U.S. Containerized Imports Up 7.2 Percent Year-to-Date, Toy Imports Down
U.S. imports measured by shipping volume grew 7.2 percent in the first five months of 2011 over the same period a year ago, but the growth slowed down in May as economic expansion weakened, according to Journal of Commerce and PIERS Economist Mario O. Moreno.
Moreno, who forecasts a 4.7 growth for the year, said May imports increased 6 percent year-over-year to 1.5 million 20-foot-equivalent units (TEUs). A deepening real estate slump and persistently slim job creation prospects have slowed the pace of this growth, particularly in furniture and toys, key imports for the annual peak shipping season.
Home goods and toys typically account for a large percentage of total U.S. containerized import volume, but both commodities have felt the impact of cautious and financially strapped consumers. Toys fell for the fourth month running in May, declining 9 percent or 3,500 TEUs to a total of 36,096.
Imports from Northeast Asia advanced 4 percent year-over-year to 924,666 TEUs, followed by Northern Europe at 9 percent to 138,792 TEUs, and Southeast Asia at 10 percent growth to a total of 134,772 TEUs.
NPD: French Toy Sales Increased 8 Percent
According to a new report by The NPD Group, France took the top spot in European toy sales growth, increasing 8 percent for the first five months of this year compared to the first five months of last year. Collectively, the five largest countries in Europe for toy sales (France, UK, Germany, Italy, and Spain) saw a 5 percent growth in retail for the first five months of this year compared to the same period in 2010. The southern European countries, Spain and Italy, were stable or in decline, while the other countries’ toy sales increased. NPD analysts anticipate the entire year’s growth to be as much as 3 percent in the UK, Germany, Italy, and Spain, and 5 percent in France.
Release of Prince William, The Royal Wedding Doll
The royal wedding wouldn’t be complete without the dashing Prince William. The groom now joins the Princess Catherine Bride Doll as Charisma Brands’ Paradise Galleries releases Prince William, The Royal Wedding Doll in North America. Standing approximately 18 inches tall, the doll comes dressed in fully detailed uniform of the Irish Guards, including brass buttons and tiny replica medallions. The doll also comes with a certificate of authenticity and a collector’s box.
More Than 40 Percent of Toy Purchasers in China Cite Safety as Top Priority
More than 40 percent of respondents in a recently released survey by the China Toy Association (CTA) indicated that safety was their top priority when purchasing toys. Functionality, price, and quality also made the list. The survey examined purchasing habits of more than 5,000 consumers from first-, second-, and third-tier cities across China during a period of three months last year. The survey also examined the age, gender, educational background, and income of respondents.
According to the survey, 82 percent of consumers can recall the brand of their last toy purchase, compared to 78 percent in 2009. Male consumers were interested in more expensive toys than females. Results of the survey also showed that expensive gifts were more likely to be purchased at department stores, while those seeking discounted prices shopped online (e-shopping increased to 13 percent from 11 percent in 2009). Higher priced toys were purchased in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou (first-tier cities) compared to second- and third-tier cities.
Kiddo Tags Joins the StinkyKids Licensee Family
StinkyKidsM!KE Licensing announced that Kiddo Tags has been appointed exclusive licensee for StinkyKids for an assorted collection of custom labels. The StinkyKids custom name label line will complement the current doll line created by licensee Madame Alexander. Other StinkyKids licensees include Raven Tree Press, currently producing a series of StinkyKids stories, and Cycle Force Group for bicycles, scooters, skateboards, skates, safety gear, and accessories.
M!KE Licensing is currently seeking additional licensees for StinkyKids in categories such as toys/games, coloring books, jewelry, key chains, puzzles, gift and novelty, party paper products, apparel, and accessories.
Big Idea Entertainment Partners with Wacky Wallscapes
Consumers will now be able to decorate their walls with VeggieTales characters and themes. Wacky Wallscapes has signed an exclusive licensing deal with Big Idea Entertainment to create wall coverings, wallpaper, and murals with full-sized Veggie Tales characters, including Larry the Cucumber, Bob the Tomato, Junior Asparagus, and Pa Grape. The deal also includes a complete collection of themed background scenes. Wacky Wallscapes floor-to-ceiling murals can also be customized to fit into any space. The products will be available early this fall.
Redakai Animated Series to Premiere This Month
Redakai: Conquer the Kairu, a new animated series by Spin Master, Ltd. and Zodiak Kids/Marathon Media, will debut on Cartoon Network on July 23. The series will air each Saturday morning at 10 a.m.
The adventure series follows Ky, a 15-year-old student of ancient martial arts who embarks on a quest to find the Kairu, a primordial alien energy force. Helped by his friends Maya and Boomer, Ky travels the globe looking for the Kairu in order to protect it from his extraterrestrial teenage opponents and in hopes of becoming the greatest Kairu warrior of them all—a Redakai.
The Redakai trading card game recently launched at more than 250 hobby stores across North America. The game will hit more retail locations in August.
New CGI-Animated Series for Care Bears
American Greetings Properties has announced an all-new, CGI-animated television series starring the Care Bears of Care-a-Lot. This new series will debut next year, which also marks the property’s 30th anniversary. Additionally, Hasbro is planning to premiere a new Care Bears toy line in 2013. Care Bears debuted in 1982. The property has generated more than $2.6 billion in global sales since 2002.
Miffy to Come to Theaters
Miffy, the white rabbit created by Dutch author and illustrator Dick Bruna, is ready to hop into movie theaters as she stars in her own movie, slated to release in early 2013. Miffy the Movie will be a collaborative effort among Telescreen Filmproductions, a division of Telescreen B.V. (a subsidiary of the German brand management and media company m4e AG); Mercis, which manages the rights; Warner Bros. Netherlands; and Dutch public broadcaster KRO Television.
The movie will target preschoolers and will follow Miffy and her friends on a treasure hunt at the zoo. The film aims to be the perfect first cinematic experience for very young children, filled with happy songs, adventures, animals, colors, and shapes. Miffy and Friends is a puppet animation series that is currently broadcast worldwide.
Martha & Friends Debuts on AOL Kids
On Friday, A Squared Entertainment (A2), Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and AOL officially unveiled Martha & Friends, an animated multimedia series for kids that is designed to inspire creativity, foster independent thinking, and celebrate friendship. Created in collaboration with Martha Stewart, the series features an animated 10-year-old Martha as a problem-solving, craft-loving, generous spirit who, along with her three best friends and two dogs, shows kids how easy it can be to do-it-themselves.
Martha & Friends includes 26 original short-form webisodes that will air bi-weekly via AOL Kids. The interactive website also includes games, activities, and how-to projects from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Hallmark Channel also aired a 30-minute Independence Day special, Martha’s Fourth, on July 3.