Techno Source to Distribute Character Options Toys in the U.S.
Techno Source, a division of LF Products, has signed a deal to distribute selected lines of toy company Character Options’ best-selling products, in the U.S. The partnership deepens the companies’ existing relationship, under which Character Options has
distributed many of Techno Source’s products in the UK for nearly a decade.
Techno Source will bring to market a number of Character Options’ original and licensed toys under its Techno Source and Toy Island brands. The first products to launch
under this partnership will be a Scooby-Doo toy line, as part of a licensing agreement with Warner Bros. Consumer Products. Character Options holds the master toy license for Scooby-Doo in the UK and U.S. The Scooby-Doo products, which include figures, play sets, vehicles, plush, and goo, will be available at mass and specialty retailers beginning in the spring.
Toys “R” Us to Hire 40,000 Employees for the Holidays
Toys “R” Us announced plans to hire more than 40,000 employees to staff its U.S. stores and distribution centers this holiday season. Although, the number is less than last year, it is in line with previous years, when the company hired between 35,000 and 45,000 seasonal workers. Throughout the coming months, the company says it will continue to assess its staffing needs and add more employees as necessary.
Little Tikes Workshop and Tool Sets Recall Extended to 1.7 Million
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with MGA’s Little Tikes, has expanded the voluntary recall it issued in August 2009 of Little Tikes Workshop and Tool Sets. Approximately 1.6 million of the sets were recalled in 2009, and the recall has now been extended to 1.7 million.
The recalled workshop and tool sets have oversized, plastic toy nails that can pose a choking hazard to young children. Little Tikes reported two additional incidents, occurring prior to the August 2009 recall, of children who choked when the toy nail became lodged in their throat. Both children were treated in a hospital and made a full recovery. The recalled products were sold nationwide from 1990 to 2004 for $25 to $100.
For model numbers, which may be found on some of the products, click here. Owners of the products should take the toy nails away from young children immediately and contact Little Tikes. For more information, visit at www.littletikes.com
Chorion Sells Rights to Beatrix Potter and Octonauts
According to The Guardian, Chorion has sold the rights to The World of Beatrix Potter and The Octonauts to Silvergate Media, a new company backed by Lord Waheed Alli, Chorion’s former chairman. Alli resigned from the company last month. The deal was for an undisclosed sum.
Beatrix Potter and The Octonauts are the first properties to be sold by Chorion following a decision to break up the company after it failed to renegotiate a £70m debt. The sale process is being overseen by DC Advisory Partners. Assets are expected to be sold separately include Agatha Christie’s literary estate, the Mr. Men books, Paddington Bear, and Enid Blyton's Noddy.
Disney Partners with Spin Master for Appmates iPad Toys
Disney and Spin Master have introduced its Appmates Mobile Application Toys, a new toy line that comes to life digitally when used with an Apple iPad, turning the tablet’s screen into a virtual play mat.
Developed in collaboration between Disney Consumer Products (DCP) and Disney Mobile, and featuring patent-pending technology, the Appmates toy line features miniature Disney·Pixar Cars 2 vehicles with sensors on the base of each toy. Users download the free Cars 2 Appmates app from the iTunes app store (available in mid-October), place the Appmates toy character on the screen, and play. By guiding the Appmates vehicle on the screen, kids can experience the world of Radiator Springs via the iPad, and also race against World Grand Prix opponents.
Each toy unlocks different features and content within the app, specific to the character. Fans can download and test the app using their fingers, but the play experience is
optimized with the Appmates toy vehicles.
The Disney Appmates toys, by Spin Master, will launch October 1 at retailers nationwide. Available will be Lightning McQueen, Tow Mater, Finn McMissile, and Holley Shiftwell, with Francesco Bernoulli and Shu Todoroki launching in November (exclusively through Apple stores).
The Magic School Bus Celebrates 25 Years
The Magic School Bus is celebrating its 25th anniversary with new products, a live tour, and promotions. The Scholastic brand will kick off the celebration next month with the release of The Magic School Bus: Oceans game for Nintendo DS and The Magic School Bus: Dinosaurs app for Apple’s iPad. Both releases are based on the Scholastic books written by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degen.
Joining the celebration, Identity Games will release its new GameChanger (an electronic board that works with the iPad) featuring The Magic School Bus game skins. The Young Scientists Club will launch “The Magic School Bus Science Club,” and release five new Magic School Bus activity kits this year. Scholastic Audio has three new Magic School Bus audio books scheduled for release next year.
Additionally, Maximum Entertainment Productions and The Brad Simon Organization will tour the new “The Magic School Bus - Live! The Climate Challenge” live show throughout the U.S., hitting 60 cities.
An anniversary field trip event and a book signing in New York City, as well as an online game, are also planned.
Build-A-Bear Enters Kinectimals World
Build-A-Bear Workshop is working with Microsoft Xbox 360 to introduce a new interactive entertainment experience for store visitors. Starting October 11, select stuffed animals sold in all Build-A-Bear Workshop stores and at www.buildabear.com can be imported into the new Kinect for Xbox 360 game, Kinectimals Now with Bears. Each of the four bears will include a special Kinectimals hangtag that features a Microsoft Tag. When the tag is scanned with the Kinect for Xbox 360, the bears are imported right into the game. Kids can then engage in activities, including training, caring for, and playing with their cubs, as well as embark on challenges across two mysterious islands. Select North American and United Kingdom Build-A-Bear Workshop stores will have Kinect for Xbox 360 stations set up to showcase Kinectimals Now with Bears, along with Kinect-enabled Build-A-Bear Workshop bears.
Rubie’s Showcases Licenses for Dress-Up Division
Rubie’s will be exhibiting its licensed lineup for its dress-up division at Fall Toy Preview, to be held in Dallas from October 4-6. The company’s all-new 2012 collection will include products based on properties, including The Dark Knight Rises, Harry Potter, Green Lantern, DC Comics, Superman, Batman, Star Wars, Super Mario, Scooby-Doo!, Hello Kitty, The Wizard of Oz, and Angelina Ballerina. To schedule an appointment with Rubie’s dress-up division, call (516) 326-1500.
Warner Bros. Partners with Wonder Forge and Thinkway for Toys
Wonder Forge has secured a partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products for licensing rights to DC Super Friends and Justice League properties. The multiyear agreement includes tabletop game development in the U.S. and Canada, beginning with the launch of DC Super Friends games in fall 2012, followed by a line of Justice League games in 2013.
Each tabletop game will feature favorite DC Comics characters such as Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and The Flash. DC Super Friends games will be tailored to preschoolers, while Justice League games will be designed for kids ages 8 and up.
Warner Bros. Consumer Products has also partnered with Thinkway Toys for a full line of toys inspired by the family comedy film, Happy Feet Two. The movie will release in theaters November 18, and the toy line will hit store shelves prior to the release.
Lead items in Thinkway’s new toy line include Dancing Erik, Boadicea, and Ramon, capturing the essence of the characters with dance moves, interactive play features, and music. The penguins also dance in sync to music from any external source, such as an MP3 player or stereo. Activate their talk back mode and the toys will respond with talking and dancing as fans chat with them. In addition, the toy line features several sizes of plush, a magical Musical Dance Play Set, plus collectible figurines, wind-up toys, a Bucket O Penguins and Icebergs Play Set, and more.
Jakks Expands Global Monsuno Toys Distribution
Jakks Pacific, Inc. has expanded global distribution for its toys based on the Monsuno original animated television series. Planet Fun and Prima Toys have joined the roster of international distributors for Monsuno toys with exclusive agreements for New Zealand and South Africa, respectively. Monsuno toys distributors also include Giochi Preziosi Group for Europe and Hunter Products for Australia.
Nickelodeon will launch the Monsuno series to audiences on owned channels in the U.S., the UK, Latin America, key European and Eastern European territories, Australia and New Zealand, India, Southeast Asia, Russia, and Africa. The Monsuno series will first launch in the U.S. on Nicktoons, and in select English-speaking countries.
Sabrina, the Teenage Witch to Return
Archie Comics is partnering with animation studio Moonscoop for a new animated series based on the adventures of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. The new partnership will give the long-running character, popular since the 1970s, a new look that is more modern and teen-centric. Sabrina will face the trials and tribulations all teens come across, along with monsters and the supernatural.
The series will be produced in Moonscoop’s Los Angeles studio. The companies are looking to launch the animated series with a network or cable partner in the coming year.
Moxie & Company to Launch Merchandising Program for Splat the Cat
Moxie & Company, a brand licensing and promotion agency, has been awarded merchandise licensing rights to represent Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton, the picture book series published by HarperCollins. Moxie’s core licensing strategy for Splat includes toys, games, apparel and accessories, activity kits, paper/party goods, and promotions geared to boys and girls ages 3-7. The program is set to launch next year.
The Splat publishing program includes more than eight new titles in various formats.
Embraced internationally, the books have been translated into 13 languages to date.
41 Entertainment Named Worldwide Distributor for Pac-Man 3D
Namco Bandai Games has appointed 41 Entertainment, LLC (41e) to distribute the new series Pac-Man 3D (26 x 26’) worldwide in time for a fall 2013 airing. 41e will launch this new property at MIPCOM (booth 09.19).
Based on the iconic Pac-Man brand, the series will be produced in stereoscopic 3-D by Avi Arad (Spider-Man for Sony Pictures, Iron Man for Paramount, Hulk for Universal, and Fantastic Four and X-Men for 20th Century Fox) and Rick Ungar (Biker Mice from Mars, X-Men Evolution, Legend of the Dragon). Tom Ruegger (Scooby-Doo, Animaniacs, Batman: The Animated Series) and Paul Rugg (Animaniacs, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated) will write the series.
My Stuff Bags Handed Out at Haven Academy
Last week, two incoming classes of kindergarteners at Haven Academy Charter School, in the Bronx, N.Y., received 50 duffel bags filled with toys and toiletries, courtesy of the Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) and strategic partner My Stuff Bags Foundation.
The “My Stuff” bags—which contained school supplies, a stuffed animal and blanket, arts and crafts, and toiletries—were handed out to the children who are among the 300,000 kids that enter foster care across the U.S. each year.
Along with school officials, the media, and representatives from TIF, New York City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito and Assembly Member Carmen E. Arroyo were on hand to watch the excited kids open their bags.
Haven Academy, now in its fourth year, is the only public charter school in the nation for at-risk children. Sponsored by The New York Foundling, the school aims to empower kids by integrating family support services into a rigorous academic program so children can reach their full potential.