September 7, 2011


Laser Pegs

Chorion Forced into Administration

Mr. WorrySeveral 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

TaggiesMary 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

Small PotatoesLittle 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

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

Pokémon Kicks Off Month of Zoroark-Themed Activities

ZoroarkSeptember 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 airing of the movie Pokémon-Zoroark: Master of Illusions.  
Now until October 3, visit 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 for more information about the celebration.

Guess How Much I Love You to Air in Canada

Guess How Much I Love YouThe 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 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.

Andy Mooney Resigns as Chairman of Disney Consumer Products

After leading Disney Consumer Products for close to 12 years, Andrew P. Mooney has decided to resign from his post. Mooney joined the company in December 1999 as president of DCP and was promoted to Chairman in May 2003.
“The contributions that Andy has made to Disney have been enormous,” said Robert A. Iger, president and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. “Not only has he consistently delivered business results year after year, but his focus on the Disney brand and the creation of new franchises like Disney Princess will leave a legacy for decades. I wish him nothing but best wishes and am confident that he will continue to contribute greatly to the creative and business worlds.”
In an email to DCP employees, Mooney said, “After 30 years contributing to the success of two of the world’s most valuable brands in Disney and Nike, I believe this is the perfect time to take that experience into a leadership role with another organization and corporate boards.”

Hasbro Studios Expands International Team

Hasbro Studios, the Los Angeles-based production and distribution division of Hasbro, Inc. has appointed content sales veteran Nina Scales as senior sales director for Hasbro Studios’ international distribution division. She will report to Finn Arnesen, Hasbro Studios’ senior vice president of international distribution and development. 
Based in the company’s London office, Scales will play a key role in the distribution of Hasbro Studios’ franchise series worldwide, with a focus on Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Scales will distribute Hasbro Studios’ extensive programming slate, including a slate of new programming set to debut at MIPCOM in October, including Blythe Loves the Littlest Pet Shop, Boggle, Game of Life, Clue, Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters, and Rescue Bots.

Bill Kehoe Joins Saban Brands as COO and CFO

Saban Brands, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Saban Capital Group, Inc., has appointed Bill Kehoe as COO and CFO, effective immediately. Kehoe joins Saban Brands from The Beanstalk Group, LLC, where he most recently served as COO and CFO. In his new role, Kehoe will provide strategic leadership and oversee operations, finance, accounting, human resources, and IT functions across all aspects of the Saban Brands businesses, including the television production entities. He will take an active role in identifying and executing new acquisitions as well as bolstering the company’s global growth strategy and initiatives. Kehoe will report to Elie Dekel, president of Saban Brands. Saban Brands operates the Power Rangers and Paul Frank brands.

Zodiak Rights Staffs Up UK Consumer Products Team

Zodiak Rights, the international division of Zodiak Media Group, has re-structured and
expanded its UK Consumer Products team ahead of Brand Licensing Europe 2011.
Jane Kennedy, who previously held the position of senior UK licensing manager, has
been promoted to head of sales, consumer products (UK). She will report to Jennifer Lawlor, SVP strategy and planning, consumer products (UK). In this new role, Kennedy will be responsible for the UK-based consumer products sales team and will oversee the development and rollout of Zodiak Rights’ UK and international consumer products programs.
Zodiak Rights’ UK licensing manager, Emily French Ullah, has been appointed licensing manager, softlines, EMEA. Gaby Dior has been appointed international licensing manager, agents. Team coordinator Aidan Taylor-Gooby has been promoted to junior licensing executive, reporting to Gaby Dior. As part of this new structure, two new positions have been created: licensing manager, hardlines and publishing, EMEA, responsible for managing key categories including toys and publishing, and retail and promotions manager, who will focus on developing relationships
with key retailers both in the UK and in Europe. Both positions will report to the UK head of sales.
The consumer products team works across all brands in the UK Zodiak Rights portfolio, which includes Waybuloo, Mister Maker, Little Princess, Yo Gabba Gabba, Simon’s Cat, Q-Piz, and Being Human.

Precious Moments Management Changes

Industry veteran Scott Bryson has been promoted to executive vice president of Precious Moments, Inc. (PMI). PMI has also announced new responsibilities for members of its management team, effective immediately.
Reporting directly to the president and CEO, Scott Bryson will continue to maintain PMI sales responsibilities. In his new position, Bryson will also work with ownership in developing the PM Brand and focusing on the company as a whole.
Brian Johnson, vice president of online marketing, now assumes additional responsibility for all aspects of direct business opportunities. With the evolution of the PMI online presence and increase in the company’s Internet sales, Johnson will now oversee the mail order catalog operations of Precious Moments Company (PMC).
Terri Heckmaster, chief marketing officer, has expanded responsibilities in market research, branding, and development of the Precious Moments Collectors Club. In addition to her new role, she continues to serve on the board of Precious Moments Supporting Foundation.

Playmates Toys Announces 2011 Interim Results

Playmates Toys Limited has announced its interim results for the six months ended June 30, 2011. Playmates Toys worldwide sales during the first half of 2011 were HK$17.7 million, a decrease of 75.9 percent over the same period last year. Operating loss was HK$43.7 million (2010 interim: operating loss of HK$36.4 million) and net loss after tax was HK$53 million (2010 interim: net loss after tax of HK$41.1 million). Basic loss per share was HK¢5.08 (2010 interim: basic loss per share of HK¢5.94).
According to the company, U.S. sales decreased by 74.7 percent and international (worldwide except U.S.) sales were down 77.3 percent over the same period last year. Sales comparison versus the prior year reflected the combined result of continuing brands performing at a lower level and new brands being planned for launch later in the year.

Target Reports August Sales Results

Target Corporation has reported that its net retail sales for the four weeks ended August 27, 2011 were $5.3 million, an increase of 5.4 percent from $5.0 million for the four weeks ended August 28, 2010. On this same basis, August comparable-store sales increased 4.1 percent.
“August comparable-store sales were in line with our expectations, reflecting solid results in our back-to-school and back-to-college categories,” said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and CEO of Target Corporation.

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