June 03, 2010

HIT Entertainment Realigns Business Units

ThomasHIT Entertainment has announced an internal realignment of its business units. As a part of the realignment, four new divisions will be created. The divisions will form two new lines of business: one focusing on Thomas & Friends,and the other on HIT Global Brands (Angelina Ballerina, Barney, Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam, Pingu, and Rainbow Magic). The realignment is effective immediately.
The Thomas & Friends line of business will comprise three divisions: the New York-based “Thomas Americas,” London-based “Thomas EMEA, ” and the Hong Kong-based “Thomas Asia.” The HIT Global Brands business unit will be managed from London as one global division. 
HIT's Finance, Legal, HR, and IT groups will remain centralized staff units supporting both lines of business. As a part of the restructuring, Peter Byrne, executive vice president of international consumer products and home entertainment, will be leaving the company.

Hasbro Files Infringement Lawsuits Against Toy Companies

NerfHasbro, Inc. has filed lawsuits against Buzz Bee Toys, Inc. and Lanard Toys, Inc. for patent infringement for its Nerf and Super Soaker brands. The lawsuits were filed in the United States Federal Court in Springfield, Mass.
Hasbro is seeking to enjoin both companies from infringing two U.S. patents relating to its Nerf-N-Strike Disc Shot blaster. Additionally, the company has sued Buzz Bee Toys for infringing its Nerf Super Soaker water product patent. Hasbro is also seeking monetary damages from both companies for illegal use of its patented technology.


Warner Bros. Signs New Deals for Harry Potter, Expands Looney Tunes Program

Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) has announced licensing agreements with Creative Imaginations and The Noble Collection in anticipation of the upcoming theatrical releases Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and Part 2. The Noble Collection will expand its collection of Harry Potter merchandise by adding 40 new wands, including wands used by each character in the Harry Potter film series, bringing the total wand collection to more than 60.
The Noble Collection, which worked closely with the Harry Potter film production team to ensure that the products are authentic and true to the films, will have approximately 200 Harry Potter products, including wands, jewelry, chess sets, and other collectibles. The products will be available by the end of the year at www.noblecollection.com.  
WBCP also signed a two-year licensing deal with Creative Imaginations. The company, which provides custom manufacturing of scrapbook products via licensed artist and brand designs, will create a new line based on the Harry Potter films, including scrapbooking paper, stickers, albums, kits, autograph books, embellishments, and more.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I will be in theaters on November 19.
Additionally, Warner Bros. is expanding its Looney Tunes program. The company will release animated 3-D shorts, featuring Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, before three of its family movies that will release this year. The three-minute shorts will launch during the theatrical release of Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore on July 30.
Looney Tunes will also return to television this fall with The Looney Tunes Show, an all-new half-hour animated series in CG on Cartoon Network.

Hidden City Signs New Bella Sara Deals

Bella SaraKidz Entertainment/EEMC, the licensing agent for Hidden City Entertainment’s Bella Sara, has brokered a new deal for a range of home furnishings, apparel, and stationery in European markets. 
The deal gives TOP-TOY/K.E. Mathiasen A/S the rights to produce a range of Bella Sara-branded products, including book bags and book wrappers, towels, bed sets, T-shirts, sleeping bags, notebooks, and stationery sets. The new products will launch this fall across Scandinavia, Germany, and Benelux. The company will also launch a Bella Sara toy line with Giochi Preziosi and carry the trading card game in its network of retail stores.
Additionally, Bella Sara has signed a new agreement with Rosman-Press to publish, distribute, and market Bella Sara collectible cards throughout Russia. The deal marks the first time a major trading card property has been introduced to Russia, and the first property in Russia to support a major online component. Rosman-Press will launch Bella Sara’s Starlight collectible card series this fall.
Bella Sara has also signed with marketing partner MagicMarket & Twenty Five S.r.l. for Bella Sara card distribution in the Italian market.

Dorel Juvenile Group to Develop Safety 1st-Branded Products

Dorel Juvenile Group USA, a division of Dorel Industries, has licensed Grow’n Up, Ltd., a division of Nadfinlo Plastics Industry Co., for a full line of Safety 1st-branded products. The Safety 1st line will include outdoor play equipment, sandboxes, slides, swings and seesaws, ride-ons, and walk-behinds for toddlers learning to walk. All of the products, available at retail next spring, will incorporate special safety features that the Safety 1st brand is known for.
Synergy Licensing, licensing agent for Dorel Juvenile Group, brokered the deal.

JAKKS Expands MXS Lines with More Motocross Athletes

MSXJAKKS Pacific is expanding its Road Champs MXS line with the addition of action figures, motocross bikes, and accessories based on motocross athletes Jeremy McGrath and Carey Hart. The new toys will hit retailers nationwide starting next spring.
The company has also signed the Nitro Circus crew, lead by motocross rider Travis Pastrana. Nitro Circus MXS products will be available for retail in fall 2011.




Toys “R” Us Premieres Dedicated Toy Story Boutiques

Toy Story TRUIn celebration of the anticipated theatrical release of Toy Story 3, Toys “R” Us is debuting dedicated Toy Story 3 boutiques in all of its nearly 1,300 toy stores in 34 countries around the world.
The boutiques, which are open across the U.S., are filled with an assortment of Toy Story-inspired toys, including action figures, construction sets, role-play accessories, musical instruments, and electronic devices. Similar sections will open in Toys “R” Us stores around the world, coinciding with the movie’s release in each respective country.

DC Comics Extends Partnership with WizKids/NECA for HeroClix

HeroClixOn behalf of DC Comics, Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) has signed a multi-year extension agreement with WizKids/NECA for HeroClix. Under the agreement, WizKids/NECA will continue releasing DC Comics’ characters on the HeroClix platform. HeroClix is a collectible miniatures game, where players construct teams of superheroes and villains, and then battle––turn by turn––on a grid map.
The 2010 DC Comics HeroClix lineup will include the Blackest Night Starter Game (releasing June 9), Jonah Hex (releasing later this month), Watchmen (July 22), Brightest Day (October), and the DC 75th Anniversary Set (November)Batman: The Brave and the Bold setis available now.
Warner Bros. Pictures’ upcoming film, Jonah Hex, will be released on June 18.

TIA Calls for Nominations for Toy Industry Hall of Fame

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) is inviting TIA members and non-member toy industry stakeholders to submit candidate nominations for the Toy Industry Hall of Fame in February 2011. The nomination period is currently open and will close June 30.
The candidate(s) should have accomplishments such as: long experience in the industry; innovative product or marketing introductions; manufacturing process changes that significantly improved the process or product; service on the TIA Board of Directors, or in other important capacities in or related to toys and youth entertainment; and an unimpeachable record of integrity and respect in the industry. 

The Toy Industry Hall of Fame Committee will meet in July to review the nominations received. For more information, click here.

Brand Central Picked as Silly Bandz Licensing Agency

SillyBandzBCP Imports, the maker of Silly Bandz, has picked Brand Central, LLC as its licensing agency of record. Brand Central will be responsible for acquiring brands to develop new licensed product lines of Silly Bandz, as well as license out the brand to licensee partners. Brand Central, LLC and BCP Imports have already identified several licenses they are seeking to acquire for the brand, ranging from sports and television to entertainment icons and popular films. The agency is also in discussions with potential manufacturers who are interested in developing Silly Bandz-licensed products in categories such as apparel, headwear, arts and crafts, confections, and iPhone applications.

Gamewright Inks Publishing Deal for Patchwork Card Game

PatchworkGamewright has signed an exclusive agreement with Knightweaver Games for worldwide publishing rights for the company’s independent card game, Patchwork. While game play will remain the same, Gamewright will change the title to FlipSide and launch it in late 2010/early 2011. FlipSide is a light family strategy game of pattern matching and surprises. In the game, players draw cards and rearrange them to get four, five, or six of the same pattern in a row. The twist is that each card has patterns on both sides, and anyone can take and use any card that they can see. 

Madame Alexander Launches New e-Commerce Website

Madame AlexanderAlexander Doll Company, Inc. has launched a new e-commerce website, madamealexander.com, for Madame Alexander doll collectors. The site, which is categorized by collectible, play and baby doll, size and age range, and more, allows Madame Alexander fans to purchase the dolls from one central location. Special features include zooming and a 360-degree viewing capability for detailed close-ups of Madame Alexander dolls’ artistry and costumes. The company’s authorized retailers are also participating in the e-commerce site as Madame Alexander/Shopatron fulfillment partners. Additionally, visitors can get an in-depth look into the history and features of the company.

New Broadcasting and Licensing Deals Announced for Beyblade: Metal Fusion

Metal FusionNelvana Enterprises has announced several broadcasting and licensing deals for the new animated series Beyblade: Metal Fusion. Beyblade: Metal Fusion, from Nelvana and d-rights Inc., will air on Cartoon Network in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand; Gulli in France; Nickelodeon in Germany; Nicktoons in the U.K.; Disney XD in Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands; and BOING, Turner’s Free To Air Block in Spain, broadcasted on Telecinco and Factoria de Ficcion. The series premiered on YTV in Canada last month.
Hasbro, Inc. has been appointed the master toy licensee for most international markets outside of Asia. The new toy line has already launched in Canada and is set to hit shelves this fall in the U.S., Mexico, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Benelux, Scandinavia, Australia, and New Zealand.
Hudson Entertainment is signed for Beyblade: Metal Fusion video games for the Nintendo DS and Wii gaming systems, with a scheduled release in North America for the 2010 holiday season.

Dinosaur Train Licensees Total 23 With New Additions

Dinosaur TrainThe Jim Henson Company has signed new licensees for Dinosaur Train, bringing the number of licensing partners to 23 in the U.S. Most recently to sign for Dinosaur Train include Pacific Play Tents for tents, slumber bags, and folding animal chairs; Publications International for sound books and look and find books; and VM Global Manufacturing for scooters, skates, and bikes. Dinosaur Train merchandise will begin to hit retail stores later this summer with a full assortment of products available for the holiday season.



Qubits Signs with Discovery Toys for Distribution Deal

The Qubits Construction Toy Company has signed an exclusive contract with Discovery Toys, LLC for a three-year distribution agreement covering the United States and Canada. The toy company will manufacture its Qubits product and Discovery Toys will serve as the vendor and distributor.
Qubits is a plastic toy that can be constructed into objects using a patented modular geometry. The product aims to teach children about design science, which involves math, geometry, biology, and some levels of nanotechnology.

Chorion Names New Partners for The World of Beatrix Potter

Beatrix PotterChorion, through its Copyrights subsidiary, is expanding its licensees, retail programs, and product lines for The World of Beatrix Potter across U.S., UK, Australia, and Asia. The property now has a roster of more than 350 licensees and retail programs around the world.
Pottery Barn Kids in the U.S. will expand its Peter Rabbit range in 2011. Australia will see a cross-category launch in Toys “R” Us stores, featuring Peter Rabbit infant apparel, bedding, toys, feeding, and hard goods such as strollers and high chairs beginning in August.
For the first time, Chorion has also appointed licensing agents to work across Europe. Working with Frederick Warne & Co, owner and publisher of The World of Beatrix Potter brand, Copyright Promotions Licensing Group (CPLG) is representing the property in France, Germany, and Benelux, with Bulls Press acting as agent across Scandinavia.
Brand new animation is now in development for Peter Rabbit to include a TV series and specials, with a launch date to be announced.

Madame Alexander

Upper Deck Appoints Paul Meyer as President

The Upper Deck Company has appointed Paul Meyer as its new president. Meyer, who has more than 20 years of executive-level experience, recently served as president and COO for Shuffle Master, Inc., a supplier of automatic card shufflers and proprietary table games. During his five-year tenure with Shuffle Master, Meyer played an instrumental role in growing the company’s revenue from $58 million to $200 million, and expanding the company’s international presence by negotiating major acquisitions overseas.
Prior to Shuffle Master, Meyer served as president of the Integrated Solutions Division of Concurrent Computer Corporation and has held leadership positions in industries such as toy manufacturing, video game developing and publishing, and turnaround/restructuring consulting. 

Hasbro Hires New VP of Global Licensing

Hasbro, Inc. has hired Simon Waters as the company’s senior vice president of global licensing. Waters joins Hasbro from The Walt Disney Company, where he served most recently as vice president, global franchise development and strategic marketing.
In his new role at Hasbro, Waters will lead the company’s global licensing initiatives by implementing strategies to reinvent, re-imagine, and reignite its key brands, as well as aligning the company’s brands with the world’s premier companies and licensees. He will be based at Hasbro’s Los Angeles offices and report directly to John Frascotti, Hasbro’s global chief marketing officer.

Warner Bros. Appoints SVP to New Digital and Online Games Post

Jeff Junge, former senior vice president, business management at Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group, has been named senior vice president, online games and digital games platforms for Warner Bros. Digital Distribution and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.
In this newly created post, Junge will be responsible for driving the growth of Warner Bros.’ digital games business. He will oversee the online gaming studio Turbine, Inc, which was recently acquired by Warner Bros. under the leadership of Junge. He will also continue to oversee the integration of TT Games, which the studio acquired in 2007. Beyond games, Junge will work to expand and leverage Turbine's robust digital publishing and community platforms across all of the studio's home entertainment businesses.

Classic Media’s EVP of Marketing to Leave Company

Classic Media has announced that Andrew Kerr, current executive vice president, international marketing & consumer products, will be leaving his position at the company this month. Kerr will then provide non-exclusive consultancy for Classic Media. Nicole Blake will be assuming his responsibilities as executive vice president, global marketing & consumer products.
The company has also expanded the roles of Claire Shaw and Mat Way. Shaw––as vice president, consumer products & retail––will drive all licensing, retail development, and promotional activity for the company’s brands in the UK. Way has been promoted to vice president, consumer products & live entertainment, international. Both will continue to be based at the company’s London office and report to Blake.

Toys “R” Us Files for IPO

Toys “R” Us, Inc. announced that it has filed a preliminary registration statement with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission relating to a proposed initial public offering of its common stock. It is anticipated that the offering will consist of newly issued shares sold by Toys ”R” Us, Inc.; however, the number of shares to be offered and the price range for the offering have not yet been determined. The company expects to use the net proceeds it receives from the proposed offering primarily to pay down certain existing indebtedness and the remaining net proceeds, if any, for general corporate purposes.
Goldman, Sachs & Co., J.P. Morgan, BofA Merrill Lynch, and Credit Suisse are serving as joint book-running managers and representatives of the underwriters for this proposed offering. Deutsche Bank Securities, Citi, and Wells Fargo Securities are also acting as joint book-running managers.

4Kids Suspends NYSE Trading, Moves to OTCBB

4Kids Entertainment, Inc. has suspended its New York Stock Exchange trading for its common stock. The suspension was effective starting June 1. The 4Kids Entertainment common stock is now being traded under the new stock symbol “KIDE” on the OTC Bulletin Board (OTCBB) market.
On May 12, the Committee of the Board of Directors of NYSE Regulation determined that 4Kids should suspend its trading on the NYSE because the company failed to comply with the NYSE standard requirement that listing companies maintain average global market capitalization of $15 million over a consecutive 30-day trading period.

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