September 09, 2010
Top Trumps

HABA

Keenway Signs on for Miffy Preschool Toys

MiffyBig 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

Mike the KnightHIT 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

Winx ClubNickelodeon 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

ChuggingtonRC2 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

Fall Toy PreviewMore 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

Juno BabyThe 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

KIDSThe 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

Step 2The 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

Busytown MysteriesAAA 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.

Madame Alexander

Walmart Makes Series of Appointments and Promotions

Walmart has created new positions and has re-aligned the company after a series of merchandising and marketing moves. In the area of general merchandise and replenishment, Laura Phillips (former VP/DMM of toys) has been named senior vice president of toys, seasonal, and network planning. Mark Samuels has been named vice president of planning, pricing, and modular development. Seong Ohm, former Sam’s Club merchant who briefly worked at Seiyu in Japan, has been named senior vice president of the home, hardlines, and entertainment global merchandising center. Phillips, Samuels, and Ohm will report to John Westling who will remain executive vice president of general merchandise and replenishment. Other promotions and appointments were made in food, softlines and consumables, and health and wellness.

Nelvana Welcomes New Sales Rep

Nelvana Enterprises has added Nina Koch to its team as sales representative for Eastern Europe and Germany, effective immediately. She takes on this role from J.J. Breijinck, who will help transition her into her new role. Koch is a seasoned sales professional with experience in both children’s programming and broadcast sales and most recently worked with Tele München Gruppe in Munich. She will be based in Munich.

Dark Horse Appoints New Manager

Dark Horse has appointed Kari Yadro to the newly created role of events and community manager. This new position will encompass trade-show coordination and planning, as well as all Dark Horse events, such as in-store appearances and signings. In addition, Yadro will focus on Dark Horse’s social-networking strategy, overseeing Facebook, Twitter, and all other channels, as this has become an increasingly important area for Dark Horse.
Kari Yadro comes to Dark Horse from Barnes & Noble, where she held the position of community relations manager.

Kid Brands Continues to Integrate Kids Line and CoCaLo

Kid Brands, Inc. is continuing to integrate certain operational and back-office functions of its Kids Line and CoCaLo brands. The lines will retain their separate brand identities and continue to maintain separate design and sales & marketing teams. David Sabin, currently president of Kids Line, will be responsible for the overall Kids Line and CoCaLo businesses. Renee Pepys-Lowe, formerly president of CoCaLo, will become a senior advisor to Kid Brands through the end of 2011. The company says that the actions are “intended to further improve synergies between these two businesses.”

Mattel/MGA Lawsuits Continue

According to The Associated Press, Mattel Inc. has filed a lawsuit alleging MGA Entertainment fraudulently transferred hundreds of millions of dollars to keep Mattel from collecting on anticipated judgments and to defraud other creditors. The lawsuit filed September 1 in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleges MGA transferred $430 million in dividends and other assets to its chief executive Isaac Larian, his family members, and various trusts between 2004 and 2008 to make the company appear insolvent and prevent MGA’s creditors, including Mattel, from cashing in.
MGA said in a statement provided to The Associated Press on Friday that similar claims were dismissed in federal court and accused the El Segundo-based maker of the Barbie doll of “forum shopping.”
Mattel and MGA have been battling for several years in U.S. District Court in Riverside over who owns the Bratz line of dolls. An appeals court recently overturned a 2008 verdict that awarded Mattel $100 million and ownership of the doll line. A retrial will begin in January, this time in federal court in Orange County.

Action Products Working Toward Debt Restructuring and Reverse Merger

Action Products International, Inc. is in discussions for the completion of a reverse merger with or acquisition of a private company. If completed, the move would bring a solid operating business into the company. In addition, Action Products is working on obtaining financing to pay off existing liabilities or other debt consolidation plan. Until now, the company had considered bankruptcy as its only option. The anticipated measures would allow the company to move forward quickly. Upon completion of the debt financing, the company will have zero liabilities and be primed for the completion of a merger or acquisition. Additional details are expected within the next couple of weeks. In addition, plans continue towards legal action against former officers and directors.

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