October 12, 2009

Disney’s Lasseter and Wal-Mart Founder to Be Inducted into Toy Hall of Fame

John Lasseter, chief creative officer at The Walt Disney Company and Pixar Animation Studios, and Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, will be inducted into the 2010 Toy Industry Hall of Fame at the 10th Annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards.
Established in 1984, the Hall of Fame inducts individuals who have been previously honored for their significant contributions to the growth and success of the toy industry.
Inductees are nominated by the industry at large and selected based on votes received from Toy Industry Association's membership.  
The TOTY Awards will be held on the evening of February 13 in New York City. The Disney exec is expected to accept his award in person. Walton will be given a posthumous award; the Wal-Mart founder died in 1992. For more information about the Toy Industry Hall of Fame and the TOTY Awards, visit www.TOTYawards.org.

NRF Expects Slight Decline in Holiday Sales

The National Retail Federation predicts that holiday retail sales will decline by 1 percent this year. The NRF released its 2009 holiday forecast, which projects that holiday sales will decline to $437.6 billion. The decline is not expected to be as dramatic as last year’s 3.4 percent drop or the 3 percent decline predicted in retail sales for all of 2009; however, the number falls significantly below the average of 3.39 percent holiday growth. The NRF attributes the impending decline on consumer uncertainty over job security and the housing market. The Federation also predicts that popular holiday categories such as apparel and electronics may suffer deflation due to aggressive sales.

Playmates Obtains Master Toy Rights for Shrek Forever After, Lucha Libre

Shrek Bug and GrubPlaymates has secured the master toy rights for DreamWorks Animation’s Shrek Forever After, the fourth installment in the Shrek series, scheduled to be released on May 21. The toy line by Playmates is slated to hit store shelves on May 1 and will include Shrek mini-figures such as the new Ogre Army that are packaged in ooze-filled containers; the Shrek Bug and Grub activity set, which kids can use to create edible worms and bugs; dolls; talking plush; and a roaring Shrek figure.
In Shrek Forever After,Shrek longs for the day when he felt like a “real ogre,” and is tricked into signing a pact with Rumpelstiltskin. He’s transported to an alternate version of Far Far Away, where ogres are hunted, Rumpelstiltskin is king, and Shrek and Fiona have never met. It’s up to Shrek to undo all he’s done to restore his world and reclaim his love.
Playmates has also been named the master toy licensee for Mexican wrestling league Lucha Libre AAA by Cookie Jar Group’s global licensing division, Copyright Promotions Licensing Group (CPLG). The toy company will launch the exclusive toy and collectibles line in fall 2010. The line will include Luchador action figures, roleplay masks, and playsets. Cookie Jar Entertainment will distribute the first English-language Lucha Libre AAA televisions series in the U.S.

DBG to Launch Biscuit Licensing Program

BiscuitThe Dimensional Branding Group (DBG) has been chosen to represent HarperCollins’ bestselling children’s book series for product licensing. The Biscuit series is written by Alyssa Satin Capucilli and illustrated by Pat Schories. This is the first time the property is being widely licensed.
DBG is licensing all categories, including toys and games, apparel, bath products, accessories, interactive, plush, collectibles, and room decor.




TIA Postpones ToyCon to 2011

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) board of directors unanimously approved a recommendation from the association’s staff and the ToyCon Committee to postpone next year’s annual leadership conference. Staff and members of the program committee during ToyCon 2009 recommended to the TIA board that the current economic climate makes 2010 an appropriate year to be fiscally conservative. The new date will be May 4-6, 2011 and the event will be held at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch, Scottsdale, Ariz. The ToyCon committee welcomes and is encouraging additional feedback from TIA members and past attendees. Ideas can be emailed to Kimberly Carcone, TIA’s director of trade show and event marketing (kcarcone@toyassociation.org). The TIA is considering a re-introduction of the popular TIA Multi-Discipline Conferences.

K’NEX Inks Deals with Orange County Choppers and Monster Jam

K'NEX Orange County ChoppersK’NEX will introduce a new line of Orange County Choppers-themed toys in a partnership between the toy company and the custom motorcycle builder. The officially licensed toy line will be available in stores in April, and will include scale motorcycle models with stylized chrome-colored parts. The new building toys will be specially designed for children ages 7 and up.
K’NEX has also been named a licensee for Monster Jam. The new toys will capture the extreme action of the monster truck brand and will include some of the most popular trucks in the Monster Jam franchise, including Grave Digger, Maximum Destruction, Monster Mutt, and more. The building sets, designed for kids ages 5 to 12, will be available in July.

Sanrio Partners with Razor USA

RazorSanrio has announced the signing of a new licensing agreement with Razor USA. Marking Razor USA’s first-ever license agreement, the new Hello Kitty A kick scooter is a co-branded version of the original Razor A kick scooter, and is slated to make its retail debut the first week of November. The agreement is effective immediately.
The Hello Kitty Razor A kick scooter is one of the first Razor kick scooters targeted specifically to girls. At a suggested retail price of $39.99, the scooter, which comes with a small Hello Kitty accessory bag, will be available at www.razor.com, www.sanrio.com, and select retailers for the holidays, with expanded national distribution in 2010.
Razor USA also announced that two more co-branded Hello Kitty products—the Razor Pocket Mod miniature electric Euro-style scooter and Razor E100 electric scooter—will debut next year.

Cookie Jar Named Licensing Agent for Varsity

Cookie Jar Group has been named the exclusive licensing agent and entertainment partner for the Varsity brand. The consumer products and entertainment company will help launch Varsity-branded merchandise and entertainment starting in 2010. Cookie Jar’s licensing division, Copyright Promotions Licensing Group (CPLG), will handle all worldwide licensing for Varsity, and Cookie Jar Entertainment will develop entertainment for the brand.
The Varsity licensing program will initially target girls ages 7 to 18 with a wide variety of consumer products including apparel, health and beauty aids, back-to-school, and accessories. As a secondary program, CPLG will develop toys, publishing, apparel, and dress-up products to aspiring cheerleaders, girls ages 3 to 6.  
Cookie Jar Entertainment also plans to develop original programming based on cheerleader experiences.

Elmer’s and Marvel Team up for Activity Products

Super Hero SquadElmer’s Products has inked a multi-year license deal to develop arts and activity products based on Marvel Entertainment, Inc.’s superheroes. GiddyUp, the kids’ division for Elmer’s, has been awarded the rights to produce and market a wide range of arts and activity products based on Marvel characters and brands including Super Hero Squad, Spider-Man, and Marvel Studios’ Iron Man 2 and Thor feature films. Product categories include coloring, game, and activity books; painting and coloring sets; paints; markers; stickers; and art supply kits. Other arts and crafts technologies, such as Water WOW, Rub N Color, Color Blast, and Surprize Ink Books, will also be developed.

Target Slashes Prices for Holiday Season

After Wal-Mart and its Canadian division Wal-Mart Canada announced their holiday price cuts, Target Corp has announced discounts of its own, as much as 50 percent off toys such as a $5 Barbie and a $15 G.I. Joe. The retailer is trying to combat the idea that its competitors offer lower prices.
Target is also offering a deal in which the company will match its rival’s advertised prices if it does not offer the lowest price. 

NCIS Board Games and Puzzles to Hit Store Shelves Next Year

CBS Consumer Products has signed deals on all distribution levels in the U.S. and Canada for board games from Pressman Toy and puzzles from The Canadian Group based on both NCIS and its spinoff, NCIS: Los Angeles. The new products are slated to hit retail shelves in fall 2010. The board games by Pressman will have players assuming the roles of one of the six main NCIS agents, with the objective of solving one of nine crime stories. Players try to unravel a crime by decoding the puzzle in the NCIS-based products by The Canadian Group.
Additionally, CBS Consumer Products and licensee USAopoly will launch a co-branded Star Trek version of Risk. The game will be available at specialty retailers in the U.S. and Canada in the spring.  

Student Awarded $25,000 Grant for Scholastic’s Community Contest

West Virginia student Madelon Kerns was named the grand-prize winner of Scholastic’s Be Big In Your Community contest, part of the Clifford the Big Red Dog Be Big! campaign to support civic engagement. The 12 year old was awarded a $25,000 grant from the Be Big Fund that will help her idea for a special needs-accessible playground come to life. The contest invited people to propose an idea that demonstrates Clifford’s Big Ideas of sharing, helping others, being kind, being responsible, playing fair, being a good friend, believing in yourself, having respect, and being truthful. Kerns stated she was inspired by a Clifford episode, that tells the story of a three-legged dog and how Clifford and his friends worked together to ensure they could all play together.

Sid the Science Kid Explores the Flu

Sid the Science KidIn the new episode of Sid the Science Kid, “Getting a Shot: You Can Do It!” Sid and his friends will learn the basic science behind germs, viruses, and vaccines using age-appropriate vocabulary and scientific concepts. PBS Kids will premiere the series on Monday, October 26 with several re-airings over the following weeks.
The special episode is supported by online games, activities, and resources for kids, parents, and educators. At PBSKIDS.org/sid, kids can learn about germs, illness, and getting shots through age-appropriate activities and videos.



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Visit www.toybook.com to see our new blog! We will post all the great articles, news, and new product introductions that you've been finding in our print publication and in our e-newsletter, plus so much more. You’ll find out what our editors are up to and what we’ve been hearing around the industry. Even more importantly, we're giving you the opportunity to share your opinions, insights, and news that you're hearing about. We're looking forward to getting to know all of you much better, so don't be afraid to speak up. Please leave a comment to let us know you were there!

Marick Named EVP Fox Licensing and Merchandising

Entertainment marketing executive Robert Marick has been named executive vice president of licensing and merchandising at 20th Century Fox Television. Marick will report to the company’s chairmen, Gary Newman and Dana Walden.
Marick will oversee worldwide licensing of Fox’s portfolio of film and television properties across platforms such as interactive gaming, themed entertainment, television promotions, literary publishing, and consumer product categories. The new EVP will be headquartered in the company’s west coast office, but will manage both Los Angeles- and London-based operations.
Marick spent over a decade at the Walt Disney Company, serving in the consumer products, music group, and home entertainment divisions. Prior to his work at Disney, he served as vice president of sales & marketing at Time Warner’s WEA Corp., and has also held marketing positions at Mattel.

Small World Toys Announces Earnings

Small World Toys has announced its third quarter earnings, which includes over $500,000 in operating income on approximately $4.1 million in revenues. Small World Toys turned a profit under the new leadership of Vertex Capital and interim president, Larry Nusbaum, following a 26-quarter profit loss and bankruptcy. Bob LaRocca, vice president of sales, has stated that the company will add to the All About Baby and Furree Faces lines.

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