October 13, 2011



The Toy Book Named Exclusive North American Publication for International Toy Fair Nuremberg

Nuremberg Toy FairThe Toy Book has been named the exclusive North American publication for International Toy Fair Nuremberg 2012 by organizer Spielwarenmesse eG. The show will be held February 1-6. The International Toy Fair, held in Nuremberg, Germany is the world’s leading fair for toys, hobby, and leisure-time articles. The show is open exclusively to the specialist trade, and is a communications and buying platform for both national and international manufacturers, as well as specialist traders and buyers from around the globe. The show features 2,600 exhibitors from 64 countries, and receives 76,000 visitors from 115 countries. More than one million products will be showcased, including 70,000 new products.
The show will feature brands and products for all sales channels. Special events taking place at the show include the Toy Fair Special Toys Go Green, the Global Toy Conference, the Toy Business Forum, and the Building Our Future Toy Conference.
For editorial coverage opportunities in The Toy Book’s Nuremberg Toy Fair issue, please contact Jackie Breyer at jbreyer@toybook.com. For advertising/promotional opportunities, please contact Jonathan Samet at (212) 575-4510 or jsamet@adventurepub.com.

NRF Forecasts an Average Holiday Season

The National Retail Federation (NRF) is expecting this year’s holiday season to be just average. Although last year’s holiday season outperformed most analysts’ expectations, NRF expects 2011 holiday retail sales to increase 2.8 percent to $465.6 billion, close to the 10-year average holiday sales increase of 2.6 percent. Last year, retailers experienced a 5.2 percent increase.
For the first time this year, NRF used its holiday forecasting model to create a projection for seasonal hiring in retail. According to NRF, retailers are expected to hire between 480,000 and 500,000 seasonal workers this holiday season, which is comparable to the 495,000 seasonal employees they hired last year.

Jakks Pacific Declines Acquisition Offer

In a letter dated October 5, Jakks Pacific CEO Stephen Berman responded to Oaktree Capital Management’s conditional non-binding expression of interest in acquiring the company. Berman, on behalf of the company, wrote that after meeting with the company’s financial and legal advisors “ the board unanimously has determined that your indication of interest is inadequate and not in the best interests of the company and its stockholders.” Berman continued to write: “The board unanimously believes that this is not the right time to sell the company, and that execution of the company's strategic plan—including potentially transformative projects planned and already underway—will provide significantly greater value to the company's stockholders.”
On September 13, Oaktree expressed an interest in acquiring Jakks Pacific in a private transaction at $20 per share.

The Bridge Gets Worldwide Rights to New The Hobbit Films

Warner Bros. Consumer Products has awarded the worldwide master toy and game licensing rights for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again to The Bridge Direct, Inc. The Bridge will develop an array of products inspired by the two films, which is directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings). The line will include action figures, play sets, and role play accessories such as basic action figures, adventure packs, beast packs, highly detailed collector figures, a basic Sting sword, a basic Orcrist sword, a Dwarven battle axe, and a Deluxe Sting sword that features a blue glow just like in the film. The line is expected to debut at retail stores in fall 2012, prior to the December 14 release of the first film.

The Canadian Group Re-Brands as TCG

The Canadian Group has changed its name to TCG and has selected its tagline to be “The Best in Fun.” TCG’s new logo, which represents the expanded scope of the company’s global reach, will appear on all product packaging, marketing plans, television commercials, and trade advertising.
“TCG has grown into a manufacturer, marketer, and distributor of puzzles, games, and activities worldwide,” notes Michael Albert, a TCG partner. “With a broad collection of family play products available in over 30 countries, we are anything but ‘Canada-only.’”
TCG is adding to its product line next year with a broad range of board and interactive games, room décor, and novelty items. Licenses on the TCG roster include Fisher-Price, Glee, Justin Bieber, Lalaloopsy, Bratz, The Mentalist, Olivia, and Zhu Zhu Pets.

ASTRA Reveals 2012 Marketplace & Academy Theme

ASTRAThe American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) announced that the theme of its 2012 Marketplace & Academy will be “Get more from your store: Build your business at ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy.” The event will take place in Baltimore June 10-13.
“Independent retailers are always looking for creative new ways to increase revenue and contain costs. Never has it been more important for store owners to get the most out of every dollar they spend and every business decision they make,” said Kathleen McHugh, president of ASTRA. “Our theme reflects what retailers will find at Marketplace & Academy: unique quality toys that fit their stores, huge show-only discounts, and business tips from the best retailers in the industry.”
As more information becomes available about speakers and special events at Marketplace & Academy, it will be posted at www.astramarketplace.org.

Canadian Specialty Retailers to Celebrate Neighborhood Toy Store Day

NETSThe American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) announced that Neighbourhood Toy Stores of Canada (NETS) will participate in Neighborhood Toy Store Day on Saturday, November 12. Modeled after ASTRA’s launch in 2010, NETS has created a special logo and consumer outreach campaign using traditional and social media to reach parents with the specialty toy message. For more information about ASTRA’s Neighborhood Toy Store Day, visit www.neighborhoodtoystoreday.com. For information about the NETS Neighbourhood Toy Store Day, click here or visit www.neighbourhoodtoystores.ca.


Zinkia Names U.S. Licensing Agent for Pocoyo

PocoyoZinkia Entertainment has named Evolution Management Group Inc. (EMG) as its U.S. licensing agent for Pocoyo, the company’s flagship multimedia property. EMG specializes in global brand and IP development, and will work with Maria Doolan, managing director of brand and business development for Zinkia Entertainment, in securing new merchandising, licensing, and promotional opportunities for Pocoyo.  Travis J. Rutherford, CEO and co-founder of EMG, will develop new strategic licensing partnerships and spearhead the retail development for Pocoyo consumer products. Adam Unger, EMG’s president and co-founder, will oversee product development and promotional opportunities for the brand.


Bieber Tops NPD's Hot List Once Again

Justin BieberFor three weeks in September, The NPD Group fielded results from the unaided, open-ended question, “What would the kids you know say is the hottest new thing these days? It might be a celebrity, movie, TV show, toy, game, hobby, sport, website, brand, or retail store.” The NPD Group compiled 7,116 mentions of things that kids are currently into. The results were: Justin Bieber (9 percent), the Cars franchise (4 percent), Xbox 360 (3 percent), Disney (2 percent), iPad (2 percent), iCarly (2 percent), Dora the Explorer (2 percent), Nintendo Wii (2 percent), Transformers (2 percent), and iPod (2 percent).
The September survey is a follow-up to NPD’s May survey in which Bieber again topped the list, capturing 10 percent of total mentions.



Sanrio Signs New Licensees for Hello Kitty

Hello KittySanrio, the brand behind Hello Kitty, is adding to its licensee family with the signing of four new licensing agreements. Jada Toys will develop a variety of Hello Kitty-themed vehicles, from scooters to ice cream toys, to arrive in stores by the end of the year. Gemmy Industries Corporation, creator of Airblown Inflatables, will include Hello Kitty in a variety of seasonal products, first launching with an oversized Hello Kitty porch greeter that will hit stores in time for Valentine’s Day. Crafty Productions will develop a line of Hello Kitty wooden craft kits to include jewelry kits, charm boxes, collectible character sets, and more, to be available this year. Panini America will produce a new Hello Kitty sticker and album collection for the U.S., Canada, Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, to arrive in stores this year.



EB Excalibur to Premiere U.S. Army-Branded R/Cs

Sky RunnerBeanstalk has announced a new partnership between its client, U.S. Army, and EB Excalibur, a division of EB Brands. EB Excalibur will develop U.S. Army-branded remote-controlled land and air vehicles, including the Advanced Attack RC Chopper, Combat Chopper, Humvee, Troop Transporter Helicopter, Gemini, Sky Runner, Land Air Squadron, and Micro Rig Fueler.
Available at mass merchandisers, toy specialty retailers, e-commerce, department stores (including J.C. Penney), wholesale club stores, and sporting goods stores beginning this month, the toys aim to bring the experience and authenticity of the U.S. Army to children and families.

Bif Bang Pow! Signs Deals for Toys Based on Classic Shows

Bif Bang Pow! and NBCUniversal have signed new deals for new toys and collectibles based on sci-fi television series Battlestar Galactica and 1970s series The Six Million Dollar Man.
Both collections from Bif Bang Pow! will feature an array of articulated retro action figures, which will stand eight inches tall in episode-specific fabric clothing, as well as bobble heads. Various Battlestar Galactica-themed and Six Million Dollar Man-themed collectibles—such as license plate frames, tin boxes, coasters, snow globes, and glassware—will be produced as well. The new action figures will continue a partnership with EMCE Toys, the team responsible for bringing the classic style back. 

Tollytots to Create Preschool Toys Based on Rubik’s Cube

Jakks Pacific’s Tollytots division has signed a long-term agreement with Seven Towns Limited, the owners of Rubik’s Cube, to manufacture, distribute, and market a line of early learning preschool toys based on the iconic brand. The line, named Rubik’s Clever Kids, will feature a variety of activities while at the same time teaching important developmental and motor skills through the use of colors, shapes, and puzzle-solving.
The deal was brokered by The Sharpe Company, Inc., which represents Rubik’s Cube in North America. Tollytots expects to launch the Rubik’s product line at retailers nationwide in fall 2012.

Free Shipping Day Expected to See Record Participation

Free Shipping Day, which had $942 million in sales last year, has been scheduled for Friday, December 16. According to a press release, Free Shipping Day is poised to meet or surpass its goal of signing up 2,000 merchants that will provide free shipping and delivery by Christmas Eve. With more than two months to go until Christmas, more than 500 merchants, including Melissa & Doug, RadioShack, Barnes & Noble, J.C. Penney, Macy’s, and Kohl’s, have already signed up to participate. This outpaces the 1,000 merchants that had signed up by December 1 last year. For more information or for retailer sign-up, visit www.freeshippingday.com.

Power Rangers Gears Up for Halloween

Power Ranger BearOn store shelves now, Build-A-Bear is carrying an exclusive costume based on Power Rangers Samurai. Licensee Build-A-Bear Workshop specifically designed the new Red Samurai Power Ranger costume to fit bears and other furry friends. This costume marks the first collaboration between the retailer and the Power Rangers franchise.
Additionally, Saban Brands’ Power Rangers has launched a multi-platform national Halloween safety campaign featuring the Samurai Power Rangers and designed to reach parents and children at schools, in theaters, online, and at home.
Additional initiatives tied to the Power Rangers health and well-being emPower program are also scheduled for this fall, including Nickelodeon’s Worldwide Day of Play; a partnership with Every Body Walk!, where the Rangers will participate in Walk To School Day; and the newest cycle of the Power Rangers emPower Sweepstakes. 


Santoro London Signs Aurora for Gorjuss

GorjussSantoro London has signed Aurora World UK, Ltd. as a new licensee for its fine art brands Gorjuss. Aurora will develop premium quality, special-edition Gorjuss cloth dolls. The first three designs (Ruby, Toadstools, and You Brought Me Love) are slated to launch next spring.







Snap Global Solutions Signs Deal for my1Story Party Goods

my1StorySnap Global Solutions has signed a licensing agreement with international stationery goods maker Granmark to manufacture and market a complete line of party goods for Snap's my1Story intellectual property. The license with Granmark for my1Story includes various party and stationery goods, including wrapping paper, gift bags and boxes, mini coloring books with stickers, and other party favors, decorations, and social expression items. The items will be distributed and sold nationwide.




American Girl Introduces New Crafts Collection of Party Supplies

American Girl CraftsAmerican Girl Crafts has introduced a new collection of party supplies that allows girls, ages 8 to 12, to show their style. Girls can add their own creative touches to a variety of party goods, including invitations, décor, party favors, and thank-you notes. With pretty table settings, American Girl Crafts makes it easy to decorate in style. American Girl dolls can join in on the fun with their own doll-sized invitations, place settings, cupcake decorations, mini favor boxes, and tiaras. American Girl Crafts is a licensed brand within EKSuccess Brands.


Learning Express Launches Exclusive Curious George Line

For this holiday season, Learning Express Toys has launched two exclusive Curious George products as part of a partnership between the toy franchise and Universal Partnerships & Licensing. Available now, The Curious George Sock Monkey ($22.99) and The My First Sticky Mosaics Curious George Kit ($9.99 are available at Learning Express locations around the country. Also as part of the partnership, Learning Express shoppers will have the opportunity to enter and win the “Curious George Ultimate Vacation Giveaway,” a family vacation for four to Universal Orlando Resort.

Sesame Street Airs Special on Hunger, Introduces New Muppet

LilyLast Sunday, Sesame Street premiered Growing Hope Against Hunger, a one-hour primetime PBS television special produced by Sesame Workshop. The special included documentary films by Academy-Award winning director and filmmaker Cynthia Wade and starred Brad Paisley, Kimberly Williams Paisley, and the Sesame Street Muppets.
The special, supported by Walmart, presented families’ personal stories to raise awareness of the widespread issue of hunger in the U.S., as well as strategies that have helped these families find resources and grow stronger together. Growing Hope Against Hunger also introduced a new Muppet named Lily whose family has an ongoing struggle with hunger. A Spanish version of the special will air on October 22 on Univision and on October 23 on Telefutura. All materials are available online at sesamestreet.org/food.



Kidz Bop Launches Greatest Action Movie Ever Campaign

In a nationwide effort to combat childhood obesity and to support First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, Kidz Bop has joined forces with the Ad Council to help launch The Greatest Action Movie Ever (G.A.M.E) campaign. The campaign, created by McCann New York, includes new public service advertisements and online initiatives that promote physical activity and healthy eating among kids, ages 6-12.
Now through November 30, kids can audition for a role in G.A.M.E, an original short movie to premiere in the spring, by uploading a video to KidzBop.com. Kids will vote on the audition videos, and the winners will receive prizes that promote healthy habits, such as Wii game consoles, bikes, and athletic equipment. A panel of judges will select the best videos and those kids will have a starring role in G.A.M.E.

Iger to Remain Disney CEO until 2015
The Walt Disney Company’s board of directors has agreed to extend President and CEO Robert A. Iger’s contract through June 2016 as part of the company’s ongoing succession planning. Under the new agreement, Iger will assume the role of chairman in addition to CEO following Chairman John E. Pepper’s retirement from the board at Disney’s 2012 annual shareholder meeting, to be held in March. Iger will then serve as chairman and CEO through March 31, 2015, at which time a new CEO will be named. After a new CEO has been named, Iger will serve as executive chairman for 15 months through June 30, 2016.
Iger’s current contract was set to expire January 31, 2013. As provided in the company’s corporate governance guidelines, the board will also select an independent lead director when Iger assumes the role of chair immediately following the meeting in March.

New CEO at Sesame Workshop

Sesame Workshop has appointed H. Melvin Ming as president and CEO of Sesame Workshop, succeeding Gary Knell. Until last week, Ming served as Sesame Workshop’s COO. Ming will lead the nonprofit educational organization in its mission to create innovative, engaging content that maximizes the educational power of media to help children reach their highest potential.
Ming joined Sesame Workshop in 1999 as CFO and was named COO in 2002. Prior to Sesame Workshop, Ming served as CFO of the Museum of Television and Radio in New York. He has also served as COO at WQED Pittsburgh, CFO and chief administrative officer at Thirteen/WNET New York, and vice president of finance and administration at National Public Radio (NPR).

Jeffrey Godsick Promoted to President, Fox Consumer Products

Former senior executive vice president at Twentieth Century Fox’s feature film division, Jeffrey Godsick, has been promoted to president, Fox Consumer Products. Godsick now oversees all of Fox’s consumer products and activities, as well as staff, and reports to Twentieth Century Fox Chairmen Gary Newman and Dana Walden. Robert Marick, executive vice president at Fox Consumer Products, remains on board and will report to Godsick.
Headquartered in the unit’s West Coast office, Godsick will manage both its Los Angeles- and London-based operations, overseeing the worldwide licensing of Fox's portfolio of film and television properties across platforms such as interactive gaming, themed entertainment, television promotions, literary publishing, as well as consumer product categories.

Yomega Announces Co-Presidents

Yomega has moved its offices from Fall River to Seekonk, Mass., and has named Todd Rywolt and Chris Sullivan as co-presidents. In these new roles, Rywolt and Sullivan will be responsible for all business operations of the company.
Rywolt brings more than 20 years of marketing and product development experience to Yomega. He spent 17 years with Hasbro as vice president of marketing and licensing, where he developed consumer and retail programs for brands including Beyblade, G.I. Joe, Star Wars, Nerf, Tonka, and Pokémon. Prior to Hasbro, Rywolt worked in brand management for Procter & Gamble, driving marketing and promotional programs for the NyQuil and Vicks brands.
Sullivan has more than 17 years of progressive sales management experience in the toy industry. He joined Yomega as its national sales manager in 1998, focusing on building domestic distribution. He also hired and trained a national sales force of independent agents to the company’s business at specialty toy stores. For the past seven years Sullivan has worked as Yomega’s sales director.

Saban Brands Picks New Director of Licensing

Rebekah Belzer has joined Saban Brands, LLC team as the company’s new director of
licensing. Reporting to Nina Leong, senior vice president of licensing for Saban Brands, Belzer will manage all existing licensing partnerships and seek out new strategic licensing partnerships in the apparel and softlines categories.
Prior to joining Saban Brands, Belzer spent seven years at Disney Consumer Products, launching popular brands such as Hannah Montana, High School Musical, Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings, and Disney’s It’s a Small World. Belzer also previously worked with The Gap, Gymboree, and The Disney Store

AGP Fills New VP of New Media Position

American Greetings Properties (AGP) has named Derek Roberto as vice president of new media. In this newly created position, Roberto will oversee the division’s current digital team and its ongoing efforts to support AGP’s classic brands as well as new intellectual property. He will lead in the creation and development of new business ventures across all brands for the emerging media space, including mobile/tablet web and apps, games, and digital publishing, reporting directly to AGP President Jeffrey Conrad.
Before joining American Greetings, Roberto served in dual roles as a head of production and producer at Radical Media. During his tenure at Radical, he supervised and produced a broad array of high-profile media projects such as Katy Perry’s  “Firework” and Arcade Fire’s award-winning Google Chrome experiment (www.thewildernessdowntown.com).  In addition, Roberto has produced media projects with some of the top ad agencies, brands, and celebrities ranging from Lil Wayne, Miley Cyrus, P. Diddy, and Justin Bieber, as well as noted brands Levi’s, Sears, Chevrolet, Disney, Microsoft, HP, and Apple.

Target Reports September Retail Sales

Target Corporation reported that its net retail sales for the five weeks in September, which ended October 1, was $5.923 billion, an increase of 6.5 percent from $5.562 billion for the comparable five weeks in 2010. September comparable store sales increased 5.3 percent compared to 2010. Year-to-date sales totaled $42.69 billion, an increase of 4.5 percent compared to the same period in 2010. Quarter-to-date sales totaled $11.215 billion, an increase of 6 percent compared to the same quarter-to-date period in 2010.

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