October 5, 2011

Spielwarenmesse

Rubies

TIA Calls for Candidates for Board of Directors

The Toy Industry Association, Inc. (TIA) invites all members to submit candidates for seats on the association’s board of directors. The board is responsible for the management and control of the activities, property, and affairs of TIA, including the strategic direction of the association, the annual budget, and the scope of responsibilities of the board and its committees.
The following criteria will be considered by the Nominating Committee for each nominee: commitment to attend regularly scheduled board meetings each year and, as appropriate, other relevant TIA-sponsored events; commitment to act in a neutral manner and represent the best interests of the industry rather than carrying forward individual or corporate agendas; professional skills that may be valuable to the board; holds a senior position within his/her company; experience in the toy industry; contributions to Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) and/or membership in the TIF Leaders Circle; and TIA committee participation.
Nominations are due by 5 p.m. ET on October 21. Nominations will be subsequently balloted for election by the TIA membership. Newly elected board members will begin a two-year term beginning at the TIA Annual Meeting at Toy Fair in February. Board members may be re-elected for two additional consecutive two-year terms.
For more information, click here.

Nominations Now Open for 8th Annual Wonder Women Awards Dinner

Nominations are now open for the 8th Annual Wonder Women of Toys, Licensing, and Entertainment Awards, celebrating the most “Make it Happen” women in the industry.
This year's Wonder Women Awards Dinner (February 12) will be held at a brand-new location, The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers. Nomination categories that will recognize the powerhouse movers and shakers in the toys, licensing, and entertainment industries include designer/inventor, digital and gaming, entertainment, entrepreneur, journalism/social media, licensee, licensing agents, licensor, lifetime achievement, manufacturer, marketing/advertising/branding, public relations/communications, publishing, retailer, rising star, sales, and social responsibility.
Nominations received through November 31 will cost $75 per nomination, per category. Nominations received December 1-31 will cost $100 per nomination, per category. Nominations received January 1-25 will cost $150 per nomination, per category.
Sponsorships and tables for the event are also available. To date, the 2012 list of sponsors include The Toy Book, Brandberry, Imperial Toy, Jakks Pacific, Serenata Group, The Bridge Direct, Toy Industry Association, and Toys “R” Us.
To nominate, for dinner reservations, sponsorships, or to join Women in Toys, visit www.womenintoys.com.

Mega Brands Partners with Mind Candy for Moshi Monsters Products
 
Moshi MonstersMega Brands, Inc. has entered into an exclusive, multiyear international licensing partnership with Mind Candy to develop creative toys based on the global kids’ hit Moshi Monsters. Under this agreement, Mega Brands will work closely with Mind Candy to develop a full range of Mega Bloks construction sets, as well as 3-D Breakthrough puzzles for the global marketplace. The licensed products from Mega Brands will debut worldwide for the holiday season.

 

The Bridge Grabs The Annoying Orange

Annoying OrangeThe Collective, an entertainment management and production company behind The Annoying Orange property, is teaming with Jay Foreman and The Bridge to produce talking plush, clip-ons, and Kitchen Crew Collectible figures inspired by the viral sensation. The deal was brokered on behalf of The Collective by The Joester Loria Group (TJLG), the licensing agent for The Annoying Orange brand.
Created by Dane Boedigheimer, The Annoying Orange features the aggravating yet entertaining Orange that playfully heckles other fruits, vegetables, or nearby objects with puns and jokes. As of September, The Annoying Orange had more than 800 million total views on its dedicated channel on YouTube. 
Giving a whole new meaning to the term “freshly squeezed,” fans will hear jokes from the popular web series—such as “I’m not irritating, I’m an Orange!,” “Hey...hey Apple!,” and “Two’s company, cheese is a crowd!”—when products are pressed. The range will be available at key mid-tier and specialty retailers beginning this November.

Techno Source Expands Licensing Deal for Tetris Games

The Tetris Company, LLC, the exclusive licensor of the Tetris brand, has signed a licensing agreement with Techno Source, a division of LF USA, that expands Techno Source’s exclusive rights to include handheld electronic games in addition to Tetris tabletop games (both electronic and non-electronic). Techno Source’s handheld electronic games, based on the Tetris video game, will be introduced at retail stores beginning next year.

Ballot for Toy Industry Hall of Fame

Voting for the next inductees into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame has started, and will run through October 14. TIA invites designated points of contact at TIA member companies, former Hall of Fame inductees, and recent TIA Board members to rank their choices in the living and posthumous categories. Each first place ranking will receive four points, each second place ranking will receive three points, and so on.
The candidates for induction into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame are: Judith (Judy) Ellis, chair, toy design department at the Fashion Institute of Technology; Patrick (Pat) Feely, president of PSF Consulting; Arnie Rubin, founder of Funrise, Inc.; and Jerry Storch, CEO and chairman of Toys “R” Us, Inc.
The candidates for posthumous induction into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame are: Russell (Russ) Berrie, founder of Russ Berrie, Inc.; Jack Friedman, former chairman, CEO, and co-founder of Jakks Pacific; and Frederick August Otto Schwarz, founder and president of FAO Schwarz.
The 2012 inductees will be announced in conjunction with promotion of the annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) awards program. The inductees will be honored during a ceremony held in conjunction with the TOTY Awards on February 11 at the Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City. For more information, visit www.toy-tia.org.

Wooky Announces Partnerships for Artzooka! Products and Online Studio

Wooky EntertainmentCCI Entertainment has named Wooky Entertainment the master arts and crafts licensee for its arts and crafts brand, Artzooka!. Wooky was awarded global rights for the property, based on the television show that airs in more than 30 markets worldwide.
The full range of Artzooka! arts and crafts products will include art tools, activity kits, art-based activity books, novelty games, and more. The product line, targeting kids ages 4 to 9, is set to debut in the spring.
Wooky has also announced a partnership with FashionPlaytes (www.fashionplaytes.com) for an online Style Me Up! Fashion Design Studio. FashionPlaytes is an online community that allows fashion-loving girls, ages 5 to 12, to design and create their own clothing and accessories. The Style Me Up! Fashion Design Studio is set to launch globally this month. This partnership will offer Style Me Up! girls more design experience, and will extend the Style Me Up! brand of do-it-yourself arts and crafts to design-it-yourself clothing. 

Imperial Toy Signs Deal for Kidz Bop License

Kidz BopImperial Toy has signed a licensing agreement with Kidz Bop to develop, market, and manufacture a line of pop star role-play toys and products based on the kids’ music brand. Imperial is debuting the line at Fall Toy Preview in Dallas, in booth 12-27. The initial product offering is expected to include musical instruments, fashion accessories, and more, with on-trend styles, color palettes, and technological features. The line is slated to launch in summer 2012 to coincide with the release of Kidz Bop 22.
Kidz Bop recently concluded a nationwide search to cast five young performers as the new Kidz Bop Kids and the face of the music brand.

 

Douglas to Debut Clifford the Big Red Dog Plush Products

CliffordDouglas Company recently signed a licensing agreement with Scholastic Media to produce Clifford the Big Red Dog plush products. Douglas Company will produce and distribute a collection of playful plush dogs as well as fashion plush, such as the Sassy Pet Sak, for Scholastic's Clifford the Big Red Dog brand. The Douglas Clifford collection will debut at the 2012 Winter Shows and at International Toy Fair in New York this February. Clifford the Big Red Dog will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. The new line will target specialty toy and gift stores in the U.S. and Canada.

Citiwell Signs On for Discovery Kids-Branded Science Products

Discovery Communications, Inc., signed a licensing agreement with Citiwell International, Inc. for its Discovery Kids brand. Citiwell International will create an array of science adventure products. The Discovery Kids-branded collection by Citiwell will feature telescopes, spotting scopes, microscopes, binoculars, weather stations, metal detectors, amplified listeners, a planetarium projector, and toy night vision goggles for kids. Product lines will be available at retailers throughout the U.S. and Canada beginning next year. The lines will be showcased during Fall Toy Preview in Dallas.
The deal was brokered on behalf of Discovery Communications by Big Tent Entertainment, the North American licensing agent for the Discovery Kids brand.

Toy Industry Veteran Forms New Company

Scott Bachrach, an American businessman, entrepreneur, and toy industry veteran, has formed a new company, The Wish Factory Limited, which specializes in unique,
on-trend products in the toy licensing, entertainment, and consumer products industry.
The first release from The Wish Factory Limited, a girls’ fashion accessory line called PopGrrl, is set to launch in this year’s fourth quarter, just in time for the holidays.
Bachrach began his career in the toy industry in 1995. founding the Fun-4-All Corporation, serving as owner and CEO until 2004. In 2006, Bachrach founded Think Tank Toys, a New York-based company that manufactured and marketed toys and other novelties. In 2008, Think Tank Toys was sold to WowWee, USA, Inc. Dan Lesnick, a toy industry sales, marketing, and manufacturing veteran, is a partner in the new company.

NRF: Seven in 10 Americans to Celebrate Halloween This Year

More people than ever are expected to partake in traditional Halloween festivities, according to a new survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF). Results from NRF’s “2011 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey,” conducted by BIGresearch, show that seven in 10 Americans (68.6 percent) plan to celebrate Halloween this year, up from 63.8 percent last year—the most in NRF’s 10-year survey history. According to the report, those celebrating are expected to spend slightly more, too; the average person will spend $72.31 on decorations, costumes, and candy, up from $66.28 last year. Total Halloween spending is expected to reach $6.86 billion.
More people plan to dress in costume (43.9 percent vs. 40.1 percent last year), throw or attend a party (34.3 percent vs. 33.3 percent last year), and visit a haunted house (22.9 percent vs. 20.8 percent last year). Additionally, half of respondents (49.5 percent) said they will decorate their home/yard, and 14.7 percent will dress their pets in costume. Other traditional activities include handing out candy (73.5 percent), carving a pumpkin (47.8 percent), and taking children trick-or-treating (32.9 percent).
Although spending is expected to increase, nearly one-third of respondents (32.1 percent) said the state of the U.S. economy will impact their Halloween plans. To compensate, most say they will try to spend less overall (87.1 percent). Others will make a costume instead of purchasing one (18.9 percent), use last year’s costume (16.6 percent), or buy less candy (40.2 percent).

Hit Appoints Bonnier for Angelina Ballerina

Angelina the BallerinaHit Entertainment has appointed The Bonnier Publishing Group as the first UK and Australia CGI publishing partner for Angelina Ballerina. Bonnier Publishing will publish a series of eight titles, including story, activity, and coloring books. The titles are set to launch in the UK and Australia early next year, with further titles to follow later in the year. 
The new Angelina Ballerina book series will be published by Autumn Publishing in the UK and Five Mile Press in Australia, and will run alongside the current CGI TV series Angelina Ballerina: The Next Steps, which airs on Five Milkshake! and Nick Jr. in the UK and ABC in Australia.

 

 

 

New Monster Jam Licensees

Monster JamFeld Motor Sports has signed new companies for its Monster Jam licensing program. Tara Toy has signed on for Design N Play giant activity sets and board games. Walter Foster Publishing will create activity books that will include drawing lessons, a bound-in drawing pad, puzzles, word games, cut outs, and stickers. Playhut will manufacture indoor and outdoor play tents, play structures, play environments, 3-D playmates, soft storage bins, and slumber products. Monster Jam also signed agreements for boys’ accessories, cake and cupcake accessories, back-to-school paper products and writing instruments, and gaming applications. Monster Jam is continuing its relationship with American Greetings for greeting cards, party goods, party favors, party decorations, gift packaging, and stickers.

Studio100 Adds VTech and IMC Toys to Maya the Bee Licensee Roster

Maya the BeeStudio100 has signed a new agreement with VTech and IMC Toys for Maya the Bee.
VTech will develop and release a line of electronic educational toys in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, the Benelux countries, and Spain. The first of the products, a Maya laptop and electronic book, will release in stores by the end of next year. Other products in the range will launch in 2013, timed with the television series debut.
IMC Toys will offer a wide range of plastic and soft toys, including play sets, figurines, vehicles, a Maya storyteller, and musical items. The agreement adds Eastern and Central Europe, Scandinavia, Turkey, and Latin America to a previous contract that covered Germany and Southern Europe. Maya toys from IMC are slated to release between late 2012 and 2013 upon broadcast of the new CGI series.
Studio100 is bringing Maya the Bee, a classic brand, back with a new CGI series of 78 episodes, each running 13 minutes long. The TV series will be aired on channels internationally, starting in 2013.

NSI and Smithsonian Renew Licensing Agreement

NSI International, Inc. and the Smithsonian Institution have renewed their long-standing licensing agreement for science-based toys, and will also be expanding into a new line of crafts kits for kids. The expansion into craft kits will offer additional ways for kids to experience the stories told across the Smithsonian's 19 museums and National Zoo through art. In addition to continuing with core science products, new product releases include the Galaxies Planetarium, featuring space images that can only be captured by the Chandra telescope, run by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.

Jakks Names Exclusive Australian Distributor for Winx Club Toys

WinxJakks Pacific, Inc. has signed Funtastic Limited as the exclusive Australian distributor for Winx Club toys. Jakks’ Winx Club product line is scheduled to launch in the U.S., Australia, North America, Latin America, and the UK next fall to coincide with the premiere of the brand new CGI-episodes of Winx Club on Nickelodeon. The line will span multiple categories, including dolls, play sets, role play, dress-up, and Halloween costumes.
Winx Club began airing on Nickelodeon in the U.S. in June and in Australia in September. Four specials will premiere monthly throughout the fall, followed by a weekly series of Winx Club seasons three and four. Winx Club is a co-production with Rainbow S.p.A. and Nickelodeon.

NPD: Kids Spending More Money on Digital Content

According to Kids and Entertainment Content, 2011 Edition, the latest report from The NPD Group, kids are spending more of their entertainment dollars on digital content compared to last year. For every dollar kids (ages 2 to 14) spend on entertainment content, $0.79 goes to physical content (versus $0.85 in 2009) and $0.21 goes toward digital format content ($0.15 in 2009).
While the majority of kids’ entertainment content is still acquired in a physical format, NPD reports, digitally acquired content has grown substantially over the past two years—a 17 percent increase for games, a 14 percent increase for music, and a 13 percent increase for movies. The study reports that kids start downloading digital content at a young age; approximately 50 percent of kids have paid for their first form of digital content by the age of 7.

Toys “R” Us Expands Layaway Service

Toys “R” Us, Inc. is expanding its layaway service for this holiday season for Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us stores nationwide. The retailer’s layaway service was introduced in 2009 for “big gift” items, such as bikes, sing sets, dollhouses, play kitchens, and more. Beginning Saturday, October 15, Toys “R” Us will offer layaway on nearly all of its products in 450 of its approximately 600 Toys “R” Us stores nationwide.
The in-store layaway option gives customers 90 days to pay for their items. A 20 percent down payment is required and there is a $5 service fee for layaway. In order to guarantee that items will be ready by Christmas, all layaway orders for toys must be paid in full by December 4. For more information, click here.

New Tween-Targeted Video Review Site Debuts

KidzVuz.com, a new video review website for tweens, has launched. Designed specifically for kids ages 7 to 12, KidzVuz allows tweens to create their own video review content in a safe, parent-friendly environment. The website aims to encourage creative thinking and provides the tools necessary to learn about video creation. The website is fully monitored by a panel of parents and is COPPA compliant. Inappropriate videos and comments, as well as personal information, are never allowed or posted.
The website features an integrated webcam, a film school that teaches kids how to make videos, fan clubs, and social media features that allow kids to create communities based on shared interests. With each review or comment, kids can earn badges and points, complete missions, and score on the leader board, all powered by Badgeville.

Scholastic Launches Third Annual “Get Goosebumps” Campaign

Scholastic Media, licensor forGoosebumps, is launching its third annual “Get Goosebumps” marketing and media campaign, in support of the brand this Halloween season. The initiative will feature a multi-city mall tour, airings of the original TV series on The Hub TV network and iTunes, new books from author R.L. Stine, new DVDs from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, in-store events during “Shriek Week,” and more.
In September, Goosebumps made its debut on The Hub TV network, which will air all 80 episodes of the live-action series. Seasons one through four of the TV series are also available on the iTunes store. Also for purchase on the iTunes store is Goosebumps PhotoShock, a game app for the iPhone and iPod touch, as well as Goosebumps HorrorLand Audiobooks No. 1-12. Two new DVD collections of Goosebumps stories, Attack of the Mutant and Ghost Beach, were just released from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.
This month a new Goosebumps book will be released, Why I Quit Zombie School, the newest addition to the Goosebumps: Hall of Horrors book series written by R.L. Stine. The Goosebumps HorrorLand video game is available on Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS, and fans can log onto the official website, at www.scholastic.com/goosebumps, for games, videos, and more all month long.
Additionally, every Saturday throughout October, a variety of free Goosebumps-inspired activities are available for kids and families in select cities. Fans in New York City can celebrate “Shriek Week 2011” at The Scholastic Store on October 29.
For detailed information and tour stops, visit http://mediaroom.scholastic.com/Goosebumps.

Moshi Monsters Hit Clintons for Month-Long Exclusive

Moshi ClintonMind Candy has signed a month-long exclusive with Clintons (UK) for a limited-edition range of Moshi Monsters beanie babies from plush licensee Ty. The exclusive plush range at Clintons and other Moshi products hit store shelves last week.
The first six Moshlings to make their debut will be ShiShi, Angel, Mr. Snoodle, Purdy, Squidge, and Honey, available exclusively at Clintons for one month and at www.clintoncards.co.uk. The Moshi Monsters range at Clintons also includes a range of gift cards, gift wrap, and greeting cards.

 

Learning Express and Panini America Promote NFL Sticker Collection

Learning Express Toys has teamed up with Panini America to promote the Official 2011 Panini NFL Sticker Collection. Through the Panini NFL Sticker Competition, the first 50 Learning Express shoppers in the country to complete their 2011 Panini NFL Sticker Album will win prizes, including autographed NFL memorabilia. 
The 2011 NFL Sticker Album is 72 pages long and retails for $2, which includes 10 free stickers. Each of the NFL’s 32 teams is represented with a two-page spread, with 13 stickers per team. There are 494 total stickers to collect, including 354 glossy “base” stickers, 100 holographic foil stickers, and 40 micro-etched stickers. Sticker packets contain seven stickers and retail for $1 each. 
Panini America will also award the store that sells the most sticker packets from September 4-December 4 with an NFL player appearance. The player’s visit will take place at the selected Learning Express franchise sometime in late December/early January as part of a Panini NFL Sticker Trading Day.

Classic Media Announces New Hoops&Yoyo Special

Hoops&YoyoClassic Media is partnering with Hallmark for their first partnered hoops&yoyo entertainment offering, the Christmas special hoops&yoyo Ruin Christmas. Classic Media will oversee worldwide distribution, excluding U.S. and Canada DVDs.
In hoops&yoyo Ruin Christmas, the duo discovers Santa's secrets by becoming accidental stowaways on his sleigh. Their trip takes an unexpected turn when turbulence jostles them from the sleigh and they fall through a wormhole, ending up back in time with a young Kris Kringle. After realizing that they have disrupted Kris’ journey to fulfilling his destiny, the three race to set things right so the world will have its Santa Claus. Hallmark produced the special, which will premiere on CBS on November 25.

Children’s Brands Partner for Kid Safety Campaigns

Ludorum plc, creator of Chuggington, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have announced a joint, multi-dimensional campaign designed to provide child transportation guidance to families with young children.
The national campaign, “Think Safe, Ride Safe, Be Safe,” uses Chuggington’s characters to help teach children how to use many of NHTSA’s recommended pedestrian, school bus, bike, and car seat safety guidelines. The cornerstone of the campaign is a traffic safety pledge for kids, which is a promise to always buckle up, wear a helmet, and cross the street with an adult. Parents can access the pledge at Chuggington.com/safety, a new microsite featuring interactive safety games and activities for kids. The PSA began airing this week on Disney Junior. Chuggington play dates at Toys “R” Us stores on October 15 will feature traffic safety materials.
Additionally, Cookie Jar Entertainment and AAA, the motoring and leisure travel organization, have renewed their yearlong partnership to use Cookie Jar’s Richard Scarry’s Busytown brand to educate parents, caregivers, and children on the importance of safely securing young passengers in a vehicle. 
Along with a fully animated public service announcement, the partnership includes digital campaigns on Jaroo.com and BusytownMysteries.com, as well as special inserts in the all-new Richard Scarry’s Busytown toys that launched this month at Toys “R” Us stores and Toysrus.com. AAA will also include specially created print and digital ads featuring Lowly Worm, Sally Cat, and Huckle Cat along with AAA safety tips for its 2011 Halloween Safety public service campaign, 2012 AAA TourBook travel guides, online TripTik Travel Planner, social media websites, and Safeseats4kids.com website.

Paramount Pictures Restructures

In an internal memo. Brad Grey, CEO and chairman of Paramount Pictures, announced a strategic realignment of several of its divisions. Paramount has created a new division called Home Media Distribution, a single organization that will oversee Paramount’s home entertainment, digital licensing, and television licensing activities worldwide. Dennis Maguire is being promoted to president, worldwide home media distribution, and will report to Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore.
Josh Greenstein has been named CMO for the studio, overseeing all marketing efforts through all distribution channels for the studio worldwide. Megan Colligan has been promoted to president, domestic marketing and distribution, and will now oversee all domestic theatrical distribution and marketing for the studio. Hal Richardson will take on the role of president, home media distribution, reporting to Maguire.
Paramount Digital Entertainment (PDE) will now be folded into other divisions of the studio. Amy Powell, EVP, interactive entertainment, will add creation of content for digital and online games to her current responsibilities. LeeAnne Stables, EVP, worldwide marketing partnerships, will assume responsibility for licensing of traditional video games. Both Powell and Stables will continue to report to Colligan. Tom Lesinksi, president of PDE, will leave the studio.

Victor Coolman Promoted to Nick North’s Director, Programming and Acquisitions

Victor Coolman has been promoted to director of programming and acquisitions, Nickelodeon North. Coolman will expand his role to include overseeing the programming of 15 Nickelodeon-branded channels that are broadcasted in Northern Europe. He will report to Patrick Alders, SVP, Nickelodeon North.
As programming and acquisitions manager in Benelux and Scandinavia, Alders was responsible for acquisitions and will now expand his role to include Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. Additionally, he will now be responsible for programming analysis and strategy for the whole North region.
Coolman also manages Nick Jr. Global, a channel that originated in North but now airs in 17 countries. Before MTV Networks, he worked for BNR News Radio and traffic4u.

A.C. Moore Arts & Crafts to be Acquired

A.C. Moore Arts & Crafts, Inc. has signed a definitive agreement to be acquired by an affiliate of Sbar’s, Inc., one of the largest arts and crafts distributors in the U.S., for $1.60 per common share in cash. The agreement and “Plan of Merger” was unanimously approved by A.C. Moore’s board of directors, upon the unanimous recommendation of a special committee of the board, which was composed solely of non-employee independent directors.
Under the terms of the agreement, an affiliate of Sbar’s will commence a cash tender offer for all issued and outstanding shares of A.C. Moore common stock at $1.60 per share, without interest. An affiliate of Sbar’s has received a financing commitment from Wells Fargo Bank, National Association to provide the debt financing necessary to close the transaction. In addition, concurrent with the execution of the agreement, a Sbar’s affiliate has delivered $20 million in cash to be held in escrow and used to fund the transaction, as set forth in an escrow agreement between the parties and Wells Fargo as escrow agent.
The merger agreement requires that the tender offer commence within 10 business days of October 3. The tender offer is conditioned upon a number other things. The acquisition is expected to close during Q4 2011.

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