August 31, 2009

Disney to Acquire Marvel Entertainment for $4 Billion

DisneyMarvelThe Walt Disney Company has announced that it will acquire ownership of Marvel Entertainment, Inc. and its more than 5,000 characters. Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter will continue to oversee the Marvel properties and work with Disney to further build and integrate Marvel’s properties with the company.
Under the agreement, Disney will acquire Marvel in a cash and stock transaction. Marvel stockholders will receive $30 per share plus approximately 0.745 Disney shares for each Marvel share they own. Disney says that, if necessary, the amount of cash and stock will be adjusted so that the total value of the Disney stock issued as merger consideration, based on its trading value at that time, is not less than 40 percent of the total merger consideration. Based on Disney’s closing price last Friday, the transaction value is $50 per Marvel share, or approximately $4 billion.
Disney’s CFO Tom Staggs told analysts Monday that Marvel's current third-party licensing deals with such studios as Sony and Fox will remain in place under the terms Marvel agreed to in those transactions. As those agreements expire, Disney will consider bringing those deals in-house, or could pursue other third-party deals, depending on the circumstances. Disney is also looking forward to bringing several Marvel characters to the big screen that remain less known to the general public, Staggs added, speaking during an investor conference call. CEO Bob Iger reiterated that the Marvel deal would ultimately help Disney create films that have greater sales appeal in the DVD arena, at a time when DVD sales are in decline.
The investor conference call will be available for replay on the Disney investors website at corporate.disney.go.com/investors/index.html through September 14 at 7 p.m. EDT.

Walmart.com Introduces Walmart Marketplace

Walmart.com has added nearly one million new products with the launch of Walmart Marketplace, a program in which select retailers will offer additional products at the website. Walmart Marketplace has expanded its inventory in categories such as apparel, baby, toys, and sporting goods/memorabilia.
Select retailers will offer these goods and more retailers are expected to be added to the website over the next year. Current Walmart Marketplace retailers include CSN Stores, eBags, and ProTeam, a subsidiary of Dreams, Inc. All purchases from Walmart Marketplace are managed through Walmart.com’s secure checkout process. The Walmart Marketplace retailer will manage the order, including shipping and handling, customer service, exchanges, and returns.

TIA Members to Convene in Washington DC for Third Annual “Fly-In”

TIA members are invited to “fly-in” to the nation’s capital October 20-22 for a series of small group meetings that will be scheduled with members of Congress, the administration, and their staffs.
Large and small toy companies alike will have the opportunity to meet with policymakers to communicate the vital role that toymakers play in our nation’s economic security, and share how policy decisions impact real people in the world of toy manufacturing. TIA staff will schedule and coordinate all meetings and events with U.S. senators, representatives, and administration officials as well as coordinate meals and ground transportation. Informational briefings and networking events at the United States Capitol and other Washington, DC locations will likely be included in the two-day agenda.
Additional registration details will be distributed to TIA members in the coming weeks. Questions or requests for additional information can be directed to TIA’s Peter Sandel at psandel@toyassociation.org.

Study Shows Most Toy Purchases Are Planned

In a report conducted by The NPD Group, consumers said that 70 percent of toy purchases are planned. More than 75 percent of toy buyers knew where they wanted to shop and 90 percent of that group bought purchases at the intended store. When asked what they would have done if the toy they sought was unavailable at that retailer, more than 40 percent said they would look for the same product at a different store. Most of those surveyed said they were influenced by “an item-related factor,” with the No.1 reason being that a child requested the toy. Other answers include an eye-catching package, product display, and price point.
When picking a retailer, the most influential factors noted were convenient store locations and pricing. Also high on the list was the assortment and selection the retailer carried. Almost 75 percent of respondents preferred one-stop shopping rather than shopping at a specialty store, and for 78 percent of those surveyed buying in stores beat shopping online because they wanted to see the product before purchasing.
When shopping for toys, 70 percent of buyers said they have a price in mind first, and then look for a product in that price range. For those who are comparing two products, the primary driver is whether information is clearly included on the toy packaging, and that information helps them decide on a final purchase.

Kaufman’s Toys up for Auction

Kaufman Toys AuctionThe co-founder of KB Toys, Donald Kaufman, will be auctioning off a portion of his 60-year-old toy collection September 25-26 in Vineland, N.J. Many of the items—from a rare Mickey and Minnie Mouse on a motorcycle, to Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon collectibles, to airplanes, fire trucks, board games, and racing cars—date back to the 1930s. Visit www.BertoiaAuctions.com for more information.

JAKKS to Auction Autographed Captain America MARBS

MARBSJAKKS Pacific and Marvel Entertainment are auctioning off an exclusive, limited-edition autographed Captain America MARBS marble on eBay. In addition, the top bidder will also receive the No. 25 variant cover of Captain America, signed by Marvel artist Joe Quesada. All of the proceeds from the auction will benefit JAKKS’ longtime philanthropic partner Operation Smile.
This is the only autographed JAKKS Captain America MARBS collectible for sale that has been signed by Joe Simon, co-creator of Captain America. This exclusive collectible is one of 500 MARBS marbles that were created.
The auction began Friday at 3 p.m. (PDT) and will end Saturday, September 5, at 3 p.m. (PDT). Go to www.marbs.com for full details.

Hedstrom Buys Diamond Plastics

According to Plastic News, Hedstrom Plastic has purchased Ohio rotational molder Diamond Plastics, Inc. from owner James Long. Hedstrom operates as Ball, Bounce, and Sport, Inc. Hedstrom CFO Mike Kelly has said that the company is running out of space at its custom rotomolding factory in Ashland, Ohio. Hedstrom employs 100 people and runs 12 rotomolding machines, while Diamond employs 35 people and runs eight machines. Combined, the companies’ sales are approximately $17 million. The companies serve a variety of markets including enclosures and housing, recreational and sporting goods, medical, agricultural, and toys and playground equipment.

Hasbro Launches Jurassic Park Action Figure Line

Jurassic ParkHasbro will launch a new action figure line based on Universal Pictures’ Jurassic Park this fall at Toys “R” Us stores across the nation. The line will include the Jurassic Park Basic Dinosaur Two-Pack Assortment, a pack of action figures modeled after dinosaurs featured in the film; the Jurassic Park Deluxe Dinosaur and Figure Assortment, a two-pack assortment of dino and dino tracker action figures equipped with an accessory that kids can use to hunt their prey; the Jurassic Park Electronic Dinosaur Assortment, fully articulated dinosaurs that howl, which kids can use to battle one another; and the Jurassic Park Deluxe Electronic T-Rex, an action figure equipped with multiple growls, a bone crunching sound effect, motion activated stomping sounds, and a Dino Tracker weapon that really fires. Each product is made for kids ages 4 years and older.

Swine Flu Plush Now Available

Swine Flu PlushGiant Microbes, a toy manufacturer known for its plush representations of microscopic diseases, has introduced plush versions of the H1N1 (Swine Flu) virus. They are designed to look like tiny microbes, only a million times the actual size. Each five- to seven-inch plush is accompanied by an image of the real microbe it represents, as well as information about the microbe.

 

Disney Talks Toy Story on YouTube Video Series

Toy StoryDisney Consumer Products launched a new video series on its new YouTube channel, Disney Living, which will give Toy Story fans insight about the films’ popular characters. In the seven-part series, John Lasseter, chief creative officer of The Walt Disney Company and filmmaker/director of Toy Story and Toy Story 2, talks about the inspiration behind characters such as Woody, Rex, the Space Aliens, and Buzz Lightyear. Each video will profile a different character with unique facts and more, and will be released every Monday and Thursday until the series is completed. The video series also introduces the Toy Story Definitive Toy Collection, a new line by Disney and Thinkway Toys that offers replicas of the toys and their packaging featured in the original film. The 3-D version of Toy Story and Toy Story 2 will be released in theaters in October, and Toy Story 3 is set to premiere next summer. To see the first episode of the video series, visit Youtube.com/disneyliving.

MEGA Launches Design Your Dream Classroom Contest

MEGA Brands has launched the RoseArt Design your Dream Classroom Contest, a competition for kids in kindergarten through eighth grade.
Participants create and digitally submit their dream design through the new RoseArt website at www.roseart.com. The website features an online gallery where participants can upload and share their pictures. The winning classroom in each of the K-2, 3-5, and 6-8 grade categories will win RoseArt school supplies for the rest of the current school term, valued at approximately $1,700. Three other classrooms in each of the three grade categories will win a basket full of RoseArt supplies, valued at $150 each.
A panel of judges will select the top 10 submissions in each category, and the final winners will be selected in an online voting process. Entries must be received by October 22 at 5 p.m. EDT. Winners will be announced on November 18.

Microsoft Cuts Prices on Xbox 360 Models

Microsoft has slashed the price of its Xbox 360 video game console by $100, selling the 120 GB Xbox 360 Elite console for $299, the same price as Sony’s PlayStation 3. Last week, Sony cut the price of various PS3 models including the 80 GB model ($299) and the 160 GB model ($399). Microsoft will also cut the price of the Xbox 360 Pro as it phases out the model to $249, a markdown of $50. The price of the Xbox 360 Arcade will remain unchanged at $199.
According to The NPD Group, video game sales in July declined for the fifth straight month, and sales of consoles and handheld devices in July dropped 37 percent compared to the same month in 2008.

PBS Kids Debuts Dinosaur Train

Dinosaur TrainOn September 7, the first of 40 episodes of the new preschool series Dinosaur Train, created by Hey Arnold! producer Craig Bartlett, premieres on PBS Kids. The CGI-animated show by The Jim Henson Company follows Buddy, a preschool T-Rex, and his family as he searches for possible answers to his curious inquiries. Each segment starts with a question and hypothesis and then the gang sets off on a journey through prehistoric jungles, swamps, volcanoes, and oceans. Each half-hour episode features real-life paleontologist, Dr. Scott Sampson. The show aims to encourage preschoolers to explore and search for answers to questions, and to develop an interest in science.

PorchLight Secures Rights to Animated Preschool Art Series

Mati and DadaPorchLight Entertainment has secured the distribution rights to the new preschool series, Art with Mati and Dada. The 2-D/3-D combination animated preschool series follows Mati, a 7-year-old with a passion for art, and her magical and unpredictable sidekick Dada, as they solve mysteries, uncover artists’ secrets, and discover art with master artists. Some of Mati’s adventures include getting lost inside a Jackson Pollock masterpiece and helping Vincent Van Gogh catch a runaway cloud in his painting, “The Olive Tree.” Created by Giovanna Bo and August Eniti, the first season of Art with Mati and Dada will premiere on RAI 3 beginning in 2010.

New Label Debuts Peter Himmelman’s Latest Release

New children’s music label Minivan Productions has debuted singer-songwriter Peter Himmelman’s latest album, My Trampoline, which was released last Tuesday. Founded by Dan Perloff, who has more than 20 years of experience in the music industry, Minivan aims to be a full-service production company for artists and projects––such as videos, books, and films––in the kids/children’s/family genre. The label targets the “next generation of parents, those looking for great tunes to spin while driving kids around town or listening to music together at home.”
Early next year, Minivan will reissue CDs by Himmelman that are currently out-of-print, including My Fabulous Plum, My Best Friend Is a Salamander, and My Lemonade Stand.

Patch Products Introduces Shopatron to Website

Patch Products has expanded its website with a Shopatron-powered online store for its brands Patch, Smethport, Lauri, and ÜberStix. Shopatron was used to redesign the Patch Products website visually and with eCommerce capabilities. The service will also provide order management including payment processing, order tracking, call center support, and customer care. Orders place on Patch’s website will be directed into Shopatron’s Coex Freedom order exchange that is used by toy retailers across the nation. Retailers will also be able to fulfill local in-store pickups.

New Director of Sales at I Can Do That! Games

Shelley Sanders has been named director of sales for I Can Do That! Games. The company launched in mass retail in 2007 and carries a line of children’s games based on Dr. Seuss and Curious George. Sanders will focus on building specialty and mid-sized retail accounts such as boutique outlets. She has 20 years of experience in gift and specialty sales, including 10 years of experience in the toy and game industry. Previously, Sanders has been national sales manager for University Games, Intervisual Books, and Klutz/Scholastic.
 

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