June 22, 2012

 Top Trumps

ABC Kids Expo

Leapfrog Announces LeapPad2 and LeapsterGS

LeapPad2LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc., announces two new platforms: LeapPad2, the next generation of LeapPad learning tablets, and LeapsterGS, the learning video game system.
LeapPad2 features higher resolution front-and-back cameras and video recorders, twice the memory (4 GB), and improved battery life. The tablet also includes free content including a music player with five LeapFrog Learning Songs, a Cartoon Director creativity app, an Art Studio creativity app, the Pet Pad writing app, and choice of an additional app.
LeapsterGS is an updated version of Leapster Explorer. With a faster processor and more memory, the LeapsterGS delivers fast-action gameplay while building core skills for success in school and life. LeapsterGS comes pre-loaded with the Escape of the Sillies game app, the Pet Pad writing app, and an additional app of the buyer’s choosing.
LeapPad2 and LeapsterGS will be available for pre-sale at leapfrog.com in the U.S. and Canada, and at major online retailers in the UK and Ireland beginning July 18. They will be available at major retail locations in early August and in select other countries, including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Hong Kong, Singapore, Philippines, Korea, Thailand, and other Asian countries later this fall. The LeapFrog App Center can be accessed through the LeapFrog Connect Application for LeapPad2 and LeapsterGS platforms.

ASTM Sets New Toy Safety Standard

The American Society for Testing and Manufacturing recently released a new set of toy safety standards. The ASTM F963-11 Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety became effective under federal law on June 12, replacing the 2008 version. The new edition was approved by ASTM in December and unanimously approved by the CPSC Commissioners this February.
Changes made to the standard include revisions to the section on heavy metals, the introduction of compositing procedures, and new safety requirements and technical guidance for bath toy projections, acoustics, and other potential safety hazards in toys.
Testing to the new standard will be required once CPSC issues its final rulemaking regarding testing and certification later this year.

Round 5 Corporation Secures License For Cut the Rope

Om NomRound 5 Corporation, in partnership with licensing agents Studio Licensing, Inc. and Established Brands, Inc., announces a multi-year exclusive licensing agreement to manufacture and produce toys under the Cut the Rope brand.
Round 5 will have exclusive rights to manufacture and produce figures, plush, and play sets that will reflect the brand and its star, Om Nom, with distribution across North America, Brazil, Southeast Asia, and East Asia. Products will be available in most major
retail outlets beginning spring 2013, while a select group of products will ship to major department stores and specialty boutiques around the world in time for holiday 2012.



MGA Entertainment Releases New Bratz Line

BratzillazMGA Entertainment announces the summer debut of Bratzillaz, a new line of charmed fashion dolls who possess extraordinary magical powers. The enchanted good witch cousins of the popular Bratz dolls, Bratzillaztakes girls on a magical journey. The new line will appear in retail toy aisles in July.
In August, Bratzillaz will enter the digital space with interactive content on bratzillaz.com, a new website that offers an immersive 3D experience, including parallax scrolling, multi-platform games, augmented reality experiences, character bios, and more. Bratzillaz games will also be available on apps for smartphones.

University Games Joins Forces with Angry Birds

University Games, makers of the popular games 20 Questions, Super Why ABC, and Five Little Monkeys, recently teamed with Tactic to distribute its Angry Birds Action Game in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
The Angry Birds Action Game includes a gigantic play mat, two plush birds, one plastic pig, and three wooden blocks. Players can toss Angry Birds to score points and earn stars to win. The game will enter retail in the U.S. starting this month.
Also launching this summer is a series of add-on products for the game. Each add-on includes one additional character (a selection of birds and more green pigs) and one additional wooden block, allowing for increased game complexity.

Jakks Pacific Partners with Nyan Cat

Nyan catJakks Pacific, Inc., has entered into a licensing agreement with Nyanify to manufacture, distribute, and market a line of consumer products based on the popular Nyan Cat video, which, to date, has received more than 76 million views online. The license includes the right to manufacture, distribute, and market toys, games, playthings, novelties, plush, key chains, costumes, and party supplies worldwide. Products are scheduled to hit shelves this fall.




Hit Entertainment and Fisher-Price to Produce Mike the Knight Toys

Mike the KnightHit Entertainment is finalizing plans with Fisher-Price, Inc., to market and manufacture a global master toy range for Mike the Knight, excluding the UK and Japan.  
The toy line will be based on Mike the Knight, a CG animated series that transports kids to a world of castles, dragons, and trolls. Fisher-Price plans to develop, manufacture, and market a variety of products for boys and girls ages 2 and up across the role-play, play sets, plush, figures, and preschool toy categories. The first items are scheduled to launch in the U.S. and internationally in fall 2013.




LeapFrog and Mega Brands Go Back to School

LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc., and Mega Brands, have teamed up to bring a range of back-to-school products to market this July.
The new LeapFrog-branded line of products produced by Mega Brands will include creative and dry-erase workbooks, flash cards, writing pads, pencils, and more. LeapFrog’s dedicated in-house Learning Team of PhDs and educators worked closely with Mega Brands to ensure that the content is current with educational trends and aligns with the latest child development research. The products will feature original LeapFrog characters Leap, Tad, and Lily as well as the cast of LeapSchool.

A2E2 Reveals First Preschool Property

Rainbow Valley HeroesA Squared Elxsi Entertainment, LLC, a joint venture between A Squared Entertainment and Tata Elxsi Ltd, introduces Rainbow Valley Heroes, an animated preschool series featuring police and fire rescue vehicles. Rainbow Valley Heroes is a series of 26x11-minute shows portraying the adventures of a fleet of rescue trucks through CGI animation.
Fire Chief Rusty and Pam the Paramedic join forces with their best pals, Lieutenant Lonnie and Major Mia from the police station, to lead their teams of rescue vehicles on a series of adventures, teaching kids about the value of friendship, sharing, and working hard at school, while educating toddlers on subjects such as recycling, telling time, and problem solving.
Created by Hollywood screenwriter Daniel E. Taylor, the Rainbow Valley Heroes series will be represented by A2E2 globally, including licensing and new entertainment. The company intends to create new episodes, as well as new toys, digital and entertainment products, games, apparel, books, and additional branded merchandise.

The Character Group Extends Deal with Warners Bros.

Warner Bros. Consumer Products has announced an extension to its long-term partnership with The Character Group, which will allow the toy company to launch Scooby-Doo construction toys under its Character Building brand across EMEA and North America. WBCP and The Character Group have worked together on Scooby-Doo for more than12 years.
The deal includes rights to brick-based construction vehicles, buildings, and collectible figures.

Reading Rainbow Launches New iPad App

Reading RainbowThe classic children’s television show Reading Rainbow is now available to a new generation of readers in the form of an app for the iPad. Host and producer LeVar Burton announced this week the new venture for Reading Rainbow, which went off the air in 2009 after a 26-year run.
Designed for children ages 3-9, the subscription-based app delivers a library of hundreds of curated books and all new videos.The app brings together books from numerous children’s publishers and follows a library model, allowing kids to borrow books five-at-a-time. Each book comes alive with audio storytelling by celebrity actors, including Burton himself, and features light animations and related activities to enhance the story.
Similar to the original series, children can journey with Burton on real-life adventures—videofield trips—that connect the stories children read to the world. The app includes a combination of newly produced videos, as well as classic segments from the TV show.
The Reading Rainbow app is free for download on the iPad and includes the ability to fully explore the islands, videos, and to select one book to read. The subscription is now available for a limited-time introductory price of $9.99 a month or $29.99 for six months.

Mattel’s Monster High Promotes Tween-Esteem at Walmart

Emily-Anne Rigal, the 18-year-old founder of non-profit WeStopHate.org, will join with Mattel’s Monster High in July to spread tween-esteem in a pro-social program with Walmart. The in-store Monster High and WeStopHate call-to-action collaboration will inspire tween girls to embrace the qualities that make them “perfectly imperfect” through online content, downloadable activities, and an animated webisode featuring a monsterfied Rigal.
Monster High will amplify WeStopHate’s message of tween-esteem to girls throughout a three-month, multifaceted partnership that includes Monster High FreakyFab13.com Takeover; Mirror Mirror, on the Wall, Love Yourself — Imperfections and All; Walmart in-store and online merchandising (July); and an animated WeStopHate webisode (Mid-July).

Moshi Monsters Moshinglings App Now Available

Moshi Monsters, an online world of adoptable pet monsters, is now available for the iPod Touch and the iPad. The new Moshlings app will give users access to more than 60 Moshlings and 100 stickers for customization. Moshlings are tiny pets collected by Moshi Monsters. Each different species of Moshlings has a back-story and quirky characteristics. Players can have up to six Moshlings at a time. Kids can send and receive birthday wishes, get-well wishes, and create artwork and wall paper through the app.
The Moshi Monster collection plans to expand to physical, Nintendo DS video games, a video platform, books, and trading cards.

Bella Sara Movie Heads into Production, Releases Next Year

The Bella Sara Company has announced the first animated movie based on Bella Sara, the brand and virtual fantasy world of horses. Canadian studios Entremedia Digital Films, Inc., and Buffalo Gal Pictures have formed Magical Horses, Inc., to produce the CGI production; post-production will be done by Telegael in Ireland. Toronto-based CCI Productions will do additional production work. The worldwide distribution partners include Entertainment One (eOne) for North American DVD distribution and CCI for international distribution, including Canadian Television, Universal Pictures Video France for French-speaking territories, and WVG for DVD distribution in Germany. Worldwide distribution efforts are being managed by Los Angeles-based Foxfield Entertainment.
Bella Sara was created by Gitte Odder Braendgaard as a way to help young girls reach their greatest potential by using a collection of horses that encourage communication, collecting, and creative play in a fantasy world. Collectible cards featuring a number of horses provide an access point to Bellasara.com, a virtual world for young girls.

Rubicon Group Holding Pacts with Meg on Monster in My Pocket

Monster in My PocketRubicon Group Holding has acquired worldwide licensing, merchandising, and digital media rights to the Monster in My Pocket brand of collectible monsters for boys from Meg, creator and owner of the intellectual property.
As a result of the agreement, RGH will create a global brand strategy for the property, which includes developing and producing a range of animated Monster In My Pocket content for theatrical and television distribution, DVDs, game platforms, apps, and online and social media.
The new content will be supported with a comprehensive licensing and retail development program. Meg retains master toy license rights to the property.

LeapFrog Names Greg Ahearn Chief Marketing Officer

Greg Ahearn has joined LeapFrong Enterprises, Inc., as chief marketing officer. Ahearn is responsible for the LeapFrog brand and consumer experience globally, which includes consumer insights, product marketing, licensing, content development, marketing communications, and public relations. He reports directly to LeapFrog CEO John Barbour.
Prior to joining LeapFrog, Ahearn was the chief marketing officer for Toys “R” Us, Inc. He was responsible for marketing, advertising, and promotions, including strategy, media analysis, brand positioning, and creative services for the Toys “R” Us, Babies “R” Us, and FAO Schwarz brands in the U.S.

Consumer Spending Slows in May

After a strong first quarter, consumers in May took a more practical approach to their spending, according to the National Retail Federation. May retail sales (excluding automobile, gas stations, and restaurants) decreased 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted from April, but increased 4.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year, marking 23 consecutive months of retail sales growth.

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