August 11, 2011

Laser Pegs

Jakks Pacific to Acquire Moose Mountain Toymakers

Moose MountainJakks Pacific, Inc. has entered into an agreement to acquire Hong Kong-based Moose Mountain Toymakers Limited, manufacturer of sports arcade products, foot-to-floor ride-ons, tents, soft play environments, arcade pinball games, and wagons. Jakks Pacific will acquire all shares of Moose Mountain’s stock and its affiliate, Moose Mountain Marketing, Inc. The business includes licenses for characters and brands. The transaction is scheduled to close in Q3 2011, subject to third party approvals and other customary closing conditions.

 

 

TIA to Host Webinar on Chemical Reporting Regulations

On September 7, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) will host an educational webinar for toy companies and retailers about new chemical reporting regulations. The webinar will provide additional information and details about new and emerging chemical reporting requirements, as well as tips on compliance. In June, legislation in Maine was passed amending the Toxic Chemicals in Children’s Products Act of 2008. In July, Washington state released a final rule defining the process by which the manufacturers of children’s products sold in that state must report the use of any of 66 “chemicals of concern,” which were referenced on the State’s Department of Ecology (DoE) Reporting List of Chemicals of High Concern to Children under Washington’s Children’s Safe Products Act (CSPA) of 2008.
Representatives from both the Department of Environmental Protection in Maine and the DoE in Washington have been invited to provide an overview of the regulations during the webinar. Members of TIA’s external affairs and safety and technical affairs teams will specifically address compliance issues of interest to toy industry stakeholders and answer questions from participants.

Most Americans Believe Smaller Companies Have Better Customer Service

Four in five Americans (81 percent) believe that smaller companies place a greater emphasis on customer service than large businesses, according to a new report by the American Express Global Customer Service Barometer. The survey, exploring attitudes and preferences toward customer service, was conducted in the U.S. and nine other countries. 
According to the report, 73 percent of respondents said they would be willing to spend more time with a company that they believe provides excellent customer service and 70 percent of Americans are willing to spend an average of 13 percent more money with companies they believe provide excellent customer service. This is up from last year, when 58 percent of Americans said they would spend an average of 9 percent more with companies that deliver greater service. 
Overall, most Americans (60 percent) believe businesses haven’t increased their focus on providing good customer service, and 26 percent believe companies are actually paying less attention to service.
When there is poor customer service, 78 percent of respondents said they bailed on the transaction. Three out of five Americans (59 percent) said they would try a new brand or company for a better service experience, and two out of five Americans (39 percent) said that, in anger, they have threatened to switch to a competitor.

Defiants 4x4 Partners for Online Game

After making its national debut this summer, Redwood Ventures’ Defiants 4x4 has partnered with Miniclip for an online game, Defiants Danger Rally, available at Defiants4x4s.com and Miniclip.com. Mirroring the “Can’t Stop ’Em” ethos of the Defiants brand, the game virtually embodies the stunts, jumps, runs, and climbs of the motorized toy cars. Each level includes the Defiants 4x4 vehicles as well as elements from the line’s play sets and accessories. The collaboration was developed through media agency Blue Plate Media Services.

 

Innovation First Sues UK Companies for Copyright Infringement

NanoInnovation First International (UK) Limited and Innovation First, Inc. filed a lawsuit against Clinton Cards plc, a greeting cards and gifts retail chain with more than 800 stores in the UK; one of its suppliers, Only 4 U Limited; and the supplier’s managing director, Mr. Kishorilal Devchand Gosar Shah.
The lawsuit, issued in the UK High Court of Justice (Patents Court), asserts claims of intellectual property infringement in respect to Innovation First’s Hexbug Nano micro robotic toy. Innovation First says it aims to “stop the defendants from further infringing the company’s intellectual property, to discontinue the distribution and sale of the Micro-Insect and Jitterbugz products, and to recover compensation for the defendants’ actions, which may include any profits the defendants have made, or may make, from the sale of Micro-Insect or Jitterbugz products.”

Uglydoll Teams Up with the US Open

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) and the Uglydoll brand have partnered to create three limited-edition, tennis-themed Uglydoll characters, which will be available during this year’s US Open, to be held August 29-September 11 in Flushing Meadows, Queens. Uglydoll characters Ox, Big Toe, and Trunko will come with their own tennis-inspired narrative, and will be available in three different sizes.
The collection is now available at FAO Schwarz Fifth Avenue in New York City, and will also be available at US Open event retail shops beginning August 23. Additionally, consumers will be able to purchase the merchandise online at www.uglydolls.com and www.usopenshop.org.

 

 

Skechers Signs Licensing Agreement for Skechers-Branded Youth Electronics
 
Zevo-3Skechers USA, Inc. has signed a licensing agreement with Sakar International to produce youth electronics and accessories featuring Skechers branding and Skechers Kids’ animated characters. The line is scheduled to launch in Q1 2012 at retailers across the U.S.  
Under the agreement, Sakar will design, produce, and distribute a wide range of Skechers-branded electronics and accessories, including MP3 players, molded earbuds, speakers, digital cameras, cases, skins, and USB flash drives inspired by Skechers Kids’ footwear styles. Products will be designed for boys and girls from elementary through high school with artwork from Skechers’ Zevo-3 animated television series, the Twinkle Toes by Skechers collection, as well as additional Skechers Kids’ characters and Skechers branding.

Trend Lab Grabs License for Nick Nursery and Toddler Products

Nickelodeon Consumer Products has signed a licensing agreement with Trend Lab, LLC for nursery and toddler products that will be based on Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Blue’s Clues properties. The products will include bedding, room décor, and storage items to be available at mid-tier retailers, department and specialty stores, and select e-tailers. Product concepts will be unveiled at this year’s ABC Kids Expo in Louisville, Ky., with the official launch in mid-2012.

Big Idea to Release New VeggieTales Books

This month, Big Idea Entertainment will release several new VeggieTales publishing offerings direct to retailers through Word Distribution. The new releases will include VeggieTales devotionals and journals, art, and activity books, as well as four new books in the Values to Grow By series, which share lessons and stories about compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and more. The books join a growing line of more than 150 children’s titles in print from Big Idea Entertainment’s licensing partners, including Zonkerkidz, Bendon Publishing International, and Guidepost’s Ideals Publications. Additionally, the company is releasing an all-new adventure DVD for girls, VeggieTales: Princess and the Pop Star, on August 13.

 

 

 

eOne Obtains Home and Digital Rights to Babar Property

BabarEntertainment One (eOne) has secured the home entertainment and digital rights to Nelvana Entertainment’s classic animated series Babar, as well as the new CG-animated series Babar and the Adventures of Badou, which airs on Disney Junior. Under the agreement with Nelvana, eOne obtains the U.S. and Canadian rights for 78 episodes of the classic series, as well as three stand-alone features. 
Entertainment One plans to release its first three classic Babar DVDs this fall, and bring Babar and the Adventures of Badou DVDs to market next year.

 

 

 

 

New Animated Series, Scaredy Squirrel, Debuts

Scaredy SquirrelNelvana Enterprises’ new animated comedy series, Scaredy Squirrel, made its U.S. debut on Cartoon Network on Tuesday, August 9. The series airs weekly at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Scaredy Squirrel is based on the book series by Canadian author Mélanie Watt and published by Kids Can Press. Scaredy lives in Balsa City and has the perfect job for a creative squirrel with a touch of OCD: stacking cans into elaborate displays at the Stash ’n Hoard grocery store. In his spare time, he is a huge paddleball fan and dreams of becoming the best paddler ever. At first glance, Scaredy may seem geeky and quirky, but he’s actually one cool confident squirrel. Comfortable in his fur, he makes no apologies for his idiosyncrasies and quirks.

 

 

Moshi Monsters Celebrates U.S. Launch with Times Square Event

Moshi MonstersOn Friday, August 5, Moshi Monsters celebrated its U.S. arrival with a special event at Toys “R” Us Times Square in New York City. The official launch party featured the brand’s new toys, manufactured by Spin Master and available exclusively in the U.S. at Toys “R” Us stores nationwide and online at Toysrus.com. Additionally, Moshi Monsters characters Poppet and Katsuma made an appearance, as well as Michael Acton Smith, founder of Mind Candy and creator of Moshi Monsters, who signed autographs. Attendees received a complimentary Moshi code giveaway for the Liberty trophy, which can be used to decorate a virtual room on MoshiMonsters.com. The first 250 guests had the chance to receive a copy of Moshi Monsters Magazine.

Coulson’s Crib Hires Choices for Children as Sales Rep Group

Coulson’s Crib, creators of the Neatnik Saucer all-in-one high chair cover and placemat, has hired Choices for Children to represent its products in the southern United States.
Choices for Children, a Dallas-based sales rep group, will represent the line of baby gear in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The company’s products will also be on permanent display in Choices for Children’s 4,100-square-foot Dallas showroom at the Dallas Market Center complex.

Second Annual “The Next Big Give” Contest Launches

Dallas Market Center, home to the Toy Industry Association’s Fall Toy Preview, has launched its second annual “The Next Big Give” contest, a national search for specialty retailers that are giving back in their communities through volunteering, raising funds, or donating goods. Retailers may nominate themselves or be nominated by a manufacturer, a sales representative, or customer. The application deadline is December 9.
On January 9, 10 finalists will be announced. The final two winners will be crowned on February 14 and will receive a complimentary trip to March Market in Dallas (March 22-25), including round-trip airfare from anywhere in the continental U.S. and a three-night hotel stay.
While at Market, The Next Big Give winners will be recognized during The Inspired Event, a cocktail party benefiting a charitable cause. The winners will share their stories of giving back in hopes to inspire other retailers to do the same.
For additional information on the contest and to enter, visit www.dallasmarketcenter.com/give, or email thenextbiggive@mcmcmail.com.

Play Comforts Hosts its Biggest Toy Distribution

Toy Industry FoundationPlay Comforts, a partnership between the Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) and Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA), held its largest toy distribution to date on August 5 at the Joint Expeditionary Base (JEB) Little Creek-Fort Story. More than 5,000 children of military families stationed at installations in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia were brought 7,000 new toys and games.
Toys are distributed through the TIF’s Toy Bank, which collects $5 million worth of contributions from toy manufacturers, retailers, and distributors each year. This year, 30 U.S. military installations with some of the highest deployment rates, located in the U.S. and Germany, will receive toys from TIF.

Saban Brands Expands Team with New Digital Department

Saban Brands, LLC is expanding and forming an in-house digital department that will support the company’s brands, while also leading the group’s digital efforts in new business development, including video games, mobile applications, websites, social media, e-commerce, and more.
Frederic Soulie has taken on the role of vice president of digital content distribution and is responsible for the overall licensing strategy of Saban Brands properties in the home video, online video, video games, and software categories. With more than 10 years of experience, Soulie previously oversaw digital distribution and business development for Endemol.
Dan Silberberger, with 15 years of expertise, will serve as vice president of digital, overseeing operations, business development, product development, and marketing for the department. Most recently, Silberberger served as vice president of business development for venture-backed start-up Kiip.
Reporting to Silberberger is the new digital marketing manager for Saban Brands, Marni Landes. Landes’ responsibilities include implementing strategic online campaigns and driving traffic to Saban Brands’ websites. In addition, Landes will develop strategies to increase mobile app downloads and monetize them. For the past five years, Landes spearheaded the social media initiatives for entertainment events publisher Goldstar, acting as the social media voice of the company, producing video content, and managing member acquisition programs.
These new additions join Chris Thomes, who came to Saban Brands in March as executive director of digital production. Thomes has more than 15 years of experience in digital production and previously served as executive producer for Disney’s Interactive Media Group.

Wild Planet Hires New Specialty Sales Manager

Wild Planet Entertainment, Inc. has added Joseph Gundlach to its sales team to serve as specialty sales manager. He will manage Wild Planet’s specialty accounts and outside sales groups. Gundlach’s experience includes 23 years at Lego Systems, Inc., where he held various positions, including national accounts manager calling on Kmart, Walmart, and Toys “R” Us. Most recently, Gundlach focused on key account management for consulting companies hired by Mega Brands, K’nex, and others. 

Electronic Arts Names New COO, Other Exec Positions

According to the Associated Press, Peter Moore, head of EA Sports, has been named COO of Electronic Arts, Inc. Moore replaces John Schappert, who left EA to join Zynga, Inc. Additionally, Frank Gibeau, president of EA Games, will become president of the EA Labels, comprising EA Games, EA Sports, Bioware, and EA Play. Barry Cottle, the executive vice president of EA Interactive, will oversee EA Mobile, Playfish, Pogo, Hasbro video games, and PopCap after the PopCap acquisition closes.

Activision Reports Financial Results for Q2 2011

Activision Blizzard, Inc. announced its financial results for Q2 2011. In the quarter, the company delivered record GAAP net revenues of $1.1 billion, as compared with $967 million for the second quarter in 2010. On a non-GAAP basis, the company’s net revenues were $699 million, as compared with $683 million for the second quarter of 2010.
Activision Blizzard’s GAAP earnings per diluted share for the quarter were $0.29, as compared with $0.17 for the second quarter of 2010. On a non-GAAP basis, the company's earnings per diluted share were $0.10, as compared with $0.06 for the second quarter of 2010.

UK Report: Inflation for Kids’ Products Has Risen Faster Than Overall RPI

The rate of inflation for goods and services most commonly bought by UK children, dubbed “kidflation,” has risen 68 percent faster than inflation (RPI) as a whole over the past three years, according to new research from Santander current accounts. Santander analyzed the Retail Price Index for goods and services in the UK typically purchased by 10- to 16-year-old children and compared it with the rate of inflation for all goods and services in the UK. “Kidflation” has increased the price of goods routinely bought by children by 14.3 percent between June 2008 and June 2011 compared to just 8.5 percent for products and services in general. The cost of children’s entertainment and other recreation has increased by 13.6 percent. Santander research also found that two-thirds of young people (68 percent) have noticed that the things they spend their money on have become more expensive recently.

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