Toys “R” Us Acquires KB Toys Branding
Toys “R” Us has acquired the KB Toys brand, including its URL, KBToys.com; its trademarks; and other intellectual property. KB Toys was founded in 1922 and was once known as the largest mall-based toy retailer in the nation. In February, KB Toys closed after filing for bankruptcy. Shoppers at KBToys.com will be referred to Toys.com, an online store by Toys “R” Us. The company also recently acquired FAO Schwarz and eToys.com.
Judge Orders Mattel Security Head to Testify
According to Reuters, a judge has ordered Mattel, Inc.’s security chief Richard De Anda to appear in court this month and testify about why Mattel gave gifts to Canadian police during the Mattel-MGA investigation. MGA attorneys learned about the gifts, which were toy cars, in an email obtained from Mattel during the legal battle between the two companies over copyright infringement. Canadian officials declined to bring a case against MGA or a former employee Mattel had accused of stealing business information.
De Anda will appear in court on September 21.
Third Biennial U.S.-China Safety Summit to Be Held in October
The Third Biennial United States-China Consumer Product Safety Summit will be held October 21-26 in Wuxi, Jinhua, and Beijing, China. The summit will be between the CPSC and its counterpart agency, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine of the People’s Republic of China (AQSIQ). During the summit, the CPSC and AQSIQ will discuss measures to ensure that U.S. importers and Chinese suppliers establish a comprehensive and systemic approach to preventing and detecting safety hazards in consumer products. The summit will also examine lessons learned over the past two years, since the last summit in 2007. Product safety, lead in children’s products, all terrain vehicles (ATVs), lighters, and fireworks will be discussed at the summit. Sessions will be open to stakeholders as well as government only. For more information on the summit, visit http://www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/chinasummit.aspx.
Little Airplane and Spin Master to Develop Preschool Series
Little Airplane Productions and Spin Master Entertainment have announced a partnership to develop and launch a new preschool series, Stella Takes the Stage. The series stars a charismatic little girl, Stella, who shares events of her life to viewers from a paper stage. The series will combine traditional theatrical stagecraft with computer animation, developed by Little Airplane and called "Theatre Arts Animation.”
TIA Submits Letter to WTO on Canada’s Proposed Lead Regulations
The Toy Industry Association (TIA) has submitted a letter to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the U.S. national enquiry point to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Technical Barriers to Trade Committee, regarding Canada’s recent notification to the WTO that it plans to impose new restrictions on lead in children’s products. TIA has said that it agrees with much of the country’s proposals, but the association says that Canada’s first proposal focused on lead has the potential for “significant and unreasonable costs on foreign toy manufacturers” and can “become a substantial barrier to trade.”
TIA’s concerns include the proposed 90-mg/kg total lead concentration limit, retroactive enforcement, and undefined testing methods. The association has proposed that Canada align the 90 mg/kg limit with international norms, recognize exceptions to the proposed total lead concentration limit, such as certain components of Group 1 toys that pose no significant risk of lead absorption, confirm that proposals will only be applied prospectively and after a transition period, and align required test methods with those adopted by regulators around the world.
VTech to Develop Electronic Products Based on Marvel Characters
Marvel Entertainment, Inc. has made a deal with VTech Electronics North America, LLC, in which the electronics company will develop products that will feature Marvel’s superheroes. VTech has been awarded the rights to develop electronic learning toys for kids ages 18 months to 4 years and electronic learning aids for kids ages 4 to 8 years. The products will feature Marvel characters and sub brands such as Spider-Man, Super Hero Squad, and the Iron Man 2 feature film. Electronic learning toys can include children’s laptop computers, audio players, and telephones, while electronic learning aids can include children’s laptop computers, PDAs, and handhelds.
Report Shows China Supplies Will Strengthen Exports to America
According to Global Sources’ China Sourcing Report: Toys & Games, most China suppliers plan to strengthen exports to the United States and the European Union. Recently the U.S. and EU have implemented stricter product standards. The survey also states that 47 percent of toy and game manufacturers named stricter overseas compliance standards as the biggest challenge for the next 12 months, while 19 percent stated price competition, and another 19 percent stated the cost of raw materials. Of the manufacturers surveyed, 51 percent said the EU will be their main market in the next 12 months, and 29 percent plan to boost shipments to the U.S. Many suppliers, 81 percent, said they will increase investment in R&D and other capital expenditures, with about one-third increasing spending by more than 20 percent.
The China Sourcing Report: Toys & Games is available for purchase at http://www.chinasourcingreports.com/toysgames. Free information about China toy and game suppliers and products can be found at http://www.chinasuppliers.globalsources.com/china-suppliers/Toys.htm.
Discovery Signs Licensing Deals for Puzzle Line and Video Game
Discovery Communications has signed two new licensing agreements for its Discovery Kids brand. Discovery and MasterPieces Puzzle Company will team up for a line of puzzles and crafts. The cardboard and wood puzzles, along with do-it-yourself wood paint kits, will be available at U.S. and Canadian retailers in the spring. The puzzles will feature 3-D, hidden learning glow, and multi-layered wood puzzles. Discovery has also signed a deal with 505 Games, in which the vide ogame publisher will introduce Spider Quest, a Nintendo DS game, due in stores this fall. In Spider Quest, players collect a variety of species while journeying through the Amazon and Africa. Players can trade spiders and other creatures with their friends by using the DS wi-fi connection.
Chorion Introduces New Ocean-Based Preschool Series
Chorion introduces a new animated adventure series, The Octonauts, launching on CBeebies, TF1, and ABC Australia in 2010. The preschool series follows a team of underwater heroes that rescue sea creatures with their fleet of aquatic vehicles. The team, led by Captain Barnacles Bear, Lieutenant Kwazii Kitten, and Medic Peso Penguin, explore and answer questions about the world’s oceans. The Octonauts is based on books by Meomi, and will be produced by Stephanie Simpson and Kurt Mueller. Brown Bag Films will produce the HD version of the series.
DHX Launches Licensing Division
DHX Media has launched a licensing division, DHX Licensing, for international content from its production subsidiaries, Decode Entertainment, Inc., Halifax Film, and Studio B Productions. Beth Stevenson, executive vice president, production and development, Decode Entertainment will head the new division, and it will be managed by Polly Beel, director, marketing and licensing, DHX Licensing. DHX Licensing’s properties include Franny’s Feet, Animal Mechanicals, and Kid vs Kat, as well as third party content currently represented by DECODE Enterprises such as Grandpa In My Pocket.
Study Shows Nintendo Wii Most Reliable Game Console
SquareTrade, an independent warranty provider, announced the results of a study that compares malfunction rates of the Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Xbox 360, and Sony PlayStation 3 (PS3). The study found that the Wii is the most reliable system out of the three, with a failure rate that is one-fourth of the PS3 and one-ninth of the Xbox 360, and has a 0.31 percent failure rate per day of use.
The study found that during the first two years of ownership, 2.7 percent of Wii owners reported a system failure to SquareTrade, compared with 10 percent of PlayStation 3 owners and 23.7 percent of Xbox 360 owners. The most common types of problems seen with the PS3 and Xbox 360 were disc read errors and output issues.
SquareTrade also found that the Xbox 360 and PS3 are more popular for hardcore gamers and the Wii is more popular in the casual, family-based demographic. The full study is available for download at: http://www.squaretrade.com/pages/xbox360-ps3-wii-reliability-08-2009.
Toys “R” Us and Disney Team up for Exclusive Halloween Line
Toys “R” Us, Inc. and Disney Consumer Products have teamed up for another year in offering an exclusive Halloween costume line that highlights the work of the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation (CAAF), an organization that provides assistance to children affected by HIV/AIDS in the United States and around the globe. The expanded line of 25 Disney-themed costumes for boys, girls, and babies is double the amount from last year. The costumes will be available exclusively at Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us stores as well as online at Toysrus.com. The companies have made a joint contribution of $50,000 to the foundation.
Sears Joins Fall Toy Preview Lineup
Sears has joined the lineup of registered merchants for the Toy Industry Association’s (TIA) Fall Toy Preview, which will be held October 6-9 at Dallas Market Center. In August, Sears debuted its Toy Shops in 20 retail mall locations and on its website. The Toy Shops feature products from both mass market and specialty brands.
Fall Toy Preview is a by-appointment-only event in which toy manufacturers show their newest product lines to registered representatives of long lead and mass-market retail outlets, and buyers can place orders for the 2010 holiday season. The event is designed to give mass market retail buyers a central market to meet one-on-one with vendors. For more information, visit TIA’s website at www.toyassociation.org.
Hard Hero Introduces Thundercats Statue Line
Warner Bros. Consumer Products has partnered with Hard Hero Enterprises for a limited edition sculpture and statue line inspired by the ’80s cartoon Thundercats. Hard Hero’s Classic Scale Full Figure Statue Series will feature the heroes and villains of Thundercats in a 14-inch tall, cold-cast porcelain statue. The first statue to be released by the company will be Lion-O, the leader of the Thundercats, available in the beginning of 2010. Other statutes to be released include Cheetara, Panthro, Mumm-Ra, and Snarf.
Eric Hill’s Spot Turns 30
The Penguin Young Readers Group is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Where’s Spot, a children’s lift-the-flap book that was released in 1980. The book, by Eric Hill, follows Spot, a yellow pup, and his adventures from under the bed to in the park. The brand has unveiled a redesigned website at www.funwithspot.com and new products including apparel, greeting cards, and board games. Licensees for the brand include American Greetings for greeting cards, Fabulous Inflatable for parade balloons, Kids Preferred for plush and plush toys, Rix Products, LLC for cards and board games, Satin Mill/Bonto Blanket for blankets, and BBC America for DVDs. An animated DVD based on Spot will be released in the spring.
KitesTailsToys.com Rebrands as ThinkFastToys.com
KitesTailsToys.com has rebranded its website as ThinkFastToys.com. The online toy store was established in 1986 in Delaware and became part of the ecommerce market in 1997. Early versions of the website featured kites, flags, and some toys. Now, the company offers almost 6,000 specialty toy products. The company’s founders, Stu Eisenman and William Spraul, as well as its web manager, Amy Tarr, feel the new website reflects the company’s current offerings.
Nakajima to Defend Title at Rubik’s World Speedcubing Championship
Reigning world champ Yu Nakajima will defend his title as World Speedcubing Champion at the Rubik’s World Speedcubing Championship. Nakajima holds the fastest average time in solving a 3x3x3 Rubik’s cube in 12.46 seconds. The competition, held October 9-11 in Düsseldorf, Germany, will feature 19 official events, including a one-handed cube contest, a blindfolded cube contest, and a contest to solve the newly released spherical Rubik’s 360 puzzle. Gold, silver, and bronze medals will be awarded in addition to prize money. Additionally, there will be a creative contest where teams build a mosaic out of 250 Rubik’s cubes. For more information, visit www.speedcubing.com/events/wc2009.