Report: European Toy Sales Increase 5 Percent, U.S. Remains Unchanged
Although traditional toy sales in the United States remained unchanged during the first half of this year, revenue growth in Europe’s five largest toy markets (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and UK) experienced a 5 percent increase for the first half of 2010, according to The NPD Group.
In the U.S., revenue totaled $7.771 billion from January 2010 to June 2010 compared to $7.748 billion generated during the same time period in 2009. In Europe, the UK experienced 8 percent growth, followed by Spain with 6 percent growth, Germany with 4 percent, France with 3 percent, and Italy with 2 percent, during the first half of 2010.
For the first half of this year, NPD EuroToys noticed that market growth was driven in part by sales of outdoor and sports toys. NPD EuroToys analysts also anticipate continued growth for Toy Story-licensed toys. As of June, Star Wars is the No. 1 license for traditional toys in Europe, and Toy Story is the year’s fastest-growing license.
ASTM International Develops New Standard for Lead Testing
ASTM International has developed a new standard that the organization says will help quickly detect and quantify lead concentration in toys and other children’s products. The new standard, F2853, was developed by subcommittee F40.01 on test methods as a part of ASTM International’s committee F40 on declarable substances in materials.
ASTM F2853 uses the energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy technique, and the test described in the standard enables lead quantification separately for the substrate and paint level in a 5-minute measurement cycle. ASTM International is inviting all interested parties to join the task group responsible for F2853 as it considers future revisions to the standard.
Little Airplane and Spin Master Team Up for New Series
Little Airplane Productions and Spin Master Entertainment, a division of Spin Master, Ltd., will unveil their newest property and series at this year’s MIPJunior, to be held October 2-3. The series, Suzy Takes the Stage, combines a new animation technique called “Theatre Arts Animation” with traditional stage techniques including trap doors and lighting effects. Little Airplane created Theatre Arts Animation exclusively for the new series.
Suzy Takes the Stage follows Suzy, a girl who acts out her days on the stage through comedy and song. The series will include 52 episodes at 11 minutes each.
I Can Do That! Games Licensing Deal Extended
Dr. Seuss Enterprises has extended its licensing agreement with I Can Do That! Games. The two companies have partnered for board and card games since 2007, starting with an exclusive offering at Toys “R” Us for that year’s holiday season.
Clue Named as Latest The Hub Series
Clue has been announced as the latest series to join the lineup of shows that will be broadcast on the new network The Hub, to launch October 10 (10-10-10). Clue, produced by Hasbro Studios, will feature a youthful ensemble cast (to be announced) who work together to uncover clues and unravel mysteries.
Other shows that will be broadcast on The Hub include Dan Vs., Family Game Night, G.I. Joe Renegades, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Pictureka!, Pound Puppies, R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour, The Adventures of Chuck and Friends, and Transformers Prime.
The Hub is a joint venture between Discovery Communications and Hasbro, Inc., and is expected to be available in 60 million U.S. households at launch.
Survey: Moms of Tweens Use Facebook More than Other U.S. Adults
The Retail Advertising and Marketing Association (RAMA), a division of the National Retail Federation, and BIGresearch conducted a new survey about moms of tween adolescents. The study, Moms of Tweens: More In-Tune Than You Think, looks at the similarities, differences, and habits of moms of tweens compared to the average U.S. adult.
The survey was conducted between October 15 and December 28, 2009. According to the report, 48.2 percent of moms with pre-teens use Facebook regularly, compared to 39.9 percent of other adults. Nearly eight out of 10 moms preferred coupons as opposed to word of mouth in determining which products to buy (apparel and groceries). The survey also reports that moms with tweens read blogs more often than the average adult.
RC2 Acquires JJ Cole Collections
RC2 Corporation has acquired substantially all of the assets of JJ Cole Collections, a privately held developer and marketer of travel, storage, and other products for moms. According to RC2, JJ Cole is best known for its Bundleme brand of soft travel products, and the company recently developed a line of diaper bags, blankets, and soft goods, as well as decorative nursery storage products.
JJ Cole Collections products generated net sales of approximately $15.5 million in 2009. RC2 funded the acquisition with approximately $40 million from its existing cash. JJ Cole Collections’ senior management will retain approximately 9 percent carry-over ownership. Other terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
JJ Cole Collections’ CEO and Founder Jeremy White will remain with the company.
Mega Launches Dragons Universe
Mega Brands has announced the international launch of its new construction toy line, Dragons Universe. The story of Dragons Universe follows the Alliance soldiers who are being attacked by the Predavors, an alien race of warlike Dragons. The Prevadors are looking for the Cores, which are glowing and powerful spheres.
The new Dragons Universe product line includes the Small Dragon Eggs and Alliance Pods, an assortment of buildable Prevador Dragons or Alliance Speeders; Dragon Universe play sets, with each one featuring characters, dragons, and buildable vehicles for battle scenes; the Rapid Fire Dragon fighter, featuring a “Flight Controller” for aerial maneuvers, a working weapon, and Alliance and Prevador characters; and more.
New Company Acquires Little Capers Children’s Brand
Newly founded company, Little Capers Acquisitions, Inc., has purchased the children’s apparel brand Little Capers. The brand features T-shirts decorated with non-commercial icons and detachable capes, encouraging children to use their imagination, create their own superhero, and select their super powers. Little Capers Acquisitions will focus on two seasonal launches per year starting with the 1950s Space Exploration theme this fall and holiday season and continuing with new spring/summer lines in 2011. Each season will be uniquely themed and will feature two to four new characters.
Little Capers will also introduce Powerband Wristbands in the fall collection. The company is actively exploring additional licensing opportunities in complementary categories including, but not limited to, backpacks and lunchboxes.
CPSC Recalls 96,000 Fisher-Price Toys
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Health Canada, in cooperation with Fisher-Price, issued a voluntary recall of approximately 96,000 Fisher-Price Little People Play ’n Go Campsite toys. The toys were sold at major retailers in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico, and by online retailers, from October 2009 through August 2010.
Although no injuries have been reported, the plastic Sonya Lee figure in the play set can break at the waist, exposing small parts that pose a choking hazard to young children. The CPSC has received eight reports of the Sonya Lee figure breaking.
Consumers are advised to stop using the recalled products immediately and to take the Campsite’s Sonya Lee figure away from children. Consumers can contact Fisher-Price at 1-800-432-5437 to arrange for the figure’s return in exchange for a free replacement. For more information, click here.