October 14, 2010


And the Holiday Toy Discounting Begins

Walmart and Target have already announced that there will be big price cuts in the toy department this holiday season. Walmart’s big savings on toys kicked off this pre-holiday season with $5, $10, and $15 on this year’s “must-have” toys, available now in all Walmart stores. This includes FurReal Friends GoGo My Walking Pup, Nerf N-Strike Stampede, Iron Man, Thomas the Train, Barbie, and more. Throughout the season, Walmart will introduce new weekly Rollbacks that will be featured in a dedicated aisle in stores to help customers easily find the best savings on toys. The retailer will also match any advertised price for the same product. Online customers can enjoy free shipping on hundreds of toys by using Walmart’s Site to Store service.
Target says it will discount prices on more than 1,000 toys. Beginning October 17, Target will offer a 5 percent discount on nearly all purchases made at Target and Target.com when guests use their Target credit cards. Target will also match advertised prices from competitors on identical items in local markets.

Sears to Open 79 New Toy Shops

In time for the holiday season, Sears is launching 79 new Toy Shops featuring a hand-picked selection of toys. The shops will include toys and specialty items that build imagination, creativity, motor skills, and social skills. Last year, the retailer opened 20 pilot Toy Shops in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York
Sears is also launching a new contest for children ages 3 to 8. On October 15, kids and parents can visit www.toyshopchallenge.com and submit their ideas for new toys. The grand-prize winner will receive a $1,000 Sears gift card and a two-day, one-night trip for two (winner and parent/legal guardian) to the grand prize celebration in New York City. For more information, visit www.toyshopchallenge.com on October 15.

Fall Toy Preview Final Numbers Show 9 Percent Jump over 2009

Fall Toy Preview 2010The Toy Industry Association’s (TIA) Fall Toy Preview, held last week in Dallas, brought nearly 3,000 members of the toy industry together to broker business deals for 2011. This year’s event attracted close to 700 buyers—a 9 percent increase over 2009—and nearly 300 exhibitors—a 5 percent increase over 2009. International buyer participation increased more than 27 percent over last year. The event attracted participants from 37 countries in both 2009 and 2010.
Fall Toy Preview is a by-appointment-only event designed to give toy buyers from long-lead and mass-market retail outlets a central marketplace in which to meet one-on-one with their vendors 12-15 months in advance of in-store delivery. To participate, exhibitors must currently sell to mass-market accounts, and all products shown must be available for fourth quarter sales in the following year. 
Fall Toy Preview 2011 will be held October 3–6 at the Dallas Market Center; additional information and booth space applications will soon be available online at www.falltoypreview.org.

FTC Proposes Revised “Green Guides”

The Federal Trade Commission recently proposed revisions to its “Green Guides”—a set of guidance documents that help marketers avoid making misleading environmental claims—and has issued a call for public comments on the proposed revision. Comments will be accepted through December 10. The initiative is an effort to bring the guidelines up-to-date and thereby facilitate their use. 
Proposed changes to the guides include new guidance on marketers’ use of product certifications and seals of approval, “renewable energy” claims, “renewable materials” claims, and “carbon offset” claims.
The guides, first issued in 1992, address general principles that apply to all environmental marketing claims, how consumers are likely to interpret such claims and how they are substantiated by marketers, and how marketers can qualify their claims to avoid deceiving consumers.
The proposed changes were developed using information collected from three public workshops, public comments, and a study of how consumers understand certain environmental claims. The changes caution marketers not to make general claims about products being “environmentally friendly,” not to use unqualified seals of approval, and detail how consumers are likely to understand certain environmental terms, such as “degradable” or “compostable.”
A summary of the proposed revised guides can be viewed online.

Ludorum Signs Mega, Crayola, Hallmark for Chuggington Products

ChuggingtonMega Brands, Inc. has secured a worldwide agreement with Ludorum plc, to produce a range of Chuggington construction toys under its Mega Bloks brand. The Chuggington construction toys will be based on characters from the television series, and will launch in most parts of the world in fall 2011 and in the United States in spring 2012.
Ludorum has also signed Hallmark Cards, Inc. and its subsidiary Crayola for a line of social expression products and arts and crafts based on Chuggington. The series debuted in the United States in January and currently airs on Playhouse Disney Monday through Friday at 6 a.m. & 11:30 a.m. EST and weekends at 6 a.m. EST. 

Munchkin Bathtub Sub Toys Recalled for Laceration Hazard

Munchkin Sub ToyHealth Canada has announced that approximately 4,260 Munchkin Bathtub Sub toys, by Munchkin, Inc., are being recalled because of an abrasion and laceration hazard. The toy’s intake valve on the bottom can suck up loose skin, and Health Canada has received two complaints related to minor genital laceration of young boys when the children played with the product in the bathtub. Munchkin, Inc. has received 19 additional complaints relating to the same hazard. The reported incidents did not require medical attention.
The toys were sold at Walmart and other children’s specialty stores across Canada from January to September with a UPC of 7-35282-10643-9, a serial number of MCKGF-3159, and an item number of 10643. Consumers are advised to stop using the recalled product immediately and contact Munchkin for further details at (877) 242-3134 or www.munchkin.com.

Aurora Inks Plush Deal with NWF

Wild Animal Baby ExplorersAurora World, Inc. has announced details surrounding its newest plush license with National Wildlife Federation (NWF), the nation’s largest member-supported conservation organization. In the two-year deal, Aurora will produce plush characters based on NWF’s new animated television series, Wild Animal Baby Explorers, and will be the chief plush supplier to all specialty retail channels in North and South America. Wild Animal Baby Explorers, distributed by American Public Television, is based on the
preschool magazine, Wild Animal Baby. The show features a combination of 3-D animated characters and high-definition, live-action footage.
The plush animals, based on the animated stars of Wild Animal Baby Explorers, will include Sammy the Skunk, Miss Sally the Salamander, Benita the Beaver, Skip the Rabbit and Izzy the Owl. For more information, visit www.auroragift.com.

Silly Bandz Expands Brand to Toys, Games, and More

Silly BandzBCP Imports, along with their licensing agency Brand Central, LLC, has announced that more Silly Bandz licensed products will premiere in stores this fall. The company has signed several master licensee partners for the Silly Bandz brand.
Licensees include Cra-Z-Art, which has developed a full range of toy-driven collections, including arts and crafts, an activity maker, a collectors’ case, a bead box, a display stand, collectible dolls, and more. University Games is developing games and puzzles that will bring Silly Bandz to a new dimension through play, and Silly Bandz will go digital with an iPhone application and video game from licensee Zoo Games. Other products will include cell phone accessories and gadgets from ESI, gummy candy in the shape of the Bandz by SMMS, colorful Silly “band-ages” from Ouchies, and a Silly Bandz apparel line from Mad Engine.
Brand Central is seeking additional licensees in product categories including fashion accessories, bags and totes, toys, electronics, housewares, domestics, and social expressions.

Blue Box Toys Debuts B Kids Line at ABC Expo

Blue Box Toys launched a new product line, B Kids, at the 2010 ABC Kids Expo, held through October 13 in Las Vegas. The line features more than 50 products, which are slated to hit specialty stores’ shelves early next year.
Blue Box says that every product was developed to meet the specific development needs of children at every stage of development. The products are designed to build sensory, physical, learning, and creative skills in children.

Strawberry Shortcake Celebrates 30 Sweet Years with New Deals

Strawberry ShortcakeStrawberry Shortcake is celebrating her 30th anniversary this month, and in honor of the milestone American Greetings Properties (AGP) has unveiled a series of deals and initiatives. Strawberry Shortcake’s anniversary celebration kicked off with the premiere of the all-new, CGI animated television series, Strawberry Shortcake’s Berry Bitty Adventures. The series began airing on The Hub on October 10, also the premiere date of the new kids television network.
In addition, Hasbro has created a special 30th Anniversary three pack of dolls that includes replicas of Strawberry Shortcake, Raspberry Tart, and Orange Blossom exactly as they appeared in 1980. Each doll is outfitted in her classic fruit-themed pinafore and bonnet and emits her classic fruit scent. The collection will be available on TysToyBox.com and www.hasbrotoyshop.com in November.
Additionally, Strawberry Shortcake is introducing her first iPhone application this fall, has partnered with McDonald’s for Happy Meal and Mighty Kids Meal toys (through October 14), and is giving back through a new partnership with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF).
Strawberry Shortcake will also be starring in a new comic book series by Ape Entertainment. Published under the all-ages imprint KiZoic, Strawberry Shortcake comic books are set to reach stores early next year with exclusive scratch & sniff covers.

JDNA Signs North American Distribution Deal for Gogo’s Crazy Bones

Gogo's Crazy BonesJonic Distribution North America (JDNA) has signed a deal with Martomagic to promote and distribute the forthcoming series of Gogo's Crazy Bones in North America. Produced by Magic Box International and PPI, Gogo’s Crazy Bones are a range of collectibles sold in North America. The packets include three figures and stickers, five packs, and collector’s tins. Each of the hundreds of characters has its own unique name, design, personality, strength, power, and score. Various games, both educational and fun, have been created around each series.
Gogo’s Crazy Bones is a Bulldog Licensing Limited property owned by Spain’s Martomagic and PPI Worldwide Group. Joy Tashjian Marketing Group is the North American licensing agent on behalf of the brand.

K.I.D.S. Announces Partnership with The Juno Company

Kids In Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.) has partnered with The Juno Company, makers of the Juno Baby series and the recently released Juno Jr. series. As part of The Juno Company’s One for All program, for every Juno Company DVD, CD, or book sold through the company’s website, the company will donate a special music education DVD to a child in need through K.I.D.S. The company will provide up to 5,000 DVDs for the challenge. All donated products will be distributed by K.I.D.S. to partner agencies that serve children and families in need in Clark County, Nev., which has been identified as one of the poorest communities in the country.

New Facebook Game About Toy Inventing, Selling to Debut this Week

Fuel GamesFuel Games is set to debut a new Facebook game October 25, which will challenge players to create a successful toy factory and storefront. Toy Factory is a social game of time management and creation, featuring a retro look. The goal is to build an attractive storefront and bring happiness to kids through must-have toys. To be successful, players must become a master toy inventor and have retail genius, gaining points for research and development, increasing the treasure chest inventory, and keeping the store’s rating high enough for daily prizes. Features of the game include building and selling toys in categories such as action figures, dolls, vehicles, games, plush, and electronics; personalizing the store and workshop; helping friends through fictional disasters; and more.

AGP Celebrates Maryoku Yummy Premiere with Mall Wishing Wells

MaryokuTied to the October 10 premiere of American Greetings Properties’ (AGP) new animated series, Maryoku Yummy, AGP and Simon Property Group, Inc. have teamed up for a mall-based initiative to make family wishes come true.
Four Simon Malls across the nation (Orland Square in Orland Park, Ill.; King of Prussia in King of Prussia, Pa.; Houston Galleria in Houston, Tex.; and Melbourne Square in Melbourne, Fla.) will transform their centerpiece fountain locations into Maryoku Yummy wishing wells. At the fountains there will be Maryoku Yummy signage and activities to encourage visitors to think about their dreams, wishes, and aspirations, and what it takes for them to come true. All the money tossed into the fountain will be counted at the end of the month and donated to a local charity to fulfill a wish of another child or family. American Greetings will also match the money collected and donate it to local children’s charities.
Maryoku Yummy is a preschool show that takes viewers to the magical land of Nozomu—a unique place where wishes come to life. Each episode features Maryoku and her friends who help nurture wishes and grant them. The series airs on the new Hub network.

Madame Alexander

Ron Herman Joins Douglas Company
Ron Herman has joined New Hampshire-based Douglas Company as its national accounts manager. Herman brings more than 28 years of experience working in the plush and gift industry to the company. He joined Manhattan Toy Company in 1982 as national sales manager, then joined Princess Soft Toys in 1998 as director of sales and key accounts. In August of this year Herman joined the Douglas Company.
Douglas Company is known for its plush toys, fashion-forward plush accessories, and original home décor items.

Bain Capital to Acquire Gymboree for $1.8 Billion

The Gymboree Corporation has entered into a definitive agreement with Bain Capital Partners, LLC, which will allow the affiliates of Bain Capital to acquire all the outstanding stock of Gymboree for $1.8 billion.
Under the terms of the agreement, which has been unanimously approved by Gymboree’s board of directors, Gymboree stockholders will receive $65.40 in cash for each outstanding share of Gymboree common stock they own, which represents a 57.4 percent premium to the company’s unaffected share price on September 30—before recent market rumors of a transaction—and a 23.5 percent premium to Gymboree’s closing stock price on October 8, the last full trading day before the announcement.  
It is anticipated that affiliates of Bain Capital will commence a tender offer for all of the outstanding shares of Gymboree shortly following the execution of the agreement. If the tender offer is successfully completed, Gymboree expects the transaction to close by the end of the year.
Under the terms of the agreement, Gymboree may solicit acquisition proposals from third parties for a period of 40 calendar days, continuing through November 20. There are no guarantees that this process will result in a superior proposal.

Target Reports Financial Results for September

Target Corporation has reported that its net retail sales for the five weeks that ended October 2 were $5.562 billion, an increase of 3.1 percent from $5.392 billion over the five weeks last year, which ended October 3, 2009. Quarter-to-date sales totaled $10.59 billion, an increase of 3.3 percent over last year, and year-to-date sales totaled $40.87 billion, an increase of 4.3 percent over 2009.

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