September 15, 2011

Spielwarenmesse

Laser Pegs

Oaktree Capital Management Funds Propose to Acquire Jakks Pacific for $20.00 per Share

Oaktree Capital Management, L.P. announced that certain funds and accounts it manages have made a proposal to acquire all outstanding shares of Jakks Pacific, Inc. common stock for $20.00 per share in cash, representing a total equity value of approximately $670 million on a fully diluted basis. The offer represents a 25 percent premium over the company’s closing stock price as of September 13, the 30-day average closing price of the company’s stock leading up to September 13, and the average closing price of the company’s stock over the preceding 24 months. The Oaktree Funds are among Jakks’ largest shareholders, with a current collective stake of approximately 4.9 percent of Jakks common shares.
Jakks Pacific’s CEO, Stephen Berman, has responded to the proposal by acknowledging that the offer remains a conditional non-binding indication of interest, subject to the completion of both financial and legal due diligence and receipt of the financing necessary to complete the transaction. Berman noted that Jakks’ board of directors “is acutely aware of its fiduciary duties, and will carefully consider your indication of interest with the advice of the company’s independent financial and legal advisors, Rothschild Inc. and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, and will continue to act in the best interests of the company and its shareholders.” Berman continued to say, “I will advise you after the board has had an opportunity to review and consider your expression of interest.”

Toys “R” Us Expands Exclusive Toy Offerings

Toys “R” Us, Inc. has unveiled some of the company’s key initiatives for this holiday season, including its plans to expands its offerings of products not found at other retailers.
This weekend, Toys “R” Us will introduce its first-ever catalog featuring “Only at Toys “R” Us” merchandise. With 44 pages dedicated to the company’s exclusive brands and products, the catalog showcases nearly 350 items that can’t be found anywhere else, including Nerf N-Strike Sonic Series Blasters from Hasbro and the City Central Train Table from Imaginarium. This fall, the company will promote many of its exclusive products with television commercials. Additional exclusive products include My Keepon, Air Swimmers, Moshi Monsters, and The Trash Pack. Also new to the company’s assortment are specialty brands that are not found at mass market retail locations, such as Uglydolls.
Toys “R” Us continues to focus on growing its exclusive brands business by expanding lines with new products and categories. With the addition of its sourcing office in Shenzhen, China last year, the company is introducing new items to its brand lines, including Imaginarium, Journey Girls, and True Heroes.

Poof-Slinky Acquires Product Lines from Elmer’s

FuzzoodlesPoof-Slinky, Inc. has acquired the Scientific Explorer and Fuzzoodles product lines, and other related assets, from Elmer’s Products, Inc. Both product lines, formerly assets of Elmer’s Giddy Up division, have extensive North American and international distribution.
The Scientific Explorer line, a decades long mainstay in the science and activity category, consists of a wide range of multi-faceted kits that introduce hands-on science in a fun, easy format. Several kits such as Bubble Gum Activity Kit, Spa Science, Meteor Rocket Kit, and Magic Science Wizards, cover the quirky side of science, and within each kit, combine an equal mix of education and activity to capture kids’ interest and imagination.
Fuzzoodles, an activity line made up of fluffy, colorful noodles that bend and twist, were introduced last year and promoted through television, print, and social media outlets. Each product in the activity line includes an array of wacky accessories that allow a child to flip and switch parts to create customized characters. Products such as Monster Madness, Crazy Critters, Glamour Girl, and Plush Pals are a few of the items within the line.

Moshi Monsters Record Label Launches

Lady Goo GooMind Candy, the company behind Moshi Monsters, has launched a new record label called Moshi Music. The debut single, “The Moshi Dance” from Moshling starlet Lady Goo Goo, will be available for download on iTunes starting September 18. An album is in the works, slated to debut later this year. “The Moshi Dance” is being launched by popular demand following Lady Goo Goo’s success on YouTube, where the music video is pulling in approximately one million views a month.
The Lady Goo Goo single is the first of many planned releases that will feature other Moshi Music stars, including Dustbin Beaver, 49 Pence, Broccoli Spears, Hairosniff, and Avril Le Scream. Each track and supporting video will be developed to offer both parents and children a combination of visual content, character back stories, silliness, and fun.

New Comedy Series Mr. Young Sold to Global Disney Channels

Mr. YoungCorus Entertainment’s Nelvana Enterprises and Thunderbird Films announced that they have sold the live-action comedy series Mr. Young to Disney XD channels around the world. Territories include the U.S., the U.K., Spain, Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. The series will premiere in most territories this year. 
Filmed in front of a live studio audience in Vancouver, Mr. Young stars Brendan Meyer as Adam Young, a teen genius who hit the books hard enough to get into university at the age of 9. Now at age 14 he’s headed back to high school—as a teacher. Being the same age as his students, Adam finds himself coping with his co-workers who are twice his age, while also teaching his best friend, the girl he has a crush on, and the class bully.
Produced by Thunderbird Films in association with Corus’ YTV, the series was created by Dan Signer (A.N.T. Farm, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, The Suite Life on Deck).  Nelvana Enterprises is the international distribution agent for Mr. Young, while Nelvana and Thunderbird are co-distributing the series in the United States.
Additionally, Ludorum plc has licensed the third season of Chuggington to Disney Channel for its Disney Junior programming block and the new Disney Junior basic cable and satellite channel launching in the U.S. next year. As part of the agreement, Ludorum licensed 13 new half-hour episodes to the channel, which has acquired all U.S. television rights to the property.


Tech Deck Launches Official Gear with Zazzle

Tech DeckThanks to a new partnership between Spin Master Ltd.’s Tech Deck brand, Cartoon Network Enterprises, the exclusive licensing and merchandising agent for Tech Deck, and Zazzle, Tech Deck fans can pick up their own official Tech Deck gear. Fans can log on to www.zazzle.com/techdeck and select from a range of designs and products inspired by Tech Deck, its boards, and skateboarding fashions. This collection of Tech Deck print-on-demand apparel includes T-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, and more. Also available are accessories ranging from mousepads to buttons. The launch of the Official Tech Deck Gear from Zazzle went live on September 2 to coincide with the Tech Deck U.S. Fingerboarding Championship finals that took place in New York City.

McDonald’s Launches Happy Meal featuring Ben 10

McDonald’s has signed an agreement for a Ben 10 Ultimate AlienHappy Meal program that is currently available at North American restaurants. Based on the series, the Ben 10 Ultimate Alien program will run through September 15, while supplies last, at all McDonald’s restaurants in North America. With a Happy Meal purchase, fans of the boys’ action series will receive one of six translucent figures based on ultimate and original versions of popular aliens from the series. This marks the first Ben 10 Happy Meal program at McDonald’s.

Hit and Callaway Digital Arts Partner for Angelina Ballerina App

Callaway Digital Arts has once again teamed up with Hit Entertainment for a new app for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. The new app, Angelina Ballerina’s Bubble Pop!, is now available in the iTunes App Store. Starring Angelina Ballerina, the app features 3-D animation, two modes of game play, sound effects, and music. Players help Angelina gather flowers for her bouquet by popping the bubbles as they float from the sky. To earn points, players need to act fast and pop the bubbles before they fall in the garden.
The launch of Angelina Ballerina’s Bubble Pop! continues the collaboration between Hit and Callaway. In June, the companies launched the app Angelina’s New Ballet Teacher.  In May, the companies debuted Thomas & Friends: Hero of the Rails, and last December Hit and Callaway premiered Thomas & Friends: Misty Island Rescue.

My Stuff Bags Delivers Goodies to Branson and Joplin Storm Victims

My Stuff bagsLast week, children and families still recovering from the storms in Branson and Joplin, Mo. received individual “My Stuff” duffel bags filled with toys, school supplies, blankets, toiletries, and other new belongings during an event with Christian’s Associates Harbor House. Iconic singing group the Lennon Sisters joined representatives from the My Stuff Bags Foundation, the Toy Industry Foundation  (TIF), and Christian’s Associates to deliver 100 of the stuffed bags.

Kid Brands CEO Resigns

Bruce G. Crain, former president and CEO of Kid Brands, Inc. has resigned from his position at Kid Brands. Crain also resigned from his membership on the company’s board of directors. Following Crain’s resignation, the board of directors at Kid Brands appointed its chairman, Raphael Benaroya, as executive chairman of the board. Additionally, on an interim basis, Benaroya will assume all responsibilities of the CEO until a successor is appointed. Benaroya has served as Kid Brands’ chairman of the board since January 31, 2008.
A search committee has been created to oversee the process for the selection of a new CEO, and an executive search firm has been retained to conduct the search.

Jada Toys Appoints Key Execs, Readies Girls’ Line

Jada Toys has expanded its U.S management team with the hiring of four seasoned executives. Joining Jada are Tom Delaney as chief marketing officer; Cassidy Park as vice president, new business development; Steve Moran as director of product development, boys; and Jean Kuerten as director of product development, girls. 
In his new role at Jada, Delaney will spearhead all external marketing, including advertising, public relations, promotions, and social media. He will also oversee sales, product development, and licensing. Delaney has more than 20 years of experience in marketing, merchandising, and brand management, including working for KidZania as general manager of global merchandising and licensing. He also served as senior vice president of marketing for Jakks Pacific/Play Along Toys and was director of toys for The Walt Disney Company.
As vice president of new business development, Park will help develop new markets and establish strategic partnerships on behalf of the company and its brands. Park has spent 20 years designing and developing toys, fashion brands, and lifestyle products for companies including Mattel, where she most recently served as vice president, Barbie design and development.
As directors of product development, Moran will work on broadening the line of toys targeted at boys, while Kuerten will ready the company to launch a new line of girls’ products, a category Jada will be entering for the first time later this year.

Natasha Dyson Appointed Head of Licensing at Coolabi

Entertainment producer and rights management company Coolabi has appointed Natasha Dyson as head of licensing. Dyson joins Coolabi with a wealth of experience in licensing across preschool, tween, teen, and adult brands. In her new role, she will oversee the licensing activity for Coolabi’s growing portfolio of properties, including Poppy Cat, Purple Ronnie, and Scarlett & Crimson, as well as Bagpuss, Clangers, and Ivor the Engine, which Coolabi represents on behalf of Smallfilms and Peter Firmin.
Most recently, Dyson worked at Chapman Entertainment as head of licensing, managing the company’s portfolio of preschool brands in the UK, including Fifi and the Flowertots and Roary the Racing Car. She also managed the launch of new brands Little Charley Bear and Raa Raa the Noisy Lion.

Toys “R” Us Reports Financial Results for Q2

Toys “R” Us, Inc. reported financial results for the second quarter, which ended July 30. Net sales were $2.6 billion, an increase of 3 percent compared to the same quarter last year, including the benefit of foreign currency translation of $116 million along with net sales from new locations. Comparable store net sales were down 2.2 percent domestically and internationally.
Core toy and learning toy categories continued to be strong, generating net sales growth of 15 percent and 11 percent, respectively, compared to last year’s second quarter. The entertainment category, which includes video game hardware and software, was down 13 percent. Excluding the entertainment category, net sales increased 5 percent.
Adjusted EBITDA was $162 million, an increase of 16 percent and a record for the company’s second quarter. Operating earnings were $48 million, an increase of 109 percent compared to the same quarter last year.

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