July 27, 2011

Laser Pegs

CTA Renamed as China Toy and Juvenile Products Association

According to a letter released by the Ministry of Civil Affairs of China, the China Toy Association (CTA) has been renamed China Toy and Juvenile Products Association, effective June 24.

Jakks Named Master Toy Partner for Men in Black 3

Jakks Pacific, Inc. has announced a master toy licensing agreement with Sony Pictures Consumer Products to manufacture, distribute, and market a line of toys and products based on the upcoming Men in Black 3. The licensing program, due to launch next spring, will include action figures, accessories, play sets, role play, youth electronics, novelties, games and puzzles, Halloween costumes, and more. The agreement covers the entire Men in Black franchise. The 3-D action comedy, slated to open on May 25, 2012 is directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, and stars Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, and Josh Brolin.

ShopperTrak, NRF Make Back-to-School Shopping Predictions

Retailers can expect good and bad news this back-to-school season, says ShopperTrak, a leading counter and analyzer of retail foot traffic. According to the report, back-to-school shoppers will spend more than last year, but make fewer trips to the store. The report states that national retail sales, when compared to the same period last year, will rise 3.8 percent in August, while foot traffic will decrease 2.9 percent. ShopperTrak predicts the decrease to be attributed to rising gas prices, which has jumped 30 percent this summer compared to the summer of 2010. ShopperTrak also expects numbers to drop even further if Congress fails to act on the U.S. debt ceiling, causing Americans to become nervous and to cut their spending,
ShopperTrak measures foot-traffic in more than 25,000 stores in the U.S. and analyzes the data in a proprietary econometric model to create its National Retail Sales Estimate (NRSE).
According to a new National Retail Federation back-to-school survey, conducted by BIGresearch, families with children in grades K-12 will spend an average of  $603.63 on apparel, school supplies, and electronics, close to last year’s average of $606.40. Total spending on kids in K-12 is expected to reach $22.8 billion.
According to the survey, Americans plan to purchase more store-brand or generic items (39.9 percent), comparison shop more online (29.8 percent), and shop for sales (50 percent). Additionally, nearly half of survey respondents said the economy is forcing them to simply spend less in general (43.7 percent).
For more survey results, visit www.nrf.com/backtoschool.

Nickelodeon to Broadcast New Boys’ Series, Monsuno

MonsunoJakks Pacific, Inc., Dentsu Entertainment USA, and FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME) announced a global content distribution deal with Nickelodeon, for worldwide broadcast rights to the new original animated entertainment franchise Monsuno.
Nickelodeon will launch the series to audiences on owned channels in the U.S., Latin America, the UK, key European and Eastern European territories, Australia and New Zealand, India, Southeast Asia, Russia, and Africa. The Monsuno series will first launch in the U.S. on Nicktoons and select English-speaking countries.
Targeting boys ages 6 to 11, the Monsuno series will be supported by a toy line by Jakks Pacific, featuring kid-controlled action figures, accessories, play sets, collectibles, electronics, and integrated role play. The Topps Company has signed on to produce Monsuno trading card games, confectioneries, and related products.

World of Toys Comes to Toy Biz in India

World of ToysSpielwarenmesse eG, and its World of Toys international fair program, took part in Toy Biz, held in New Delhi, India, for the first time. Five companies presented their products in the World of Toys Pavilion: Beleduc Lernspielwaren GmbH, Habermaaß GmbH, Lego Systems A/S, Noch GmbH & Co. KG, and Sieper GmbH. The Pavilion, held July 2-4, also supplied information about the Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair Nürnberg and the World of Toys program. Toy Biz, India’s only toy trade fair, is organized by The Toy Association of India (TAI). The toys exhibited in the World of Toys Pavilion were donated to Shishu Bhavan, a charitable institution in New Delhi, at the end of the fair. For more information about World of Toys, visit www.world-of-toys.org/india.

Report: Kids Drive Household Purchases of Consumer Electronics

Kids are driving household purchases of consumer electronic (CE) devices, according to
Kids and Consumer Electronics, 2011 Edition, the latest report from The NPD Group. The report showed that, when looking at devices purchased in the past year, 78 percent of portable video game systems purchased and 56 percent of portable digital media players (PDMP) purchased were given to a child. The report also detailed that 73 percent of kids use computers purchased, 74 percent use televisions, and nearly 60 percent of kids are using a portable or console gaming system.
For households with kids ages 4 to 14, newer devices, such as e-readers and media tablets, were acquired at single-digit rates (8 percent and 5 percent, respectively). The report also notes a slight decline in the average number of days in which kids use cell phones, PDMPs, and portable video game systems since last year. For all other devices, the average number of days has remained stable or declined, suggesting kids are maxed out on time.
Among households with kids ages 4-14, many consumers are purchasing CE devices online (for example, 46 percent for e-readers and 31 percent for desktop computers). In comparison, only 9 percent of toys are purchased online for kids in this age group.

FAO Celebrates The Smurfs with Activities and “Blue-Tique”

The SmurfsWhen The Smurfs opens in theaters nationwide this Friday, July 29, viewers will see the legendary FAO Schwarz Fifth Avenue store prominently featured in a chase scene in which the Smurfs encounter the evil wizard Gargamel. To celebrate the store’s role in the movie, FAO Schwarz is hosting daily themed activities during a special Smurf Week (July 25 to July 29), highlighted by an appearance by Hank Azaria, who plays Gargamel in the film.
In store, customers can bring The Smurfs home with FAO’s assortment of toys, games, and more items in the store’s “blue-tique.”  The main attraction of the “blue-tique” is the Smurfalator, a machine used by Gargamel to extract the Smurfs’ magical essence. Also featured are images from the movie, toys from Jakks Pacific, a classic assortment of Smurfs from Schleich, collector dolls from Madame Alexander, and apparel from Junk Food Clothing.
FAO.com is also receiving a “Smurfy” makeover, and Facebook.com/FAO will join the celebration.

Lego Group Awarded License to Create Lego DC Universe Super Heroes

Lego DC UniverseWarner Bros. Consumer Products and DC Entertainment have extended their partnership with The Lego Group, giving Lego complete access to its vast library of DC Comics characters and stories in order to create toys inspired by the world of DC Comics. Thirteen iconic superheroes will be featured in mini figure form, including Superman, Lex Luthor, and Wonder Woman. Buildable characters will include Batman, The Joker, and Green Lantern. Construction sets, mini figures, and buildable characters and creatures will launch in January.

Nickelodeon Unveils SpongeBob Vinyl Toys

Nickelodeon has signed a new licensing agreement with Toynami, Inc. and designer vinyl toy brand UNKL for a line of co-branded SpongeBob SquarePants urban vinyl toys modeled after UNKL’s UniPo figures. The first wave of figures will include SpongeBob SquarePants, Patrick, Squidward, Mr. Krabs, and The Flying Dutchman, which will be available to specialty retailers this fall. Toynami unveiled working prototypes of the figures at Comic-Con International in San Diego, which was held last Thursday through Sunday.

Pacific Entertainment Gets Distribution Rights for Eagle One Media

Street FighterPacific Entertainment Corporation has signed a new distribution agreement with Eagle
One Media for the distribution of DVDs and games. Headlining the slate of DVDs is Eagle One Media’s latest animated comic video production, Street Fighter: The New Challengers, which is due to be released on September 6.
Based on the Capcom video game franchise and Udon Studio’s comic book series, this new 90-minute Street Fighter video feature will be released as a standalone DVD or offered in a special collector bundle package that includes Capcom’s Street Fighter IV PC Game.
Additional titles from Eagle One Media being released on September 6 include Wrath of the Titans—Special Edition, Dragon Hill, Dragon Blade: The Beginning, Street Fighter: Round One—Fight!, Bloodwood Cannibals, Wake The Witch, and Zombie Apocalypse.

Relativity Media Options Voltron Movie Rights

VoltronA live-action adaptation of the 1984 animated series Voltron: Defender of the Universe is slated to hit the big screen. Relativity Media announced that the studio has optioned the feature film rights for Voltron from World Event Productions. The project was brought to Relativity through its deal with Atlas Entertainment’s Charles Roven and Richard Suckle, whose company will shepherd the project. 
The live-action film will be produced by Atlas Entertainment’s Roven (The Dark Knight) and Richard Suckle (The International), along with Kickstart Entertainment’s Jason Netter (Wanted). World Events Productions’ Ted Koplar (Voltron Force) will executive produce. The script is being penned by Thomas Dean Donnelly (Conan the Barbarian) and Joshua Oppenheimer (Sahara). World Events Productions was represented in the deal by UTA.

ACD to Distribute Playroom Entertainment Games

Playroom Entertainment, Inc. has inked a deal with ACD Distribution. ACD will now handle exclusive distribution of Playroom brand game titles. Playroom says that the deal with ACD strengthens Playroom’s commitment to its retailers as its product lines and game titles continue to expand. This year, Playroom announced the release of more titles and expansion games than it ever has in its company history.

New Series, Produced by Little Airplane, to Debut in September

Small PotatoesSmall Potatoes, a new short-form preschool series from Josh Selig and Little Airplane Productions, is set to premiere Tuesday, September 6 in the U.S. The series will air daily on Disney Channel’s Disney Junior programming block, targeted to kids ages 2 to 7 and their families. This series premiered on the BBC’s CBeebies in the spring and has launched on the ABC in Australia and Canal+ and Piwi in France.
In conjunction with the U.S. launch, SiriusXM’s Kids Place Live will air a one-hour radio special, “Small Potatoes, Deep Roots,” preceded by an interview with Josh Selig and Kids Place Live's “Absolutely Mindy” host, Mindy Thomas. Each episode of Small Potatoes contains one music video and two comedy sketches. The band’s songs cover every popular musical genre, from Motown to reggae and rock ’n roll.

Moshi Monsters Partners with Hamleys for Summer Campaign

Moshi MonstersMoshi Monsters has invaded London’s Hamleys toy store as part of a summer-long campaign. A themed window display featuring the monsters was unveiled last week, marking the beginning of a long-term retail partnership between the brand and the toy store. The campaign will run throughout the back-to-school season and will feature the full Moshi Monsters toy range from master toy partner Vivid and trading cards from Topps. Alongside the window display, Hamleys is offering in-store promotions including floor and escalator vinyls that drive foot traffic to the Moshi Monsters range. There is also a gift-with-purchase promotion; for each Moshi Monsters item purchased, consumers will receive an exclusive golden “Mini Ben” moshling character trading card, featuring an exclusive code that unlocks an item within the game. As part of the ongoing partnership, a dedicated Moshi Monsters-themed retail space will be installed in-store, to launch later this year.

McDonald’s Revamps Happy Meal, Launches Nutritional Marketing Initiative

After being accused of using toys to lure kids to its restaurants and blamed for promoting unhealthy eating habits, McDonald’s is introducing a new Happy Meal that the company says adds “more nutritionally balanced choices,” as part of its “Commitments to Offer Improved Nutrition Choices” initiative.
Starting in September, and by Q1 2012, all McDonald’s Happy Meals will automatically include both apple slices (without the dipping caramel) and a smaller portion of French fries (1.1 ounces), along with the choice of a hamburger, cheeseburger, or chicken McNuggets, and a choice of beverage, including the new fat-free chocolate milk and 1 percent low-fat white milk. Customers can also request two bags of apple slices instead of the French fries. By Q1 2012, McDonald’s hopes that Happy Meals will see an estimated 20 percent reduction in calories and also a reduction in fat. By 2015, the chain hopes to reduce sodium by 15 percent in all its meals.
The company will also promote nutritional messages in all of its national kids’ communications, including merchandising, advertising, digital, and on Happy Meal packaging.

Co-Founder of Mattel Passes Away

According to The New York Times, Elliot Handler, co-founder of Mattel, died last Thursday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 95. His daughter, Barbara Segal, said he died of heart failure.
Handler started Mattel in 1945 with his wife, Ruth. The Handlers helped introduced Barbie, named after their daughter, and Ken, named after their son who died of a brain tumor in 1994. Handler also helped design the talking doll Chatty Cathy and popularized Hot Wheels toy cars, recruiting designers from automobile companies such as General Motors.
The Handlers left the company in 1975. Ruth died in 2002. Elliot is survived by his daughter, his brother, and five grandchildren.

LIMA Hires Adam Berg as Membership SVP

Adam Berg has joined the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA) as senior vice president of membership and new business development. A 25-year licensing industry veteran, Berg will spearhead LIMA’s membership growth strategy and will be responsible for identifying and developing opportunities within various segments of the global licensing industry. He will also create and execute membership and business development initiatives designed to enhance the overall image of the association and its relevance to members. His activities will also include coordinating efforts with LIMA’s international managing directors.
Berg comes to LIMA following a lengthy career with Equity Management, a trademark licensing firm, where he most recently served as senior vice president of licensing sales.

Imira Entertainment Expands Licensing Division

Imira Entertainment, a production and distribution company specializing in youth programming that is based in Spain, has appointed Julian Barbier as head of licensing. Barbier joins Imira from Biplano, also based in Spain, where he handled the licensing of major brands for clients, including Dreamworks Animation, Nickelodeon, and Sony Pictures. At Imira, he will be tasked with managing and developing the company’s properties in Spain and Portugal, as well as creating and managing an international network of local licensing agents for Imira’s slate of entertainment brands.

Action Products Updates Shareholders

Action Products International, Inc. updated its shareholders regarding its restructuring activities. The company stated it has completed the following major activities toward its overall restructure: negotiated foreign debt transfer and payment, eliminating future legal issues; selected and is engaging a legal firm to represent the company on outstanding lawsuits; in the process of completing the appointment of two outside directors to the board to oversee future plans and growth of the company; is finalizing investment banking relationships for capital restructure with funding commitments; completed historical financial statements, and related footnotes are being reviewed with updated financial information due to be posted soon on the OTC Markets; and is completing final negotiations with revenue-producing merger candidates.

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