July 07, 2010
Top Trumps


Discount Stores Climb Top Retailers List, Walmart Again Named No. 1

WalmartStores Magazine's annual Top 100 Retailers list crowned Walmart as the No. 1 retailer again, which was determined based on overall retail sales (not revenue) and did not include gas stations. Kroger came in at No. 2 and Target at No. 3. Walgreens held the No. 4 spot, The Home Depot was No. 5, Costco placed at No. 6, CVS Caremark was No. 7, Lowe’s was No. 8, and Sears Holdings came in at No. 9. Best Buy rounded out the top 10.
Amazon.com came in at No. 26, while Toys “R” Us held onto the No. 37 spot.
Discount stores Dollar General (No. 28), Family Dollar (No. 45), and Dollar Tree (No. 61) climbed the list seven, 11, and 15 spots, respectively. Stores Magazine’s editors attribute the discount retailers’ climb to the poor economy last year, which forced people to find lower-cost solutions for the products they buy. The list was compiled and analyzed by Kantar Retail.

China Toy Expo to Open in October

China Toy ExpoChina Toy Expo (CTE) 2010, a trade fair focused on toys, hobby, and baby products, will be held October 12-14. China Toy Association (CTA) arranged the event. The show will include eight main production areas for wooden toys, plush toys, baby carriages, playground equipment, plastic and electronic toys, and more.
CTE 2010 expects more than 1,000 exhibitors, 900 factories, and 2,500 brands. The association also expects that 42 percent of the exhibitors have never exhibited in China or at other trade shows.
To reassure buyers, CTA is encouraging Chinese exhibitors to obtain necessary certificates or test reports to comply with all toy safety standards and regulation. Additionally, exhibitors are carefully examined before being invited to the fair.

Toy Company Accused of Laundering Drug Money

Three toy company employees based in Los Angeles are accused of laundering money, according to the Associated Press. Angel Toy Corp. co-owners Meichun Cheng Huang and Ling Yu, as well as CEO Xiaoxin Ju, are being accused of using their toy manufacturing company to purchase toys from China with money given to them by drug trafficking groups. The toys were then sold in Colombia, according to a report by the Associated Press, with the proceeds returning to the drug traffickers.
Angel Toy Corp. is accused of money laundering while the defendants are accused of "conspiracy to structure case transactions," according to the AP's access to federal indictment papers. The Colombian reseller, Jose Cuevas Otalora, is being extradited to the U.S. following his arrest by local authorities.

Nickelodeon and NFL Collaborate on New TV Property

NFL Rush ZoneNickelodeon and the National Football League have announced the development of a new animated series. Rush Zone: Guardians of the Core will be a 22-episode, weekly short-form series based on the NFL Rush Zone children's website. Episodes begin airing this fall, coinciding with the start of the NFL season. The season will culminate with an hour-long special following the Super Bowl in February.
Rush Zone follows 10-year-old Ishmael as he guards a benevolent life force, housed within each of the NFL's 32 stadiums, from villain Sudden Death. Endowed with special powers and the strength of a football player, Ishmael must battle evil robots, while being mentored by NFL coaches and players who voice themselves.
The short runs approximately two to five minutes and will be available on nicktoons.com and nflrush.com after airing on the Nickelodeon network. Rush Zone is also being produced in high definition for use on jumbotrons during games.

Ubisoft Enters Toy Market, Premieres Battle Tag

Ubisoft is entering the toy market with the debut of Battle Tag, which was unveiled at last month’s E3: Electronic Entertainment Expo. Battle Tag combines a laser game that you can play at home or outside with a shooter game, featuring accessories such as game items and bonuses.
In the game, players can reload their guns with ammo boxes or increase life points with the game’s medikit. The main differences between Ubisoft’s Battle Tag and a traditional laser tag game is the video game-like accessories and a PC that acts as the “Game Master.” The “Game Master” challenges players, gives updates, and keeps track of the score.

Tomy to Release Japanese Car and Train Line in North America

TomicaTomy Corporation has announced it will be introducing Japanese die-cast car and train line Tomica in North America this September. The line, which has been available in Japan for 40 years, will be available first through a national retailer.
Seven die-cast cars, three train sets, six accessory sets, six destination sets, and five deluxe play sets will be released in the initial launch. All elements of the line can be merged to create the Tomica Hypercity. The launch includes cars licensed by Toyota, Nissan, and Suzuki.

Play Visions Files Lawsuit Against Dollar Tree Stores

Play Visions, Inc. has filed an infringement lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington against Dollar Tree Stores and its sister company, Greenbrier International, Inc.
The lawsuit alleges that Dollar Tree Stores “knowingly, willingly, and unlawfully is infringing patents, trademarks, and copyrights, and intended to infringe on Play Visions intellectual property rights.” The lawsuit lists more than 20 items that Play Visions believes infringes on their IP rights, and the company believes there might be more.
Play Visions is seeking damages and attorney’s fees.

Upper Deck Releases Thomas and Friends Trading Cards

Thomas the Tank EngineThe Upper Deck Company, in conjunction with HIT Entertainment, has released the first trading cards based on Thomas and Friends. The trading cards, Thomas and Friends Sodor Adventures Collectipak, is an 18-card set including stickers, tattoos, and pop-up cards featuring characters from the show.
The set is targeted to children ages 3 to 6, and is based on the travels of Thomas and the other characters around the Island of Sodor. Players journey around the islands and help the engines get back to Tidmouth Sheds.
Upper Deck plans to release additional trading card sets based on the series. The second set will launch in November.


Build-A-Bear and Michaels Introduce Craftshop

Build-A-BearBuild-A-Bear Workshop and Michaels Stores, Inc. have partnered for Build-A-Bear Craftshop, a line of creative products and activities for kids of all ages that will be sold exclusively at more than 1,020 Michaels stores in the U.S. and Canada, starting September 12.
Build-A-Bear Craftshop will include 24 make-your-own projects. Projects include a Jewelry Kit and Hair Accessory Kit, Paint-Your-Own Figurines, as well as Make and Share crochet scarves and totes. The line will also feature Make and Play Kits for easily assembled stuffed animals, featuring embroidery floss for sewing, stuffing, a safety needle, and a complete outfit.

Tiny Love Debuts First Baby Gear Product

GyminiTiny Love has entered the baby gear category with its new Gymini Bouncer. The bouncer features two soft arches that sit parallel to the baby, with three toys that can be adjusted along the arches. Decorated in an animal-print fabric, the Gymini Bouncer also features a vibration function, and a removable, musical crab figurine that can follow baby wherever he or she goes.





Chicago to Host Toy and Game Events

Chicago Toy & Game GroupThe Chicago Toy & Game Group is hosting three events for the toy and game industry this November. The Toy and Game Industry Networking and Inventor Conference event will be held at Chicago’s Navy Pier from November 18-19. The Toy and Game Inventors of the Year Awards Dinner (TAGI Awards) will be held on November 19 at the Museum of Science and Industry, featuring a private viewing of the Jim Henson Retrospective Exhibit. Eddy Goldfarb will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement award. The Chicago Toy and Game Fair will be held November 20-21. Open to the public, ChiTAG allows exhibitors to meet consumers face-to-face.

Japanese Property Looking for Global Partners

Fluffy BuboolFluffy Bubool, a new property currently distributed in Japan by Sanrio, is looking for new global business opportunities and seeking partners in countries outside of Japan.
Fluffy Bubool follows Bubool, a penguin who wears a shower cap, and his life in Fluffy Town. Bubool has the magical power to make anything out of bubbles and works with his friends at Ice Cream Shop in Fluffy Town. There are seven picture books available in Japanese and two available in English and Japanese.
In Japan, Bubool is featured on products such as lunch boxes, wash towels, notebooks, and tote bags. For more information, contact the global agent for Fluffy Bubool, Sun Properties Co., Ltd.

Nigerian Version of Sesame Street Announced

New York-based Sesame Workshop has teamed with Ileke Media in Nigeria to co-produce Sesame Square, Nigeria's version of Sesame Street. The 30-minute program will focus on preschool issues while two Muppet hosts encourage counting, reading, and staying in school.
Kami, a girl Muppet, is HIV-positive with golden fur and an adventurer's spirit. A blue-skinned boy Muppet is energetic and loves making even trivial tasks fun. A mobile phone contest to name the boy Muppet is currently underway. Sesame Square is planned for three years of broadcast.

Chick-Fil-A Partners with Guinness World Records for Kid’s Meal Activities

Chick-Fil-A will partner with Guinness World Records to bring a series of five Guinness World Records activity packs to Chick-Fil-A Kid’s Meals from July 26 to August 28.
The five Kid’s Meal items will include cards featuring Guinness World Records set by animals, a sports and games records booklet, a 30-second timer for “Do Try This at Home” challenges, a set of cards on a ring that feature Guinness World Records holders and corresponding challenges, and a booklet of Guinness World Records hobbies and pastimes with related “Do Try This at Home” challenges. After the promotion, parents can order toys online at www.shopchick-fil-a.com, as long as supplies last.

Madame Alexander

Walmart Shuffles Global.com, U.S. Leadership

Walmart announced new CEO appointments for both its U.S. enterprise and Global.com. Vice Chairman of Walmart Eduardo Castro-Wright has been appointed as Global's president and CEO, while Bill Simon is Walmart's new U.S. president and CEO.
Castro-Wright will maintain his seat as vice chairman, while both men report to Walmart's President and CEO Mike Duke. Simon, previously Walmart's COO, has started his new position, whereas Castro-Wright takes over August 1.

Hasbro Elects NBC News President to Board

Hasbro, Inc. has elected Lisa Gersh, president, strategic initiatives at NBC News, to the company's board of directors, which took effect July 1.
As president of strategic initiatives at NBC News since 2009, Gersh is responsible for NBC News’ growth initiatives, including the weather channel companies, and for promoting the global interest of NBC News. Gersh joined NBCU in 2007 after the company acquired Oxygen Media, a company she co-founded and served as its president and COO.

Action Products International Restructures Business

Action Products International, Inc., is restructuring and diversifying its products and services after discontinuing its toy manufacturing business, the company reported. The restructuring is an attempt to improve revenues and enhance future growth opportunities. The initial projects will include software technology; health, fitness, sports and physical medicine; and media and entertainment. Raul Martinez, president, says that after restructuring the company, it “plans to petition NASDAQ for re-listing on the stock exchange.”

Chorion, Ltd. Reports Earnings Results for the Year Ended March 31, 2010

Chorion, Ltd. reported earnings results for the year ended March 31, 2010. For the period, the company's EBITDA rose 11 percent to GBP 14.9 million compared to GBP 13.4 million for the same period in 2009, as a result of a strong operating performance and tight cost control. Group revenues were GBP 51.7 million compared to GBP 53.2 million for the same period in 2009. The group achieved strong revenue growth across a number of its classic brands, with growth in the U.S. up 5 percent, Australia up 9 percent, and Japan up 28 percent.

American Greetings Reports First Fiscal Quarter Results

American Greetings Corporation has announced its results for the first fiscal quarter ended May 28, 2010. For the first quarter of fiscal 2011, the company reported total revenue of $396.3 million, pre-tax income of $51 million, and net income of $30.8 million, or 75 cents per share. For the first quarter of fiscal 2010, the company reported total revenue of $412.9 million, pre-tax income of $16.9 million, and net income of $10 million, or 25 cents per share. During the first quarter of fiscal 2010, American Greetings sold its retail store operations, which reported revenue of $11.7 million and a segment loss of $34.8 million, which reduced earnings per share by approximately 54 cents during the quarter.  

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