May 20, 2011

Laser Pegs

Rubie’s Costume Co. Signs on for KISS Costumes

KISSKISS and Rubie’s Costume Company have announced a worldwide licensing deal to re-create the iconic style of the blazing band that is always “Dressed to Kill.” KISS costumes, masks, wigs, and accessories for adults and children will ensure that the notorious Starchild, Demon, Spaceman, and Catman slay the scariest night of the year.
KISS is famous for its explosive live performances, outrageous rock and roll style,
and the most memorable look in rock history.
“I’ve always said you may not be able to look like KISS, but you can always feel like KISS. We’ve finally changed that, and I’m jazzed to see all the Starchilds and other KISS members in full uniform this year!” says Paul Stanley of KISS.
“With your new KISS costumes, you will release the Demon within you. You are the God of Thunder!” says Gene Simmons of KISS.
“This line of KISS costumes and accessories offers something for the rock star in all of us,” says Howard Beige, EVP of Rubie’s. “The catalog will cover a variety of price points and include complete KISS costuming for fans of all ages. It’s a great collection of must-have gear.”
Retailers can preview KISS costumes and accessories at Orders will be accepted this summer. Merchandise will be available at retail and at in time for Halloween.
Live Nation Merchandise, KISS’ exclusive worldwide merchandise and licensing agent, brokered the deal.

Mega Brands Deal to Bring Power Rangers Samurai to Construction Aisle

Mega Brands, Inc. has entered into a multi-year global licensing agreement, excluding Asia, with Saban Brands to develop construction toys based on the new Power Rangers Samurai, the newest installment in the Power Rangers franchise. The Mega Bloks Power Rangers Samurai construction toy sets will match the style of the new series airing on Nickelodeon. Launching next spring, the Mega Bloks Power Rangers Samurai construction toy line will include popular characters, vehicles, and play sets.




Animal Planet Signs North-American Deals for Toys, Puzzles, and More

Discovery Communications has signed a new North American-based deal with Toy Island, a division of Techno Source. Toy Island will create Animal Planet-branded 3-D and traditional puzzles, stickers and sticker books, trading cards, and games. The new Animal Planet 3-D puzzles, each retailing under $7, will be available for purchase at mass, specialty, and value stores this fall. Created for children ages 4 and older, the assorted puzzles will feature realistic artwork of pets and wild animals, which come to life in 3-D when viewed with the included 3-D glasses.
Other Animal Planet deals signed include Animal Feet for a collection of children’s and adult plush slippers, and Cosrich Group, Inc. for an eco-friendly line of Animal Planet bath products. All three deals were brokered on behalf of Animal Planet by its North-American licensing agent, the Joester Loria Group. A portion of the proceeds from the products will benefit the principal partners of R.O.A.R (Reach Out. Act. Respond).

World of Toys Pavilion Comes to India’s Toy Biz

World of ToysSpielwarenmesse eG is debuting its World of Toys pavilion in India this July at the Fifth Toy Biz fair. Spielwarenmesse eG has partnered with the organizer of Toy Biz, the Association of India (TAI), to offer international suppliers the opportunity to exhibit at India’s only business-to-business toy fair, held in New Delhi from July 2-4, as part of the World of Toys international fair program.
As part of the program, Spielwarenmesse eG will provide manufacturers with product presentation facilities in a pavilion without great cost or risk. The organization will also supply the professional support for the stand in cooperation with the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce (IGCC), and the fair team will arrange contacts for the exhibitors. It is expected that there will be 10,000 trade visitors to the centrally located
Pragati Maidan Exhibition Centre in New Delhi. Market information on India can be found at

Smart Games Forms U.S. Subsidiary

Trucky 3Smart, the Belgian manufacturer of SmartGames, has entered into a strategic partnership with San Francisco’s Rex Games, creators of the Tangoes product line, to establish its own U.S. operations and to form Smart/Tangoes USA. The expansion will bring the maker’s line of single-player brain games to the U.S. in time for the summer travel and holiday seasons. Smart previously sold to U.S. retailers through distributors in the past, but wanted to establish its own U.S. operations in order to deliver maximum margins and marketing support to U.S. retailers. The new, upcoming SmartGames include Trucky 3, Penguins on Ice, Troy, and IQ Twist.



Retail Sales Increase for 10th Straight Month

This April marked the 10th straight month that retail sales have increased, according to figures by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and U.S. Commerce Department. According to NRF, retail industry sales (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) for April increased 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted from March and 4 percent unadjusted year-over-year. April retail sales released by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations, and restaurants) increased 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted over March and 7.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
Additionally, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for April, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $389.4 billion, an increase of 0.5 percent from the previous month, and 7.6 percent above April 2010. Total sales for the February through April 2011 period were up 8.1 percent from the same period a year ago. The February to March 2011 percent change was revised from +0.4 percent to +0.9 percent.
Retail trade sales were up 0.6 percent from March 2011, and 7.9 percent above last year. Gas station sales were up 21.8 percent from April 2010, and non-store retail sales were up 15.5 percent from last year.

Moose Named Exclusive Australian Master Toy Licensee for Redakai

RedakaiMoose Enterprise is partnering with Spin Master, Ltd. as the exclusive Australian master toy licensee for boys’ action property Redakai. The company says it has had “tremendous success with Bakugan and is excited by the opportunity to bring Redakai to Australia.”
Spin Master has partnered with Zodiak Kids/Marathon Media to produce the Redakai
animated series, Redakai: Conquer the Kairu. Spin Master’s toy line, based on the animated series, will hit stores in the U.S. this year, while Moose will launch its Redakai toy line in Australia next year.



Silly Brandz Global Introduces Rad Rings

Rad RingsSilly Brandz Global—BCP Imports, LLC has announced the follow-up to its Silly Bandz line, which was a nationwide craze last year. The company’s new Rad Ringz product line is based on the concept of the two-finger ring, but with a twist. Rad Rings allows the wearer to change out the message or icon at any time, allowing for collecting and trading.
Rad Rings come in styles similar to Sillybandz, and each package will feature one ring, two words, and one icon. The launch will feature three stock styles and several licensed versions with more to come in the following weeks. Licensed Rad Ringz will include Hello Kitty, the Kardashians, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, and Black Eyed Peas. 
Silly Brandz is now taking retailer orders; product will begin to ship in the next 10 days. A countertop display comes free with all opening orders if requested.

Big Idea Announces Promotional and Licensing Partners for New DVD

VeggieTalesBig Idea Entertainment is releasing an all-new princess-themed DVD, VeggieTales: Princess and the Pop Star. The DVD will debut August 13 in Christian stores and August 16 in general market stores. The DVD, aiming to help young girls understand that they are unique and special, will be supported by a comprehensive marketing and advertising campaign and will have a slate of licensing and promotional partners.
Merchandise will include a Laura Carrot mini-plush character from Gund; Princess Castle floor and table top cardboard play sets from Box Creations; a boxed puzzle from Talicor; and a VeggieTales: Songs for a Princess CD, VeggieTales art and activity journal, 365 Daystarter Devotional for Girls, Princess Castle toy, and “Best Friends” watch collection all by Big Idea Entertainment.

Stacy Mitchell to Present at ASTRA

The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) announced that an industry white paper exploring the effects of discount Internet sales will be presented at ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy in June. ASTRA has picked researcher Stacy Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance to work with manufacturers, retailers, and others to identify concerns and develop solutions for navigating this new frontier. A preliminary report will be presented at the ASTRA annual membership meeting, to be held Monday, June 20, at 8 a.m. ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy will run from June 19-22 in Anaheim, Calif.

Toy & Game Inventor Conference Gets a New Name

T&GConThe TAGIE Conference has been renamed T&GCon. T&GCon is a comprehensive conference for toy and game inventors and top industry inventor relations executives. This year, T&GCon is offering one full day devoted to social media, where participants will learn what social media can do for their business’ bottom line. The conference provides networking and educational opportunities to new toy and game inventors, entrepreneurs, and industry experts.

Upper Deck Debuts Series 1 of Marvel Beginnings Trading Cards

The Upper Deck Company, in partnership with Marvel Entertainment, LLC, has released its “Marvel Beginnings – Series 1” trading card set. Series 1 of the three-part series includes the first 180 cards from the 540-card set and features many of Marvel’s most famous heroes and villains of all time. Marvel Beginnings will also include sketch cards from the industry’s most talented illustrators, autograph cards from comic book icons, and many other collectible chase cards for Marvel collectors, such as unique villain hologram cards and the rare “Marvel Ultimate Collection Panel Focus” insert set. The cards will tell comic book fans about each character’s first appearance and his or her impact upon the Marvel Universe.

Import Cargo Expected to Plateau This Spring and Summer

According to the latest monthly Global Port Tracker report by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates, import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to level off this month at about the same numbers as last year after nearly 18 months of year-over-year gains. Numbers are also expected to remain steady into mid-summer before resuming gains.
The report also states U.S. ports handled 1.08 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU, a 20-foot cargo container or its equivalent) in March, a gain of only 0.3 percent over the same month last year. The number is down 2 percent from February, traditionally the slowest month of the year. Although the increase is small, it was the 16th month in a row to show a year-over-year increase.

Hasbro Partners for Transformers Bikes and Scooters

Transformers BikeHasbro’s Global Brand Licensing & Publishing division signed an agreement with Dynacraft BSC, Inc. for unique and innovative Transformers-inspired “rides” for kids. The products are available now at Toys “R” Us and will debut at other retailers throughout the U.S. and Canada this summer in the form of “More Than Meets the Eye” bikes and scooters. The Transformers bike includes a custom frame design with a patented paint effect, logo-embossed grips with custom die-cut Autobot shield pedals, and Autobot icon tire treads. The Transformers scooter features a lighted deck, custom grip graphics, and a brushed alloy Autobot emblem badge. The bike and scooter are both available in either an Optimus Prime or Bumblebee.


Personalized Chuggington Products to be Sold at TysToyBox Website

Brand-Xpand has signed a licensing deal between its retail site and Ludorum to open an online store devoted to Chuggington merchandise. The new store will showcase personalized Chuggington clothing, accessories, and décor that can be customized with any name. The complete line of personalized Chuggington soft and hard goods will include products such as play sets, water bottles, T-shirts, sweatshirts, backpacks, and more. Personalized Chuggington products can be purchased exclusively at

Word-of-Mouth Opinions Drop Says New Study

According to new research from Colloquy, word-of-mouth opinions shared by Americans have significantly decreased compared to 2008. Of the 3,295 U.S. consumers surveyed by Colloquy, 58 percent said they have often have conversations with family, friends, and co-workers about products and services they’ve used, a drop from the 73 percent recorded in 2008. Additionally, 57 percent of respondents in the latest survey said they often recommend products and services to others, compared to 75 percent in 2008.
Colloquy believes the decrease in word-of-mouth opinions is attributed to the economic downturn. Only 56 percent of respondents who describe themselves as worse off economically this year reported having brand conversations, and 55 percent said they make product recommendations. Of those who reported their households are doing better economically this year, 71 percent said they often have conversations with others about the products and services they use.
Looking to the future, 74 percent of respondents who see their financial outlook brightening said they have conversations about products and services, compared to 55 percent for those who see their financial outlook worsening. Additionally 67 percent of those who see a brighter future said they make recommendations, compared to 55 percent for those who see their finances tightening.

Sesame Workshop Launches Initiative for Road Safety Featuring Grover

In support of the UN’s “Decade of Action for Road Safety,” Sesame Workshop is working with partners from around the world to help raise awareness and promote safe road practices.
With funding from the FIA Foundation, three animated Sesame Street public service announcements (PSAs) were created and will debut in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. The PSAs feature Sesame Street’s Grover in different scenarios buckling up or putting on a helmet, and then giving a thumbs up. Grover will be wearing the official international road safety symbol, a yellow road safety tag, to show his support to the road safety cause. Grover will join world leaders at road safety events in Washington D.C., Mexico City, Leipzig, and Berlin this month to launch this long-term commitment to protecting children from accidents and injuries.
In addition to the PSAs, Sesame Workshop and the Global Road Safety Partnership are jointly developing a Road Safety Education Framework intended as a practical guide for road safety educators, parents, and practitioners who are developing content, educational materials, and communication strategies to help children better understand the risks associated with travel on or near the roads.

The Adventures of Tintin to Come to U.S. Home Entertainment With New Deal

Shout! Factory and Nelvana Enterprises have inked a new deal that will bring The Adventures of Tintin to the U.S. home entertainment marketplace. Under its multi-year agreement, Shout! Factory will be the exclusive home entertainment distributor for DVD to 39 episodes of The Adventures of Tintin. Shout! plans an aggressive rollout of The Adventure of Tintin home entertainment product line later this year and Nelvana will announce DVD titles and bonus content for fans in forthcoming months.

Webcomic Axe Cop Signs New Deals

Surge Licensing has signed a number of new licensing deals for webcomic Axe Cop. has been inked as a strategic partner for webcomic distribution, Rubies Costumes has signed on for Halloween costumes worldwide; Steve Jackson Games is on board for collectible card games; Dark Horse will produce an exclusive T-shirt program with Hot Topic; and StickerYou has signed on for online custom stickers.
Dark Horse currently publishes the Axe Cop trade paperback and comic book miniseries.

Seth MacFarlane to Revamp The Flintstones

According to ICv2, Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane, who got his start in the animation business working on Johnny Bravo, Dexter’s Laboratory, and Cow and Chicken at Hanna-Barbera, will revamp Hanna-Barbera’s The Flintstones, which aired in prime-time from 1960-1966 on ABC. The new Flintstones series, which will keep the original Hanna-Barbera character designs, will be a joint production of 20th Century Fox Television and Warner Bros. Television. Production will begin this fall and the series will air on Fox in 2013.

Toy Industry Members Join Forces For Do Good Stuff-a-Thon

On Friday, members of the toy industry joined forces with California legislators and local volunteers for the Third Annual Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) and My Stuff Bags Foundation “Do Good Stuff-a-Thon,” commemorating National Foster Care Month.
Held at the My Stuff Bags headquarters in Westlake Village, Calif., more than 150 volunteers came together to fill 5,000 duffel bags with toys, toiletries, handmade blankets, and other items that will be distributed to agencies across the U.S. that help abused and neglected children. The more than 50 organizations include California’s Bienvenidos; Florida’s Kids Central, Inc.; and Texas’ Lifeline Children and Family Services.
Volunteers included actress (The Wonder Years) and author (Math Doesn’t Suck) Danica McKellar (shown here with Toy Industry Foundation executive director Jean Butler), California State Senator Tony Strickland, California Assembly Member Felipe Fuentes, as well as representatives from Educational Insights, Funrise, Jakks Pacific, Mattel, Pacific Play Tents, The Piggy Story, Razor, Spin Master, Warner Brothers, Women in Toys, and World of EPI.  Members of the TIF and My Stuff Bags Foundation boards of directors also joined in the effort. Additionally, North American toy companies such as Bandai, Hap Palmer, Hasbro, Imperial Toy, Ravensburger, Rose Art, and Schoenhut Piano Company donated items to include in the duffel bags. LeapFrog served as an event sponsor.


Former Yahoo! Exec Appointed VP, Trust and Safety at KidZania

KidZania has appointed former Yahoo! executive Catherine Teitelbaum to the role of vice president, trust and safety. Kidzania, with eight parks in six markets globally, is planning to expand into additional markets, including the U.S., over the next two years. KidZania is also launching a completely new online experience early next year.
Teitelbaum brings more than 10 years experience in children’s education and safety products, including online community and content standard development and enforcement for all of Yahoo!’s network products, including Yahoo! Kids. She will be responsible for creating KidZania’s policies for online data collection, community guidelines and moderation, and monetization. She will work directly with the product development, engineering, and creative teams to ensure KidZania’s online products and services meet or exceed legal and industry standards.

Brainy Brands Announces Management Team

The Brainy Brands Company, Inc., producer and marketer of the Brainy Baby line of children’s educational videos and products aimed at early development for preschoolers, has announced its management team.
John Benfield, an expert in consumer marketing with more than 34 years of experience, is CEO. His career began with the Colgate-Palmolive Company in 1975 where he held a number of executive positions including director of new business, Colgate U. S. He has also served as chairman and CEO of R.G. Meadows, Inc./ Co-Active Marketing Group, Inc; CEO Direct Marketing Services of Next Jump, Inc.; and co-founder of Wall & Madison Media, LLC.
Dennis Fedoruk, with more than 30 years of experience in film and cinematography, is chief creative officer and chairman. He worked at SPI Visual Communications Group for more than 15 years, working with Fortune 500 companies such as The Discovery Channel, Delta Air Lines, Coca-Cola USA, IBM, and ABC News.
Ronda Bush is vice president and COO. Her knowledge of the intricate details and complexities of the company’s nearly 100 SKUs and 30 international distributors, qualified her to be COO, a position she has now held for more than 10 years.
Finally, Michele Mooney is director of marketing. She plays an integral role in product development, packaging, and overall marketing communications for the company. Mooney was the marketing director of Oldcastle, a multi-billion dollar building products conglomerate. She also has served as creative director of Echostar Data Networks, a subsidiary of the Dish Network brand, and founded and directed Stradegie, her own independent marketing communications firm.

Mega Brands Announces Q1 Results

Mega Brands, Inc. announced its financial results for the first quarter, which ended March 31. Consolidated net sales in the first quarter increased 4 percent to $51 million compared to $49.1 million for the corresponding 2010 period. Toy sales continued their strong momentum with a 17 percent increase compared to the first quarter of 2010. Sales of stationery and activities products declined as the company expected.
The corporation reduced its adjusted net loss by $18.6 million compared to the first quarter of 2010. Reported net loss was $9.3 million, or $0.03 per basic and diluted share, compared to net earnings of $103.0 million, or $2.39 per basic and diluted share, in the first quarter of 2010. Net earnings in the 2010 period were due primarily to a non-recurring accounting gain of $144.3 million resulting from the settlement of debt. Before this non-cash gain and other specified items, net loss in the first quarter of 2010 was $27.7 million.
The corporation adopted International Financial Reporting Standards effective January 1, and all comparative 2010 figures have been restated.

Walmart’s Net Sales for Q1 Up 4.4 Percent

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. reported financial results for the first quarter, which ended April 30. Net sales for the first quarter of fiscal year 2012 were $103.4 billion, an increase of 4.4 percent from $99.1 billion in the first quarter last year. Net sales for the quarter included a currency exchange rate benefit of $1.3 billion. Income from continuing operations attributable to Walmart for the quarter was $3.4 billion, up 3.8 percent from the first quarter last year. Diluted earnings per share from continuing operations attributable to Walmart (EPS) for the first quarter of fiscal year 2012 were $0.98, which included a benefit of $0.01 per share related to currency translation. By comparison, last year's EPS were $0.87, which benefited from currency translation of $0.02.

Brainy Brands Company Starts Trading on the OTCBB

The Brainy Brands Company, Inc., producer and marketer of the Brainy Baby line of children’s educational videos and products aimed at early development for preschoolers, has commenced trading as a public company on the Over-The-Counter Bulletin Board (the “OTCBB”), under the symbol “TBBC”.
The Brainy Brands Company develops and markets early childhood learning products, including a full range of puzzles, books, games, toys, and audio-visual materials for the U.S. market and international marketplace.

Disney Consumer Products Revenue Totals $626 Million for Q2

The Walt Disney Company reported earnings for its second fiscal quarter and six months, which ended April 2. Diluted earnings per share (EPS) for the second quarter increased 2 percent to $0.49, compared to $0.48 for the same quarter in 2010. Diluted EPS for the six-months, which also ended April 2, was $1.16 compared to $0.93 in the same quarter for 2010.
Consumer products revenues for the quarter increased 5 percent to $626 million, and segment operating income increased 7 percent to $142 million; improvements at the Disney Store North America and in merchandise licensing were offset by a decrease in publishing.

Kid Brands, Inc. Reports First Quarter 2011 Results

Kid Brands, Inc. has reported financial results for the quarter, which ended March 31. Net sales for Q1 2011 decreased 2.7 percent to $59.8 million, as compared to $61.5 million for Q1 2010.
Gross profit was $16.3 million, or 27.2 percent of net sales, for Q1 2011, as compared to $18.7 million, or 30.4 percent of net sales, for Q1 2010. Gross profit decreased as a result of lower net sales and gross margin percentages. Net loss for Q1 2011 was $0.2 million, or $(0.01) per diluted share, as compared to net income of $3.5 million, or $0.16 per diluted share, for Q1 2010. Adjusted net income for Q1 2011 was $1.7 million, or $0.08 per diluted share, as compared to $3.5 million, or $0.16 per diluted share, for Q1 2010.

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