Keenway Signs on for Miffy Preschool Toys
Big Tent Entertainment, the North American licensing agent for Miffy and Friends, has signed a deal with Keenway Industries Ltd. to produce a line of Miffy-branded preschool toys, such as tea sets, medical and doctor kits, figurines, among other toy items. The Miffy products will launch this fall.
Celebrating her 55th anniversary, Miffy has been the subject of international museum exhibits, contests, and promotions, and has some major debuts on the horizon, such as a Wii videogame and feature film.
HIT and Nelvana Partner for New Preschool Series
HIT Entertainment and Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana Studio will produce 52 12-
minute episodes of Mike the Knight, a new preschool series created by Alexander Bar. The series will broadcast in fall 2011. It will air on the preschool network Treehouse in Canada and has been pre-sold to broadcasters worldwide with additional territories to be added. Nelvana Enterprises will represent the series in broadcast and Home Entertainment in Latin America and France as well as broadcast in the U.S., while HIT Entertainment will represent Mike the Knight in all other territories globally.
Nickelodeon and Rainbow S.p.A. Partner for Winx Club Series
Nickelodeon has acquired the Winx Club TV rights for the U.S. and the pay-TV rights for Latin America, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Benelux. The new partnership gives Nickelodeon access to the existing Winx Club TV series and two theatrical films. The agreement also includes the co-development and co-production of seasons five and six of the series. Seasons five and six will consist of 26 episodes each and will launch on Nickelodeon domestically and internationally (with the exception of Italy) in 2012. Prior to launching the new seasons of Winx Club, Nickelodeon will introduce the series with four hour-long animated specials based on seasons one and two. Seasons three and four will air on Nickelodeon in 2011.
Amazon, Walmart, eBay Top List of Shoppers’ Favorite Online Retailers
Brand loyalty proves to be quite strong in the latest STORES Media Favorite 50 Online Retailers survey, conducted by BIGresearch and published in the September issue of STORES Magazine. A few new companies debuted and others returned, but the top 10 of the list, which ranks e-retailers based on preference by online shoppers, remained unchanged from a year ago. Rankings were based on the total number of responses to the following open-ended questions: “What website do you shop most often for apparel items?” and “What website do you shop most often for non-apparel items?” The top 10 are Amazon.com, Walmart.com, eBay.com, BestBuy.com, JCPenney.com, Target.com, Kohls.com, Google.com, Overstock.com, and Sears.com.
Chuggington Toys to Come to U.S. in October
RC2 Corporation’s Learning Curve brand has announced that its new Chuggington die-cast toy line, inspired by Ludorum’s preschool series that airs on Playhouse Disney, will launch nationwide this October exclusively at Toys “R” Us stores and online at Toysrus.com. Earlier this year, the line launched internationally at retail in markets including the UK, Germany, France, Australia, and Canada. Learning Curve’s initial line of Chuggington products will feature the show’s look and will reflect key core developmental messages and storylines of the CGI-animated series.
In the U.S., Ludorum has licensed the second season of Chuggington, 13 half-hour episodes, to Disney Channel for its Playhouse Disney programming block. RC2 holds the master toy licensing rights for the series, and also holds a 50 percent interest in Chuggington’s intellectual property rights.
HarperCollins Obtains Rights to Meerkat Madness
HarperCollins Children's Books has acquired world rights, including TV, film, and merchandising, for author Ian Whybrow’s new book, Meerkat Madness. The book, to be published next March, follows Uncle Fearless, once a king of a clan and a television star, now reduced to babysitting meerkat kits after being injured by an eagle-owl. The property is intended for boys and girls ages 7 and older. Harriet Wilson, editorial director of HarperCollins Children’s Books, and Rosemary Canter of United Agents, brokered the deal.
CPSC Makes Recall Data Available Electronically to Businesses, 3rd Party Developers
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is making its product safety information on all recalls available in an electronic data set for use by businesses, software, and application developers. Recall data from 1973 forward is available via an Application Program Interface (API). It is formatted in XML and contains information currently found in CPSC press releases online, such as brand names, product types, product descriptions, companies involved in recalls, where the products were manufactured, hazards, recall dates, and UPC codes (when those are available).
Electronic access to this data will give online businesses an easier, more automated way to stop the sale of recalled products. Online retailers and auction sites can use the API to automatically flag and both remove and stop the sale of recalled products quickly after a recall has been announced.
CPSC encourages all businesses and developers to access this API and related technical instructions at http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/api.html.
Fall Toy Preview to Kick Off Long-Lead Toy Buying Season for Holiday 2011
More than 600 buyers representing 250 unique long-lead and mass-market retail outlets are preparing to converge in Dallas this October to place their orders for 2011 holiday toys at the Toy Industry Association’s (TIA) Fall Toy Preview. The annual by-appointment-only event provides toy buyers from the mass retail sector a central marketplace in which to meet one-on-one with their vendors nearly a year in advance of in-store delivery.
The show takes place at the Dallas Market Center Tuesday, October 5 through Friday, October 8. More than 265 toy companies will exhibit in either closed (temporary) or permanent Market Center showrooms.
An opening night party will benefit the Toy Industry Foundation. For more information, visit the event website at www.falltoypreview.org.
Juno Jr. and Juno Baby Launch at FAO
The Juno Company, a children’s media company creating products that encourage music appreciation in young children, has announced a full-scale launch of its entire line of Juno Baby products, as well as the launch of the new Juno Jr. line at FAO Schwarz. All Juno Baby DVDs, CDs, plush, books, and apparel, as well as the latest line—Juno Jr., are now available. The Juno Company brands are currently featured throughout the store, and The Juno Company will host a series of Saturday events throughout the month, including puppet shows and costumed character appearances.
For every Juno product purchased, the company donates a very special music education DVD to a child in need. For more information on Juno Baby, visit www.junobaby.com.
Raggedy Ann Turns 95
To mark the 95th anniversary of Raggedy Ann, Applause by Russ has created exclusive, vintage-inspired Raggedy Ann and Andy Anniversary dolls that harken back to the illustrations from the earliest Raggedy Ann books by Johnny Gruelle, who created Raggedy Ann for his daughter, Marcella, in 1915. The Anniversary Raggedy Ann closely resembles the character from the 1930 Raggedy Ann in the Deep, Deep Woods: rich, burnt-red hair (as opposed to the contemporary fire-engine red) tied in a bow; white-gloved hands; an outline around the eyes; and a more muted color palette. The doll packages are available now at The Vermont Country Store, Amazon, and a host of boutique toy and gift shops around the country.
Raggedy Ann & Andy is licensed by Peanuts Worldwide, LLC on behalf of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Todd Parr Partners with Sesame for Short Film
Children’s author and illustrator Todd Parr has collaborated with Sesame Workshop on a short, animated film that will premiere on the 41st season of Sesame Street. The film is designed to help children contend with their innate childhood fears. The new season will premiere on PBS Kids on September 27. For more information on Parr, visit www.toddparr.com.
Mondo TV to Produce New Animated Series Preschool Buddies
Mondo TV has signed a $6.7 million production contract with Visual Picnic, Inc. and Licensing Works, LLC, to produce, in HD, the 2-D animated preschool series, Preschool Buddies. The series will include 52 13-minute episodes, and will debut October 2 at MIPJunior in Cannes, France. Mondo TV will also be in charge of global television and home video distribution and has been named licensing agent for the IP in Italy.
Playtime Buddies aims to encourage the development of positive social interaction and cognitive skills. The property features both real-life role models, such as bakers, cowboys, policemen, firefighters, athletes, and farmers; and fantasy characters, such as pirates, mermaids, princesses, and superheroes.
MEG Toys has been granted the worldwide master toy rights for the property and will distribute the toys following broadcast of the animated series in each major territory. The company’s toys will also be distributed through its worldwide network of 50 toy partners. All related merchandise is slated to hit shelves for back to school 2012 in North America, and earlier in other parts of the world.
Visual Picnic, Inc. owns the property. Leslie Levine at Licensing Works! represents the Playtime Buddies.
Buffalo Games Picks New Canadian Distributor
Everest Wholesale has been named the exclusive distributor of Buffalo Games products throughout Canada. Everest Wholesale has been serving Canadian retailers since 1992. The company specializes in board games, card games, role-playing games, toys, plush, action figures, collectibles, and, now with the company’s new distribution deal, adult jigsaw puzzles.
K.I.D.S. Named as New Toy Bank Partner
The Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) has assigned Kids In Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.), a not-for-profit organization based in New York City, logistical and related administrative support responsibilities for its signature program, The Toy Bank. K.I.D.S. assumed the responsibilities that were previously administered by Gifts in Kind International, Inc. on September 1.
As TIF’s partner in support of The Toy Bank, K.I.D.S. will receive, warehouse, and distribute toys to the nearly 400 TIF-supported charities that serve children who are living in poverty, rescued from abuse, seeking treatment for chronic illnesses, or going through other difficult situations. Charities and organizations include Ronald McDonald House Charities, My Stuff Bags Foundation, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) Military Services.
Step2 Recalls Sand & Water Toys
The Step2 Company, in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Health Canada, has announced a voluntary recall of the company’s Sand & Water Transportation Station Toys. The toys, approximately 56,000 in the U.S. and 7,700 in Canada, pose a choking hazard as the light blue plastic wheels on the train cars can detach, although no injuries have been reported. The toys were sold at Target and other major retailers, specialty stores, and by online retailers from December 2008 through June 2010 for around $49-$59. Consumers are advised to take the train cars away from children and contact Step2 for free replacement cars. Step2 can be reached at (800) 347-8372 between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.
AAA Partners with Cookie Jar to Promote Child Passenger Safety
AAA has teamed up with Cookie Jar Entertainment and its Richard Scarry’s Busytown Mysteries animated series to educate parents, caregivers, and children on the importance
of safely securing young passengers in the family vehicle.
Starting on September 11, a new public service announcement (PSA) is scheduled to air during CBS Saturday morning shows and on ThisTV digital network. The 30-second PSA will feature Busytown Mysteries characters and AAA’s child passenger safety messages. Later this fall, AAA’s 2011 TourBook travel guides and online TripTik Travel Planner will introduce specially created print and digital ads featuring Lowly Worm, Sally Cat, and Huckle Cat along with AAA safety tips.
Other messaging opportunities will be incorporated on www.jaroo.com, a parent and child co-viewing video portal, www.busytownmysteries.com, and in special inserts in consumer products like Richard Scarry Busytown Eye Found It! board game. AAA will also highlight Busytown Mysteries characters in its 2010 Halloween Safety and 2011 Schools Open-Drive Carefully campaigns and AAA’s network of clubs will run ads in its member magazines.