May 19, 2010

Hasbro’s The Hub Announces Program Lineup

The HubIn preparation for its October 10 launch, The Hub announces programming pickups that includes a wide range of original, premiere, and acquired series and specials. The Hub, which will be available to 60 million U.S. households, is a joint venture between Discovery Communications and Hasbro, Inc.
Original Series include Dan Vs., about a loveable misanthrope who
haphazardly seeks revenge against the frustrations of modern life. Family Game Night is an hour-long live-action, original game show in which families play a variety of Hasbro games including Cranium, Bop-It! And Connect 4. G.I. Joe Renegades goes back to basics with the origins of
G.I. JOE. Pound Puppies features a team of fearless dogs who find homes for puppies in need. R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour is a live-action children's anthology series based on and inspired by the work of R.L. Stine. The 99 is based on a comic book.
U.S. Premiere Series include Animal Mechanicals, Cosmic Quantum Ray, Deltora Quest, Maryoku Yummy, Strawberry Shortcake, The WotWots, and Twisted Whiskers.
Series new to The Hub include Family Movie Night, Fraggle Rock, and Meerkat Manor.
The newly announced series announced will join The Hub's previously named original series Transformers Prime and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, both from Hasbro Studios. Additional original and acquired programming and a full lineup schedule will be announced later.
The Hub’s schedule will be divided into four programming blocks. Preschool programming for kids 2-5 will air from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The 1-6 p.m. Kids Afternoon/Prime block will target kids ages 6-12. Family Prime Access will air from 6-7 p.m., followed by Family Prime from 7-11 p.m.

Saban Capital Group Acquires Power Rangers from Disney

Power RangersSaban Capital Group, Inc. has acquired the Power Rangers property from The Walt Disney Company, marking the franchise as the first property to be managed by newly established Saban Brands. Saban Brands was recently formed as a subsidiary of Saban Capital Group to manage and license entertainment properties and consumer brands throughout the world.
The acquisition represents the return of the global franchise to its original developer, Haim Saban, who introduced the first Power Rangers series in 1993. The deal includes worldwide rights to the brand, as well as the more than 700 episodes produced over 17 years.
Saban has also signed a new, long-term master toy and video game license agreement with Bandai Namco Group, the toy partner for the Power Rangers property since its start.
Additionally, SCG Power Rangers, LLC—an affiliate of Saban Brands—has partnered with Nickelodeon to make the TV network the U.S. television platform for Power Rangers. As a part of the agreement, Nickelodeon and Nicktoons will air the upcoming 18th season of Power Rangers (premiering in 2011), which will feature 20 new episodes. Nicktoons will launch the catalog of 700 episodes on its network later this year.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Report: UK First Quarter Toy Sales Rise 11 Percent

According to The NPD Group, traditional toy sales in the UK were up 11 percent in the first quarter of 2010 (January to March), totaling £241.5 million compared to the £218.3 million generated during the same time period in 2009.  
While the growth can be partially attributed to an increase in price points, The NPD Group reported that UK consumers were also buying more traditional toys in the first quarter of this year than they were last year.
January, February, and March all experienced positive revenue growth, with respective increases of 3 percent, 14 percent, and 13 percent. Unit sales decreased 5 percent in January, but increased 3 percent and 7 percent in February and March, respectively. For the whole period, unit sales increased 2 percent to 42.8 million units.
For traditional toys priced at £5 and less, price point increased an average of 4 percent. For toys in the £10-£20 range, price points increased 8 percent, while toys in the £5-£10 and £20+ ranges saw respective price point increases of 16 percent and 15 percent.
The NPD Group reported that action figures & accessories, vehicles, and youth electronics declined at 10 percent, 5 percent, and 31 percent, respectively. The most significant increases were the building sets and plush categories, which saw respective increases of 65 percent and 77 percent.
According to The NPD Group, licensed toys represented 25 percent of total industry sales in Q1 2010, compared to 2009's 31 percent. Top properties for the quarter (based on total revenue sales) included Ben 10, LEGO City, Star Wars, Thomas and Friends, and Transformers (in alphabetical order).

The Wumblers Maker Signs International Distribution Deal

The WumblersThe Giddy Gander Company has teamed with Skywriter Media and Entertainment Group to distribute The Wumblers internationally across broadcast, digital, and new media platforms. The Giddy Gander Company’s preschool television series is produced in 2-D, and aimed at kids ages 2 to 6. The 25 x 11-minute series is currently available in English and Spanish.
The Wumblers feature Bertrum, a 5-year-old Wumbler, and his best pal Raimundo, a Spanish-speaking snail, as they grow and learn how to make the world a better place for everyone. The Wumblers is also available as an educational DVD series.
Skywriter will also work closely with The Giddy Gander Company in building its merchandising portfolio as the show builds awareness globally.

Prestige to Produce Garanimals Infant Soft Toys
Prestige Toy Corp. has been picked to develop a line of infant soft toys for the Garanimals brand. The new soft toy line will feature the Garanimals characters, and will coordinate with the Garanimals newborn and infant apparel, allowing gift givers to purchase an array of merchandise.  
The new line by Prestige will include 30 different items that are geared towards boys and girls, with a selection of the toys being gender neutral. The line will launch at retail later this year. The brand is currently sold exclusively at Walmart. 

April Retail Sales Increase 4.6 Percent in 2010, Says NRF

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), April retail industry sales (excluding automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) increased 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted over March and 4.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Sales for March and April, the typical months for the Easter holiday purchases, increased 5.6 percent unadjusted over last year.
April retail sales released by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales (including non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gas stations, and restaurants) increased 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted over March and 9.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

Retail Container Traffic Expected to Increase 10 Percent in May

According to the latest monthly Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates, import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to be up 10 percent in May, and double-digit increases are expected moving into the fall.
In March, the latest month for which actual numbers are available, U.S. ports handled 1.07 million 20-foot Equivalent Units (TEU), a 7 percent increase compared to February, and a 12 percent increase compared to March 2009. One TEU is one 20-foot cargo container or its equivalent. March was also the fourth month in a row to show a year-over-year increase.
Although actual numbers are not yet available, April was estimated at 1.11 million TEU, a 12 percent increase over last year. May is forecast at 1.14 million TEU, up 10 percent from last year; June at 1.19 million TEU, up 17 percent; July at 1.25 million TEU, up 13 percent; August at 1.32 million TEU, up 14 percent; and September at 1.35 million TEU, up 19 percent. The report attributes the large year-over-year percent increases to unusually low numbers last year. The first half of 2010 is expected to total 6.6 million TEU, an increase of 12 percent compared to last year.

Icon Heroes to Produce Thundercats Statues, Action Figures, and More

ThundercatsWarner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) has partnered with Icon Heroes to create collectible products inspired by the 1980s animated series, Thundercats. Under the new deal, Icon Heroes will manufacture a line of six-inch and under-scale statues, vehicle replicas, environments, and dioramas inspired by the television series. The statues will be branded as “Staction Figures” (Static Action Figures), and will be non-articulated, standing on top of a detailed environment base.
Each Staction Figure will be scaled so that they can be displayed individually or alongside other six-inch action figures and statues. The first Staction Figures scheduled for release are Lion-O, Jackal Man, and Jaga. Other products––such as Thunderclaw, Cat’s Lair, and more––will be released at a later date

Disney Store to Premiere New Shop Design This Summer

Disney Store will unveil a brand new store design this summer in major markets across the United States and Europe. The new design will premiere in June at The Shops at Montebello in Montebello, Calif. The European premiere will follow in July at La Vaguada in Madrid.
The new design was developed from a child’s perspective and features the latest technology and special features such as the Disney Princess castle with magic mirror and the Disney Store Theater. More than 20 new and remodeled Disney Store locations are slated to open this year throughout North America and Europe. With each new store opening this year, Disney Store will designate a day for 10 percent of the sales to be donated to charity.

HIT Entertainment Celebrates 65 Years of Thomas & Friends

Thomas the Tank EngineHIT Entertainment is celebrating the 65th anniversary of its preschool brand Thomas & Friends with partnerships with Minor League Baseball, Celebration Foods, Six Flags Entertainment, and Sprout.
Celebration Foods will serve as the exclusive Thomas partner for Thomas & Friends title nights, to take place at 22 Minor League Baseball teams’ games between May 15 and June 30. Celebration Foods will offer free Carvel ice cream cake samples and coupons to fans at the games, and will run free consumer offers at select regional grocery stores.
Also at the Minor League Baseball games, there will be Thomas & Friends activities such as sneak peeks at movies, photo opportunities for kids, and free Thomas goodies.
On June 5, Six Flags Entertainment will host Thomas birthday parties at park locations with Thomas Towns. These birthday parties will feature entertainment, activities for kids, special giveaways of Thomas goodies, and more. Global partner MEGA Bloks will donate a giant replica of Thomas made out of MEGA Bloks to every Thomas Town and will challenge guests to guess how many blocks make up Thomas.
Six Flags will also premiere a screening of Thomas & Friends: The Greatest Stories and Sprout will celebrate Thomas’ birthday on June 4 on The Sunny Side Up Show.

Walker Books Announces New Where’s Waldo Publishing Program

Where's WaldoClassic Media has appointed The Walker Group, consisting of Walker Books UK, Candlewick Press, and Walker Books Australia, to create a new global publishing program for Where’s Waldo? books.
This first-ever spin-off program for Where’s Waldo? will feature new material that will be released across a variety of formats. The new range, to debut in 2012 in honor of Waldo’s 25th birthday, will be designed to complement the original Where’s Waldo? collection, which was designed by Martin Handford.



Guinness World Records Educational Products on the Way

Carson-Dellosa Publishing, LLC has inked a licensing agreement with Guinness World Records to manufacture a new line of Guinness World Records-themed educational products.
The first products to be created under the new deal include CenterSolutions Creative Writing Card Sets, Guinness World Records Reading books, and Guinness World Records Math books. The entire line of products will be distributed throughout North America.

Qubo to Launch New Slate of Kids Shows

He-ManQubo Channel announces the launch of 12 new animated and live-action series with several U.S. premieres that will roll out on the network beginning this summer and into the fall. The diverse mix of family friendly programming includes the return of The Magic School Bus series from Scholastic for the fall and the U.S. premiere of the animated series Vitaminix, a series of shorts encouraging good eating habits for kids.
Additionally, Qubo brings to its schedule the U.S. premieres of The Mysteries of Alfred Hedgehog, Willa’s Wild Life, Shelldon, Pearlie, and Mighty Machines, plus new episodes of the returning series Turbo Dogs.
In addition, beginning this fall season, Qubo will launch a classic weekend animation block featuring the newly acquired He-Man and the Masters of the Universe; She-Ra, Princess of Power; BraveStarr; and the animated Ghostbusters. To round out the schedule, Qubo will debut Animal Exploration with Jarrod Miller in the fall.

Madame Alexander

Former TRU CEO Appointed to OfferIQ’s Board of Advisors

OfferIQ, a private company that partners with retailers to add in-store incentive functionality to companies’ existing reward/loyalty programs, has added John Eyler, former president and CEO of Toys “R” Us and FAO. Schwartz, to its board of advisors.
Eyler spent five years at Toys “R” Us as CEO and chairman before retiring in 2005. He has also served as the chairman and CEO of FAO Schwartz (1992-2000), and president of the retail specialty division of the Hartmarx Corporation (1988-1992).
Eyler began his career at The May Department Stores Company in 1971 and in 1979 was named president and CEO of the company’s May D&F division in Denver.

CPLG U.S. Appoints Jeff Shapiro

Licensing industry veteran Jeff Shapiro has joined CPLG U.S. as vice president, retail business development. Based in Burbank, he will report to Cindy Davis, senior vice president, licensing, CPLG U.S.
Shapiro will promote a wide range of brands at all levels of retail and will focus on retail expansion for Cookie Jar Entertainment brands Richard Scarry’s Busytown, Johnny Test, and Caillou, as well as the Harlem Globetrotters, Strawberry Shortcake, Lucha Libre USA, and Varsity.
Shapiro previously served as vice president of retail marketing for Twentieth Century Fox.

CPLG Promotes Chris Protheroe

Chris Protheroe has been promoted to executive vice president at Copyright Promotions Licensing Group (CPLG). In his new role, Protheroe will continue to manage the sports business in addition to overseeing all operational aspects of CPLG worldwide. He will also continue to be based in London.
Protheroe joined CPLG in 1999 as head of sport, Europe. He was responsible for the company’s worldwide licensing campaign for 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan and EURO 2000TM. 

Goldberger Adds Schleicher to Team

The Goldberger Company has announced that Bob Schleicher will join the team as the new vice president of sales and marketing. Having held executive sales and account marketing positions with Mattel Inc., Tyco Toys, and Tonka Toys, Schleicher’s strategic planning and partnerships led to successful expansions of accounts with key vendors.

MEGA Reports Net Sales Increase for First Quarter

MEGA Brands, Inc. has announced its financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2010. All figures are expressed in U.S. dollars.
Net sales increased 13 percent to $49.1 million compared to $43.5 million in the first quarter of 2009. The corporation's net sales increased in both North America and international markets, driven mainly by higher shipments of construction toys in the preschool and boys’ categories.
Net earnings were $98.2 million, or $2.28 per share, compared to the net loss of $25.9 million, or $0.71 per share, in the first quarter of 2009. This quarter’s results included a gain on settlement of debt, reflecting the positive impact of the recapitalization transaction completed on March 30.
After the completion of the recapitalization transaction, MEGA significantly improved its capital structure and financial flexibility, including debt reduced by approximately $290 million compared to the end of 2009, and an expectation of cash interest expenses to decline to $20.5 million in 2010 and $14 million in 2011 (cash interest expenses were $43.9 million in 2009).

Video Game Sales Down 26 Percent in April

According to The NPD Group, U.S. retail sales of video games fell 26 percent to $766.2 million in April from a year earlier. Hardware sales plunged 37 percent to $249.3 million in April compared with the same month last year. Software sales dropped 22 percent to $398.5 million.
Sales of the handheld Nintendo DS fell by more than 50 percent to 440,800 from more than 1 million last April. Even with the drop, DS was still the month's best-selling system. Sales of the Wii also declined, while both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 saw upticks from ayear earlier. Portable systems accounted for 61 percent of the month's
total video game sales decline.
The decline may be attributed in part to the lack of video game launches in April. The fiscal year ends in March for many game makers, who generally try to fit in new game launches before the year is up, leaving few title launches for April.

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