Chorion Forced into Administration
Several sources are reporting that Chorion, a family entertainment provider and owner of such brands as Noddy, Mr. Men, Beatrix Potter, and Paddington Bear has been forced into administration after failing to renegotiate a £70m debt.
Lord Alli and William Astor, Chorion’s chairman and deputy chairman, have already tendered their resignations as a result of this reported failure. DC Advisory Partners has been appointed to oversee the sale of the business.
The firm’s assets will likely be broken up and sold off to the highest bidder as lenders—principally Bank of Ireland, GE Capital, and Lloyds—seek to recoup their investments. A range of bidders are expected to vie for the assets.
Mary Meyer Takes Over Manufacturing and Distribution of Taggies
Mary Meyer will take over manufacturing and distribution of products formally made by Taggies, Inc. in the specialty retail channel, effective immediately. Mary Meyer will manufacture and distribute the award-winning Taggies balls and memory or photo cubes to specialty retailers. These items include Toss the Taggies, Taggies Colours Toss, Taggies Treasures, Taggies Colours Treasures, Touchdown Taggies Football, and the Homerun Taggies Baseball.
In additional news, Mary Meyer as been named the distributor in specialty retail for Rhino Toys, maker of infant toy the Oball, effective immediately. The Oball series includes an assortment of balls in different sizes and is designed to provide innovative, tactile, and high-performance play. Rhino Toys is owned by Kids II.
Smurfs Are Big at Box Office and Retail
The Smurfs film is quickly approaching $400 million dollars in global box office receipts, opening as the No. 1 family film in more than 40 countries, including the U.S. and Canada. Internationally, it’s now the top grossing live-action children’s movie of all time starring CGI characters.
The Smurfs will once again be featured in the Macy’s Day Parade this Thanksgiving just prior to the launch of the DVD/Blu-ray, which includes a 22-minute Christmas special with all-new holiday content. On the heels of the success of The Smurfs theatrical release, the studio has announced a second film for release in summer 2013. Sony Pictures Consumer Products will launch a licensing program with new additions to the Smurfs family.
Activision Appoints Nickelodeon as Pan-European Marketing Partner
Activision Publishing, Inc. and Viacom International Media Networks, a unit of Viacom, Inc., have announced a marketing partnership to promote Activision’s new family franchise Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure in key territories across Europe this fall.
Nickelodeon and Activision will join forces to launch marketing activities comprising a series of co-branded live events with on-air and digital promotion. A first for both Nickelodeon and Activision, a program of co-branded live events will offer kids and families the opportunity to be amongst the first globally to play Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure game, as well as to participate in a variety of family-friendly activities. The live events will see the infamous Nickelodeon Slime truck transformed into the world of Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure to tour the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, and Spain.
In addition to game playing opportunities, each live event will feature a themed stage show led by Nickelodeon’s presenters as well as brand engagement activities, where one of the game’s elements will be brought to life.
2012 Toy of the Year Awards—Call for Product Submissions
Toy Industry Association (TIA) has opened its call for product submissions for the 2012 Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards, a TIA-administered event in support of the Toy Industry Foundation.
Toy companies, inventors, and retailers are invited to submit products in each of 11 product categories. All of the products selected for the official TOTY ballot will also be considered for the overall Toy of the Year award. The call for nominations is open through October 14, 2011.
Individual nomination committees, comprised of 10 to 15 experts, have been formed for each product category. Committee members include buyers from mass and specialty retailers, journalists and bloggers, and toy specialists who will select which of the hundreds of nominees will be chosen as finalists.
A national press conference on November 21 in New York City will unveil the finalists and launch the five weighted ballots—one each for consumers, mass and specialty retailers, media, and members of TIA.
The TOTY awards ceremony will take place Saturday, February 11, 2012 at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City. Tickets will go on sale in early October. Click here for more information.
Scholastic and Ruckus Media Announce New Children’s Transmedia Imprint
Global children’s publishing, education, and media company Scholastic has announced the creation of a new children’s transmedia imprint with Ruckus Media Group, an independent digital publisher and creator of interactive stories and learning games. The new Scholastic Ruckus imprint will publish top children’s authors across all platforms, including print, e-books, and enhanced e-books, with Ruckus Media publishing interactive story apps. With more than a dozen projects already in development, the first releases are planned for 2012.
Scholastic will publish, market, and distribute titles for infants through teens developed under the Ruckus imprint through Scholastic’s vast school-based book clubs and book fairs channels and through retail and libraries, and will manage publishing rights for the print and e-books worldwide. In addition to intellectual property from titles in the Ruckus library and new projects developed for both digital and print, Ruckus Media is aggressively acquiring rights to out-of-print backlist titles to publish in print or in e-book formats to be distributed by Scholastic under the Ruckus imprint.
Small Potatoes Inks Deals with iTunes, Penguin
Little Airplane Productions’ “Small Potatoes,” the animated musical sensation, has inked exclusive deals for an original album on iTunes and a book series from Penguin Young Readers Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Pre-sale for the iTunes “Small Potatoes” album began September 6, with an on-sale date of September 13. Penguin Young Readers Group, through its Grosset & Dunlap imprint, will begin rolling out a series of 10 Small Potatoes book titles in early 2013.
The iTunes launch coincides with the singing spuds’ U.S. TV debut. Starting today, the short-form series begins its daily run on Disney Channel’s Disney Junior programming.
All the music for Small Potatoes is produced by Little Airplane's Musical Director, Jeffrey Lesser. The series was created, directed, and executive produced by Josh Selig, founder and president, Little Airplane Productions.
ABC Kids Expo Exhibit Space Nearly Sold Out
The Ninth Annual ABC Kids Expo will take place in Louisville September 23–26. The Kentucky Exposition Center will house nearly 1,000 exhibitors with a current total of just over 3,500 booth spaces. This includes 308 new exhibitors, an increase of more than 16 percent over last year's show in Las Vegas. East Coast, Midwest and international attendee pre-registrations are also up, according to the show’s organizer.
Most exhibit categories are sold out, including the Modern Child and Naturally Kids Showcase pavilions. Limited space is available in select categories, such as Maternity Square and the New Product Showcase. A waitlist is available.
ABC Kids Expo is the largest juvenile industry show of its kind. Prospective exhibitors wishing to secure space at this private industry event should call the ABC Hotline at (210) 691-4848. Qualified attendees and media can still register through the ABC Hotline or online at www.theabcshow.com.
LIMA Announces Webinar Schedule for Licensing Industry Professionals
The International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA) announced fall webinar sessions designed to aid licensing professionals in enhancing their skills and further developing their industry knowledge and expertise. The series begins September 14 with “Anatomy of a Licensing Contract,” presented by Gregory J. Battersby, co-founder of Grimes & Battersby, LLP and general counsel to LIMA. Rick Mallow, founder of Making Connections LLC, and Will Thompson, VP of licensing at Changes, Inc., will present “Should I Take This License or Not?” on September 21.
The fall schedule also includes “Case Studies in Corporate Licensing” on October 5, “Understanding UK and European Law, and Their Impact on Licensing Agreements” on October 11, and “How to be a Better Licensee/How to be a Better Licensor” on November 16. Other webinars are added to the schedule regularly, with information to be found on the LIMA website at www.licensing.org.
Pokémon Kicks Off Month of Zoroark-Themed Activities
September kicks off a month-long celebration of one of the most popular Pokémon characters from the Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version video games: the mysterious Zoroark. Activities and promotions include a Zoroark-themed sweepstakes, a special Zoroark character distribution at participating Toys “R” Us stores nationwide, and a two-day pokemon.com airing of the movie Pokémon-Zoroark: Master of Illusions.
Now until October 3, visit www.pokemon.com/win to learn how to enter a sweepstakes for a chance to win a Zoroark-themed grand prize package featuring a Nintendo 3DS system, one copy each of the Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version video games, the Pokémon TCG: Zoroark-Illusions Collection box, and more. Visit www.pokemon.com/win for more information about the celebration.
Guess How Much I Love You to Air in Canada
The preschool animated series Guess How Much I Love You—The Adventures of Little Nutbrown Hair from SLR Productions will air on the TVO and Knowledge Network in Canada Saturdays and Sundays at 8:00 a.m. beginning September 10. The animated series, featuring 52 11-minute episodes, is the first-time adaptation of the best-selling classic, Guess How Much I Love You, a picture book about a father and son’s efforts to measure how much they love each other. The picture book, written by Sam McBratney, illustrated by Anita Jeram, and published by Walker Books, has sold more than 26 million copies worldwide. To date, the animated series has been picked up for broadcast in Australia, Germany, Finland, and Sweden. The series will also be seen on Disney Junior in the United States.
Guess How Much I Love You—The Adventures of Little Nutbrown Hair is co-produced with Scrawl Studios in Singapore and German broadcaster, KI.KA and ARD’s HR (Hessischer Rundfunk). CCI Entertainment holds the worldwide distribution and licensing rights in Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa for the series.
ASTRA Launches New Job Board for Specialty Toy Industry
The specialty toy industry has a new tool for connecting employers who are hiring with qualified job seekers. The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association’s online Job Board can be accessed by ASTRA members at www.astratoy.org when they click on “Toy Careers.”
Manufacturers, retailers, and other employers can review resumes and advertise openings on the Job Board. Applicants can post their resume anonymously, view jobs that are open, and create personal job alerts that will email new postings that fit the job seeker’s criteria.
StinkyKids Story Time at FAO Schwarz
On Saturday, September 10, at 1:00 pm, kids of all ages are invited to attend story time with the StinkyKids at FAO Schwarz in New York City. Inspired by Britt Menzies’ children, the StinkyKids characters are playful, curious tykes who learn to make the right choices through their mistakes and gain valuable life lessons. Britt Menzies will visit FAO Schwarz for a meet and greet, and will host story time featuring the newest installment in the StinkyKids book series, StinkyKids See a Full Moon. The book will be available for purchase, and attendees can have the book signed by Menzies.