May 25, 2011

Laser Pegs

PDQ Partners with Innovation First for Hexbug

HexbugInnovation First International (IFI), creators of Hexbug Micro Robotic Creatures, has partnered with PDQ, the sister company of Building Q, a marketing consulting company that specializes in licensing. PDQ will license the Hexbug brand and seek out appropriate and strategic licenses to apply to the toy line. Woody Browne, managing partner of PDQ, and Brandemonium’s Scott Shahmanesh, a youth and family marketing expert, are working together to develop a strategic, long-term brand licensed program of core partners and products. They are scheduling select meetings at Licensing Show to discuss the opportunities for 2012 and beyond. 

Kids Preferred Inks Deal for The Gruffalo

The GruffaloThe Sharpe Company, licensing agent for the children’s picture book The Gruffalo, has signed Kids Preferred as the plush licensee for North America.
The Gruffalo, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, has sold more than 5 million copies worldwide. An animated television special based on the book was nominated for a 2010 Academy Award in the short film (animated) category, featuring the voices of Robbie Coltrane, Helena Bonham Carter, and Tom Wilkinson. It will be released on DVD in the U.S. by NCircle Entertainment in August and in Canada by Phase 4 Films, Inc. in September.



PBS Kids Toy Line Now Available for Purchase

PBS Kids ToysThe first-ever PBS Kids toy line of preschool toys is now available online at the newly launched PBS Kids Shop at The line, initially including more than 20 wooden toys, will be sold exclusively on the website until early fall when it will become available at other online retailers and in stores.
In addition to the new toy line, consumers will be able to find educational books, games, toys, DVDs, and more at, all based on PBS Kids programming. The shop was developed with Brand-Xpand, a leader in the design and management of eCommerce sites and services.
PBS Kids Shop will also feature exclusive items, including customizable backpacks, water bottles, room décor, apparel, and birthday party supplies featuring children’s names and their favorite PBS Kids programs and characters. Proceeds from the shop will help fund free, educational PBS Kids programming for children.  

Disney Store Announces Additional Store Openings

Disney Store plans to open its interactive concept stores in more than 40 locations this year, bringing the total number of Disney concept stores around the world to 60. The specialty retailer will have concept stores in 16 major markets in North America and eight countries.
Also, next spring Disney plans to remodel the company’s original Disney Store location at the Glendale Galleria in Glendale, Calif., for the chain’s 25th anniversary. The store was built in 1987. The Glendale store will be just one of many planned remodels in 2012 delivering “the best 30 minutes of a child’s day.”

Patch Signs International Distribution Deals for 5 Second Rule

5 Second RulePatch Products has secured European and Pacific Rim distribution deals for its latest game, 5 Second Rule. The company plans to bring the game into more than 30 global markets and has already secured distribution deals in the UK, Eire, Australia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Holland, Belgium, South Africa, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Denmark.
The party game challenges players to spit out answers in five seconds in categories ranging from naming superheroes to types of deodorants and breeds of dogs. The European version of the game adds even more content and additional board game features, including a game board and “Switch” and “Pass On” cards.

Pawparazzi to Enter Mass Market

Noodle Head, Inc.’s line of Pawparazzi collectible toys will enter the mass market, starting with Toys “R” Us at the end of this summer. The new mass-market product line will have a more affordable price point but will still maintain the detail and play value of the specialty line.
In addition, the company has launched Planet Pawparazzi (, a virtual playground, as an extension of the brand. Additional Pawparazzi brand extensions are underway, including an integrated licensing and merchandising program with publishing, interactive, apparel, accessories, social expression, home décor, entertainment, and more, led by Bennett Branding.

The Juno Company Names Global Licensing Agent

The Juno Company has named Copyright Promotions Licensing Group (CPLG) as the global licensing agent for its Juno Baby and Juno Jr. franchises. Under the deal, CPLG will be responsible for growing The Juno Company’s roster of licensed product partners while expanding the retail base and securing promotional partners. CPLG plans to target parents of children ages 12 months to 6 years for Juno’s line of products, including toys apparel, music, and books.  

Character Options to Develop Rastamouse Toys

RastamouseCharacter Options has added DHX Media’s Rastamouse to its portfolio of properties for kids and will launch toys based on the characters as early as this October.  
Rastamouse, launched on CBeebies in January, follows a reggae-loving, crime-fighting special agent and his friends Scratchy and Zoomer. Plush will be swiftly followed by a plastic collection of both figures and play sets, with more products to be released later.



Bennett Branding to Oversee Sammy Spider Licensing Program

Kar-Ben Publishing, a division of Lerner Publishing Group, has retained Sharon Bennett of Bennett Branding to represent its Sammy Spider brand and to oversee its licensing program. Since its debut in 1993, Sammy’s storybook adventures and “fun books” of activities have introduced kids to Jewish holidays and customs, as well as sharing, making friends, and doing good deeds. An integrated licensing and merchandising program for the Sammy Spider brand and its world of Jewish holiday celebrations is underway and will include a complete line of merchandise and brand extensions including gifts, toys, novelties, publishing, interactive, apparel, social expression, room décor, home entertainment, and more.

Lego Adds New Jobs at Headquarters

According to the Hartford Courant, Lego is hiring new employees to work at its new North American headquarters in Enfield, Conn. The company converted one of its former manufacturing buildings into the headquarters, which spans 125,000 square feet. The headquarters includes offices, meeting spaces, a customer service call center, a revamped model shop, and a test store.
In the past year Lego has added approximately 75 new employees at the headquarters, bringing the total to 545, and is continuing to hire, the newspaper reported.

4Kids Takes Max Adventures to European Market

4Kids Entertainment International has been chosen to introduce kids’ brand Max Adventures to the European licensing market.
Max Adventures is a TV series targeting 6- to 10-year-olds, centering on Max, a lion, who protects his people against the evil Shadow Master. The show originated in Asia and has been picked up by broadcasters across Europe. Marketing activities in print and TV ads, DVD promotions, and costume character appearances are rolling out throughout Europe.
4Kids is developing a brand strategy for Max Adventures merchandising and is exploring categories for licensing, including publishing, collectibles, promotions, mobile applications, digital content and accessories, stationery, back to school, beach products, toys, and games.

Voltron Force Premieres June 16 on Nicktoons

Voltron ForceNew series Voltron Force is set to premiere on Nicktoons next month. The series will launch as a commercial-free presentation of the 90-minute movie, Voltron Force: New Defenders Trilogy, June 16 at 8:30 p.m. (ET).
Voltron Force, a half-hour series, follows the adventures of a new class of recruits as they join forces with the original team to fight evil by forming the super robot Voltron. The new iteration of the original Voltron: Defender of the Universe, which premiered in 1984, comes from World Events Productions, in association with Classic Media and Kickstart Productions. The series will air regularly Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on Nicktoons.
On, a dedicated Voltron Force show page will feature video clips, full episodes, flipbooks, characters profiles, a dedicated message board, exclusive weekly printables, and more.

K.I.D.S. Calls for Donations to Help Tornado Victims

Kids In Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S) has donated approximately $710,000 worth of new products to help families affected by the devastating tornadoes in the South. With thousands of people left injured and homeless, K.I.D.S. is calling on retailers and manufacturers to help support its continued relief efforts. 
K.I.D.S. is sending new toys, clothes, shoes, blankets, and baby items to its partner agencies in the hardest hit communities—including Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and North Carolina—where they will be distributed to those in need. To donate new products, contact Donna Charles at K.I.D.S. at (212) 279-5493, ext 205.


Toy Industry Loses Former Disney Canada Executive

The Canadian toy industry lost a much-respected member when James Rayburn died May 11, just weeks before his 75th birthday. Rayburn, who had a 41-year career with The Walt Disney Company (Canada) Ltd., died from complications resulting from a double-lung transplant in 2009.
Rayburn joined Disney’s Canadian licensing operations in 1958. Over the next decade, his responsibilities included both licensing and music, becoming director of marketing and sales for Walt Disney Music Canada in 1969. In 1980, Rayburn was promoted to vice president and general manager of the division. A year later, when Disney Consumer Products merged its music and merchandise operations into The Walt Disney Company (Canada), Rayburn was promoted to vice president and managing director. He held the position until 1999 when he retired.

Li & Fung Appoints New CEO

The board of directors of Hong Kong-based multinational Li & Fung Limited has announced transitional arrangements in its top leadership following recent changes in its group structure as part of its long-term planning.
With immediate effect, Bruce Rockowitz is appointed group president and CEO, and William Fung is appointed executive deputy chairman. Victor Fung will relinquish his position as group chairman by the next Annual General Meeting in 2012 at which time William Fung Kwok Lun will assume the chairmanship.
Rockowitz, who has been an executive director of Li & Fung since 2001 and president of Li & Fung (Trading) Ltd. since 2004, and William Fung have together managed the group for the past few years. Rockowitz will spearhead the implementation of the group’s new three-year plan and the development of Li & Fung into three global networks—trading, logistics, and distribution. Reporting to Rockowitz are nine newly promoted presidents representing different streams of business under the three global networks in Li & Fung’s supply chain.

Bob LaRocca Joins Reeves International

Bob LaRocca has joined Reeves International as national sales manager for Reeves’ independent and specialty channels of distribution. LaRocca will head the management of Reeves’ specialty sales organizations, and will be responsible for the overall performance of the specialty toy and gift channels. 
LaRocca has been in sales for the consumer goods industry for more than 20 years, most recently at Small World Toys as vice president, sales and marketing.

Zodiak Rights Hires Key Licensing Exec

Zodiak Rights, the international division of Zodiak Media Group, has appointed Jennifer Lawlor as senior vice president, strategy and planning, consumer products. Lawlor will join the company later this month, reporting to CEO Matthew Frank.
Lawlor will devise and oversee the implementation of Zodiak Rights’ and Zodiak Kids’ consumer products and brand strategy across its entire UK portfolio. She will oversee the global rollout of key brands and will also be responsible for ensuring the consumer products’ success for future commissions, co-productions, and acquisitions from Zodiak Rights and Zodiak Kids. Prior to joining Nickelodeon, Lawlor was vice president, marketing and licensing (New York) for 4Kids Entertainment.

The Handmade Toy Alliance Announces New Board of Directors

The Handmade Toy Alliance (HTA) has announced its board of directors for the 2011-2012 year, consisting of nine members. Dan Marshall, HTA founder and co-owner of Peapods Natural Toys and Baby Care, has been elected as the new president. Marshall served as vice president last term. Randy Hertzler, owner of euroSource, LLC, takes on the role of vice president. Jolie Fay, owner of designer of Skipping Hippos, continues for a second year as secretary. Mary Newell, owner of Terrapin Toys, will continue to serve as treasurer, a role she has held since the HTA's inception in 1999.
Continuing their service to the HTA are founding board members Jill Chuckas, the owner of Crafty Baby; Rob Wilson, vice president of Challenge & Fun and founder of CPSIA-Central; and Cecilia Leibovitz, founder and creative director of children’s toy and gift retailer, Craftsbury Kids, Inc. Other board members include Marianne Mullen, founder and owner of Polkadot Patch Boutique, and Adam Frost, owner of The Wooden Wagon.

Li & Fung Reports Strong Growth in 2010

Hong Kong-based multinational Li & Fung Limited, the multinational consumer
goods export and logistics group, has announced strong core operating profit growth of 42 percent in 2010, reflecting solid organic growth and significant margin expansion from onshore businesses. It also announced the details of its new three-year plan for 2011-2013, which include reaching core operating profit of $1.5 billion by 2013.
Last year, the group’s turnover grew 19 percent over 2009 to $15.9 billion. Core operating profit increased to $725 million. Profit attributable to shareholders reached $548 million, an increase of 27 percent, compared to 2009. All amounts are in U.S. dollars.

Target Announces First Quarter Financial Results

Target Corporation has reported net earnings of $689 million for first quarter 2011, which ended April 30, compared with $671 million in the first quarter last year, which ended May 1, 2010. Earnings per share in the first quarter increased 9.8 percent to $0.99 from $0.90 in the same period a year ago. All earnings per share figures refer to diluted earnings per share.
Sales increased 2.8 percent in the first quarter 2011 to $15.6 billion from $15.2 billion in 2010, due to a 2 percent increase in comparable-store sales and the contribution from new stores. Segment earnings before interest expense and income taxes (EBIT) were $1.1 billion in the first quarter of 2011, a decrease of 4.2 percent from 2010.

Sears Holdings Reports First Quarter Results

Sears Holdings has reported its first quarter 2011 results. The company has reported net loss attributable to Holdings' shareholders for the quarter of $170 million, or $1.58 per diluted share, compared to net income of $16 million, or $0.14 per diluted share, for the quarter last year. Also reported is adjusted loss per diluted share for the first quarter of $1.39, compared to adjusted earnings per diluted share of $0.16 in 2010. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was $63 million ($78 million domestic and $ (15) million at Sears Canada) versus $304 million in 2010.

Hasbro to Repurchase $500 Million of Its Common Stock

Hasbro, Inc.’s board of directors has authorized the company to repurchase an additional $500 million of its common stock. As of Wednesday, May 18, $21.4 million remained available in the company’s prior share repurchase authorization.
Also, the company announced that its board of directors has declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.30 per common share. The dividend will be payable on August 15 to shareholders of record at the close of business on August 1.
Since the inception of its buyback program in June 2005, Hasbro has repurchased 79.4 million shares at a total cost of $2.3 billion and at an average price of $29.01 per share.

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