the contact for companies wanting to exhibit on their own or in the Best of China Pavilion at the Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair Nürnberg 2011, as well as for companies who are interested in World of Toys by Spielwarenmesse eG.
To contact the Shanghai office, email General Manager Isaac Meng at, or Project Manager Xu Jie at

Grand Opening of BabyLand General Hospital Set

BabyLandCabbage Patch Kids creator Xavier Roberts has announced that the grand opening of the new BabyLand General Hospital will take place on Mother’s Day, May 8 in Cleveland, Ga. The official celebration will begin at 9 a.m. at 300 N.O.K. Drive and will continue throughout the day with activities, entertainment, prize drawings, and costume characters. Roberts will also make a special appearance to sign, with proof of purchase, Cabbage Patch Kids adopted at BabyLand General Hospital and from, during this week.
The new BabyLand General Hospital is a 70,000 square foot facility, situated on 650 acres of land. The hospital includes the Father’s Waiting Room, nurseries, the Magical Crystal Tree, a birthday party room for kids, and more. Admission is free.
For more information, call (706) 865-2171 or visit

New Garanimals Toys at Walmart

GaranimalsThis summer, Garanimals will debut a new array of infant plush exclusively at Walmart. Inspired by the Garanimals newborn and infant apparel, the collection will include 28 soft, cuddly, and cute plush items available in a variety of colors and prints for boys and girls, as well as gender-neutral options. Prices range from $5-$12.
At Walmart stores in June, Garanimals will also introduce a wide-range of toys and accessories for infants through age 2, including activity gyms, crib mirrors, finger puppets, mini o-balls, rattles, soft squeakers, teethers, wood toys, and more. The toys range in price from $1 to $12. The new lines will be available in the infant department of Walmart.

Happy Meals Not Quite as Happy in Santa Clara

A new ordinance in Santa Clara County, Calif. is barring local restaurants from giving away toys in fast food kids’ meals that are high in calories, fat, salt, and sugar. The ordinance was announced on Tuesday, April 27, and affects about a dozen fast food restaurants in the Silicon Valley unincorporated areas, as reported by CNN.
A Santa Clara County supervisor stated the ordinance “prevents restaurants from preying on children’s love of toys to peddle high-calorie, high-fat, high-sodium kids meals.”
The ordinance will affect meals that have over 485 calories, over 600 milligrams of sodium, and more than 35 percent of total calories from fat or over 10 percent of calories from added sugar. The ban will also restrict toy giveaways on single food items with over 200 calories or more than 480 milligrams of sodium.

Big Tent Partners with CTM and Mendía Licensing for Domo

DomoBig Tent Entertainment has partnered with international licensing agencies CTM, a division of integrated media company Tele Munchen Gruppe based in Germany, and Mendía Licensing, an independent marketing and licensing agency in Spain, for its Domo brand. As part of the agreement, CTM and Mendía Licensing will introduce and develop the Domo brand in their respective European territories through key licensing, marketing, and promotional agreements.
CTM will develop the Domo brand in Germany through an extensive licensing program, which will concentrate on securing licensees for the brand within the apparel, accessories, gift, and plush categories. CTM will look to follow up this initial effort with various promotional deals and a DTR with a prominent mid-tier retailer.
Mendía Licensing will help strengthen the licensing program in Spain through an existing licensing deal with United Labels for a wide range of gift, novelty, and back-to-school products. Mendía also looks to expand the licensing program for Domo throughout 2010 with a major emphasis on signing apparel and social expressions partners.

Step2 Recalls 21,000 Toy Drums

Step2 DrumThe U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Health Canada, in cooperation with The Step2 Company, has announced a voluntary recall of approximately 21,000 of Step2’s Basic Rhythms Drums.
The toy drums pose a potential choking hazard to young children, because the plastic clips used to attach the drumsticks to the drum can break. The drums were set at Toys “R” Us, Burlington Coat Factory, and other retail stores nationwide from August 2009 through this March for between $10 and $15. The CPSC advises consumers to immediately take the recalled toy from children and contact Step2 to request a replacement toy.

Madame Alexander

JAKKS Pacific Founder Dies

JAKKS Pacific founder, Jack Friedman, died on Monday, May 3, after being hospitalized for several weeks. Friedman was 70.
JAKKS' CEO Stephen Berman said, "Jack was a legendary toymaker and a real titan in our industry. He dedicated his talents to JAKKS Pacific for 15 years, and he will be sorely missed. On behalf of all JAKKS employees, we send our sincere condolences to his wife Karen and his children for their loss."
Friedman founded JAKKS Pacific in January 1995, and served as the company’s chairman and CEO through March 31, 2010. He retired from his regular duties at the company to spend more time with his family.
Under his leadership, JAKKS has grown into a Top 5 U.S. publicly traded diversified toy company. Before founding JAKKS, Friedman led LJN Toys until its sale to MCA in 1985. After LJN, he went on to found THQ, Inc. in 1989 and led it until 1995.

Toys "R" Us Terminates EVP

Toys “R” Us, Inc. has announced that the employment of executive vice president and COO Claire Babrowski was terminated without cause effective May 1. Babrowski served as the company’s executive vice president and COO since June 2007. Toys "R" Us will be repurchasing the equity interests held by Babrowski in the company.

Warner Bros. Restructures Sales Organization

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (WBIE) has restructured its sales organization to bring closer alignment to the sales and supply chain teams within the Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group. To lead this new sales organization, Kevin Kebodeaux has been named senior vice president of sales in the Americas and Olivier Wolff has been named senior vice president, international, games.
Wolff is now responsible for setting and leading commercial strategies that build the WBIE business outside of the Americas. He oversees sales and marketing efforts and works in a consultative role with country management and WBIE staff to maximize sales from all game releases. Additionally, Wolff will continue in his current role as managing director of Spain, overseeing home video, games, and digital.
In his new role, Kebodeaux is responsible for all sales operations in the United States, Canada, and South America. He will develop Pan-American distribution strategies for games that are integrated with WBIE’s sister organization, Warner Home Video, including engaging the company’s distribution partners and the ongoing management of those relationships.

Bandai Sues over Alleged Knockoffs

Global Times has reported that Bandai is suing a shop owner in Tianyi Market, Xicheng district, and a toy company in Guangdong Province for 3.69 million yuan ($540,446) at Beijing No. 1 Intermediate Court, according to the Beijing Times on Tuesday. Bandai, makers of the original Gundam and Three Kingdoms anime giant robot toys, is suing
the company from Shantou, Guangdong Province, for copying their toys.
The toys were allegedly sold in Beijing through a distributor, surnamed Huang, who owns a shop at Tianyi Market, Bandai's lawyers allege. Bandai is suing for copyright infringement and for producing and selling knockoffs without authorization. Bandai has registered the copyright of Gundam and Three Kingdoms in China and seeks a public apology along with financial compensation.
The Guangdong-based toy company is arguing they were unaware Bandai had the copyright. Huang reportedly claimed he did not intend to infringe the copyright and so should not be held responsible.

Build-A-Bear Workshop Reports First Quarter Results

Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc. has reported its results for the 2010 first quarter. Build-A-Bear’s results benefited from the timing shift of the Easter holiday to the first quarter. Last year the holiday fell in the second quarter.
Total revenues for the first quarter (ended April 3), were $101.4 million, a 3.9 percent increase from $97.7 million in the fiscal 2009 first quarter. Net retail sales were $99.8 million, an increase of $3.5 million, or 3.6 percent compared to $96.3 million in last year’s first quarter. Excluding the impact of foreign exchange, net retail sales increased 2.3 percent.
Consolidated comparable store sales increased 2.1 percent, including a 1.9 percent increase in North America and a 3.2 percent increase in Europe.
Net income was $1.7 million, or $0.09 per diluted share, compared to the fiscal 2009 first quarter net loss of $0.8 million, or $0.04 per diluted share.

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