June 29, 2010
Top Trumps


Li & Fung President Says China’s Low Cost Era is Over

President and executive director of Li & Fung, Ltd., Bruce Rockowitz, told audience members at the Reuters Consumer and Retail Summit that he believed the low-cost era in China was likely over. Rockowitz said China was moving into “an era for higher prices,” citing greater commodities prices and labor costs.
Despite growing costs, Li & Fung will continue half of its production in China, switching to sourcing from China’s cheaper interior to its coastal area as infrastructure in the interior grows with high-speed railways.
Li & Fung said that China would continue to be its biggest sourcing country, followed by Vietnam. However, Rockowitz said the top 100 retailers only accounted for 10 percent of total domestic retail.

Sanrio Partners with MEGA for Construction Toys

Hello KittySanrio, Inc. and MEGA Brands, Inc. have entered into a North American licensing agreement to develop construction toys for young girls based on the Hello Kitty brand. Under the two-year agreement, MEGA Brands obtains the rights to develop construction toy sets based on the Hello Kitty brand, which will allow young girls to build, personalize, and collect their very own Hello Kitty world. The Mega Bloks-licensed product offerings will make their debut in the U.S., Canada and Mexico in the spring of 2011.




DreamWorks to Bring Troll Dolls to the Big Screen

Troll DollsDreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. has signed an agreement with Denmark’s Dam Things to debut a movie based on the Good Luck Troll dolls. Sibling writers Adam Wilson and Melanie Wilson LaBracio (Evergone, The Impossible Adventures of Phineas Roone) will write the screenplay, and Dannie Festa of Festa Entertainment will serve as the executive producer. The Good Luck Troll dolls were created in 1959 when Danish fisherman and woodcutter Thomas Dam carved a doll based on a legendary Scandinavian troll as a Christmas present for his daughter. The dolls reached popularity in the 1960s and saw a resurgence of sales in the 1990s.
Dam Things is represented by Festa and Jay Handlin at Carlsmith Ball, LLP. Wilson and Wilson LaBracio are represented by Festa; Brad Rosenfeld at Preferred Artists; and Eric Suddleson of Felker Toczek Gellman Suddleson, LLP.

World Cup Spurs UK Toy Sales

FIFAAccording to The NPD Group, following tepid UK toy sales in April, May sales increased 12 percent while units rose 26 percent in comparison to May 2009. This is the first time since January that unit growth outpaced sales. Toys sold under £5 accounted for 73 percent of all units purchased in May, up 32 percent from the same month in 2009.
NPD reported that the No. 1 toy for May was Panini’s Official FIFA stickers. The stickers accounted for 29 percent of all units sold within the “all other” toys category for the month and averaged around 49 pence. Citing the “all other” category as a major source of growth, The NPD Group stated that value in this category was up 44 percent, while unit growth for the category rocketed, increasing 149 percent compared to last May. FIFA, Pro Sports, and Match Attax were the top three properties for the category.

Vivid Signs on for Moshi Monsters Toys

Moshi MonstersMind Candy, the global developer and publisher of the free-to-play online game Moshi Monsters, has signed a master toy licensing deal with Vivid Imaginations. Vivid will launch Moshi Monster-branded toys across the UK, North America, Australia, and New Zealand starting next January. The initial toy line will include miniature collectibles and plush soft toys. Vivid will support the brand with TV advertising, online marketing, PR, and a fully integrated promotional plan for the Moshi Monsters fan base.

LIMA to Host Teen and Tween Webinar

On July 14, the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA) will host a new webinar about Millennials, “Marketing to Teens & Tweens: Insights, Strategy, and Tactics.” The webinar will be hosted by Bill Carter, co-founder and partner of the marketing agency Fuse Youth Marketing.
The webinar, to be held 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. EDT, will aim to help licensors and licensees learn strategies and tactics for capturing tweens’ and teens’ attention, as well as building their trust and loyalty.
The webinar is free to current LIMA members and $99 for non-members. Registration will be accepted until 5 p.m. EDT on July 13. To register, click here.

Care Bears Products to Launch in Korea this Fall

Care BearsAmerican Greetings Properties is launching a licensing program for its Care Bears brand in Korea this fall. Working with Korean licensing agent Asiana Licensing Incorporated (ALI), the upcoming Care Bears merchandise will target kids, juniors, and babies.
Seh-A will develop stationery, pens, and notebooks for the brand, while Forever Times will create watches and hair accessories. American Greetings and Asiana will expand the program across major categories, including apparel. ALI will also feature the Care Bears at the Seoul International Cartoon & Animation Festival, held from July 21–25 at COEX in Seoul, Korea.

Lucasfilm Issues Cease and Desist to Maker of Pro Artic Laser

Wicked LasersLucasfilm has issued an immediate cease and desist to Wicked Lasers, the maker of Pro Artic Laser. The product resembles the lightsaber in the Star Wars film and is described by Wicked Lasers as “the most dangerous laser ever created” and that “extremely dangerous is an understatement.”
Lucasfilm’s General Counsel David Anderman stated that “the product is not licensed or approved by Lucasfilm in any way” and that the company strongly discourages consumers from buying it.

Madame Alexander

ASTRA Elects New Board Members

The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) has appointed Steven Aarons, owner of Barstons Child’s Play of Washington, D.C., as the new chair of ASTRA’s board of directors. Members elected Michael Ziegenhagen, owner of several Playmatters Toys stores in the Cleveland, Ohio area, as chair-elect.
Other industry members who were elected to the board of directors include: new retail directors-at-large Linda Hays, owner of Hopscotch, Inc. in McMinnville, Ore.; and John MacDougall, owner of Golden Apple Learning Store of Pleasanton, Calif. Mike Clein, CEO of Manhattan Toy and Michael Levins, CEO of innovativeKids were elected as manufacturer directors-at-large.

New Director of Licensing for North America Joins Ludorum

Ludorum has appointed a new director of licensing, Megan Buecher. Buecher will oversee licensing for Ludorum's Chuggington franchise in the U.S. and Canada.
In her former role at United Media, Buecher helped develop the retail and accessories for franchises such as Peanuts, Fancy Nancy, and Rainbow Brite. Before that, Buecher worked with HIT Entertainment for seven years developing Thomas the Tank Engine, The Wiggles, and Angelina Ballerina, among others. Buecher will work from Ludorum's New York office.

Patch Products Hires Takeuchi as Analyst

Patch Products has hired a new international marketing analyst, Maki Takeuchi. Prior to joining Patch, Takeuchi served as product development consultant at Spin Master Toys, as well as marketing and new business development for Yamato Co., Ltd., and as international marketing and new business development analyst at Sababa Toys. Over the past nine years, Takeuchi has established partnerships with Asian companies such as Takara-Tomy, Sanrio, Sega Toys, and Hanayama.

The Orb Factory Appoints Bordegon to National Sales Manager

The Orb Factory Limited has announced the appointment of Bill Bordegon to national sales manager for the U.S. Bordegon will lead the company in sales and marketing efforts, which will include developing strategies to expand distribution, diversifying distribution channels, and strengthening marketing initiatives and product development.
Borgedon has previously served as national sales manager of Toysmith and has served on the board of directors for the American Specialty Toy Retail Association (ASTRA), including terms as secretary and chairman. He was also previously vice president sales and marketing at Action Products, president/CEO with APBA Games International, and executive vice president at Fleer/SkyBox Trading Cards, Games & Collectibles.

CPSC Partnership with Customs and Border Protection Continues with New Appointment

Gib Mullan, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) director of compliance and field operations, began a new assignment last week to help advance a recent agreement between the CPSC and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). In the agreement, CPSC assumes direct responsibility for the issuance of consumer product safety-related detention notices. CPSC will also gain access to the CBP’s Import Safety Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center and its database of import manifests.
Jay Howell, assistant executive director of the CPSC's Office of Hazard Identification and Reduction, has been named as acting director of compliance and field operations, but will also continue his current responsibilities. Neal Cohen, of CPSC's general counsel's office, will serve as Howell's special assistant.
Marc Schoem will continue as deputy director of the Office of Compliance and Field Operations. DeWayne Ray will continue as deputy director of the Office of Hazard Identification and Reduction.

Hasbro Denies Potential Company Sale

Despite rumors that Hasbro was holding preliminary talks with private-equity firm Providence Equity Partners, Hasbro stated that it is not having any discussions with any firm regarding the sale of the company. Hasbro did confirm that it had been approached by a private equity firm regarding a transaction. The company said that its board of directors decided not to pursue any deal.

East China Province Exports 20 Percent More Toys

According to Xinhuanet.com and provincial customs, East China’s Jiangsu province has exported toys worth $75.7 million (U.S.) in the first five months of this year, a growth of 19.7 percent compared to the same period last year. In May, $18.85 million was exported, a growth of 37.1 percent compared to 2009 and a growth of 13.6 percent compared to the previous month.
Of total exports, 59 percent of sales were to the European Union ($23.34 million, up 12 percent) and the United States ($21.32 million, up 10.9 percent). A local customs spokesperson attributed the growth to recovering outside economies. 

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