May 11, 2011

Laser Pegs

Innovation First Wins Lawsuit Against 50 Fifty Gifts

Innovation First International has reported numerous global victories in its fight against knock-off and counterfeit products that imitate the company’s Hexbug Nano brand toys. Recently, the company resolved a lawsuit filed against UK-based company 50 Fifty Gifts (UK) Ltd, its principal Ali Mafi, and affiliated entities. The case against 50 Fifty Gifts (UK) Ltd, its principal, and others, claimed trade dress infringement, injury to business reputation, common law unfair competition, unjust enrichment, and other wrongful conduct in offering knock-offs. Key terms of the settlement include the transfer of ownership of the “Kreep-Es” brand to Innovation First, and the transfer of all worldwide intellectual property rights owned by 50 Fifty Gifts in the “Kreep-Es” to Innovation First. Further, 50 Fifty Gifts agreed to cease the design, manufacture, and sale of the “Kreep-Es” products and vibrating locomotion toys immediately. 50 Fifty Gifts must also deliver the molds, dies, and tooling used for creating Kreep-Es to Innovation First in China.
Since the launch of its aggressive campaign last year, the company reports more than 1,000 successful enforcement actions to date worldwide. Across Europe, Spin Master Ltd., the European distribution partner for Hexbug serves as a key ally in the fight against knock-off producers, leveraging its extensive network of investigators, enforcement agents, and legal teams.

The Wildflower Group Signs Partners for Girl Scouts, Pillow Pets

Pillow PetsThe Wildflower Group, the licensing agency for Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA), has signed new licensees for the brand with products slated to hit retail beginning this fall. The expanded Girls Scouts licensing and merchandising program will include an array of toys and games, electronic products, stationery and school supplies, and giftware, as well as health and beauty aids, bedding and room décor, new media, apparel and accessories, bags and backpacks, and more. 
Launching is a collection of five 18-inch Girl Scout dolls from new licensee Charisma, under its Adora brand. Also launching for this holiday are Girl Scout craft sets from Colorbök, including mini crafts, beads, and stamp, sticker, jewelry, decoupage, stationery, and scrapbooking kits.
The Wildflower Group is also expanding its Pillow Pets program with new licensees. Game Mill has signed on to launch a Nintendo DS game, slated to premiere this fall. The adventure game, for kids ages 7 and older, will feature characters such as Ms. Lady Bug, Bumbly Bee, Magical Unicorn, and Snuggly Puppy. Additional new Pillow Pets licensees include SGI Apparel for sleepwear, Johnson Bros. Bakery Supply for cake toppers, and Sykel Enterprises for fabrics. 
The new licensees join Commonwealth Toy & Novelty Co. which has just premiered its Pillow Pets products at stores nationwide. A second wave of Pillow Pets products from Commonwealth—including plastic figurines, key chains, soft toys, bath toys, sleeping bags, decorative pillows, bags and backpacks, and seasonal baskets—will premiere in stores beginning this fall. The Wildflower Group is currently in discussions with potential Pillow Pets licensing partners in categories such as apparel and accessories, bedding, health and beauty aids, publishing, stationery, and paper party goods.

CBS Announces Upcoming Star Trek Merchandise Lineup

Star TrekCBS Consumer Products has announced a new slate of Star Trek products that will be hitting retail store shelves during the next year. PPW Toys will introduce the first Mr. Potato Head toy line based on the most popular characters from The Original Series and The Next Generation. The line will be available in the U.S. and Canada. Bandai will offer deck-building games, also based on The Original Series and The Next Generation in the U.S. and Canada. USAopoly will warp the classic Monopoly board game series into the Star Trek universe with Klingon Monopoly, to be available in the U.S. and Canada. Titan Merchandise will create busts based on characters from all eras of Star Trek’s existence that will be sold across North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, India, the Middle East, Iceland, and the Pacific Islands. Also on board is Mighty Fine for a line of Star Trek-inspired knit tops, T-shirts, hoodies, and fleece for the U.S., as well as Pez Candy for a Pez collector’s set, to launch next year in the U.S. in time to celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Next Generation.

American Greetings Launches Care Bears’ “Share-A-Bear”

Share-A-BearAmerican Greetings Properties (AGP), the intellectual property and outbound licensing division of American Greetings Corporation, is launching a special figurine series featuring the Care Bears with Play Imaginative. The “Share-A-Bear” series includes 34 collectible characters that can be customized and shared to celebrate any occasion. Senders will be able to write a brief personal message and include them as the start of someone’s collection.

 

Hidden City Introduces Bella Sara Chibis

Bella Sara ChibisHidden City Entertainment, Inc., the rights holder of Bella Sara, introduces Bella Sara Chibis (Chee-Bees). The new soft, squishy figures will fit in the palm of a hand, and come with its own stacking cube containers, bracelet, and trading card. Kids can also go online and get the digital versions of the creatures. Scheduled to arrive in stores this summer, Bella Sara Chibis will be available first in the U.S. and Russia, and then will be released in Western Europe.

 

 

Greenzys Panda Now Available at Build-A-Bear Workshop

Yew YewBuild-A-Bear Workshop is offering the first make-your-own Yew Yew the Greenzys Panda in stores and online at buildabear.com, starting at $25. The stuffed animal, whose fur is made from soy, arrived in time for Earth Day on April 22 and National Arbor Day on April 29. When a guest purchases Yew Yew the Greenzys Panda, the Arbor Day Foundation will plant a tree in the purchaser’s honor. Guests can visit buildabear.com/greenzys to receive a personalized digital certificate acknowledging the planted tree contribution.
Additionally, guests who purchase Yew Yew will receive exclusive gifts, to be redeemed at Bearville.com, the Build-A-Bear Workshop online entertainment destination and virtual world. Guests will receive a virtual seed that grows into a heart-shaped tree, along with themed wallpaper for their virtual Cub Condo. They will also receive 2,000 Bear Bills, the Bearville currency, and guests who purchase Yew Yew the Greenzys Panda through May 20 will receive an additional 1,000 Bear Bills. 

Red Toolbox to Produce Bob the Builder Tools for Preschoolers

Bob the BuilderHit Entertainment has entered into an agreement with Red Toolbox, a new and innovative line of ergonomically designed tools and carpentry kits for kids, to develop a line of tools for children inspired by Bob the Builder. The line, targeted to Bob the Builder’s preschool audience, is meant to provide young children with the opportunity to work on their own build-it-yourself projects. The product line will make its trade debut at the National Hardware Show, to be held May 10 through 12 in Las Vegas, and will be available at home improvement and mass retailers later this year.
The Bob the Builder Red Toolbox line, the first license for Red Toolbox, offers a set of real tools specially designed to suit a preschool child's grip, accompanied by a selection of projects for teaching and applying various skills. In addition, Red Toolbox will market and manufacture kits with which children can build wood replicas of Bob’s Machine Team, including Scoop and Scrambler.

 

Classic Media Partners with Luken Communications to Launch TV Network

Mr. MagooLuken Communications, owner and operator of television broadcast stations in the U.S., including the Retro TV Network (RTV) and Tuff TV, has teamed up with Classic Media to create an all-new network, PBJ. PBJ will bring iconic characters and shows from the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s to retro television lovers and pop culture fans nationwide, 24 hours a day.  
PBJ is set to launch nationwide this summer with well-known titles from Classic Media’s portfolio, including The Archie’s, Mr. Magoo, The Lone Ranger, Gumby, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, and more. Luken will make PBJ available to broadcasters, cable, and satellite.

 

 

 

Chorion Celebrates 40th Anniversary of Mr. Men

Mr. TickleChorion has kicked off its celebratory plans for the 40th anniversary of its children’s property, Mr. Men. Highlights for the anniversary year of 2011 have so far included the launch of brand-new character Little Miss Princess, the launch of a confectionery range in partnership with Tesco, and a collaboration with Google for a series of “Google doodles,” celebrating the brand and its creator, which was commemorated on May 9.
The second half of the year will see the launch of a special edition Mr. Tickle book from Egmont, a collector’s edition DVD box-set from Delta, and a brand new plush line from Posh Paws. An official anniversary day (to be announced) over the summer will see a major program of events at an iconic British retailer (also to be announced). Along with story readings, signings, and a calendar of family-wide activities, fans can expect to see exclusive product ranges of their favorite characters.
This fall, the focus will be on the iconic art of the Mr. Men. An exhibition of Mr. Men artwork and memorabilia will also feature original interpretive oil paintings from up-and-coming artist Paul Oz. There will also be collaborations with Swarovski Elements and a limited-edition line of nail polishes from Nails, Inc.
Further initiatives will include campaigns in social media and music festivals, and a live music-based show to tour regional theaters.
Mr. Tickle is shown here.

Me to You Comes to India

Me to You, from the house of Carte Blanche, headquartered in the United Kingdom, is expanding into India, courtesy of its new partnership with Bradford License India, India’s first complete licensing solution provider. Launched in 1995, Me to You’s Tatty Teddy character brand now has retail sales in excess of $800 million a year. The brand is well known in South Africa, central Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Bradford License India will seek to extend the brand into a number of product categories with partners that demonstrate excellence in manufacturing, design, and distribution capabilities.

Hello Kitty Theme Park to Be Built in China

According to Bloomberg.com, Hello Kitty maker, Sanrio, Co., is planning to build a Hello Kitty theme park in China’s eastern Zhejiang province. The report says that Sanrio will license its Hello Kitty characters for the 23-acre theme park, set to open in 2014. According to China National Radio, as reported by Bloomberg, the investment for the park is $200 million. Construction for the theme park is expected to begin in July.

Fundex Games Partners with Tyson Foods for Summertime Sweepstakes

Fundex GamesStarting May 30, Fundex is teaming with Tyson Deli for a co-branded, fully integrated marketing campaign through August 12. The online Summertime Sweepstakes program will give families the opportunity to win a $500 prize pack as part of the sweepstakes. Promotional signage will be featured in approximately 4,000 retail delis nationwide, and coupon books will be distributed with Fundex’s outdoor game Bagball offered at a $10 discount. Fundex products will also be incorporated into Tyson Food displays at grocery stores nationwide, and the sweepstakes, coupons, and product information will be featured on www.DeliAnytime.com.

Minute to Win It Challenges to be Included in Wendy’s Kids’ Meals

NBC’s Minute to Win It is coming to Wendy’s Kids’ Meals nationwide in a new licensed NBCUniversal Television Consumer Products Group promotion. Beginning May 16, and running for six weeks, one Minute to Win It challenge will be included in every Wendy’s Kids’ Meal bag. The five challenges include “Bucket Head,” “Hang in There,” “Nutstacker,” “Spin Doctor,” and “Stack Attack.” Each Minute to Win It challenge has a range of difficulty levels for kids and grown-ups. The challenges are directly inspired by the NBC series, which airs Wednesdays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. ET. Joy Tashjian Marketing Group, who represents NBC programming, brokered the licensed promotion.
Additionally, Wendy’s Kids’ Meal bags, toys, and point-of-purchase displays will be branded with “Minute to Win It” elements. A promotional code for a 20 percent discount for “Minute to Win It” products that are carried at the NBC Online Store (NBCstore.com) will be included within every meal.

HABA

Michelle Winfrey Joins Reeves International

Michelle Winfrey, former marketing and compliance manager for Playmobil USA, has joined Reeves International as brand manager for Reeves’ specialty toy lines. Winfrey will be responsible for the overall business management of these lines including marketing, merchandising, sales leadership, and the overall growth of the specialty toy lines within the U.S. market.
Winfrey is a member of the Toy Industry Association’s Marketing to Children Committee. In addition to her toy industry expertise, Winfrey is a published author of four books, the latest titled A Mom’s Guide to Surviving High School Athletics.

U.S. Playing Card Company Hires New President

Marc Hill has joined Jarden Branded Consumables as president of The United States Playing Card Company (USPC). Hill has 20 years of leadership experience in sales and marketing. He most recently served as CMO of Freedom Group, a global manufacturer of firearms, ammunition, and related products. Prior to that, Hill held various senior leadership roles with a variety of consumer brand companies, both in the U.S. and abroad.

Lisa Arlen Named VP of Sales and Marketing at NCircle Entertainment

Lisa Arlen has joined NCircle Entertainment, an independent distributor of children’s DVDs, games, and music, as vice president of sales and marketing. Arlen has been a key player in the children’s entertainment and consumer products arenas for the past two decades. Her career highlights include 14 years at Hit Entertainment (previously Lyrick Studios), where she held executive positions in sales, product development, and promotions. Arlen also spent five years at Mattel, where she was director of retail development for Walmart. In her new position, Arlen will direct all facets of NCircle Entertainment’s Dallas-based sales and marketing organization. She will also play a strategic role in working with rights holders to help drive sales of their products and build their brand equity.

Children Now Elects Donna Friedman Meir to Board of Directors

Children Now—the multi-issue research, policy development, and advocacy organization dedicated to promoting children’s health and education in California and creating national media policies that support child development—has elected Donna Friedman Meir to Children Now’s board of directors. Friedman Meir is the owner and founder of Lemonade Creative Consulting, a strategic consulting firm focused on building cross-media experiences for kids and families, and is the former National Geographic Kids Entertainment (NGKE) president.
Prior to NGKE, Donna held senior executive positions with the WB Television Network and Nickelodeon. Her career accomplishments include leading Kids’ WB! to the No. 1 ratings position on Saturday mornings for four straight years and 10 consecutive sweeps victories; helping to build the first transmedia megabrand, Pokémon, and its successor, Yu-gi-oh!; and successfully leading brand strategy, marketing, and early new business efforts for Nickelodeon’s first international channels.

Debenture Holders Approve Amendments to Debenture Indenture

Mega Brands, Inc. announces that holders of its 10 percent senior secured debentures passed an extraordinary resolution today approving amendments to the indenture governing the debentures. The amendments, among other things, allow the corporation to increase available borrowings for working capital purposes under its existing asset-based credit agreement and are effective as of today. The resolution was approved by approximately 92 percent of the votes cast in person or represented by proxy at the special meeting of debenture holders.

Target Sees Increase in April Sales

Target Corporation reported that its net retail sales for the four weeks ended April 30, were $4.874 billion, an increase of 13.7 percent from $4.288 billion for the four weeks that ended May 1, 2010. On this same basis, April comparable-store sales increased 13.1 percent. The 2011 Easter holiday was three weeks later than in 2010, which caused pre-Easter sales to move from March into April this year. Year-to-date sales were reported as $15.580 billion, an increase of 2.8 percent for the same period in 2010.

Build-A-Bear Reports Q1 2011 Results

Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc. has reported results for the first quarter 2011. First quarter 2011 total revenue declined 6.1 percent, excluding the impact of foreign currency. Consolidated comparable store sales declined 8.5 percent. First quarter net loss of $2.3 million, or $0.12 per share, included $0.05 per share in consulting costs related to the company’s evaluation of its product supply chain costs. The company has expanded the consulting engagement into other areas and expects to incur a similar charge of $0.05 per share in its second quarter. The company currently anticipates savings of $4 million to $6 million, or $0.13 to $0.19 per diluted share, in 2011 from the project with further benefits projected in 2012 as the savings are annualized.
Total revenues were $96 million compared to $101.4 million for first quarter 2010, a 5.4 percent decrease. Consolidated net retail sales were $94.2 million, a decrease of $5.6 million or 5.6 percent compared to last year’s first quarter.

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