October 19, 2009

It’s a Girl!

Lena Jayne BreyerAdventure Publishing Group is proud to announce that Jackie Breyer, editor-in-chief of The Toy Book, Specialty Toys & Gifts, and The Toy Report, delivered a baby girl––Lena Jayne, 7 lbs., 4 oz.–––last Thursday, October 15. We wish mom and baby health and happiness!




Mattel Lead Paint Lawsuit Settlement to Exceed $50M

A landmark action settlement involving the largest recalls of children’s toys in history has been reached. Through the settlement, Mattel and Fisher-Price have agreed to provide refunds and other monetary relief to millions of families who purchased children’s toys made in China. The toys were recalled or withdrawn from the market in 2006 and 2007 after they were found to exceed legal limits of lead in the paint or plastic of the toy or have small magnets that could become loose and harm children if ingested. The affected toys included certain Sesame Street toys, Dora the Explorer and Diego toys made by Fisher-Price, and certain Mattel toys, such as Batman, Polly Pocket, Barbie accessories, and Sarge cars.
The proposed consumer class action settlement will resolve 22 class action lawsuits filed against Mattel and Fisher-Price and major retailers on behalf of millions of children and families who purchased or received the defective toys as gifts before they were later recalled or withdrawn from market. Mattel entered into the settlement on behalf of itself, its subsidiary Fisher-Price, and the retailer defendants.
If approved by the court, the settlement will require Mattel and Fisher-Price to provide refunds to consumers who purchased or acquired the toys, as well as reimburse families who incurred costs for testing their children for lead exposure. Class members who participated in the prior recalls of the affected toys will automatically receive a check. Mattel will also implement a quality assurance program, overseen by the court, which will ensure the safety of Mattel and Fisher-Price toys all around the world, and it will donate $275,000 to the National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions, a not-for-profit association of 150 children’s hospitals, pediatric units of medical centers, and related health systems.
Last year, the Honorable Dale S. Fischer of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California refused defendants’ attempts to dismiss the case on the basis that they had offered consumers vouchers or replacement toys as part of a recall program.

Toys “R” Us Debuts Holiday Layaway Program

Toys “R” Us, Inc. is introducing a new in-store layaway program, “Big Gift” Layaway. Through the program, customers at Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us stores may reserve toys, such as bikes and play kitchens, early in the season and make a series of small payments over an extended time.
Kids products that are a part of the Big Gift Layaway program include bikes, ride-on vehicles, dollhouses, play kitchens, outdoor play equipment and playsets, pools and water slides, basketball systems, karaoke machines, musical instruments, televisions, and indoor table games. Baby products included in the program are infant and toddler furniture, car seats, high chairs, play yards, strollers and travel systems, and bassinets.

Hosung to offer Eco-Friendly Dr. Seuss Plush

Dr. Seuss Enterprise has selected natural toy maker Hosung NY Inc., the makers of miYim organic toys and accessories, as a North American eco-friendly plush toy licensee for the Dr. Seuss brand. The new My Natural Dr. Seuss product line is expected to launch in spring 2010.
Under the agreement, products based on Dr. Seuss properties are slated to include eco-friendly plush characters and certified non-toxic infant accessories with Hosung’s My Natural brand, and the Lorax Project, Dr. Seuss’ new eco-initiative.
The My Natural Dr. Seuss Collection will include plush toys and infant accessories such as rattles and teething blankies made from certified non-toxic natural cotton, and colored with Hosung’s chemical-free PureWaterWash process.
In additional news, Hosung has partnered with the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) to design and manufacture an alternative to chemically treated toys. The all-natural plush toys, under Hosung’s eco-friendly “My Natural” brand, will help support the Jane Goodall Institute’s efforts to empower people to make a difference for all living things.
The My Natural Jane Goodall Wild Animal Collection is a line of plush toys depicting animals from various habitats across the globe. The toys will be made from certified non-toxic unprocessed cotton and colored with Hosung’s all-natural PureWaterWash process.

Charisma Acquires Adora Doll

Charisma Brands, LLC, has acquired Adora Doll, a global manufacturer and marketer of heirloom-quality dolls founded by David Lin and Frank Ren. Adora is a well-recognized brand and is known for its baby dolls. Adora’s dolls are distributed worldwide including the United States, Europe, South America, and Russia and can be found in more than 1,500 retail outlets including toy, gift, department, and collectible stores.
Charisma is already shipping 2009 Adora product to customers and will introduce 2010 Adora designs at Idex and Toy Fair trade shows beginning in January. Adora’s customer service and sales administrator, Sandy Fawzi, will join the Charisma team and will continue in her role.
Adora joins other collectible Charisma brands Marie Osmond, Paradise Galleries, Kewpie, and Penny Brite.

Upper Deck to Produce Hello Kitty Trading Card Game

Hello KittyThe Upper Deck Company has signed a multi-year deal with Sanrio Global Consumer Products to produce the Hello Kitty collectible miniatures & stickers trading card game (TCG). The first release will hit store shelves in March, with more following later in the year. Targeted to young girls and tweens, the TCG will include collectible figures, stickers, and trading cards for Hello Kitty fans.
Hello Kitty will celebrate its 35th anniversary in November. Sanrio will hold a three-week art exhibit in celebration of the event, Three Apples, featuring contemporary artists and their interpretations of Hello Kitty. For more information on Hello Kitty’s 35th anniversary, please visit www.sanrio.com/threeapples.

Warner Home Video to Exclusively Distribute Sesame Street

Sesame StreetWarner Home Video (WHV) has been appointed the exclusive distributor of multiple Sesame Street titles as part of a multi-year, home entertainment distribution deal with Sesame Workshop. The agreement will begin on January 1 and includes the television show’s library, new content, EST, and Transactional VOD for distribution in the United States and Canada.  Sesame Street will celebrate its 40th anniversary this November.



Simon & Schuster Signs on for Octonauts

The OctonautsChorion has secured a key TV tie-in book deal with Simon & Schuster UK for its new preschool underwater adventure property, The Octonauts.
Simon & Schuster Children’s Books has signed a publishing deal for UK and Commonwealth rights for an extensive range of TV tie-in books including picture books, novelties, activity, and ebooks. CBeebies in the UK, TF1 France, and ABC Australia have all pre-bought Chorion’s new animated action adventure series for preschoolers with a TV launch planned for 2010. Simon & Schuster’s book range will follow the debut of the TV show on CBeebies.
The Octonauts follows a team of heroes who dive into action whenever there is trouble under the sea. In a fleet of aquatic vehicles, they rescue sea creatures, explore new underwater worlds, and often save the day before returning safely home. The TV series is based on the books of the same name.

Disney Celebrates Mickey Mouse’s Love of Trains

Mickey MouseDisney Consumer Products (DCP) and Fisher-Price will release a new Mickey’s Magic Choo Choo train set for preschoolers, inspired by Disney’s 1929 animated short, Mickey’s Choo Choo. The set lays its own tracks as it moves and comes with a Mickey figure, features Mickey’s voice, plays fun music, and makes train-like sound effects.
Mickey kicked off his virtual train tour from Union Station in Kansas City, Walt Disney’s birthplace, to the Travel Town Railroad Museum in Los Angeles, traveling through the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, and Hollywood. He will arrive just in time for a viewing party for Disney Channel’s upcoming primetime special, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Choo Choo Express, which will air October 25 at 7 p.m. Kids can track Mickey’s travels online at www.YouTube.com/DisneyLiving. Disney also announce a traveling art exhibit featuring rare animation art, historic photography, and some of Walt’s personal train-related artifacts. The exhibit will be on display at Union Station from October 10-11, with selected images moving to the Travel Town Railroad Museum.
United States Marines will be on hand in Kansas City and Los Angeles at Mickey’s farewell and arrival. The Marines will kick off Disney’s annual Toys for Tots campaign, and guests will help collect and sort toys for distribution to needy families this holiday season.

JAKKS Pacific to Give Away UFC Prize Pack

JAKKS Pacific will give away a UFC prize pack to one JAKKS UFC Action Figures Facebook fan. The winner will receive a pair of tickets to UFC 107 in Memphis on December 12, air transportation for two, hotel accommodations for the night, and a full set of JAKKS UFC Wave 0 Action Figures, the Official Scale Octagon Playset, and a replica UFC Championship Belt. Contestants have to sign up as a JAKKS UFC Facebook fan by December 1. The official rules are available at www.jakks.com/ufc-facebook-rules.

Nomination Process Begins for TAGIE Awards

Chicago Toy and Game FairNominations are being accepted for the second annual Toy and Game Inventors Expo (TAGIE) Awards, held November 20 at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair (ChiTAG). Categories include Toy Inventor of the Year, Game Inventor of the Year, Rising Star Inventor of the Year, and a new category, Young Inventor of the Year, which recognizes those under the age of 18. Nominations can be submitted through November 1 at www.tagieawards.com. Accomplishment awards will also be presented to Bruce Lund, inventor of TMX Elmo and founder of Lund and Company Invention, LLC; Betty James of James Industries; and Reuben Klamer, inventor of the Game of Life and other products.
ChiTAG will be held November 21-22 at Chicago’s Navy Pier. Guests include actresses and inventors of Liebrary, Daryl Hannah and Hilary Shepard; Jenga inventor Leslie Scott; and others. The event will also host the Young Inventor Challenge, in which students ages 18 and younger submit original game and toy inventions for a chance to win a trip to the Toy of the Year Awards, a feature in Inventors Digest magazine, and more. For full event details, visit www.chitag.com.

Strategic Vision to Offer Free Holiday Consultations

Strategic Vision, LLC will offer people within the toy industry free 30-minute consultations to help with marketing and publicity efforts for the holidays and Toy Fair 2010. The consultation is part of the company’s Publicity and Marketing Jumpstart For The Toy Industry (PMJTI) program. Consultations will include advice on social networking, media relations, awards, and vision. Additional information can be found at the company’s website at www.strategicvision.biz.

Former Toys “R” Us Exec Named Brookstone CEO

Gift retailer Brookstone, Inc. has named former North American president of Toys “R” Us, Inc., Ron Boire, as the company’s president and CEO. Boire will also join the Brookstone board of directors. Phillip Roizin, who has been Brookstone’s interim president and CEO since February, will continue his role as CFO and executive vice president, finance and administration, a position he has held since 1996.
Boire has held several positions at Toys “R” Us, including president of “R” Us Brands, Toys “R” Us North America, ToysRUs.com, and Toys “R” Us Canada. Boire also held executive positions at Best Buy and Sony Electronics, Inc.

Mattel Reports Third Quarter Results

Mattel, Inc. has reported its financial results for the fiscal year’s third quarter. The company’s profits fell 3.5 percent to $229.8 million, or 63 cents per share, matching analyst expectations. Sales fell 8 percent to $1.79 billion, as demand for Barbie and higher priced Fisher-Price toys such as Power Wheels fell, according to the Associated Press.
Mattel has previously increased prices and cut inventory to offset the current economy.
Compared to last year, inventory was down 19 percent, although Mattel CEO Robert Eckert has stated the company has enough toys in stock for the holiday season. Mattel will continue with its cost-cutting plan, which includes cutting jobs, improving its supply chain, cutting the number of items in development, and reducing capital spending. Mattel also plans to launch the Bratz doll line next spring.

Hasbro Reports Third Quarter Results

Hasbro has reported its financial results for the third quarter in 2009. The company’s net revenue, $1.28 billion, decreased by 2 percent compared to last year’s revenue of $1.30 billion a year ago, but without the negative impact of foreign exchange the company’s net revenues grew 1 percent, compared to last year. Hasbro reported a net earning of $150.4 million, or 99 cents per diluted share, compared to $138.2 million or 89 cents per diluted share for the same period in 2008. Results include a 3-cent per share dilutive impact from the company’s joint venture with Discovery Communications and initial investments in its virtual studio.
U.S. and Canada segment net revenues were $791.9 million, compared to $821.0 million in 2008. The U.S. and Canada segment reported an operating profit of $129.1 million, compared to $131.9 million in 2008. International segment net revenues were $444.1 million, compared to $460.6 million in 2008. Excluding the foreign exchange impact, international revenue grew 4 percent. The international segment reported an operating profit of $64.1 million compared to operating profit of $65.8 million in 2008. In both the domestic and international segments, there was a strong performance in the boys’ category that offset declines in girls’, preschool, and games and puzzles categories.
Entertainment and licensing segment net revenues were $41.6 million, compared to $18.3 million during the same period in 2008. The company attributed the increase to the Transformers and G.I. Joe brands. This segment reported an operating profit of $19.8 million compared to operating profit of $6.3 million in 2008.
For the fourth quarter, the company anticipates dilution of 4 to 5 cents per diluted share due to its joint venture with Discovery Communications and its virtual studio. In 2010, the expected dilution is 25 to 30 cents per diluted share. During the quarter, Hasbro repurchased 1.1 million shares of common stock at a total cost of $30.2 million.

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The Toy Report

Jonathan Samet

Editor in Chief:
Jackie Breyer

Assistant Editor:
Elizabeth A. Reid

Production Director:
Anthony K. Guardiola