July 27, 2010
Top Trumps

HABA

MGA Owns Bratz Brand, Says Appeals Court

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that MGA is the owner of the Bratz brand, not Mattel. In a unanimous decision, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski spoke on behalf of the panel saying that “it is not equitable to transfer this billion dollar brand—the value of which is overwhelmingly the results of MGA’s legitimate efforts” to Mattel. The 24-page opinion stated: “it’s likely that a significant portion—if not all—of the jury verdict and damage award should be vacated.”
MGA founder Isaac Larian said the company will re-launch a new line of Bratz products, as well as release new Moxie Girlz, Moxie Teenz, Bitty Buttons, and BFC, Ink products, this August.

JAKKS Pacific to Manufacture Product Line for Real Steel

JAKKS Pacific, Inc., has signed a master toy licensing agreement with DreamWorks Studios to manufacture, distribute, and market a line of toys based on the upcoming live-action feature film Real Steel, directed by Shawn Levy and starring Hugh Jackman.
The agreement, brokered by licensing agent Striker Entertainment, includes action figures, accessories, play sets, roleplay, youth electronics, novelties, games and puzzles, Halloween costumes, and more. JAKKS expects to launch the Real Steel product line next fall to coincide with the film’s November 18, 2011 premiere in theaters nationwide.

Rubie’s Obtains License for The Green Hornet Costumes

Rubie’s Costume Co., Inc. has secured a license to create costumes ranging from deluxe to accessories based on characters from Sony Pictures’ January 14 release of The Green Hornet. Rubie’s The Green Hornet costumes will include Kato, Green Hornet, hats, gloves, masks, and more.
The Green Hornet stars Seth Rogen in the title role, Jay Chou as Kato, Cameron Diaz as secretary Lenore Case, and Christoph Waltz as Benjamin Chudnofsky. The movie is directed by Michel Gondry, written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, produced by Neal H. Moritz, and based on the 1930’s "The Green Hornet" radio series created by George W. Trendle. The film will be released in 3-D.

Sprout Premieres Two New Nightly Shows

Preschool television network Sprout has premiered two new exclusive nightly shows, Nina’s Little Fables at 7:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. ET, and Chloe’s Closet at 5:45 p.m. ET.
Nina’s Little Fables features 26 classic fables adapted for young audiences and illustrated with shadow puppetry animation. The series premiered on June 28.
Chloe's Closet follows the adventures of a little girl named Chloe who discovers new worlds while playing dress-up in her closet; the series premiered in the U.S. on July 12. Last year, Bandai America, Inc. was named the global toy licensee for Chloe’s Closet and will create toys, activity sets and crafts, roleplay, and dress-up sets based on the series.

Discovery Bay to Launch Oxford Game Collection at Barnes & Noble

Discovery Bay GamesStone America Licensing has announced the launch of Discovery Bay Games’ Oxford Game Collection at Barnes & Noble for spring 2011. The line will showcase the history of the University of Oxford in traditional games, including chess and checkers sets with gargoyle components, traditional cribbage, liar’s dice, dominoes, card sets, an authentic trivia game, and both jigsaw and pop-out puzzles.
Following the launch at Barnes & Noble, the products will be available at other retailers, including Borders, K-Mart, Nordstrom, Toys "R" Us, Amazon.com, Target.com, and specialty toy retailers.

Toy, Game, and Technology Summit to Come in September

Leaders from around the toy, video game, and technology industries will converge in Santa Clara, Calif., this fall to generate cross-platform relations. From September 22–23, the Toy, Game, & Technology Summit will allow executives to learn from each other as each develops new products for young people.
The summit will focus on pressing toy companies to adopt digital assets, as well as helping video game and technology companies learn how to better establish partnerships with traditional toy manufacturers. The event, sponsored by the Toy Industry Association, Inc. (TIA), features industry leaders, including Joseph Olin, president, Academy of Interactive Arts and Science; TIA President Carter Keithley (pictured above); Reyne Rice, trend specialist at TIA; and Anita Frazier, toys and video games industry analyst at The NPD Group.
The event will take place at the Santa Clara Convention Center. TIA members will receive 15 percent off admission. For more information, visit www.ToysGamesTech.com.

Report: Decline in Number of U.S. Gift Givers for Kids 0-2

According to Juvenile Products: 2010 Edition by The NPD Group, there has been a decline in the number of U.S. consumers who buy gifts for kids ages 0-2 in an average year. Since 2007, when the original Juvenile Products report was published, that number has declined from 47 percent to 40 percent.
The 2010 report also states that while the number of people buying gifts in a typical year has declined, the amount spent on baby showers and holidays has increased slightly. New baby gifts rose from $26 to $29. The report also states that grandparents spend the most on new baby gifts, an average of $72.
For the entire juvenile product category, clothing and layette is the most popular for purchases in the past year, followed by toys, and books/music/video.

Demon Records to Release Waybuloo Single

RDF Rights, part of the RDF Media Group, has licensed Demon Records the publishing rights to release a Waybuloo single, “Waybuloo Time For Yogo.” The song features some of the Pipling signature phrases and yogo movements that appear in the preschool series, which airs on the UK’s CBeebies.
“Waybuloo Time For Yogo” will be released digitally on August 9 and will be followed by the digital/CD album release of Waybuloo a World of Musical Happiness on September 6.
Waybuloo launched in the UK in May 2009 on CBeebies. The series now airs in 79 countries worldwide and RDF Rights has secured 34 licensees to date in the UK.
RDF Rights holds worldwide rights in all media in the property, with the exception of Canada where Decode Enterprises handles broadcast and home entertainment rights and DHX Licensing represents consumer products rights.

Max and Ruby Gets Theatrical Adaptation

Max & RubyKoba Entertainment has added Max and Ruby: Bunny Party, a musical adaptation of Nickelodeon's Max and Ruby series, to its family of touring theatrical productions. The 90-minute theatrical event is currently in production and is backed by a creative team that includes Max and Ruby book series creator Rosemary Wells as the script consultant and Norman Foote as the music and lyrics writer. The show will be directed and conceived by Patti Caplette.
The theatrical tour will begin in western Canada this fall and will continue throughout Canada and the United States into 2011. Koba Entertainment will hold exclusive theatrical rights for Max and Ruby in North America.

Nickelodeon Green Lights The Legend of Korra Series

Nickelodeon has given the go-ahead to develop The Legend of Korra, a new series from the creators of the television series Avatar: The Last Airbender. The series, which will continue the Avatar animated franchise, will premiere on Nickelodeon in 2011.
The Legend of Korra takes place 70 years after the events of Avatar: The Last Airbender, and follows the adventures of Korra, a passionate, rebellious, and fearless teenage girl from the Southern Water Tribe. With three of the four elements under her belt (Earth, Water, and Fire), Korra seeks to master the final element, Air.
The new series will be produced at the Nickelodeon Animation Studios in Burbank, Calif., and is co-executive produced by Joaquim Dos Santos.

Imperial Toy Consolidates with New Lease

According to the Memphis Business Journal, Imperial Toy has signed a lease for a 312,000-square foot building, located at Southaven Distribution Center Building Two, in an effort to consolidate its Memphis-area operations. The company is currently leasing two buildings in Memphis that covers 240,000 square feet.

Madame Alexander

Universal SVP Promoted to Executive Vice President

Amy Taylor has been promoted to executive vice president at Universal Partnerships & Licensing (UP&L). Taylor, formerly senior vice president, will continue to oversee UP&L’s North American promotions, worldwide licensing, worldwide digital and interactive activities, and retail development for Universal Pictures and Focus Features. The team that she oversees is currently handling promotional efforts for the Universal films that are being produced with Hasbro, including Battleship and Stretch Armstrong.
Prior to serving as SVP, Taylor held senior leadership roles in both promotions and consumer products. Before joining Universal, Taylor held marketing positions at Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Hanna Barbera.

Talicor Announces New Hires

Talicor has hired new employees. In January, Todd Jacobs started as the company's new vice president. Jacobs handles the day-to-day operations of Talicor as well as sales and marketing. Angel Shain has been named Talicor’s new sales representative. Jacobs, Shain, and the rest of the Talicor team are currently gearing up for the fall buying season.

Saban Brands Hires VP of Development and Production

Saban Brands, LLC has named Brian Casentini as the company’s vice president of development and production. Casentini will oversee the creative development and production of all Saban Brands content, beginning with the new Power Rangers series for Nickelodeon. Casentini will also develop multiplatform content strategies for all intellectual properties acquired by Saban Brands, and will assist in future acquisition efforts.
Casentini recently served as the executive in charge of production for Nickelodeon’s Fanboy & Chum Chum and the second season of The Mighty B!.  Previously, Casentini served as vice president of development & current programming at ABC Family Channel, and prior to that he was vice president of current programming at the Fox Family Channel and Fox Kids Network.

Munchkin Forms In-House Marketing and Communications Department

Munchkin, Inc., has formed a new, in-house marketing and communications department. The department will service both the infant/toddler and pet care divisions of the corporation.
Amy Osete, former vice president of marketing, will serve as vice president of communications and will lead the department, which is focused on executing marketing strategies in digital and traditional mediums. Osete will continue to manage the pet division’s daily operations, including marketing, advertising, and product development.
Jennifer Campana, a 15-year communications industry veteran, has been hired as communications manager and will report to Osete. Campana will lead traditional and digital public relations efforts, including social media.
The new team will be responsible for advertising, print and electronic collateral materials, and interactive/web initiatives.

Square Enix Names New President and CEO

Yoichi Wada, president and CEO of Square Enix Holdings Co., Ltd., has announced that Mike Fischer has assumed the role of president and CEO of U.S.-based Square Enix, Inc. Fischer will oversee operations, including the publication and distribution of entertainment content under the Square Enix Group's brands, such as Square Enix, Eidos, and Taito in the Americas. Fischer is a 20-year veteran of the video game industry, most recently serving as consumer & online marketing officer of Microsoft in the UK.

JAKKS Pacific Reports Second Quarter and Six Month Results

JAKKS Pacific, Inc. has reported results for the company’s second quarter and first six months, which ended June 30.
Net sales for 2010’s second quarter were $123.3 million, compared to $144.8 million reported for the second quarter of 2009. Net sales for the six months were $200.6 million, compared to $253.5 million in 2009. Net income for the second quarter was $3 million, or $0.11 per diluted share, which includes a one-time pre-tax charge relating to the benefit payment of $2.8 million, or $0.06 per diluted share, to the estate of Jack Friedman pursuant to his employment agreement. In 2009, there was a loss of $406.6 million, or $14.96 per diluted share, for the second quarter.
The net loss for the six-month period was $2.2 million, or $0.08 per diluted share, which also includes the payment to Jack Friedman’s estate, compared to 2009’s six month loss of $417.4 million, or $15.35 per diluted share.

LeapFrog Announces Second Quarter Results

LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. has announced its financial results for the second quarter of 2010, which ended June 30. Net sales for the quarter were $62.4 million, up 26 percent, compared to $49.4 million for the same quarter in 2009. The company attributes its net sales growth to sales growth of the Leapster Explorer and the Scout line of toys as well as a broader retail distribution.
Net sales from the U.S. segment for the quarter were $48.7 million, up 26 percent, compared to $38.8 million for the same quarter in 2009. Net sales from the international segment were $13.7 million for the quarter, up 29 percent, compared to $10.6 million for the same quarter a year ago.
Loss from operations for the quarter was $12.2 million, an improvement of $6 million, compared to $18.2 million a year ago.

TRU Possibly Seeking $1.8 Billion Credit Line

According to Bloomberg sources, Toys “R” Us, Inc. is seeking a $1.8 billion revolving line of credit to refinance a $1.61 billion credit line that matures in May 2012. Bloomberg reports that the extension will be used to try to improve its credit profile, since a 2005 buyout (by KKR & Co., Bain Capital Partners, LLC, and Vornado Realty Trust) “added debt to its balance sheet.” As of May 1, the company had a long-term debt of $4.9 billion. Toys “R” Us plans to raise up to $800 million in an initial public offering.

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