July 27, 2012

 Top Trumps

ABC Kids Expo

DreamWorks Animation Agrees to Acquire Classic Media

Where's WaldoDreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc., has entered into an agreement to acquire Classic Media, owner of an extensive portfolio featuring many of the best-known and most-enduring franchises in family entertainment, for $155 million in cash from Boomerang Media Holdings I LLC, a portfolio company of Chicago-based private equity firm GTCR.
With well-established titles such as Casper the Friendly Ghost, Where's Waldo?, Lassie, The Lone Ranger, George of the Jungle, and Rocky & Bullwinkle, Classic Media's properties have been a fixture in mainstream entertainment for decades.
Classic Media has approximately 80 employees and is headquartered in New York City, with offices in the UK and a division, Big Idea Entertainment, in Nashville, Tenn.
For the 12 months ending February 29, Classic Media earned net revenue of $82.2 million and operating profit of $19.2 million.
The acquisition of Classic Media will be financed through a combination of cash and borrowings under DreamWorks Animation’s revolving credit facility. The purchase price of $155 million includes amounts required to retire indebtedness.
The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions. DreamWorks Animation expects that the transaction will be completed during the quarter ending September 30.

JAKKS Pacific Acquires Maui Toys

Maui ToysJakks Pacific, Inc., has acquired Ohio-based Maui, Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of spring and summer activity toys, outdoor sports toys, and impulse toys including Wave Hoop and Sky Ball products.
Jakks Pacific acquired all of the shares of stock of Maui, a 24 year old, privately held company, and its Hong Kong-based affiliate A.S. Design Limited.
The Company expects that the Maui acquisition will be accretive to earnings in 2013. The determination of the impact to 2012 is subject to completion of the purchase price allocation for 2012, which has not yet been completed.

MGA Entertainment Sues Lady Gaga for $10 Million-Plus
MGA Entertainment filed a suit against Lady Gaga in New York City on Tuesday for more than $10 million, according to the Associated Press. MGA alleges that Gaga improperly backed out of a deal to make a doll in her likeness that would play snippets of her music. The company claims it paid a $1 million advance to Bravado International, the company that handles Gaga's merchandizing, and spent a mint racing to meet deadlines to ship the dolls this summer. The plan was allegedly derailed when Bravado International refused to allow the dolls to use the singer's music and attempted to delay sales of the doll until next year.

ToyFest West Heading to Las Vegas

ToyFest WestThe Western Toy & Hobby Representatives Association is presenting the 2013 ToyFest West, the country’s largest regional toy trade show, from March 10-13. The show offers a playground of buying activity featuring many exhibitors showcasing their products.
South Point Hotel Casino and Spa will host the event. As an incentive to retailers and exhibitors attending the event, reservations at the South Point Hotel from Saturday and Sunday will include Monday for free. Make reservations early, as this offer is limited to the first 300 rooms booked, organizers announced this week.
For more information, to reserve the special room rate, and obtain a program schedule, visit www.toyfestwest.com or call (909) 899-3753.

New Survey Finds Gamers Prefer Mobile Devices

Half of U.S. and UK gamers favor mobile devices as their primary home game platform, according to a new survey released by PopCap Games, a division of EA.
The survey reveals that mobile gaming doesn’t necessarily mean “gaming on the go,” with many mobile gamers stating that their favorite place to play mobile games is at home. The survey also uncovered several mobile gamer habits. For instance, a combined total of 10 percent confessed to playing mobile games in a church or other place of worship.
Conducted by independent research firm Information Solutions Group, the survey analyzed the behavior and play habits of mobile gamers, defined as those who have played a mobile game in the past month.
Full results are available on the Information Solutions Group website.

Jakks Pacific, Nantworks Partner to Produce Interactive Toys

Jakks Pacific, Inc., and NantWorks, LLC, have signed a letter of intent to create a joint venture to develop, market, and sell next generation toys incorporating NantWorks’ proprietary image recognition technology. The new venture will be named DreamPlay Toys.
Jakks Pacific will begin transforming its product line to incorporate the new image recognition technology, and will present the first examples in October. Children will be able to “activate” toys, and interact with them using smart phones or tablet devices. The NantWorks platform enables instant connections between physical toys, video, posters, books, games, and all other forms of media.
NantWorks will link Jakks’ toy products to content and animation on mobile devices through the image recognition platform, and Jakks will have the exclusive right to arrange for partnerships with other toy companies to make the platform available to them in the development, sale, and marketing of their toy products. Jakks and NantWorks will have a profit sharing arrangement for these third-party toy relationships. 

Consumers Plan to Use Money-Saving Methods While Back-to-School Shopping

PriceGrabber has released additional results from its Back-to-School Shopping Forecast. According to the survey, 74 percent of consumers chose free shipping as the top retailer tactic that would entice them to make a back-to-school purchase this year. Conducted from May 22 to June 5, the survey includes responses from 4,450 U.S. online shopping consumers, with 1,509 of the respondents planning to shop this back-to-school season.
When PriceGrabber survey respondents were asked to select all of the ways in which they plan to save money while back-to-school shopping this year, online and comparison shopping websites ranked first with 62 percent. Fifty-six percent of consumers said they plan to shop at discount, bargain, and outlet stores; and 50 percent will search for school supplies such as pens, pencils, and glue sticks already in their house before buying new items. Forty-nine percent of consumers are planning to take an inventory of their kid’s closet to see which clothing items can still be worn and which items need to be replaced before going shopping; 36 percent plan to make a list to control impulse buying; and 34 percent plan to visit retailer websites to print out coupons.

Thinkway Toys Partners with My Baby Excels

According to India Business Review, Thinkway Toys has partnered with My Baby Excels, an Indian toy label. My Baby Excels holds licenses for Disney and Barbie, among others in India. My Baby Excels represents international best sellers such as LeapFrog, Meccano, Warner Bros., Fisher-Price, Animal Planet, WOW, Beebop, Angry Birds, WowWee, Pur, Playmobil, Dora, and Dreamworks in India.

TIA Releases Children’s Online Privacy Resources

The Toy Industry Association’s Responsible Marketing to Children (M2C) Committee has developed a white paper, The Changing Privacy and Data Security Landscape: From Mobile Apps to OBA, and a corresponding Checklist for Mobile Apps and Promotions, to assist members of the industry in understanding an array of laws and regulations, policy initiatives, self-regulatory standards, and reports addressing various aspects of privacy and data security. 
For TIA members-only, The Changing Privacy and Data Security Landscape: From Mobile Apps to OBA provides background on the issues and a status report on significant U.S. and international laws and policy developments.  A Checklist for Mobile Apps and Promotions, which provides a framework that all toy companies can use to examine and evaluate the risks and opportunities related to their app initiatives, is available to the public.

Winning Moves Games Launches Pastime Puzzles

Pastime Puzzles, a line of jigsaw puzzles for the specialty toy and game market, will hit shelves in August. New from Winning Moves Games, each 500- and 1,000-piece Pastime Puzzle includes specially shaped pieces called whimsies, which include birds, animals, objects, and symbols. Fifty whimsies can be found in the 500 piece puzzles and 100 whimsies in the 1,000 piece puzzles. No two pieces are alike.
The Pastime Puzzles line is comprised of paintings from a variety of artists. Finished Pastime Puzzles are sized to fit into standard picture frames.
Inside each package is a secret code that might be a winner. For a chance to win a hand-cut, wooden Pastime Puzzle, puzzlers can enter the code on pastime-puzzles.com, which will be launched on August 1. The retailer that sold the winning puzzle will also win a puzzle. One winner will be drawn every month.

Hit Entertainment Partners with P2 Games to Launch Bob the Builder’s Playtime Fun
Bob the BuilderHit Entertainment and P2 Games have launched Bob the Builder’s Playtime Fun for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, available in Apple’s App Store this week. This first game app for Bob the Builder offers preschoolers interactive early learning fun across a varied range of easy-to-play games and activities.
Bob the Builder’s Playtime Fun offers young builders six new games with Bob and the machine team that play on the brand’s message of positive thinking, problem solving, and teamwork. The app also showcases a bonus sticker book where players collect virtual stickers of their favorite members of the Can-Do Crew throughout each game.
The app was created with artwork from Bob the Builder’s CGI world and features favorite characters, including Muck, Scoop, Dizzy, and Bob.

Talking Tom and Talking Ben Plush Toys to Hit Store Shelves

Talking TomThe first Talking Tom and Talking Ben Talk Back plush from Dragon-i Toys will arrive in stores across the country next month. Based on Outfit7’s Talking Friends apps that reach more than 115 million monthly active users worldwide, the legendary duo will now be available in plush form. 
Already a hit overseas, Dragon-I Toys’ Talking Tom and Talking Ben Talk Back plush garnered the best girls licensed toy at the Australian Toy awards earlier this year.
Standing 12-inches high with his wide green eyes, Talking Tom Talk Back invites kids of all ages to rub his tummy, stroke his forehead, and hold his foot to hear the familiar laugh-out-loud sounds from the app—from the loveable purr, crazy cat yelps, cuckoo bell, silly slaps, and more. Press on the left paw, talk to Tom, and he’ll repeat back in his irreverent and endearing style. The Talking Tom and Talking Ben Talk Back plush with sounds will be available at major retailers in 8-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch sizes. Non-talk back versions will also be available.

Nastia Liukin Helps Fisher-Price Introduce Gymnastics Dora Doll

Gymnastics DoraJust in time for the excitement in London this summer, five-time Olympic medalist and role model, Nastia Liukin, is teaming up with Fisher-Price, Inc., to help introduce the new, interactive Fantastic Gymnastics Dora.
Fantastic Gymnastics Dora, based on the Nickelodeon show Dora the Explorer, performs two gymnastics routines, features seven unique moves — including splits, handstands and back-bends — and enhances imaginative role-play for kids ages 3 and older. Children can coach Dora through her practice and performance routines. Fantastic Gymnastics Dora also features more than 40 phrases in English and Spanish and a special song celebrating teamwork.
Fantastic Gymnastics Dora will be available in August at retailers nationwide including Toys “R” Us, Target, Walmart, and Kmart.

Sprout, Lazytown Partner with First Lady to Promote Healthy Lifestyles for Preschoolers

The Sprout preschool television channel, First Lady Michelle Obama, and LazyTown have teamed up to promote active, healthy lifestyles for preschoolers with a series of new Let’s Move! public service announcements produced by Sprout and designed specifically for children ages 2 through 5 and their families.
The three PSAs, filmed in the East Room of The White House, feature First Lady Michelle Obama; Chica the Chicken, host of Sprout’s The Sunny Side Up Show; and Sportacus from the LazyTown series.
Debuting on Sprout during “Good Sport Week” and in celebration of the upcoming Summer Olympic Games, the Let’s Move! PSAs focus on promoting physical activity, healthy eating, the importance of play, and making simple lifestyle changes. The PSAs will also begin airing on NBC on July 28 during NBC Kids, a new Saturday morning block designed to address the developmental needs of preschool-aged children.

Sign-up for Fall Million Minute Family Challenge Now Open

Million Minute Family ChallengePatch Products kicks off the 12th year of the game-play initiative Million Minute Family Challenge, a grassroots effort started to encourage face-to-face time among families and friends. Each year, from September through December, families, church groups, scouts, and other groups of game enthusiasts take part.
Signing up for the Million Minute Family Challenge is free. Go to millionminute.com to register.
The goal of the Million Minute Family Challenge is to encourage families and other groups of game-players in all 50 states and Canada to play a game and log their minutes of play, aiming for a total of one million minutes by the end of the challenge.
Game-players can use millionminute.com as a one-stop resource for planning their game nights. Participants are encouraged to go to the site to check out new featured game recommendations every other week, coordinated activity suggestions, recipes, and other essentials for planning the perfect game night.

Zodiak Reorganizes HQ

Laurent Boissel, chief finance officer at Zodiak Media, has been promoted to the expanded role of chief financial and operating officer of Zodiak Media. Boissel will assume his new responsibilities immediately and will continue to report to Zodiak CEO David Frank, in close relationship with the Paris and London teams. The appointment follows the departure from HQ of current Group COO Jonny Slow to take up his new position as CEO of Zodiak Americas, based in Los Angeles.
Also, as part of the restructuring of the group’s HQ, Roisin Thomas and Jana Bakunina, both currently vice presidents of corporate development, were appointed as chief of staff and vice president of corporate finance respectively. Further hires are expected to support key HQ functions.

Poof-Slinky Gets Significant Investment from Propel Equity Partners

Poof-Slinky, Inc., has received a significant investment from Propel Equity Partners, a private equity firm focused exclusively on investing and creating value in leading consumer brands.
Based in Plymouth, Mich., Poof-Slinky was founded more than 65 years ago. The company has amassed a portfolio of branded toys, sports balls, educational activity kits, table top and board games, and novelty products. Best known for its classic metal Slinky and Slinky Dog products and Poof foam balls, Poof-Slinky products are sold in more than 35,000 retail outlets. The company operates two manufacturing plants in Michigan and Pennsylvania and has more than 125 employees.

Hasbro Reports Second Quarter Financial Results

Hasbro, Inc., has reported financial results for the second quarter of this year. Net revenues for the quarter were $811.5 million, a decrease of 11 percent, compared to $908.5 million last year.
Second quarter net revenues declined 7 percent, excluding a negative $34.4 million impact of foreign exchange. Net earnings for the second quarter of this year were $43.4 million, or $0.33 per diluted share, versus $58.1 million, or $0.42 per diluted share, last year.
Last year’s second quarter net earnings included a favorable tax adjustment of $20.5 million, or $0.15 per diluted share, and pre-tax expense of $13.1 million, or $0.06 per diluted share, related to costs associated with establishing Hasbro's Gaming Center of Excellence. Absent these items, last year’s second quarter net earnings were $46.0 million or $0.33 per share.

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