Spin Master Acquires Games from Imagination
Spin Master is expanding into the board games category with the acquisition of eight board games from Imagination Entertainment. The acquired games are Quelf, Fact or Crap, Battle of the Sexes, Would You Rather, Beat the Parents, Urban Myth, Scabs ’N Guts, and Left Center Right.
Earlier this year, Spin Master was appointed partner for production, sales, and marketing for Stratego in North America by owner Royal Jumbo. That partnership is effective beginning in January 2011. Also earlier this year, Spin Master acquired rights to distribute the board game Hedbanz.
Toy Fair Nürnberg to Feature Green Area
The 2011 Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair Nürnberg will feature a “green oasis” area in the newly built central entrance (Eingang Mitte) that will focus on the toy industry’s environmentally aware movement. Under the motto of “Toys go green,” the area will focus on sustainability and various aspects of toys going green including material selection, packaging, transport, and logistics.
Additionally, the fair team will present ideas and approaches to encourage toy professionals to run their business operations in a more sustainable way. The Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair Nürnberg will be held February 3-8, 2011 in Nürnberg, Germany.
July Retail Sales Increase Year-over-Year for Back-to-School Season
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), as back-to-school sales start, retail industry sales for July (excluding automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) increased 3.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Retail industry sales also declined 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month.
Back-to-school related categories also saw year-over-year gains, according to the NRF. Clothing and accessories stores were up 4.7 percent over last July, but declined 0.7 percent from June. Electronics and appliance stores increased 8.1 percent year-over-year and declined 0.1 percent from last month. Furniture and home furnishing stores increased 0.4 percent from the same period a year ago and declined 0.3 percent from June.
A survey conducted by NRF, released in July, found that the average family of students in grades K-12 would spend $594.24 on back-to-school this year, an increase of 8.3 percent compared to $548.72 last year.
Namco Bandai Games and Namco Networks Merge
Namco Bandai Games America, Inc. and Namco Networks America, Inc. are merging under the Namco Bandai Games America Inc. label. The companies expect the transaction to be complete in Q1 2011. At that time, Kenji Hisatsune will serve as the president and CEO of Namco Bandai Games America. The merged company will bring together talent from both the mobile and console businesses to develop and publish interactive content across multiple platforms, including video game consoles,
Apple iOS products, mobile, PC, and the web.
Saban Acquires Paul Frank Industries
Saban Capital Group, Inc. has acquired Paul Frank Industries (PFI) including all company assets, intellectual property, and its portfolio of more than 150 characters. The acquisition marks the second for Saban Capital Group; the company acquired the Power Rangers franchise in May.
Saban Brands, an affiliate of Saban Capital Group, Inc., will manage PFI’s business strategy, while creative operations will remain based in PFI’s current headquarters in Costa Mesa, Calif. Saban Brands plans to support the Paul Frank brand with new content and media strategies. The property will be showcased at Brand Licensing Europe, to be held September 28-30 in London.
Metrodome Group Acquires Target Entertainment
Metrodome Group plc has acquired Target Entertainment, Ltd. Metrodome Distribution is a UK-based independent all-rights distributor that acquires films and other product for exploitation in cinemas, on DVD and VOD, through rental, and via broadcast. Target Entertainment, Ltd. is an international TV rights management business whose key clients include Virgin Media, STV, and BBC America.
Report: Video Game Industry Aids Economy
According to a new study conduced by Economics Incorporated for the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the entertainment software industry grew more than 10 percent from 2005 to 2009, which is more than seven times the growth rate of the U.S. economy. The study, Video Games in the 21st Century: The 2010 Report, also found that the computer and video game industry added nearly $5 billion to the U.S. economy in 2009.
Additionally, the report found that the computer and video game industry directly employs more than 32,000 people, an increase of nearly 9 percent annually since 2005. California remains the largest employer of computer and video game personnel in the nation, followed by Texas, Washington, New York, Massachusetts, and Illinois.
Fiesta Secures Skelaminals License for New Plush Toys
Fiesta Toy is partnering with Skelanimals, LLC to produce and distribute plush toys featuring the Skelanimals characters. The plush toys will be distributed to the U.S. amusement and games market. Fiesta’s 2011 Skelaminals plush selection features Marcy the monkey, Jack the rabbit, Dax the Dog, and Kit the cat.
Hedstrom Plastics Purchases Ohio Rotomolder
According to Plastics News, rotational molder Hedstrom Plastics, based in Ashland, Ohio, has purchased the small Ohio rotomolder North Coast Custom Molding Inc. The deal closed June 30. This is Hedstrom’s second acquisition in two years. Last year, Ball, Bounce and Sports Inc.—which does business under Hedstrom’s name—bought Diamond Plastics, Inc., which is based in Dunkirk, Ohio.
Approximately a dozen people work at North Coast Custom Molding, and the company runs three rotomolding machines. Hedstrom president Jim Braeunig said the company will only take one of the rotomolding machines and renovate it. Additionally, Hedstrom will not run North Coast’s factory, but will move the company’s traditional polyethylene rotomolding work to the nearby Diamond Plastics site and its vinyl plastisol work, used for pet toys and other flexible products, to the Ashland plant.
North Coast’s three owners will work with Hedstrom; Ron Miller will work during the transition period before retiring, while Eric Miller and Ken Wessler have joined Hedstrom in sales positions.
Spin Master Seeks Liv Licensing Partners
Spin Master, Ltd.’s Liv brand is exhibiting at Magic Marketplace this week as Cartoon Network Enterprises (CNE), the licensing and merchandising agent for the brand, helps the doll line make its first push into secondary categories. CNE will be meeting with partners and is actively seeking new licensees in the apparel and accessories categories for Liv. CNE is also seeing partners in other product categories, including footwear, sleepwear, publishing, and interactive. Liv was launched at retail last fall.
Ceaco Introduces Tricky Puzzle Series, The Baffler
Ceaco is introducing a new puzzle series created by artist Chris Yates that is being described as “the most unique puzzle ever,” The Baffler. Each puzzle image in the series is randomly designed and cut into unique shapes so it is tricky to put it back together. The Baffler puzzles have no straight edges and no overlapping images.
Each of the three puzzles in the series has a unique piece count: 67 pieces, 69 pieces, and 78 pieces. The puzzles featuring Yates’ creations include the “Spiral of Archimedes,” “The Nonagon,” and “Bindu Truss.” The puzzles will be available this October.
She-Ra Celebrates 25th Anniversary with New Products
In honor of She-Ra's 25th anniversary, Classic Media has announced new DVDs and collectible products. Mattel will release commemorative collectibles on MattyCollector.com, including a She-Ra action figure. Additionally, the first season of She-Ra: Princess of Power (20 episodes) will be released on DVD, iTunes, and Hulu. A collector's edition box set, She-Ra: The Complete Series 25th Anniversary Edition, featuring all 93 episodes, will also be released and will include collectible stickers, episode guides, and an iron-on decal. She-Ra: Princess of Power was an animated series that began airing in September 1985.
P. Graham Dunn Issues Recall for Wooden Rattles
P. Graham Dunn and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) have announced a voluntary recall for the company’s wooden toy rattles. If the wooden dowel on the toy is installed incorrectly, the metal rattle can become exposed, causing a potential choking hazard.
Four reports of this exposure have been confirmed, although no harm occurred in any of the cases. The recalled toy rattle is light brown and contains eight wooden dowels and a gold-colored metal rattle inside. The toy rattle is circular in shape, measuring 2.75 inches by 2 inches. Approximately 500 of the recalled rattles were sold in gift stores and book retailers in June and July for approximately $6.
Consumers should stop using the product and contact P. Graham Dunn for a refund.
Sears and Kmart Bring Back Christmas Club Card
Sears and Kmart are bringing back the Christmas Club card to help consumers save money for the upcoming holiday season. The card allows shoppers to earn a 3 percent reward, up to $100, if activated between now and October 31. The reward is based on the value customers have on their cards on November 15, and will be added to Christmas Club cards by November 24.
Cards can be activated with as little as $5, and value can be added as often as customers want at any Sears or Kmart store, or online at www.sears.com/christmasclub or www.kmart.com/christmasclub.
There are no fees associated with the Christmas Club card, and the value on the card will not expire. All Christmas Club cards can be redeemed at Sears, Kmart, Lands' End, and The Great Indoors store locations, as well as the stores’ websites.
Free Shipping Day to Be Held on December 17
The third annual Free Shipping Day, created by Freeshipping.org, has been scheduled for December 17. Free Shipping Day is a one-day shopping event that allows consumers to browse merchants who will offer free shipping and guaranteed Christmas Eve delivery. So far, said Freeshipping.org CEO Luke Knowles to InternetRetailer.com, 125 online merchants have signed up to participate this year. Knowles expects that more than 1,000 retailers will sign up this year. Last year, more than 750 merchants listed their free shipping offers on the website, and Knowles estimates that 35,000 purchases were made.
According to Knowles, any merchant can list its free shipping offer for free on Freeshippingday.com and all retailer logos will appear on the home page. For more information, visit www.freeshippingday.com.
Chicago Toy and Game Fair Announced
The eighth annual Chicago Toy and Game Fair (ChiTAG) is coming to Chicago’s Navy Pier November 20-21. ChiTAG is the largest public toy and game fair in the country and features new toy and game announcements as well as talks by up-and-coming toy makers.
This year’s event features guest appearances by Jenga inventor Leslie Scott, TMX Elmo inventor Bruce Lund, and inventor and author Peggy Brown, among others. ChiTAG also features a Star Wars breakfast, Monopoly tournaments, chess tournaments, the Mascot Madness toy drive, the Mommy Blogger Brunch, an Illinois Accredited Educator Conference for teachers, and more to be announced. The third annual Toy and Game Inventor Awards Dinner will also take place November 19. Those wishing to attend should contact Mary Couzin at (847) 677-8277.
November 13 Named Neighborhood Toy Store Day
The American Specialty Retailers Association (ASTRA) has announced plans to make the second Saturday in November an annual and nationwide celebration of local toy stores. During this year’s Neighborhood Toy Store Day (NTSD), ASTRA will announce the winners of its 2010 Best Toys for Kids awards. ASTRA is also providing its member retailers with ready-to-go press releases and a step-by-step retailer guidebook filled with tips on how to use the event to attract new customers. For more information on NTSD, visit ASTRA’s website at www.astratoy.org.