BeginAgain Toys Acquires ImagiPlay
Newly launched company BeginAgain Toys, created by Chris Clemmer and David Bowen, the founders of Sprig Toys, Inc., has acquired eco-toymaker ImagiPlay. BeginAgain will launch its initial product lineup of more than 50 products at ABC Kids Expo, to be held September 23-26. The products will be available in stores this fall. In addition to its original playthings, BeginAgain will carry many of ImagiPlay’s wooden toys, and has plans to update several of ImagiPlay’s designs for release next year.
BeginAgain describes its eco-friendly toys as being “powered by kids, not batteries” and are made from “plant-based materials whenever possible.” The company said ImagiPlay’s rubberwood toys are a perfect addition to the BeginAgain workshop. ImagiPlay Founder Barbera Aimes will serve as an advisor to BeginAgain.
Hosung’s Eco-Brands Break Away from Company
Greenpoint Brands, LLC, maker of miYim and MyNatural eco-plush toys and infant accessories, is going solo and breaking away from its parent company, Hosung NY. Greenpoint Brands was co-founded by Serah Chae, the daughter of John Chae, CEO of Hosung. John’s other daughter, Jean, founded SimplyFido, LLC, an organic pet toy company that is also leaving Hosung.
Operating as a division of Hosung NY, the miYim brand of organic cotton toys and infant accessories began in specialty retail and has expanded, via its sister brand MyNatural, into the mass market. Greenpoint Brands will bring MyNatural’s licensed Winnie the Pooh, Cat in the Hat, and The Grinch eco-plush toys to Babies “R” Us shelves this fall. More Dr. Seuss eco-plush characters will be available at mass retailers in the spring, in time for the debut of the animated film The Lorax.
Both Greenpoint Brands and SimplyFido will soon seek investors to help fund future growth. Greenpoint Brands plans to expand into home furnishings, infant feeding supplies, and other baby essentials. Hosung NY will continue its multinational operations as a manufacturer of traditional and electronic plush.
Ruling Maintains Manhattan Toy’s Exclusive Rights to Automoblox
A recent arbitration ruling has reaffirmed Manhattan Toy’s licensing rights to Automoblox, LLC. Manhattan Toy has been the exclusive licensee and distributor for the Automoblox line of modular wooden vehicles in Europe since January 2008 and worldwide since January 2009. In late 2010, Automoblox, LLC disputed Manhattan Toy’s rights under the agreement. An arbitrator has recently settled the dispute in Manhattan Toy’s favor, ruling that the license agreement between the companies is still effective, and that Manhattan Toy continues to have the exclusive rights to manufacture and distribute the line worldwide.
ELA Appointed as Jay at Play’s Licensing Agency
Jay at Play has appointed Dan Kletzy’s LA-based Entertainment Licensing Associates (ELA) to manage all the licensing activities for its growing portfolio of kids’ brands. Jay at Play’s portfolio includes Happy Nappers, the Totally KooKoo line of collectible plush characters, and the Little Miss Muffin doll line. All of the lines are supported by major television advertising campaigns and will be available for private viewing at Jay at Play’s showroom at Fall Toy Preview in Dallas.
Edu-Science Granted Scientific American License
Edu-Science (H.K.) Ltd. Has been granted rights to a multiyear licensing deal to develop, manufacture, and distribute Scientific American-branded science toys for children ages 6 and up. The line will focus on a variety of themes, including dinosaurs, physics, astronomy, and other areas of science.
The Scientific American line of toys and science kits will complement existing science kits and other items from Edu-Science, and will be available in the spring.
SqwishLand Picks Sales Rep for Six States
Anne McGilvray & Company, a sales representative firm, is now representing SqwishLand in California, Nevada, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas. The soft and squishy rubber SqwishLand collectibles have sold 100 million units in the past five years and were previously available only in vending machines. They can now be found in retail packs on store shelves nationwide.
Anne McGilvray & Company was established in 1975. The company currently has permanent showrooms in Dallas, Chicago, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
Precious Moments, Inc. Produces Line of Disney Characters
As a continuation of its successful Disney Showcase Collection, Precious Moments, Inc. introduces a new series of Disney characters interpreted with a Precious Moments perspective. The extension was introduced at summer markets and will begin arriving at retailers in November.
Handcrafted in fine porcelain bisque, the initial launch includes Mickey and Minnie Mouse as the bride and groom atop their convertible; Mickey shyly holding a rose for someone special, asking “Will You Be Mine;” and Mickey with arms wide-open, proclaiming “I Love You This Much.” The line also includes Winnie the Pooh figurines, as he holds a banner of pink and blue cutout hearts, and for another, Pooh dons a fireman’s hat to drive the red fire truck as Piglet rides shotgun. Each Disney character is attired in familiar Precious Moments outfits from previous Precious Moments series. The figurines stand between 4.25 and 5 inches high.
NCircle Obtains DVD Rights to Dino Dan
NCircle Entertainment has acquired U.S. DVD distribution rights for Dino Dan, the Nick Jr. series about a young boy who imagines there are real dinosaurs living all around him, which only he can see. NCircle plans to launch the first title in the Dino Dan DVD series in late December, and will support the line with strategic consumer marketing campaigns.
Filled with scientifically accurate facts, and developed with input from some of the world’s leading paleontologists, Dino Dan premiered last October. The series combines live action with CGI animation to make each story come alive.
New Website Launches for Alphabeasts
Alpha Toys, LLC has launched an all-new product website for its Alphabeasts line. The website includes information about its 15-inch Alphabeasts plush toys and ABC Book Box Set, as well as an informational video, an animated short about the Alphabeasts, a retail locator, a shopping cart, and illustrated pages of the Alphabeasts characters that children can print out and color.
The Alphabeasts are 26 double-sided plush toys that feature an uppercase alphabet letter on one side of the doll and a lowercase letter, in contrasting color, on the opposite side. Each Alphabeast is distinctive and, when placed together, can be used to spell an infinite combination of words.
Unlicensed Angry Birds Park Closes in China
A Chinese amusement park inspired by Angry Birds, but unlicensed, opened on September 1 and has since shut down due to copyright infringement. The park was located in the city of Changsha. Officials from the amusement park said they did not want to break any laws, so they closed the attraction. The park hopes to hold discussions with Rovio, game developer for Angry Birds, for a future partnership.
Power Rangers Samurai Toys Now in Happy Meals
Saban Brands’ Power Rangers Samurai is teaming up with McDonald’s to offer Power Rangers toys in Happy Meals at participating McDonald’s restaurants throughout North America. The relationship between Power Rangers and McDonald’s began in 1994 with the first Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Happy Meal.
Power Rangers fans visiting participating North American McDonald’s restaurants through October 13 will receive one of eight limited-edition toys, inspired by the Power Rangers Samurai series, with the purchase of a Happy Meal or Mighty Kids Meal. Power Rangers Samurai currently airs on Nickelodeon.
Leigh Anne Brodsky Leaves Nickelodeon
According to TheWrap.com, Leigh Anne Brodsky has left Nickelodeon/Viacom where she served as president of the consumer products division. In a statement, the company said she will not be replaced, and her position was eliminated as part of a company-wide realignment.
Brodsky worked for the Viacom family for more than a decade, leading its licensing and merchandising efforts for Nickelodeon, MTV Networks, and other Viacom companies. Prior to Nickelodeon, she served as senior vice president of marketing at Golden Books Entertainment Group, senior vice president of marketing and merchandising at Broadway Video, and vice president of licensing and merchandising at United Media.
Ziggy Creator Passes Away at Age 80
Tom Wilson Sr., creator of the comic “Ziggy,” died September 16, after a long illness. He was 80 years old. Ziggy, which celebrates 40 years in syndication this year, continues to be produced by Wilson’s son, Tom Wilson Jr., who handles the day-to-day operations.
Wilson Sr. was born August 1, 1931. For more than 35 years, he served as a creative director at American Greetings, where he was responsible for the development of many breakthrough card lines. Wilson Sr. first published “Ziggy” in the 1969 cartoon collection When You're not Around. The “Ziggy” comic panel, syndicated by Universal Uclick (formerly Universal Press Syndicate), launched in 15 newspapers in June 1971. It now appears in more than 500 daily and Sunday newspapers, and has been featured in best-selling books, calendars, and greeting cards.
A veteran of the licensing business, Wilson Sr. headed up the creative team that developed character licensing blockbusters such as Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears. He is survived by his wife Carol, son Tom Wilson Jr., and daughters Ava and Julie.
Paul Gallant, Inventor of Puzz-3D and Founder of Wrebbit, Inc., Dies
Paul-Emile Gallant, inventor of the Puzz-3D three-dimensional puzzle, has passed away at the age of 67 after a long battle with cancer. Puzz-3D was sold in more than 40 countries from 1991 to 2005. By 2000, more than 30 million Puzz-3D puzzles had been sold worldwide.
For 18 years, Gallant worked in the Canadian music industry before creating the Puzz-3D, a jigsaw puzzle that used flexible foam pieces with printed surfaces to build portable structures such as international landmarks and Victorian houses. The line was launched at the 1992 Canadian Toy & Hobby Fair under Gallant’s company, Wrebbit, Inc. Wrebbit was purchased by Hasbro in 2005.
Gallant was inducted into the Canadian Toy Industry Hall of Fame in 2008. He also invented the Perfalock flat-foam puzzle and the Wrebbit Puzzle Machine (now Puzzle Shots Factory). Gallant is survived by three children (Eric, Sylvie, and Maxime), 10 grandchildren, two sisters, and many other relatives.
DHX Media Names Angeles Blanco as Director of Licensing
DHX Media, producer and distributor of family entertainment, has hired Angeles Blanco to serve as director of licensing. Blanco will oversee consumer products development in all territories except for North America, and will be based out of DHX Media’s London office, effective immediately.
In her new role, Blanco will focus on developing new international consumer products offerings for its properties, across multiple categories and platforms. Blanco will interact with the company’s current international partners, including Zodiak Rights, who will continue to handle television sales and consumer products for Yo Gabba Gabba!. Blanco will report to Josh Scherba, senior vice president of distribution, DHX Media.
Blanco previously served as head of international licensing at Zodiak Rights, where she led international licensing initiatives on behalf of Yo Gabba Gabba! and other family entertainment properties.
Rovio Appoints Former Marvel Chairman as Special Advisor
Rovio has announced that David Maisel has been appointed special advisor to the company. Maisel previously served as chairman of Marvel Studios and executive vice president, office of chief executive at Marvel Entertainment. Maisel transformed Marvel Entertainment by launching Marvel Studios and its first self-produced, self-financed films, including Iron Man. He also led the sale of Marvel Entertainment to Disney.
As a special advisor to Rovio, he will help build the company’s entertainment strategy, and transition Rovio to new areas in the entertainment business. He also plans to serve as executive producer for future Angry Birds films.
Earlier this month, Rovio announced the acquisition of Kombo, a Finnish animation studio, which will expand Rovio’s in-house animation capabilities. Rovio will continue to expand in all areas of the entertainment business, and the company is on the lookout for more talent in both animated entertainment and application development.
New Financial Head at Spin Master
Gaston Tano, a seasoned senior finance executive with more than 19 years of experience, has joined Spin Master, Ltd. as executive vice president and CFO. Tano will lead all aspects of the company’s financial operations, including treasury, taxation, risk management, internal audit, financial reporting, and forecasting functions. In this role, Tano is responsible for ensuring Spin Master has a solid financial position to
support the company’s long-term growth strategy and finance investment opportunities as they arise.
Most recently, Tano was CFO of CCL Industries, a publicly traded, Canadian-based
leader in labeling solutions and specialty packaging. Prior to CCL, he spent 13 years with Bacardi Limited (the global spirits company).
August Retail Sales Grow Strongly Year-Over-Year, Little Growth Month-to-Month
Consumer spending for August showed little growth compared to July, according to a recent report by the National Retail Federation (NRF). According to the NRF, retail industry sales in August (excluding automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants), increased 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted over July. August retail sales grew strongly year-over-year with a 6 percent unadjusted increase compared to last year.
August retail sales released by the U.S. Commerce Department (including non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants) increased 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month. Sales increased a solid 9 percent unadjusted compared to August 2010.
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