September 23, 2010
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FAO Schwarz to Open Pop-Up Stores for the Holiday Season

FAO SchwarzFAO Schwarz has announced plans to open approximately 10 pop-up stores throughout the country for the 2010 Christmas season. FAO Schwarz pop-up stores have already opened at Tysons Galleria in McLean, Virginia and The Mall at Chestnut Hill in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Additional FAO Schwarz locations scheduled to open in the coming weeks include Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J.; Aventura Mall in Aventura, Fla.; The Westchester in White Plains, N.Y.; Old Orchard in Skokie, Ill.; Oakbrook Center in Oak Brook, Ill.; and South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif.

DHX Media Acquires W!LDBRAIN Entertainment

 Yo Gabba Gabba!DHX Media, an international producer and distributor of television programming and interactive content, has acquired W!LDBRAIN Entertainment, the LA-based entertainment company that produces and animates The Ricky Gervais Show for HBO and turned Yo Gabba Gabba! into a franchise. Michael Polis will continue to lead W!LDBRAIN Entertainment as president. He will also serve as executive vice-president, branded entertainment and consumer products, DHX Media, where he will also lead DHX Media’s international licensing activities.

Classic Media Names Licensees for Guess with Jess

Classic Media announced preschool toy manufacturer Fisher-Price, home entertainment distributor Nelvana Enterprises’ Treehouse Presents, and The Licensing Shop, Inc. as anchors of the consumer products program for its new CGI-animated preschool television series, Guess with Jess.
 Master toy partner Fisher-Price will debut the Guess with Jess line in Canada in fall 2011, Treehouse Presents will distribute Guess with Jess on DVD, and The Licensing Shop has been named licensing representative to oversee the brand in Canada.

TIA’s ToyCon Relaunches as PlayCon

PlayConThe Toy Industry Association, Inc. announced that its annual executive leadership conference, formerly known as ToyCon, will relaunch in May 2011 as “PlayCon – the International Conference of Play Professionals.”  The play-focused event will be held May 4-6, 2011 at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale, Arizona. The conference will cater to TIA members as well as toy industry and play professionals who are seeking information, tools, and inspiration regarding play.

Baby Genius Inks New Licensing Deal for Soft-Sculpt Toys

Pacific Entertainment Corporation is taking the Baby Genius brand into the amusement arena through a new licensing deal for soft-sculpt toys with NANCO - Nancy Sales Company, Inc. Under the new agreement, NANCO is granted rights to manufacture and distribute Baby Genius-themed soft-sculpt toys in various sizes to amusement channels throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, including amusement parks, carnivals, arcades, and crane redemption.

Build-A-Bear Workshop to Open Holiday Pop-Up Stores

Build-A-Bear WorkshopBuild-A-Bear Workshop is planning to open approximately 10 pop-up stores in time for the Christmas season. Store openings will begin in October. The company will look for opportunities to keep select stores open following the holiday season.
The Build-A-Bear Workshop pop-up stores will offer an extensive assortment of the latest holiday animals, fashions, and accessories, as well as an edited assortment of the signature stuffed animals and fashions found in its more than 400 existing stores worldwide.

For Kids, Gaming Apps Dominate, Followed by Music

Kids Mobil AppsAccording to Kids' Mobile Entertainment & Apps, the latest report from market research company The NPD Group, the majority of mobile entertainment devices used by parents and kids have fewer than 20 apps that have been downloaded specifically for a child, with 7 percent having more than 60 apps for a child.
For kids, games apps dominate usage, followed by music. Music dominates when it comes to overall downloading, with games coming in at a distant second place, and video falling in third place. The remaining types of downloads, which include ringtones, TV shows, and movies, make up less than 10 percent of all downloading activity.
Additionally, according to the report, 82 percent of all apps downloaded for children were free. However, those who have purchased an app for their child are willing to spend almost twice as much as they are currently spending, with the willingness to pay for an app among device users increasing with the age of the child.
Free and inexpensive apps are big motivators for downloads, with 75 percent of respondents saying the free nature of many apps is the single highest motivating factor driving app acquisition. Other motivators include recommendations by family and friends, the child's request/desire for the app, and the apps' affiliation with a character or personality.
Despite some prevailing notions that many apps are used once and then deleted or forgotten, most kids will reuse the same app many times. Only about 1 percent reported abandoning apps after one use.

Safety and Legislative Updates Scheduled During Fall Toy Preview

A complimentary TIA Safety and Legislative Update will be held during Fall Toy Preview Wednesday, October 6 in the Dallas Market Center Expo on 1.
From 9:00 – 10:30 a.m., members of the TIA Government Affairs team will share an update on pending state and federal legislation impacting the toy industry and an overview of TIA’s efforts to prevent passage of any harmful legislation or regulation. This session will also include the latest status of CPSIA implementation activities.
Registration for this session is free. On-site registration will be available in the lobby of the World Trade Center. Individuals who have already registered for the show can go back to the online registration page to add the seminar.

Strawberry Shortcake Partners with McDonald’s

Strawberry ShortcakeCookie Jar Entertainment, global licensing agent for Strawberry Shortcake, and American Greetings Properties announced the launch of a new Strawberry Shortcake McDonald’s Happy Meal and Mighty Kids Meal in North America. Running through October 14, girls can enjoy one of six Strawberry Shortcake characters with the purchase of a Happy Meal or Mighty Kids Meal while supplies last at participating McDonald’s. The launch coincides with the 30th anniversary of Strawberry Shortcake. There are also several other initiatives for fall: an all-new animated television series Berry Bitty Adventures launches on The Hub on October 10; the release of a new Strawberry Shortcake movie, The Glimmerberry Ball; a new Berry Happy Birthday theme and online activities featured on StrawberryShortcake.com; and a special-edition collector's doll set. 

Nelvana’s New Babar Series to Debut in U.S.

BabarNelvana Enterprises’ CGI-animated series, Babar and the Adventures of Badou, will make its broadcast debut in the U.S. on Disney Channel's Playhouse Disney programming block for preschoolers. The show, an updated version of the classic Babar, is for kids ages 4 to 7 and is a Canada-France co-production from Nelvana Studio and TeamTO, in association with The Clifford Ross Company. The series will premiere on YTV in Canada this November during the Playtime block, and is also set to air on TF1 and Playhouse Disney in France, Playhouse Disney in Japan, Disney Channel in Italy and Spain, KI.KA in Germany, and ABC TV in Australia, among others. Licensing opportunities are also available through Nelvana Enterprises.

License Lounge added to Nuremburg Toy Fair 201

The LicenseCenter is moving to the new Mitte (central) entrance of the Nuremberg exhibition center for the International Toy Fair 2011. The new License Lounge for licensors, licensees, and licensing agencies will be in the foyer of Brüssel hall from February 3-5, 2011. With this lounge, Spielwarenmesse eG is expanding the previously trader-orientated LicenseCenter into a get-together for all players who achieve a considerable part of their revenue for toys in the license business. To enable exhibitors to find time for a visit to the lounge, it will remain open until 7 p.m. from Thursday to Saturday. This product display presents visitors with the current license themes of the year. Licensors and licensing agencies also provide information and film trailers on the license themes. Media partners from various countries show what license themes are expected to become the top sellers of the year in the worldwide markets in their International Trend Selection. The LicenseGuide is also being revised.

The Magic School Bus to Air on Qubo Channel 

The Magic School BusScholastic Media announced that the animated science-adventure series The Magic School Bus will premiere on the Qubo Channel starting September 27. In addition to Qubo’s 24-hour channel, The Magic School Bus series will also premiere on ION Television on Thursday, October 7, as well as on NBC’s three-hour Qubo educational programming block, and on Telemundo beginning Saturday, October 9.

 

 

SLR Productions Signs with CCI Entertainment for Preschool Series

Guess How Much I Love YouEmmy Award-winning Australian children’s entertainment company, SLR Productions has signed a worldwide distribution deal with Canada’s CCI Entertainment Ltd for the animated preschool 52 x 11 minute series, Guess How Much I Love You - The Adventures of Little Nutbrown Hare, excluding Australia, New Zealand, and South East Asia. This is the first-time adaptation of the best-selling classic, Guess How Much I Love You, into a worldwide animated preschool series.

Nickelodeon Announces Seventh Annual Worldwide Day of Play

For the seventh straight year, Nickelodeon will empower kids to get up and get active when its TV channels and websites go off the air and offline during its Worldwide Day of Play on Saturday, Sept. 25 from 12 to 3 p.m. (all times ET/PT). Nickelodeon, Nicktoons, Nick Jr., TeenNick, Nick.com, NickJr.com, Nicktoons.com, and TeenNick.com will participate. Additionally, for the first time in the history of the event, Nick stars will serve as hosts during the hours the network is on the air. They will share health and wellness messages and cover the activities at the flagship WWDP event in New York, the Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City RBC Race for the Kids.

Toys"R"Us, Inc. Celebrates the 60th Anniversary of Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF

Toys"R"Us, Inc. has partnered with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF. This campaign encourages kids in America to help children around the world by collecting donations during the Halloween season while gathering treats for themselves. Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us stores will serve as destinations for kids and families across the country to obtain the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF collection boxes, which are available now through October 30, while supplies last. In addition, the company has launched an in-store and online fundraising campaign to support Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF. For the next six weeks, customers can make monetary donations to the campaign at all "R"Us locations nationwide and online at Toysrus.com/UNICEF

Johnny Lightning Makes Scaled Replica of The Toy Peddler Challenger

Johnny Lightning, a brand of model cars, made a 64th-scale replica of “The Toy Peddler Challenger,” based on a 1970 Dodge Challenger Paul Biddle, owner and founder of The Toy Peddler—an online source for collectible toys, purchased two years ago. Biddle restored the car, which was originally in poor condition. Tom Zahorsky, senior design engineer at Johnny Lightning, contacted Biddle about making his car into a replica. The replica will hit shelves at Wal-Mart and Toys “R” Us starting in late September.

Madame Alexander

Connolly Named Senior VP, Consumer Products, MTV Networks International

MTV Networks International has appointed Michael Connolly as senior vice president, Consumer Products, MTV Networks International. Connolly joins MTVNI from Disney Consumer Products where he served as vice president, marketing and seasonal merchandise, North America. Based in New York, in his new role Connolly will oversee consumer product efforts across all international markets, retail partnerships, and key category relationships, including toys, home entertainment, consumer electronics, video games, and publishing for Nickelodeon Consumer Product's portfolio of genres and properties in coordination with regional MTVNI operations. Additionally, Connolly will focus on the international growth and new strategic initiatives, which include growing the company’s entertainment brands’ licensing opportunities and further retail development.

Zula Appoints Industry Vet Martha Van Gelder President

Zula, an entertainment and education company, has named Martha Van Gelder as its president. Van Gelder brings more than 25 years of progressive profit and loss responsibility with Blue Chip media and consumer brands. In her new role, Van Gelder is charged with driving the company’s growth and expanding distribution of the Zula brand across multiple channels in the U.S. and abroad.

California Creations adds new VP Operations Position

Tustin-based California Creations, a wind-up toy company, has added the new position of VP operations to meet the company’s rapid expansion. Marc Lazich will assist California Creations’ President Mark Dinges in creating a five-year growth plan. Lazich is a veteran of both resale and wholesale operations with more than 30 years of experience in the gift and toy channels of distribution. Prior to his appointment as VP Operations, in 2008 Lazich was promoted to COO for both EJ Enterprises and SWT Acquisitions LLC, (Small World Toys).

Meyer Joins STR’s Quality Assurance Division

Specialized Technology Resources, Inc. (STR), a provider of quality-assurance services for the consumer products industry, announced that Rachel Murray Meyer has joined the company’s Toys & Children’s Products group as a business development executive. Meyer has more than 20 years of leadership experience in the toy and children's product services industry, with a focus on product safety, quality assurance, social responsibility, and manufacturing. Before joining STR, she was the owner and principal of Toy Safety and Quality, Inc., where she worked with small- and medium-sized toy manufacturers, product designers, and testing laboratories in Hong Kong and Europe. 

Douglas Company Names Adolphson VP of Sales

New Hampshire–based Douglas Company, known for its plush toys, accessories, and home décor, has named Doug Adolphson vice president of sales. Adolphson has more than 25 years of experience working in the plush and gift industry, having worked in sales and executive positions for companies such as Russ Berrie and Company, Gund, Crazy Mountain, and Manual Woodworkers and Weavers.

APII Receives Investment Offer of $20 Million to Fund Acquisitions

Action Products International, Inc. has received an investment proposal for the purchase of six million shares of stock providing the company with $20 million in cash ($3.33 per share) to acquire two real estate properties, a 468 unit apartment complex with 60 percent occupancy in Michigan and an operating marina in Florida. Combined, the properties generate nearly $21 million annually in revenues, over $4 million in net operating income before taxes. The offer from JMN Equity Ventures of Michigan also includes additional financial support to service the existing real estate loan debt on the marina (an expense of a little more than $1 million annually).
The offer is contingent upon a the negotiation and settlement of two judgments against the company currently held by a former CFO and former CEOs for over $500,000. In addition, the company has been asked to negotiate and is working on conversion of the debt to equity for the company's outstanding liabilities of nearly $1.6 million. 
The company plans to pursue bridge or alternative funding to pay off the debts as an alternative to those transactions which it cannot settle, but makes no assurances settlements will be reached. The offer from JMN Equity Ventures expires in 30 days and the company is confident yet reserved regarding resolution of the outstanding matters and as a result may or may not be successful in negotiating a satisfactory result. If completed, the company would work to re-establish itself as a fully reporting publically traded company. The company is also working on a plan to honor outstanding warrants held by current shareholders which may have been canceled when the company lost its NASDAQ listing in 2009. An alternative plan is expected to be put in place for shareholders of record prior to the closing of any agreement with JMN Equity Ventures to replace those warrants.

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Publisher:
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