October 08, 2010
Top Trumps


MGA Sued for Allegedly Copying Innovation First’s Hexbug Nano Toy

A lawsuit asserting claims for common law misappropriation and unjust enrichment was filed by Innovation First last week against MGA Entertainment, Inc. in the 354th Judicial District Court for Hunt County, Tex. The lawsuit accuses MGA of manufacturing, advertising, promoting, distributing, and/or selling products that were derived from innovative components of the Hexbug Nano micro robotic toy, created by Innovation First. According to Innovation First, MGA copied the Hexbug Nano’s motor assembly, components, housing, and legs, and is using them in the company’s Legend of Nara Battling Bug in competition with Innovation First. The lawsuit seeks to recover any profits MGA has made or will make from the similar toy.
MGA responded in a press release stating that Innovation First has not served MGA with a lawsuit. MGA is also stating that Innovation First admitted, as part of a sworn testimony last month to a federal judge in Los Angeles, that "the outward appearance of the current 'Legend of Nara Battling Bugs' toys from MGA . . . is substantially different from the outward appearance of the Hexbug Nano that trade dress and copyright laws do not appear to be implicated.” MGA is seeking a dismissal of the lawsuit.
Innovation First CEO and President Tony Norman has countered back, stating “The intellectual property laws protect many different kinds of rights. The California lawsuit that MGA brought dealt with one set of rights, those that protect the outward appearance of a product. Our lawsuit deals with another set of rights, those that protect the engineering and design work that goes into making the product. Put simply, we haven't accused them of copying our work in Art class; we've accused them of copying our work in Science.”

Mega to Develop Generator Rex Construction Toys

Generator RexMega Brands has signed on to develop construction toys based on the new boys action series, Generator Rex. The full line of toys will be distributed to international markets as part of the three-year deal. The construction toy line will launch in the U.S. next fall (2011) and then will roll out in additional territories. The global deal marks the first time Mega has partnered with Cartoon Network Enterprises (CNE).
Generator Rex follows Rex, a 15-year-old typical teenager with abnormal powers, as he uses his superhuman abilities to help fight mutant creatures known as EVOs. The series airs Fridays on Cartoon Network at 8:30 p.m ET/PT.

Green Lantern Toys to Come from Pressman

Pressman Toy Corporation has announced a deal with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, on behalf of DC Entertainment, for a line of games based on Warner Bros. Pictures’ upcoming 2011 film, Green Lantern. The movie will be released June 17, and Pressman’s games, based on the movie, will be available at retailers nationwide in May.
The line will include skill, action, and strategy games for kids of all ages, each retailing for under $20. The Green Lantern Quickshot Game tests dexterity, instructing kids to load up their shooters with marbles and pop out the Green Lanterns. Additional games are currently in development.

Topps Named as Licensee for Animated Property Monsuno

MonsunoPacific Animation Partners—the joint venture formed by Jakks Pacific, Dentsu Entertainment USA, and FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME)— has announced that The Topps Company has signed on for its new animated entertainment property, Monsuno.
Topps will be an investor in the production of the animated TV series, as well as a licensee and partner on trading card games, confectioneries, and related products.




New Beatrix Potter Animated Series Slated to Air in 2012

Nickelodeon has announced a partnership with Chorion and publisher Frederick Warne & Co., owners of the Beatrix Potter property, to develop and produce a brand-new animated preschool series based on the characters in the series The Tales of Peter Rabbit. Slated to air in 2012 on Nickelodeon and Nick Jr., the new series will feature many of the Beatrix Potter characters, including Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny.
Frederick Warne and Chorion have appointed Nickelodeon as the agent to represent the licensing and merchandising rights for The World of Beatrix Potter brand and the new animation rights in the United States, Canada, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. Nickelodeon will also represent the licensing and merchandise rights for the series in India. Chorion will have licensing and merchandise rights as well as animation rights to The World of Beatrix Potter in the rest of the world. Frederick Warne retains underlying ownership of The World of Beatrix Potter and will continue to globally publish The Classic Tales and all publishing based on the new animation series.
The deal is the third arrangement between Nickelodeon and Chorion. The two companies previously partnered for the animated preschool shows Olivia and Max & Ruby, which currently air on Nick Jr.

Marvel Expands Deal With Feld Motor Sports For Co-Branded Monster Jam Merchandise

Monster JamMarvel Entertainment, LLC, has expanded its partnership with Feld Motor Sports to include new products featuring the Iron Man and Spider-Man custom-designed monster trucks that perform on the worldwide Monster Jam tour. The expanded partnership includes die-cast replicas of the Marvel monster trucks, at various scales, from Monster Jam’s die-cast toy partner Mattel. Feld Motor Sports also has category rights to produce trading cards, posters, calendar, and other toys featuring replica images of Marvel touring trucks. Products will be launching at major retailers in the U.S. and Canada early next year. The expanded partnership also includes co-branded apparel, which will be launching for this holiday season.

NCP Celebrates 10 Years of Dora with Toys “R” Us Deal

Nickelodeon Consumer Products (NCP) has announced a new, multi-territory promotion with Toys “R” Us to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Dora the Explorer and the “Explorers Wanted” international Dora campaign. The deal marks the first time that NCP has teamed up with another company for a multi-territory promotional deal.
The deal debuts the Dora’s Fantasy Adventures product assortment, offering consumers a selection of products that have been specially re-packaged for the anniversary with refreshed Dora artwork. Among the re-packaged items are a Dora-themed tube of blocks from Mega Bloks and various Fisher-Price products.
The retail initiative covers three key markets, beginning in the UK this month and followed by a simultaneous launch in Australia and Canada this November.

Mega Bloks Debuts its First iPhone, iPad App for Preschoolers

In celebration of Mega Bloks’ 25th anniversary, Mega Brands has released its first iPhone and iPad application for preschoolers, Mega Bloks Playground. Michael Elman, partner and creative of Budge Studios, the developer and publisher of the App, describes it as “not a ‘video game’ that gives you set goals and sets you up to win or lose.”
Instead, Mega Bloks Playground is open-ended and boasts unlimited play. In the preschool interactive world there are two playable Mega Bloks buddies, a boy and a girl, who interact with in-world elements, such as swings, sets, slides, see-saws, animals, and more. Kids can drag or tap the buddies with a finger on the iPad or iPhone screen and watch them play in the playground.
The App also features piles of colorful Mega Bloks throughout the playground that kids can use to build a variety of Mega Bloks creations. The touch-play controls are specially designed to help develop fine motor skills in children ages 2 to 5.
Mega Bloks Playground is available for the iPad ($3.99) and iPhone ($1.99), exclusively through the Apple App Store in the game-kids section.

VM Global Launches Jeep Scooters and Wagons

VM Global is planning to release the first shipments of its Jeep scooter and wagon line this month. Earlier this year, the company announced a deal with Chrysler Group, LLC for a line of folding scooters, electric scooters, and wagons. The line depicts a tough terrain look and feel through the likeness of the Jeep brand. The products are being distributed to mass-market retailers, mid-tier chains, specialty, and sporting good stores in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

New Wonder Woman Series Reportedly in the Works

According to ICV2.com, Warner Bros. is producing a new television series featuring Wonder Woman. The show is being written and produced by David E. Kelley (Boston Legal, The Practice, Ally McBeal). Deadline Hollywood is reporting that the series will be shopped to networks soon.
Wonder Woman recently debuted a new costume in her comic book series.

Russ Berrie Inks Deal for Plush Barney Products

BarneyHIT Entertainment has entered into a licensing deal for the first time with Russ Berrie Company. The agreement grants Russ Berrie the rights to manufacture and market a full line of plush toys based on Barney and his dino friends BJ, Baby Bop, and Riff. The Barney plush toys will be available at retailers in the U.S. starting this fall, first rolling out in specialty markets and then to all retailers next year. The line will include plush with features (interactive, moving, talking, and singing), plush puppets, plush beanies, plush key chains, plush backpack clips, and plush bookmarks.



Silly Bandz Offered in Quiznos Kidz Meals

Quiznos is bringing Silly Bandz to its restaurants as a part of a new deal between the two companies. Starting this week, Quiznos Kidz Meals include a three-pack of Silly Bandz in categories of space, sports, dinosaurs, or rock ’n roll. The deal makes Quiznos the only restaurant that has offered its customers Silly Bandz this year.

Colorbok to Premiere Dr. Seuss Craft Products

Dr. Seuss and Colorbok are partnering for a line of craft products for kids in different age ranges. The line will be available exclusively at Michaels beginning this fall and expanding into the spring. The craft products, based on Dr. Seuss books and characters, will include activities such as creating foam masks, assembling mosaics, constructing clocks, stringing together letters, and making puppets, and will be developed specifically for children’s needs in different age ranges. Additionally, the product packaging will feature icons that indicate what type of skill will be learned with that craft. Instruction pages will be written with simple working and feature pictures.

The Disney Princess & Me Doll Collection Debuts

Disney Princess DollsJakks Pacific’s new line of Disney Princess character dolls is now available at Toys “R” Us stores nationwide. The Princess & Me doll collection is a new assortment of 18-inch dolls, fashions, accessories, and dress-up products. The line is Disney Princess’s first foray into the large doll category, and is targeted toward girls ages 5 to 8.
For the first time, girls can dress their Disney Princess dolls in sleepwear and ballet outfits that are designed in their signature colors and styles. Also available from Jakks’ Creative Designs International (CDI) division are mimicking dress-up outfits for girls.

Bratz to Take Over YouTube Homepage on October 10

On October 10 (10-10-10), Bratz will be featured on the YouTube homepage as MGA Entertainment unveils the first-ever Bratz webisode from its new web series, Bratz Rock. The series of 11 episodes follows Bratz girls Yasmin, Cloe, Sasha, and Jade as they enter a song contest held by their idol and celebrity, Whisper. As the Bratz girls get closer to finishing a song for the contest, they also get closer to finding out who Whisper really is.
The first episode, “Whispers in the Schoolyard,” launches exclusively on the front page of YouTube on October 10. MGA is also celebrating the brand’s 10th anniversary by introducing 10 new Bratz dolls. Each doll, complete with an individual personality and unique outfit, will feature new points of articulation, making them more poseable.

Box-O-Mania’s Iron Man Play Box to Be in Stores This Holiday Season

Box-O-ManiaBox-O-Mania and Marvel have inked a licensing agreement that gives Box-O-Mania the rights to develop a line of play boxes based on Marvel character franchises, including Spider-Man, Super Hero Squad, Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor. The deal is for the U.S. and Canada through 2012. The initial play box will be based on Iron Man and is scheduled to be in stores this holiday season. The Box-O-Mania Play Box is made of recyclable plastic, and can be decorated with giant, reusable theme stickers and erasable markers.   

Parents and Manhattan Toy Partner for Preschool Line

Parents Toy CollectionParents magazine and Manhattan Toy will debut their new educational toy line at ABC Kids Expo, to be held October 10-13 in Las Vegas. The Parents toy collection features an array of preschool developmental toys that encourage musical interests, stimulate imaginations, and encourage role play. Made of soft materials and sturdy wood, the Parents toy line includes an activity cart, activity center, scooter, soft toys, and more. New additions to the line will launch in January.


NRF Forecasts Increase in Holiday Retail Sales

According to a new report by the National Retail Federation, holiday retail sales are expected to increase 2.3 percent this year to $447.1 billion. Last year holiday sales increased over 2008 by 0.4 percent. In 2008, holiday sales declined 3.9 percent compared to 2007. The NRF reports that retailers are expected to focus on inventory control to limit unplanned markdowns. The NRF also expects new channels, such as mobile, to drive sales and provide added service.

Zodiak Rights’ New Series to Air on Nickelodeon Worldwide

Tic Toc HouseZodiak Rights, part of Zodiak Media Group, has inked a deal with Nickelodeon for a new preschool animated property, Tic Toc House. The property is scheduled to debut on Nickelodeon channels around the world including Nick Jr. in the U.S. and UK.
Produced by The Foundation, a part of Zodiak Media Group, and FunnyFlux Entertainment, the series Tic Toc House is described as “a unique mix of slapstick-driven entertainment and light-touch education, which enables kids to laugh as they learn.” The preschool series (52 x 11) follows an ensemble of cartoon characters that live on the other side of the Tic Toc Clock. Each episode will focuses on the familiar patterns of everyday life, allowing children to explore the concept of time. Currently in production, the series will air globally on Nickelodeon channels starting in 2012.
As part of the pre-sale, Nickelodeon will have creative input into the series. Zodiak Rights controls all worldwide rights for Tic Toc House except in Korea and Japan. The deal is Nick Jr.’s first global pre-sale agreement with a UK production company.

NCP Announces International Partnership with Eaglemoss Publishing

Little Cooks DoraNickelodeon Consumer Products (NCP) has announced a new international partnership with Eaglemoss Publishing Group, Ltd., allowing Eaglemoss the first option on all Nickelodeon properties with a view to developing partworks and press collections across the globe, except in the U.S. The three-year deal covers more than 35 Nickelodeon properties such as Dora the Explorer and iCarly.
As a part of the agreement, a minimum of four new products per year will be developed of which two will be traditional partworks to take to test. The first product, the Dora the Explorer Little Cooks Collection, is currently testing in the UK. The cooking and picnic collectible set includes exclusive silicon bakeware and a Dora the Explorer plate and cutlery set, while the accompanying magazine contains stories, activities, challenges, and recipes, all tested and approved by a nutritionist.

Winscott Gains Rights for Being Erica, the Board Game

Being EricaWinscott Corporation has gained the rights to create Being Erica, the Board Game from Temple Street Productions, a Toronto-based television, film, and digital media production company. Being Erica is a one-hour television series that follows the life of Erica Strange, a 32-year-old flung into her own past (in a teenage body) and given the opportunity to make different choices. The show is distributed by BBC Worldwide in more than 75 countries.
Modeled after the premise of the television show, Being Erica, the Board Game, is an adult party game that explores players’ regrets. Each player has the option to select one of Erica’s past regrets or to create their own regret-scenario. They are then thrust back in time and given the opportunity to do it over, and other players suggest possible do-over solutions. Winscott is showing Being Erica, the Board Game at Fall Toy Preview in Dallas. The game will be launched at retail in second quarter 2011.

Madame Alexander

AGP Appoints New Vice President, Business Affairs

American Greetings Properties (AGP) has hired Frank Fink as full-time vice president, business affairs. Fink originally joined American Greetings in 2000 when he served as general counsel of AG Interactive. In 2007, he transitioned to the business side of the organization, leading business affairs for the AG Intellectual Property Group, which included both AG Interactive and AG Properties.
In his new role, Fink will be responsible for negotiating development and co-production agreements and new property acquisitions. He will also be managing worldwide entertainment sales and distribution.

Zodiak Rights Hires Two New Executives

Zodiak Rights has expanded its licensing team with the appointment of two new positions.
Emily French Ullah has been hired as UK licensing manager, and will report to Jane Kennedy, senior licensing manager. As UK licensing manager, French Ullah will be responsible for developing new business across Zodiak Rights’ portfolio of properties in the apparel and accessories, home wares, home textiles, furnishings, and health and beauty categories. French Ullah joins Zodiak Rights from 4Kids Entertainment where she was responsible for sales across brands such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Yu-Gi-Oh.
Additionally Zodiak Rights has appointed Gaby Dior as international licensing manager and will report to Angeles Blanco, head of international licensing. Dior, former European brand manager at Copyright Promotions Licensing Group (CPLG), will develop new business and manage agents across Zodiak Rights’ portfolio covering the Nordics, Benelux, Eastern Europe, and Asia.

Nintendo Lowers Projections for Fiscal Year

According to MarketWatch.com, Nintendo Co. has cut its profit and sales outlook for the fiscal year. The company lowered its expected revenue from the prior forecast of 1.4 trillion yen to 1.1 trillion yen, or $13.1 billion USD. The company also lowered its expected net profit to 90 billion yen from the previous forecast of 200 billion yen. Nintendo cited the strength in yen and a weaker-than-expected sales performance and outlook for its video game consoles.

Hasbro Announces Quarterly Cash Dividend on Common Shares

Hasbro, Inc. announced that its board of directors has declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.25 per common share. The dividend will be payable on November 15 to shareholders of record at the close of business on November 1.

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