May 26, 2010

DreamWorks Announces Ogre-Whelming Licensee Support for Shrek Forever After
ShrekDreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. has announced a full slate of promotional partners and licensees in support of Shrek Forever After, which opened in theaters on Friday.
Among the Shrek Forever After licensees are Activision for video games; Hasbro Games for a line of classic Shrek games and puzzles; Penguin for a variety of storybooks; Rubie’s Costume Co. for Halloween costumes; and VTech, which continues to feature Shrek in new key hardware systems and will launch the character Shrek on the MobiGo & FLiP platforms. Playmates, the master toy partner for Shrek Forever After, offers a full array of toys ranging from figures and plush to dolls and role play toys.
Additionally, McDonald’s will offer limited-time Shrek Forever After-themed McNuggets of Fun Packs and Shrek collectible glassware. Each 20-piece McNuggets of Fun Pack and 10-piece chicken McNuggets will include a McNugget of Fun Code that unlocks family games and rewards online at

Learning Express Plans to Open 20 New Stores

Learning ExpressAfter the success of opening 14 new locations and 12 temporary “pop-up” stores for the holiday season (five of which remain open with short-term leases), Learning Express plans to open 17-20 new toy store franchises in 2010. Exact locations have yet to be decided and the company is actively seeking additional applicants. Demographic studies, says the company, indicate that Learning Express stores would thrive in locations throughout Long Island, NY. The areas include Glen Cove, Port Washington, and Great Neck on the North Shore; Rockville Centre, Garden City, and the Five Towns, Merrick, and Long Beach on the South Shore; Hempstead, Commack, and Woodbury in central Long Island; and towns such as East Hampton, South Hampton, and Bridge Hampton on the eastern tip.

TIA Collecting Comments on Recent CPSC Updates Pertaining to the CPSIA

A TIA members-only Legislative Bulletin was issued on May 13 to inform members about recent actions taken by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) pertaining to various aspects of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). Among the items was a call for comments from TIA members and industry stakeholders on a proposed rule that provides interpretive guidance on the definition of “primarily children’s products.” CPSC said it determines whether a product is intended for children 12 years or younger by considering the product’s potential uses, the manufacturer's description of the product's intended use, the marketing campaign, and the presence of characteristics distinguishing children’s products from others. Toy products recognized by existing age grading guidelines and in the marketplace for persons over the age of 12 are not subject to the CPSIA lead requirements, though they do remain subject to ASTM F-963 requirements. For more information, click here.

VM Global Signs as Licensee for Jeep Ride-Ons

JeepThe Joester Loria Group, on behalf of Chrysler Group, LLC, has signed VM Global as the licensee to manufacture and market non-battery powered, foot-to-floor ride-on toys under the Jeep brand. The toys will depict the likeness of the Jeep Wrangler.
VM Global plans to release the first shipment of Jeep toys in September and distribute them to mass-market retailers, mid-tier chains, specialty, and sporting good stores in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

Playdom Acquires Acclaim Games

Playdom, a social gaming company, has acquired Acclaim Games, a developer of social networking and downloadable casual games. Acclaim was privately held and is based in Los Angeles. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.  
Acclaim was established in 2006 and develops and publishes free-to-play titles that are available on its website at The company has registered more than 15 million online users. Acclaim will become the newest team to join Playdom's growing group of studios. Howard Marks, CEO of Acclaim, will run the Acclaim studio for Playdom and serve in a senior strategic role for Playdom, focusing on business development. Acclaim's chief technology officer, Neil Malhotra, will now act as the studio's senior technical officer.

Author Todd Parr to Design Animated Segment for Sesame Street

Todd ParrChildren’s author Todd Parr and Sesame Street’s creative team are collaborating to produce a one-minute segment for the children’s TV show, designed to help children deal with their innate childhood fears. The animated segment will be written and designed by Parr.
Parr is known for taking potentially complex subject matter and making it kid-friendly. His title, The Peace Book, explains to children the meaning and some aspects of world peace, and his most recent title, The Earth Book, deals with the environment and ecology.


Mascots Unveiled for London 2012 Olympic Games

MascotsLondon 2012 Olympic Games organizers have unveiled two alien-like creatures, Mandeville and Wenlock, as the mascots for the 2012 Games.
Looking for something that would engage kids, London 2012 organizers created a cartoon and teamed with children’s writer Michael Morpurgo to create a background story for the characters. According to the story, Out of the Rainbow, Wenlock and Mandeville were crafted by Grandpa George from the last drops of steels used to build the Olympic Stadium. The characters will be featured on products such as toys and mugs when the mascots go on sale. The mascots are seen as key revenue for the Olympics, which must raise £2billion from the private sector to host the event.
Wenlock is named after the Shropshire village of Much Wenlock, the site of the Wenlock Games, which was one of the inspirations for Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic movement. Mandeville's name is inspired by Stoke Mandeville in Buckinghamshire.

New Online Gaming Destination from Walmart

Walmart is premiering a new online destination featuring video game previews, first-look exclusives, and deals for gamers at Each month, Walmart Gamecenter will highlight new video games with exclusive content, special offers, and more for each title. This month’s featured Gamecenter titles include: UFC Undisputed 2010 with bonus eGift Card and exclusive content, Split Second with exclusive content, NCAA Football 11 with bonus eGift Card and exclusive content, and Toy Story 3: The Video Game with exclusive content.
To celebrate the launch, is offering a $50 eGift Card to customers who preorder three or more of the year’s anticipated titles, including Medal of Honor, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Fallout: New Vegas, and more. Additionally, all video games ordered from can now be shipped for 97 cents each. Customers can also trade in their used video games and gaming consoles and earn Walmart prepaid Visa cards in return as part of the company’s online Trade-In program.

Target Debuts New Video Game Department Layout

Target is introducing a new open layout for its consumer electronics and video game departments, aiming to give visitors easy access to information and products. The new layout includes a video game section that will be expanded by 30 percent; a large, open format that will include new product-accessible fixtures organized by platform and game genre; and a majority of stores will include video game Learning Centers and Trial Stations.
The new Learning Centers will feature a 40-inch high-definition touch screen where guests can read reviews, learn about game features, sort by ESRB ratings, view in-store price and inventory, receive recommendations on best sellers, or page a team member for assistance. Trial Stations will allow guests to try out the latest titles before they buy. 

Nintendo and American Heart Association Partner for Healthy Living

Wii FitThe American Heart Association and Nintendo of America have announced a partnership to help consumers discover how active-play video games contribute to healthy living. Their partnership will give consumers information, as well as provide people with hands-on experiences and bring together representatives from different backgrounds to discuss the benefits of active-play video games.
As a part of the partnership, consumers will see the American Heart Association brand on boxes for the Wii Fit Plus and Wii Sports Resort software, and for the Wii system itself beginning this summer. Nintendo and the American Heart Association will also launch an online information center at, where visitors can read about the benefits of physically active play, conduct personal assessments, and learn more about living a more physically active lifestyle.

Aurora World Premieres New Animated Series

Yoohoo & FriendsAurora World, Inc. and Toonzone Studios have struck a deal for a new animated YooHoo & Friends series, starring Flavor Flav (VH1’s The Surreal Life, Flavor of Love). The 52-episode series has already aired in Korea (via Korea Broadcasting System) and deals are in place for Al Jazeera (22 Arabic speaking countries), TV3 (Russia), RTL (Croatia), and KZOOM by VTM (Belgium). Co-producers Aurora and Toonzone will repurpose those episodes to help broaden exposure in North, Central, and South Americas; Australia and New Zealand; as well as in more than 20 European countries.
The premise of the show is based on five corporate executives who will stop at nothing to make their fortunes, even if it means destroying the environment and its resources. Father Time (played by Flav) then turns the execs into cute, fluffy animals, and teaches them positive lessons along the way. Aurora recently launched a new free, interactive website (, where visitors can learn about real animals and their environment, play games, and more.

Toy Industry Members Visit DC for Third Annual Fly-In

On May 4 and 5, representatives of small, mid-sized, and large toy companies from across the U.S. convened in the nation’s capital for the third annual Washington D.C. Fly-In, organized by the Toy Industry Association (TIA). The visitors met with members of Congress, the Secretary of Commerce, a CPSC commissioner, and other key decision makers to discuss industry issues such as workers and jobs, economic development, market expansion, and other factors affecting the growth of the U.S. toy businesses. For detailed information on the third annual event, click here.

JPMA Responds to Drop Side Crib Ban Bill

The Juvenile Products Manufacturer’s Association (JPMA) has issued a statement supporting Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s drop side crib ban bill. JPMA says it has long advocated adoption of the voluntary ASTM crib safety standard as a uniform mandatory federal standard. 
The new version of the national ASTM voluntary standard will continue to eliminate drop side cribs from the marketplace in the U.S.; bolster the strength of crib slats and/or spindles; add a vertical mattress impact test; eliminate wood screws from key structural elements; and add more tests to improve the structure of the crib, including anything that would impact the failure of the crib (i.e. loosening of parts, failure of locking or latching items, etc.).

Madame Alexander

Oriental Trading Names SVP, Marketing

Oriental Trading, a direct merchant of value-priced party supplies, arts and crafts, and toys and novelties, and a provider of affordable home décor and giftware, has announced that Dave Johnson has joined its executive leadership team as senior vice president of marketing.
Most recently, Johnson served as founder and president of Crosspoint Marketing in Neenah, Wisconsin. He will oversee the marketing and creative functions of the company, and is relocating to Omaha, where Oriental Trading is based.

Walmart FY 11 First Quarter Earnings

Walmart reports first quarter earnings per share of $0.88. Net sales for the quarter were $99.1 billion, an increase of 6 percent. Walmart International remains the fastest-growing segment, with net sales up more than 21 percent on a reported basis and almost 9 percent on a constant currency basis. 
Consolidated operating income for the first quarter was $5.8 billion, up more than 10 percent from last year, with a significant contribution from Walmart U.S. Walmart U.S. comparable store sales for the first quarter 13-week period declined 1.4 percent. Sam's Club posted a comparable club sales increase, without fuel, of 0.7 percent. The company ended the quarter with return on investment of 19.1 percent for the trailing 12 months ended April 30, 2010, up from 18.7 percent for the comparable period last year.  
The company added 3.6 million square feet of retail selling space this quarter and expects to have a significant number of new store openings in the second and third quarters.

Li & Fung’s Bond Sale Boosts Acquisition Fund to $1B

Li & Fung, Ltd. President Bruce Rockowitz has announced that the company had a bond sale earlier this month to boost its acquisition fund, bringing the amount to $1 billion. The company sold $400 million of 10-year bonds. Li & Fung said the bond sale was to finance “business development and acquisitions.” William Fung, managing director for the company, told reporters that the company only seeks financing when it pursues acquisitions, and has a few potential targets in mind.
This year, the company announced a sales target of $20 billion, a 49 percent increase from 2009. Acquiring rivals and its new contract to supply Walmart will help it reach its goal, the company said. According to the company, its agreement with Walmart may add $2 billion to revenue this year.

Sears Reports First Quarter 2010 Results

Sears Holdings Corporation has reported its first quarter 2010 results. Total revenues for the quarter of $10 billion in 2010 were flat with the first quarter in 2009. Total revenue for the quarter benefited from an increase of $187 million due to changes in the Canadian foreign exchange rate and a 1.5 percent increase in domestic comparable store sales. The domestic comparable store sales results included an increase at Kmart of 1.7 percent and an increase at Sears Domestic of 1.2 percent.
Operating income for the quarter was $98 million in 2010 and $128 million in 2009. Net income attributable to the company's shareholders for the quarter of $16 million, or $0.14 per diluted share, in 2010 and $26 million, or $0.21 per diluted share, in 2009. For the quarter, the company generated gross margin of $2.8 billion in fiscal 2010 and $2.9 billion last year.

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