June 17, 2010

Top Trumps


MEGA Brands Inks Deal for Dinosaur Train

Dinosaur TrainAs a part of a partnership with MEGA Brands, Inc., there will be a new line of Dinosaur Train toys hitting store shelves in North America beginning spring 2011. The new MEGA Bloks products will launch worldwide fall 2011.
The deal by The Jim Henson Company, creator of Dinosaur Train, grants MEGA Brands worldwide, multi-year licensing rights for the line of preschool construction toys.
Created by Craig Bartlett (Hey Arnold!), Dinosaur Train airs on PBS Kids.



Techno Source Granted Exclusive Rights for Tetris Tabletop Games

Techno Source has been awarded exclusive licensing rights worldwide to develop Tetris tabletop games, both electronic and non-electronic. Techno Source’s Tetris tabletop games will be introduced at retail beginning in 2011.
Blue Planet Software, Inc., the company that manages exclusive licensing rights to the Tetris brand, has also announced that the brand will be expanding into merchandise licensing. The company hopes to “broaden its demographic reach and further solidify brand awareness.”

Warner Bros. Renews Rubie’s for Costumes

Harry PotterWarner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) and Rubie’s Costume Co. (RCC) have renewed their global licensing contract. The agreement gives Rubie’s the right to continue producing costumes based on Warner Bros. products, a right it’s held since 1999.
Rubie’s contract with WBCP includes the North American, Oceanic, Middle Eastern, Asian, and various other markets, with products ranging from franchises such as DC Comics Super Heroes and Harry Potter, to The Lord of the Rings and The Wizard of Oz.




Hasbro Revs Up Its Licensing Programs

Hasbro, in association with DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures, will debut Transformers 3 on July 1, 2011. The company’s licensees for the Transformers brand include comic books from IDW (U.S.), digital games from Activision (worldwide), and more. Hasbro is also teaming up with Universal Pictures to bring Stretch Armstrong and Battleship to the big screen in summer 2012. Universal will also produce films based on Hasbro’s Monopoly, Candy Land, and Ouija.
Electronic Arts has signed on for NERF digital gaming (worldwide), SDI Technologies has inked a deal for NERF electronics (U.S.), and Performance Design Products will create NERF digital gaming hardware accessories (worldwide).
The company’s Littlest Pet Shop licensing highlights include a variety of book and calendar formats from Scholastic (U.S.), Hachette (Europe), and Trends International (U.S.); digital games from Electronic Arts, Inc. (worldwide); and back-to-school items from Accessory Innovation (U.S.) and Ruz (Mexico).
Hasbro has signed key licensees for its games, including Monopoly. Electronic Arts will produce digital games based on the brand in the U.S., and USAopoly (U.S.) and Winning Moves (Europe) have signed on for affinity games.
Playskool licenses include books from Leap Year Publishing (U.S.) and Simon & Schuster (U.S.), Halloween costumes from Disguise (U.S.), and an indoor play environment from Moose Mountain Toymakers (U.S.).

Discovery Communications to Develop TLC and Animal Planet Baby Lines

TLC BabyDiscovery Communications, Inc. and Big Tent Entertainment have announced the brand formation of TLC Baby. The TLC Baby brand will span markets including learning and development, health and safety, bath, feeding, electronics, furniture, room décor, bedding/blankets, layette, and apparel. Big Tent was recently named the sole licensing agent of record for all TLC-branded content.
Also announced is Discovery’s Animal Planet Baby, a new line of infant and toddler products for North America. Animal Planet Baby products will include apparel, layette, infant and toddler bedding, room décor, feeding products, and more. H.I.S. plans to release baby products, such as strollers, car seats, and bath toys under the brand between this fall and spring 2011.
Discovery Communications is seeking partners for Animal Planet Baby in the infant bedding, home décor, and plush categories. All licensing deals for Animal Planet Baby will be brokered by The Joester Loria Group (JLG), on behalf of Discovery Communications.

Disguise Signs Three-Year Deal to Manufacture Hasbro-Branded Costumes

Disguise, the Halloween costume division of JAKKS Pacific, Inc., has signed a multi-year agreement with Hasbro to produce Halloween costumes and accessories based on most Hasbro brands. The three-year deal grants Disguise expanded and exclusive rights to manufacture and distribute Hasbro-branded Halloween costumes and accessories in the U.S. and Canada, beginning this Halloween season.
Costumes will include those based on Transformers 3, to be released in summer 2011, and the television shows G.I. Joe and My Little Pony, which will air this fall on Hasbro and Discovery Communication’s joint-venture cable network, The Hub.

Briarpatch Signs on as Maisy Licensee

MaisyRJM Licensing, Inc. has signed Briarpatch as a licensee for the Maisy brand. Briarpatch will create puzzles, board games, and card games based on the character. Maisy, by Lucy Cousins, is the star of more than 100 books, a TV series, and videos. The book series is published by Walker Books, Ltd. in the UK and by Candlewick Press in the U.S.




Hidden City Signs Deal for Bella Sara Plush Toys in France

Hidden City Entertainment, Inc., has brokered a deal with licensing agent Francoise Bouvet of M.J.A. Licensing. The deal, for France, will allow Gipsy S.A.S. to produce a range of Bella Sara-branded plush toys, including the brand’s namesake horse, Bella.  Each plush toy will include a secret code that, when activated at BellaSara.com, will unlock a digital object. The first round of plush toys is set to launch this fall in France.

LIMA Reports Decline in Licensing Royalties

According to the annual Licensing Industry Survey by the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA), brand owners collected nearly $5.2 billion in licensing royalty revenue in North America in 2009, down 8.7 percent from the year before. This marks the second year of decline; overall royalty revenues declined 5.6 percent in 2008.
In the survey, brand owners cited last year’s sluggish consumer spending, a conservative climate at retail, a longer decision-making cycle, and royalty pressure as reasons for the decline. However, brand owners were optimistic, reporting success in expanding their licensing business internationally in 2009. Licensors also reported a continued trend of more diversified retail distribution.
In 2009, the character segment, which produces 46 percent of licensing industry royalty revenues, declined 7.9 percent.

I Can Do That! Games Secures Chuggington License

ChuggingtonThrough a partnership with Ludorum, I Can Do That! Games has secured game rights to the Chuggington license. The deal marks the fourth preschool license for the game company. The company will release its first Chuggington game next spring.
Ludorum expects to launch a comprehensive Chuggington consumer product program for preschoolers next year. The program will span multiple categories, including games, toys, books, and DVDs.




Scholastic Media Toots Horn with Animal Adventure

TootsvilleScholastic Media has announced a partnership with Animal Adventure, Inc. Animal Adventure is the first partner under Scholastic Media’s Toots brand, which is based on the browser game Tootsville.
Animal Adventure will produce a line of plush and backpack clips that will include special codes that unlock otherwise inaccessible areas and games on the Toots website. Eight plush items will hit store shelves this fall.
Tootsville was created by RES Interactive, LLC, and features more than 150 unique elephants, called Toots. Users can romp through more than 30 environments while playing approximately 50 mini-games, all while customizing homes, producing clothing, and interacting in a social networking setting.

Rosman-Press to Kick Off Russian Distribution of Bella Sara with Starlights

Hidden City Entertainment has announced details of a partnership with Rosman-Press to publish, distribute, and market a variety of Bella Sara products throughout Russia. 
The deal marks the first time a major property with an online component has been introduced to Russia. Rosman-Press will launch the Bella Sara brand in the country starting with the release of Bella Sara’s Starlights collectible card series this fall. Other deals in place include publishing Bella Sara novels, stationery, and a fan-based magazine.

Nick Launches Merchandising Programs for Series

Big Time RushNickelodeon Consumer Products (NCP) is launching merchandising and licensing programs for four of its popular series: Big Time Rush, Victorious, Fanboy and Chum Chum, and Team Umizoomi. The programs will span toys, accessories, home décor, apparel, packaged goods, social expressions, and more.
NCP has also announced that Spin Master’s The Last Airbender toys are now available in stores. Spin Master was named the master global toy licensee of the M. Night Shyamalan-directed film, which will premiere in theaters July 2.


Fox Expands Breadth of Family Film Franchises

Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products has announced plans to create worldwide, long-term brands out of Ice Age, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Rio.
Ice Age Continental Drift 3-D is scheduled to hit theaters in summer 2012, and Fox is planning consumer products based on the brand, including video games, stationery, and toys. Fox plans to release a style guide and new promotional concepts in the coming months.
Alvin and the Chipmunks Chipwrecked will also be in 3-D and is expected to release during 2011’s holiday season. Fox hopes to market the franchise year-round, focusing on toys, stationery, interactive, and publishing.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid is Fox’s newest family film franchise, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules is set to release in spring 2011. Fox plans to market this brand throughout the year, with the biggest push coming this fall to coincide with not only the DVD release and fifth book installment, but also with back-to-school products, a new board game from Pressman Toy, and regular product releases from holiday 2010 until the second film’s release.
Finally, Blue Sky Studios’ Rio will be released April 8, 2011. THQ, Inc., has signed on to develop interactive properties, while HarperCollins will produce movie storybooks.

NBC’s Minute to Win it to Be Made into Board Games

Minute to Win itNBC Universal Television Consumer Products Group and Joy Tashjian Marketing Group, LLC, have announced a deal with Mattel, Inc., to produce a line of board games based on the television show Minute to Win it.
Minute to Win it is hosted by Guy Fieri (from Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives) and has average people perform a series of challenges with household products for a chance at winning $1 million. The hour-long episodes have competitors complete 10 one-minute challenges, which increase in difficulty.
Mattel’s board games have a tentative market date of Q4 2010.

Fox to Expand Avatar Product Lineup After Film’s Success

Fox Consumer Products plans to expand its merchandising opportunities for James Cameron’s Avatar.
With more than 125 licensed products manufactured during the film’s release in four main categories (video games, publishing, toys, and apparel), Fox hopes to expand the number in the fall with back-to-school and other seasonal products. Fox also plans on expanding the Avatar brand to encompass bedding, board games, social expressions, and costumes. Current partners include Rubie’s Costume Co., Abrams, MEGA Brands, JLA Home, and Trends International.

Spin Master Names Global Licensing Agent

LivSpin Master, Ltd. has announced an exclusive partnership with Cartoon Network Enterprises (CNE) that will give the cable network’s consumer products division all global licensing and merchandising rights for Spin Master’s portfolio of brands. 
As the licensing agent for Spin Master, CNE will be responsible for building comprehensive consumer products and merchandising programs for its brands, with an immediate focus on Spin Master’s Liv, Zoobles, and Tech Deck.

Engage! Expo to be Held During Toy Fair Once Again

Engage Digital Media (EDM) has announced that its annual Engage! Conference and Expo will co-locate with the Toy Industry Association’s (TIA) American International Toy Fair for the second time.
The second co-location, planned for February 15-16 at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, will coincide with the four-day Toy Fair event, which will be held February 13-16.

Madame Alexander

Bananagrams Inventor, Abe Nathanson, Passes Away

Abraham Nathanson, inventor of Bananagrams and founder of Bananagrams, LLC, passed away on June 6 at his beachfront home at Bonnet Shores. He was 80 years old.
In 2006, Nathanson, affectionately known as Abe, created Bananagrams at the age of 76. His new venture was launched with the help of his daughter, Rena, and her children, Aaron and Ava. In 2009, Bananagrams won “Game of the Year” at the Toy Industry Association’s Toy of The Year (TOTY) Awards. The company’s other games include Zip-It, Fruitominos, Oh-Spell!, Pairs in Pears, and Appleletters.

Co-Creator of Trivial Pursuit Dies

Chris Haney, the co-creator of Trivial Pursuit, died on May 31 in Toronto, after a long battle with an illness. He was 59.
Haney created the game with Scott Abbott after the two got together for a game of Scrabble in the late ’70s. In Haney’s game, players answer questions in six categories to win the six colored pie wedges. According to the Toy Industry Association, more than 100 million copies were sold in 33 countries by the time Hasbro bought the rights to the game in 2008.

Arocho Promoted to VP, Toys and Games at Nick

Lourdes Arocho has been promoted to vice president, toys and games at NCP. In her new role, Arocho will lead and oversee the toy team on the extension of Nickelodeon’s properties, such as Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants, iCarly, The Last Airbender, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and more.
Arocho joined Nickelodeon in 2007 as director of toys and games for NCP. Prior to Nickelodeon, Arocho served as director of international licensing & merchandising for New Line Cinema, and manager of product development at Scholastic Entertainment’s Consumer Products Division.

Saban Brands Adds Senior Execs to Its Management Team

Saban Brands, LLC has added four senior executives to its management team.  
Nina Leong will serve as senior vice president, licensing and will be responsible for overseeing all current licensed products and programs. Leong will also develop partnerships with new licensees on behalf of the company’s properties.  
David Shuman has joined the team as vice president of finance, overseeing all finance and accounting functions related to Saban Brands. The functions will be across all intellectual property investments, including oversight of the television and movie production entities.  
Rami Yanni has been named senior vice president of business and legal affairs and will be responsible for all contractual, intellectual property, and compliance matters for Saban Brands.  
Kirk Bloomgarden has been appointed senior vice president of international licensing and will oversee the expansion of overseas business.

TRU Reports 2010 First Quarter Results

Toys “R” Us, Inc. has reported financial results for the first quarter of fiscal year 2010, which ended May 1. Net sales for the first quarter were $2.608 billion, an increase of 5.3 percent compared to $2.477 billion for the first quarter of fiscal 2009. Comparable store net sales grew by 1.9 percent in the domestic segment, while comparable store net sales declined by 1.4 percent in the international segment. Foreign currency translation had a positive impact of $75 million on net sales for the first quarter 2010, as compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2009.
The company reported a net loss of $55 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2010, compared to a net loss of $35 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2009. Operating earnings were $5 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2010, compared to $21 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2009.

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