October 05, 2009

The Toy Insider Announces the Hot 20 Toys of the Holiday Season

The Toy InsiderThe Toy Insider, an annual holiday toy guide from Adventure Publishing Group, Inc., has announced its Hot 20 Toys for the 2009 holiday season. The consumer guide will run in the November issue of Redbook magazine, on newsstands October 22. All of the toys in the guide were selected by toy trend experts Jonathan Samet and Laurie Schacht, group publisher and president, respectively, of Adventure Publishing; Jackie Breyer, editor-in-chief of The Toy Book; as well as Reyne Rice, a toy trends expert. The guide features 74 toy recommendations from 53 different manufacturers, broken up into four age groups and complemented by a toy skill key.
The guide’s hot toys for kids ages 2 and under are: Elmo Tickle Hands from Fisher-Price, MEGA Blocks Play ’N Go Table from MEGA Brands, My Pal Scout & My Pal Violet from LeapFrog, and Tonka Chuck My Talking Truck from Tonka.
The hot toys for kids ages 3 to 5 are: 1-2-3 Stomp! by Wild Planet, Liv Dolls by Spin Master, Rocky the Robot Truck by Matchbox, Tightrope Terror by JAKKS Pacific, Transformers Revenge of the Fallen Optimus Prime by Hasbro, and Zippity Learning System by LeapFrog.
For kids ages 6 to 8: Air Hogs Zero Gravity Laser by Spin Master, Bakugan 7 in 1 Maxus Dragonoid by Spin Master, Battle Strikers Turbo Tops Tournament Set by MEGA Brands, Girl Gourmet Sweets Candy Jewel Factory by JAKKS Pacific, Moxie Girlz by MGA Entertainment, and Printies Design Studio Kits by Techno Source.
For kids 9 and older, The Toy Insider has selected Power Miners Titanium Command Rig by LEGO, Star Wars The Force Trainer by Uncle Milton, Style Six Silk Screener by JAKKS Pacific, and Twilight Scene It? The DVD Game: Deluxe Edition by Screenlife.

Target to Pay $600,000 for Toy Lead Paint Violation

Target Corp. has agreed to pay a $600,000 civil penalty for importing and selling toys with high levels of lead paint on the surface, more than is legally allowed. Target recalled more than 500,000 Kool Toyz playsets, Anima Bamboo Collection games, Happy Giddy gardening tools, and Sunny Patch chairs for lead paint violations between November 2006 and September 2007. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) alleged that Target knowingly imported and sold the illegal Chinese-made toys between May 2006 and August 2007, although, as part of the settlement, Target denies that it knowingly broke the law.

Overall Toy Industry Sales Fall, Some Categories Up

According to The NPD Group, U.S. toy industry sales fell 3 percent during the 12 months ending August 2009 compared to the same time period in 2008, and were off 2 percent year-to-date through the year's first eight months. Despite the drop, the traditional toy industry’s $21.5 billion gain for the August 2008 to August 2009 period outperformed consumer product categories such as apparel, consumer technology, and video games, all of which were down 5 percent or more in sales for the first half of the year.
During the 12 month period, the building sets category was up 21 percent, action figures and accessories was up 7 percent, arts & crafts was up 4 percent, games and puzzles was up 1 percent, and “all other toys” was up 3 percent. Other categories experienced losses. These include vehicles (down 13 percent), plush (down 9 percent), outdoor and sports toys (down 9 percent), infant and preschool (down 6 percent), dolls (down 5 percent) and youth electronics (down 4 percent). Building sets, action figures and accessories, and arts and crafts were the largest gainers when tracked year-to-date (up 21, 14, and 7 percent, respectively).

TIA Launches the Toy Safety Certification Program

Toy companies are now able to submit their toys for approval as part of the Toy Industry Association’s (TIA) Toy Safety Certification Program (TSCP), an initiative to help assure compliance with the federal Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) and enhance the safety of toys sold in the United States. Toys that are certified under the program will begin to appear on retail shelves throughout 2010.
Under the TSCP, toy manufacturers and importers must prove that they have taken steps in the design and manufacturing process to assure that their toys meet the U.S. safety standards, in addition to testing production samples according to the requirements of new federal laws. The certification program also fulfills the testing requirements that have been previously imposed by many retailers. Certificates are available for review and use by U.S. regulatory authorities retailers, and, eventually, consumers.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has the sole responsibility for accrediting TSCP certification bodies. ANSI, under internationally recognized standards and practices, will verify that participating toy companies and private labelers meet TSCP’s certification requirements.
The CPSC’s five commissioners are expected to hold a public meeting to review the TSCP in the near future. By November 14, the CPSC must establish protocols and standards for ensuring that a children’s product tested for compliance with an applicable standard, and on a regular schedule.

Shoppers to Spend Less This Halloween

HalloweenHalloween shoppers will spend an average of $10 less per person compared to last year, according to a survey conducted by BIGResearch. The 2009 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF) shows that shoppers will spend $56.31 this Halloween, down from $66.54 last year. Consumers plan to spend an average of $20.75 on costumes, $17.99 on candy, $14.54 on decorations, and $3.02 on greeting cards. Total spending on the holiday for adults is expected to reach $4.75 billion.
Almost one-third of consumers (29.6 percent) say that the current economy will impact their Halloween spending plans, and 88 percent of those people plan to spend less overall. Most people, 46.5 percent, will buy less candy, while others will use last year’s decorations (35.4 percent), participate in fewer Halloween festivities (25.4 percent), make their costumes instead of buying them (16.8 percent), or reuse last year’s costumes (15.8 percent). Only 62 percent of people surveyed plan to celebrate Halloween this year, compared to 64.5 percent last year.
Young adults, those ages 18 to 24, will spend $68.56 on the holiday, compared to $86.59 last year and $81.91 in 2007. Last year, young adults were the big spenders during the holiday.

Bandai to Develop Toys for Tinga Tinga Tales, Power Rangers

Tinga Tinga TalesBandai has been appointed the master toy partner for Classic Media’s new, produced-in-Africa, animated series, Tinga Tinga Tales. Bandai will develop toys based on the brand, which are expected to be in stores in the UK in late 2010. Created by UK producer Tiger Aspect, Tinga Tinga Tales (52 x 11 min)tells stories to preschoolers about how animals came to be. The series will debut on CBeebies in the UK in early 2010. The series is co-commissioned by Playhouse Disney in the U.S. 
In additional news, Bandai America is launching a new collection of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers toys. The line will include both fresh and nostalgic play and collection experiences including action figures, vehicles, Megazords, and role-play products that will coincide with the new Mighty Morphin Power Rangers TV series set to premiere Saturday mornings on ABC Kids next January. Bandai’s new line will begin to arrive in stores later this year.

Penguin Signs on for Chaotic

4Kids Entertainment and Chaotic USA have signed Penguin Young Readers Group as worldwide publishing licensee for the Chaotic trading card game (TCG), a game that combines traditional trading card game play and an online interactive experience. Penguin will be a global licensing partner for the trading card game and TV series, publishing a range of titles such as sticker books, interactive game books entitled Decide Your Destiny, and novels and graphic novels. The books are expected to launch worldwide next year, excluding Asia.

Fraggle Rock Merchandise and DVDs to Hit Store Shelves This Holiday Season

FraggleThe Jim Henson Company is launching a new merchandise collection, Fraggle Rock Forever, based on the 1980s children’s television series. The collection is slated to be sold in both the specialty and department store markets in a tiered rollout starting this holiday season and throughout spring 2010. The Fraggle Rock Forever collection will feature apparel, tote bags, belt buckles, jewelry, and classic plush. Adult Halloween costumes, available in men’s and women’s, will be release in 2010 by Rasta Impasta, and Manhattan Toy will create Fraggle Rock plush products. Lionsgate will release Fraggle Rock: The Complete Series Collection, A Merry Fraggle Holiday, and Fraggle Rock: The Complete Final Season in time for the holiday season.

Wal-Mart Re-Introduces $10 Toys Section

Wal-Mart has announced it will bring back its $10 toys section, just days after its Canadian subsidiary, Wal-Mart Canada, announced its 10 toys a week for $10 promotion. The new section will expand the holiday assortment to more than 100 toys. The toys include new releases such as Transformers Revenge of the Fallen Deluxe Action Figures, and classics including Connect 4, Battleship, Monopoly, and Jenga. The $10 toys will last through the Christmas holiday, and, in addition, Wal-Mart will match any local competitor’s advertised offer on a toy product if it falls below $10.

Baby Products Area to Premiere at German Toy Fair

Baby’sWorld, a special area dedicated to a range of baby articles, will premiere at the Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair in Nürnberg, held from February 4-9.  Baby’sWorld, to be held in Hall 2, will feature toys for babies and infants, a lounge area, information on the buying behavior of parents, and a guide that lists all exhibitors that stock baby products. There will also be presentations on various aspects of baby toys by well-known experts at the Toy Business Forum. The Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair Nürnberg expects to expand baby articles into an independent product group in 2011.

Marvel and Crayola Team up for Arts and Activity Products

Marvel Entertainment, Inc. has inked a new deal with Crayola for arts and activity products featuring Marvel’s super heroes. Crayola has been awarded the rights to produce and market a wide range of products based on Marvel Studios’ upcoming feature film releases Iron Man 2, Thor, The First Avenger: Captain America,and The Avengers. Product categories include Crayola Mess-Free Color Wonder products, which include coloring books, posters, coloring pages, markers, finger paints, and stamps; Crayola Color Explosion products; coloring pages; sketch and draw sets; dry erase activity sets; and a light-up tracing desk.

Thomas & Friends Movie Slated to Hit Theaters in 2011

Thomas The Tank EngineHIT Movies, a division of HIT Entertainment, is developing its first feature film based on the stories of Thomas & Friends. Josh Klausner (Shrek the Third, Date Night) has signed on to develop the script. The live-action film with CG-animation is slated to hit theaters in spring 2011. Next year, Thomas the Tank Engine will celebrate his 65th anniversary and will debut an all-new, CG-animated series.




Sesame Street Celebrates 40 Years

SesameSesame Street will celebrate its 40th birthday on November 10, the exact day the series debuted on television four decades ago, with a new season kicked off by First Lady Michelle Obama. The new season launches with “My World Is Green & Growing,” a two-year science initiative designed to increase positive attitudes towards nature, deepen children’s knowledge about the natural world, and encourage behavior that shows respect and care for the environment. 
The 40th season will take on a new format to resemble a typical broadcasting block. Murray the Monster Muppet will host each episode from different locations, linking four longer segments with shorter segments in between. The season will debut brand new opening and closing segments, integrating colorful chalk-art animation with cast characters set to the re-versioned classic “Sunny Days.” Additionally, the upcoming season will introduce the new CGI-animated segment, Abby’s Flying Fairy School, starring Abby Cadabby.
Sesame Workshop will also debut the commemorative DVD, Sesame Street: 40 Years of Sunny Days. The two-disc set features classic stories, songs, monsters, and celebrity segments. A new coffee-table book, A Celebration: 40 Years of Life on the Street, will also launch in celebration of the anniversary.

TIA to Host CPSIA Update Webinar

TIA’s Education and Training Services team will host a one-hour webinar on October 15 at 4 pm EST to update members and industry stakeholders on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). The session is part of an ongoing series of legislative and safety updates by TIA’s safety and regulatory affairs team, providing updates on the CPSIA and answering questions. Participants will learn about the recent CPSIA implementation requirements for catalog advertising, civil penalties, lead content, lead in paint and similar surface coating materials, phthalates, the toy safety standard (ASTM F963), and tracking labels. A question-and-answer session will follow. As with other TIA webinars, the presentation will also be available post-event. Registration is free for TIA members and $49 for non-members. For more information or to register, visit the Education section of the TIA website at www.toyassociation.org.

Vivid Imaginations Awarded Multi-Year UK Toy License for ZingZillas

ZingZillasVivid Imaginations has signed on as the UK master toy licensee for the new musical show for preschoolers, ZingZillas. The 52 x 22-minute series is being produced in-house by CBeebies for the BBC and will premiere next spring. The toy product line by Vivid will include musically themed plush, plastics, playsets, role-play, selected outdoor products, and games, hitting retail outlets in time for Christmas 2010. Vivid was awarded manufacturing rights for Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, while BBC Worldwide holds global distribution rights for TV, merchandise, DVD, and publishing.

LEGO and Toys “R” Us Celebrate “Bricktober”

Toys “R” Us has partnered with LEGO Systems, Inc. to create “Bricktober,” a month-long event celebrating LEGO, at Toys “R” Us stores nationwide and online at Toysrus.com. Every week during the month of October, Toys “R” Us stores and Toysrus.com will offer deals on all LEGO products. The toy retailer will also create LEGO boutiques in every store, featuring a large assortment of LEGO construction sets. Customers will receive one complimentary, collectible LEGO brick each week during “Bricktober,” with the purchase of any LEGO product. At the end of the month, LEGO fans who receive all four collectible LEGO bricks can combine them to create a spooky “Bricktober” skeleton from the LEGO CASTLE collection.
On Saturday, October 24, Toys “R” Us stores nationwide will host special racing-themed LEGO “Bricktober” 500 events, where kids can build and decorate their own complimentary LEGO car and receive an official LEGO “Bricktober” 500 driver’s license. Once the car is constructed, they can race it against other LEGO creations.

TDC Games Joins the Waldo Search

Where's WaldoClassic Media has partnered with TDC Games to create an assortment of puzzles featuring images from Where’s Waldo? The line will launch with 2,000-piece puzzles, 1000-piece puzzles, 300-piece puzzles, large-piece puzzles, 234-piece “World’s Smallest” jigsaw puzzles, 24-piece puzzles, and hide-and-seek figural games––with some featuring 3-D elements. The products will roll out beginning next summer in the U.S. and Canada.





Chicago Toy & Game Fair Celebrates Young Inventors with Annual Contest

The Chicago Toy & Game Fair presents the third annual Young Inventor Challenge, a contest celebrating young toy and game inventors. In the challenge, contestants younger than 19 years old come up with game and toy inventions that are judged by a popular vote at the fair. The winner of the Young Inventor Challenge will receive a prize package that includes dinner for the winner and their parents with Mike Hirtle, head of global product acquisition and inventor relations for Hasbro; a free one-year subscription to Inventor’s Digest and a feature in the magazine; a VIP tour of Lund and Company Invention, LLC by Bruce Lund; VIP tour of the Strong National Museum of Play; tickets to the Toy of the Year Awards, with an opportunity to present an award; and a Toy Fair pre-show tour. More information can be found at www.chitag.com.

EA Premieres Charm Girls Club Website for Upcoming Video Game

Traditional toys aren’t the only products expanding their play value with corresponding websites. The Play label of Electronic Arts, Inc. has launched the Charm Girls Club website, www.charmgirlsclub.com, an online destination where girls can play games, design head-to-toe outfits, create personal profile pages, collect charms, and learn more about Charm Girls. The website will be fully integrated with EA’s Charm Girls Club video games for Wii and Nintendo DS, to be released in the U.S. on October 20. Girls who purchase the upcoming Charm Girls Club video games will have access to even more content on the website, as they will be able to earn Charm Codes throughout the game that can be used online to unlock activities. EA will release four video games: Pajama Party for the Wii, and My Fashion Mall, My Perfect Prom, and My Fashion Show for Nintendo DS.

Boy Band WOW Signs Licensing Deal with Beeposh

WOWPop boy band WOW has signed a multi-level licensing agreement with Beeposh to create an array of products, including an exclusive WOW teddy bear to released this holiday season, followed by print bags, pajamas, and fleece blankets.
WOW consists of five teen boys ages 15-20 years old (Frankie Zulferino, Eddie Moody, Jake Lauckern, Michael Rechner and Kyron Correia) based in the New York City area.


Winnie The Pooh Royalty Case Dismissed

Winnie the PoohA U.S. judge has ended an 18-year-old court battle over Winnie the Pooh royalties, potentially worth billions of dollars. U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper dismissed the remaining claims by the heirs of Pooh licensee Stephen Slesinger against the Walt Disney Co. in a copyright infringement case. Slesinger, a New York television and film producer, obtained the exclusive merchandising and other rights to the Pooh works from author A.A. Milne in 1930, and transferred them to Disney in 1961 in exchange for a regular royalty. His heirs sued Disney, claiming the company had comingled Pooh and Mickey Mouse revenue to avoid paying them more than $700 million in royalties. After judges threw out the case after 13 years of legal battle, the Slesinger heirs filed a federal copyright infringement case against Disney.
Cooper dismissed the case after saying the heirs had failed to describe what rights they still held to the Winnie the Pooh. Stephen Slesinger, Inc., still has a claim against Disney pending with the U.S. Patent Office.

Fox Appoints New VP of Video Game Production

Andre EmersonTwentieth Century Fox has appointed Andre Emerson as vice president of video game production, a newly created position. Emerson will oversee the production of Fox’s portfolio of video game projects based on its TV and film library.
Emerson has over 15 years of production management and creative design experience, formerly serving as president and CEO of Bad Butterz Productions, an independent video game consulting firm, and as vice president/executive producer at Vivendi Games.



Children’s Entertainment Veteran Appointed to Executive Position at FME

FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME) has appointed producer Sander Schwartz as EVP, head of children and family entertainment. Schwartz will report directly to David Ellender, the global CEO of the company, and will develop the vision and strategic plan for children’s content, as well as build deeper relationships with producers, third party IP owners, and broadcasters to create and deliver new programming and brand content.
Shwartz has served in several executive roles within the industry including president, international production for Sony Pictures Television International, president of Warner Bros. Animation, and head of Columbia TriStar Television Children’s Programming.

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The Toy Report

Jonathan Samet

Editor in Chief:
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