October 20, 2011



From Factory to Shelf: An Inside Look at Target’s Holiday Toy Merchandising Strategies

Target ToysWalking into the toy section of a store like Target during the holiday season can be overwhelming for shoppers, who are faced with toy aisle upon toy aisle of great products to choose from. Thousands of additional products can be found online. Those that make it onto store shelves during the season are often thought of as the crème de la crème, and being chosen for Target’s shelves can bring tremendous success to a toy manufacturer.
Stephanie Lucy, Target’s vice president of merchandising, chats with Elizabeth A. Reid of The Toy Book to talk about holiday merchandising strategies, how it makes its toy selections, and what Target is doing to become a top destination for holiday shopping. To read the interview, click here.

Report: Holiday Spending to Be Down Slightly

The National Retail Federation (NRF) has released its 2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, and the report predicts a slight decrease in the average amount each shopper will spend this holiday season. According to the survey, shoppers say they plan to shell out an average of $704.18 on holiday gifts and seasonal merchandise, down slightly from last year’s $718.98. NRF forecasts overall holiday retail sales to grow 2.8 percent during November and December to $465.6 billion.
Discount stores will see the most traffic with 66.1 percent of respondents saying they will head to those shops compared to 65.1 percent last year. Internet shopping will continue to be popular this holiday season; 46.7 percent of shoppers will buy online, up from 43.9 percent last year. Additionally, half of those surveyed who own a smart phone (52.6 percent) said they will use their device to research products, redeem coupons, use apps to assist in their purchase, or purchase holiday gifts and items. Tablet owners are even more likely to use their device to aid in their holiday shopping; seven in 10 (70.5 percent) tablet owners will research and shop using their device.

New Microsoft Platforms to Thrust Kids into Popular TV Shows Via Kinect

Cookie MonsterAt a press conference earlier this week, Microsoft announced two new platforms that will take kids into the world of Sesame Street and National Geographic via the company’s Kinect for Xbox 360.
Launching next spring, Kinect Sesame Street TV invites children to experience the world of Sesame Street alongside their favorite characters. The Kinect for Xbox 360 will allow preschoolers to visually and physically interact with Sesame Street characters on screen while watching Sesame Street episodes. Kids can help characters with tasks, such as finding shapes and counting objects, while playing in areas unique to Sesame Street,such as Elmo’s World. Soho Productions is the developer for Kinect Sesame Street TV.
Kinect Nat Geo TV will also launch next spring, developed by Relentless Software. Kinect Nat Geo TV transports kids and their families around the world. Through Kinect, not only can kids watch the episodes, but they can also engage, play in, and learn as Kinect Nat TV turns living rooms into habitats and viewers into animals.
Both platforms will allow kids to see themselves on screen as they interact with objects and characters in the episodes.

Reports: Mattel Finalizing Deal to Buy Hit Entertainment

Thomas the Tank EngineAccording to multiple news outlets, including the Financial Times, Mattel is in talks with Apax Partners to buy Hit Entertainment for £500 million. Two anonymous sources told the Financial Times that Mattel is in the final stages of negotiations to purchase the company that Apax bought in 2005 for £489 million. The sale of Hit will not include the group’s stake in children’s channel Sprout, but will include Bob the Builder, Thomas the Tank Engine, Angelina Ballerina, Fireman Sam, and Pingu.





Jakks Completes Acquisition of Moose Mountain Toymakers

Jakks Pacific, Inc. has completed the acquisition of Hong Kong-based Moose Mountain Toymakers Limited. Jakks Pacific acquired all of the shares of stock of Moose Mountain and its Parsippany, NJ-based affiliate, Moose Mountain Marketing, Inc. The business includes licenses for well-known characters and brands, including Disney, Fisher-Price, Sesame Street, Thomas & Friends, Kawasaki, Nickelodeon, and Hasbro.

ABC Reports Preliminary Numbers for 2011 Kids Expo

All Baby & Child, Inc., the parent company and organizer of the ABC Kids Expo, has reported its preliminary statistics for the Ninth Annual ABC Kids Expo, which was held September 23-26 in Louisville, Ky., at the Kentucky Exposition Center.
The report shows an overall decrease of about 2,200 compared to last year. Retail buyers, mostly from the West Coast, were down by approximately 400. Final numbers are expected in the next few weeks. Attendance figures from the Midwest and East Coast, as well as media, government, and special services, were up from last year. Although slightly less than last year, the number of exhibitors was approximately 7 percent higher than the 2009 show, and net square footage for exhibit space was 4 percent above the mean for the last three years.
The 10th Annual ABC Kids Expo will be held at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville next year from October 14-17. Exhibitor registration is underway, with about half the hall already booked. For registration and information, visit www.theabcshow.com, or call the ABC Hotline at (210) 691-4848.

Moshi Monsters Signs 100th Partner

Moshi MonstersMind Candy announced its licensing program for Moshi Monsters at Brand Licensing Europe. Mind Candy has more than 40 UK licensees on board and another 60 signed internationally.
For the UK, licensees for Moshi Monsters include Vivid as master toy partner, Penguin for publishing, Topps for trading cards, Winning Moves for Top Trumps, Ty for Beanie Babies, Activision for Nintendo DS, Mega Brands for construction blocks, H Grossman for wheeled products, and more. The U.S. program now has more than 50 partners for softlines, toys and games, hardlines, publishing, novelty, activity, back-to-school, and celebration, with more category announcements coming soon.
Moshi Monsters has also announced that a court injunction has banned the planned release of a music single from one of its Moshling characters, Lady Goo Goo. The injunction was granted to Lady Gaga, preventing Mind Candy from “promoting, advertising, selling, distributing, or otherwise making available to the public ‘The Moshi Dance’ or any musical work or video which purports to be performed by a character by the name of Lady Goo Goo.” Lady Gaga’s lawyers argued that the pop star and character singer were too similar.

Tomy International Appointed Master Toy Licensee for Pajanimals

PajanimalsThe Jim Henson Company has appointed Tomy International (formerly RC2/Learning Curve Brands) as the master toy licensee in the U.S. for its Pajanimals brand and characters.
Under the terms of the multiyear agreement, Tomy International will develop an assortment of innovative and comforting toys and juvenile products for the U.S. market. Pajanimals products to be developed include plush, nighttime projectors, monitors, nightlights, nap mats, and playmats, for an anticipated delivery date of spring 2013.


Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair Set to Open January 9

The 38th Annual HKTDC Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair 2012 is scheduled to run from January 9-12 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. The 2011 fair attracted more than 34,000 buyers from 128 countries and regions, a new fair record. This year, nearly 2,000 exhibitors are expected to set up booths in the fairground.
In 2012, the fair will feature a number of special events for exhibitors and buyers, including the Hong Kong Toys and Baby Products Awards, a competition that highlights innovative, creative, and eco-friendly toys and baby products. Also featured is the Product Demo and Launch Pad, a platform for exhibitors to promote and demonstrate their new products.
The HKTDC Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair is held concurrently with the HKTDC Hong Kong Baby Products Fair, Hong Kong International Stationery Fair, and HKTDC Hong Kong International Licensing Show.

Hobby Show Renamed ToyFest West

ToyFest WestThe Western States Toy & Hobby Show has been renamed ToyFest West and features the tagline “The Buyers’ Playground.” The show will run March 24-27 in Long Beach, Calif., at the Long Beach Convention Center. Events will include the PlayWest Gala Reception, ToyFest Game Night, and the “Best of the Fest” by ASTRA. For more information, visit www.toyfestwest.com.

NECA to Produce Products for E.T.'s 30th Anniversary

The National Entertainment Collectibles Association, Inc. (NECA) has entered into an agreement with Universal Partnerships & Licensing to produce consumer products around next year’s 30th anniversary of the film E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial. Merchandise will include action figures, plush, toys, bobble heads, giftware, and more, launching initially in March.

Playmates Appoints Distribution Partners for New TMNT Toy Line

Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesPlaymates Toys, Inc., has appointed marketing and distribution partners across a number of international markets for toys inspired by Nickelodeon’s all-new CG-animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Currently in production, the show is set to premiere next fall, followed by the theatrical release from Paramount Pictures. The all-new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toy line by Playmates is scheduled to launch next fall in the U.S. and Canada, to coincide with the series premiere. The line will be available in most international markets in 2013.
Marketing and distribution partners include Headstart for Australia; Spin Master for Canada; the Giochi Preziosi Group for European countries, including Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, and UK; Stadlbauer for Germany, Austria, and Switzerland; Toy Triangle for the Middle East and North African region; Planet Fun for New Zealand; Concetra for Portugal; Gulliver for Russia; and Prima Toys for South Africa.

Nick Signs International Deal with Sakar for Victorious Products

VictoriousNickelodeon Consumer Products International has signed a deal with Sakar to bring its Victorious-branded consumer electronics line to international markets. The two-year agreement will run until the end of December 2013, and covers all regions including Asia-Pacific, Europe, and Latin America.
The extensive Victorious range will include the same products internationally as for the U.S., and will be aimed at girls ages 6-11. Products for retail include digital/video cameras and accessories, portable DVD players, MP3/MP4 players, CD players and boomboxes, karaoke machines, a range of computer accessories, iPhone/iPod kits and speaker docks, headphones, and video game accessories.


Marketplace Equity Act (MEA) Introduced to Congress

Last week, representatives Steve Womack (R-AR) and Jackie Speier (D-CA) announced the introduction of the bi-partisan Marketplace Equity Act (MEA) in the U.S. Congress. If enacted, the MEA would allow states to collect sales taxes already owed at the point of purchase from online retailers who may not have a physical nexus (store, office, warehouse, or distribution center) in the state, but sell merchandise there. Currently, Internet retailers are only required to collect sales taxes in states where they have a physical nexus.
In a key component of the MEA, small businesses will be exempt from collecting sales taxes on Internet transactions. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, most states have a “use tax,” similar to a sales tax. When an online retailer fails to collect the sales tax, it is up to the consumer to report that tax directly to the state, which often does not happen. ICSC notes that MEA is not a new tax, but simply gives states the power to collect revenue they are owed at the point of purchase. 

Jakks Pacific to Expand Club Penguin Offerings

PuffleDisney’s Club Penguin is debuting a new line of Puffle plush toys, manufactured by Jakks Pacific. The toys feature hats and hairstyles that come packaged with redemption codes for use in the virtual world, representing the first time Club Penguin merchandise customers can gain exclusive access to identical virtual items in the online world.  Additional Puffle plush toys will be added to the line in the upcoming months.

Wild Creations to Distribute HT Racers

T2 Design Corporation, an invention, design, and prototyping company, has licensed the HT Racers toy line to Wild Creations. The line was developed by Rick DeRennaux who, along with T2 Design, was featured on ABC’s television series American Inventor. HT Racers allow kids to design, build, and create customized vehicles that race, fly, and float. Wild Creations will soon bring DeRennaux's remote-controlled toy line to market.

Speakers Announced for SMAP Conference in November

The Chicago Toy & Game Group has revealed its speaker lineup for Social Media at Play (SMAP), a one-day conference held on November 18 that brings together social media/gaming experts and toy industry professionals. Held at Chicago’s Navy Pier, SMAP will showcase education, trends, techniques, and tools of social media, from strategy to integration to measurement. Attendees will hear from social media/gaming experts on how these trends fit into the future landscape of the toy and game industry. The keynote speaker will be Vanessa Van Petten, author and founder of RadicalParenting.com. She will give a speech titled “The Introduction to New Media.”
For more information, to register online, or to view the full list of speakers and events, visit www.SMAPcon.com.

ASTRA Expects 20 Percent Increase in Booths for 2012 Marketplace & Academy

The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) predicts that the number of exhibitor booths for its 2012 Marketplace & Academy will increase by nearly 20 percent compared to the 2011 event. The 2012 Marketplace & Academy is expected to have the biggest exhibit hall ASTRA has ever offered its attendees.
Many booths have already been reserved and sales are now open to non-members. To date, more than 15 percent of the booths have been sold to first-time exhibitors. ASTRA’s 2012 Marketplace & Academy will be held June 10-13 in Baltimore, Md. For more information, visit www.astramarketplace.org.

FunGoPlay, World for Online and Offline Active Play, Launches

This week marked the launch of FunGoPlay, a virtual world that bridges the gap between offline and online active play. Targeted at kids ages 6-11, the online sports theme park uses connected FunGoPlay Sports Gear, currently a soccer ball and flying disk, to track play periods and reward kids in the online world for their offline activity.
When children visit the virtual world, they can explore a huge theme park filled with sports ranging from the classics to extreme sports. The world also features mini-games, unique characters, and customizable avatars. The physical FunGoPlay toys, at launch a flying disk and soccer ball, use motion detection electronics to measure play periods. Every seven minutes of play generates a code that can translate into in-game bonuses, points, and power-ups.
For more information, visit www.fungoplay.com.

Douglas Company Signs On for Tatty Teddy

Tatty TeddyDouglas Company has signed a licensing agreement with British brand Me to You, by Carte Blanche Greetings, for Tatty Teddy. Douglas Company will introduce Tatty Teddy to the U.S. and Canadian market next year. Tatty Teddy is a tattered gray teddy bear with a blue nose, and has a popular following in the UK. The brand’s social expression product line tells the story of unconditional love.





Nominations Now Open for 8th Annual Wonder Women Awards Dinner

Wonder Women DinnerNominations are now open for the 8th Annual Wonder Women of Toys, Licensing, and Entertainment Awards, celebrating the most “Make it Happen” women in the industry.
This year’s Wonder Women Awards Dinner (February 12) will be held at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers. Nomination categories that will recognize the powerhouse movers and shakers in the toys, licensing, and entertainment industries include designer/inventor, digital and gaming, entertainment, entrepreneur, journalism/social media, licensee, licensing agents, licensor, lifetime achievement, manufacturer, marketing/advertising/branding, public relations/communications, publishing, retailer, rising star, sales, and social responsibility.
Nominations received through November 31 will cost $75 per nomination, per category. Nominations received December 1-31 will cost $100 per nomination, per category. Nominations received January 1-25 will cost $150 per nomination, per category.
Sponsorships and tables for the event are also available. To date, the 2012 list of sponsors include The Toy Book, Brandberry, Imperial Toy, Jakks Pacific, Serenata Group, The Bridge Direct, Toy Industry Association, and Toys “R” Us.
To nominate, for dinner reservations, sponsorships, or to join Women in Toys, visit www.womenintoys.com.

Babar Celebrates 80th Anniversary with New Season, Museum Exhibit, and More

BabarThis year marks Babar’s 80th anniversary. To celebrate the milestone, Nelvana Enterprises and The Clifford Ross Company have announced a number of activities to honor the world-famous elephant.
A second season of the CG-animated TV series, Babar and the Adventures of Badou (26 episodes), is being produced with international delivery beginning this month. Starting on December 8 and running through September 2, Babar will be featured in the Toy Gallery at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. The history of the Babar books will be presented through a selection of 100 original illustration boards from prestigious institutions including the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and The Morgan Library and Museum in New York City. The exhibition will also display items such as plush toys, games, action figures, and wheeled toys from as early as 1930, along with contemporary licensed products. A selection of “classic” Babar items will be available for sale at the Musée’s gift shop.

Macmillan to Produce Children’s Books Based on Rastamouse

RastamouseMacmillan Children’s Books has acquired the publishing rights to Rastamouse from DHX Media. The license gives Macmillan the rights to publish a range of Rastamouse products, including storybooks, sound books, graphic novels, annuals, and e-books.
The first titles will launch in the UK this spring.
Rastamouse is produced by Greg Boardman and Eugenio Perez of Three Stones Media, in association with Dinamo Productions, Little Roots, and DHX Media, which handles worldwide television sales (excluding UK), and worldwide licensing and merchandising. 


Discovery Kids Launches Sharks App

Sharks AppDiscovery Communications, Inc. has expanded its partnership with publishing house Parragon Books to bring an immersive, shark-packed interactive iPad experience to kids.
Discovery Kids Sharks for the iPad offers animated games, live-action video footage, and more information culled from Discovery Channel’s Shark Week programming. The app, targeted to kids ages 5-9, introduces children to the ocean’s most mysterious inhabitants, and is now available for download at the iTunes store.
The app complements the Discovery Kids line of books, 3-D readers, children’s encyclopedias, and activity and sticker sets. The deal was brokered on behalf of Discovery Communications by Big Tent Entertainment, the North American licensing agent for the Discovery Kids brand.

Hasbro Expected to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 10 Percent by 2012

Hasbro, Inc. announced that it is on track to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) a further 10 percent for the time period 2008-2012, building upon earlier U.S. reductions of more than 43 percent from 2000-2007. The company’s decision to report its latest progress through the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) is an extension of its voluntary disclosure efforts through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Climate Leaders Program.
Operational improvements contributing to the company’s GHG emissions reduction include lighting upgrades and LED and occupancy sensors installations; window, door, and roof insulation improvements; energy-efficient HVAC, machinery, and equipment replacement; and conversion from fuel oil to natural gas for heating of production areas at Hasbro’s East Longmeadow, Mass. manufacturing facility.

Ben 10 Announces “Become a Plumber, Save the Universe” Sweepstakes

Help Ben 10Ben 10 has launched the “Ben 10: Become a Plumber, Save the Universe” sweepstakes. Ben 10 fans can go online to HelpBen10.com to participate in a series of missions. Those that complete all 10 missions will receive a limited-edition Plumbers Badge, and after completing each mission, kids will be entered into a sweepstakes to win an all-expenses paid trip for three to London to ride the Ben 10: Ultimate Mission roller coaster at the Drayton Manor Theme Park. The winner will have a bonus chance to win $10,000. To participate in the sweepstakes, fans must enter the mystery code found on participating Ben 10 products by Bandai America and D3Publisher. The promotion ends February 29. For more information, visit HelpBen10.com.

Mind Candy Expands Global Licensing Team

Mind Candy has announced six new hires, bolstering its global licensing team to nine people. Clare Wiggins joins the team from Chapman Entertainment as head of Moshi Live. Wiggins is set to establish and develop live experiences for Moshi users. Mind Candy is looking at all formats, from a live music tour to branded attractions in theme parks. Ex-Disney executive Sarah Hodges joins as retail partnership manager, working with licensees and retailers to head the strategy for Moshi at retail. Long-standing Mind Candy producer, Jack McCall, has made an internal move to head of product development. Matt Shone joins Mind Candy from Firebox as contracts and royalty manager. Rounding out the UK team is Dave Tovey, the new licensing manager.
For the U.S., Caitlin Gutekunst joins as licensing manager of the Americas, and will report to Eric Karp, head of licensing of the Americas, at Mind Candy’s New York office. Brad Schultz, recently announced as head of Moshi TV, will work out of L.A. on a new VOD platform that’s currently in development.

Hasbro Q3 Results: Entertainment and Licensing Revenues Increased 69 Percent

Hasbro, Inc. reported revenue and earnings growth for the third quarter 2011. The company reported 5 percent net revenues growth to $1.38 billion, compared to $1.31 billion in the third quarter of 2010. Third quarter 2011 net revenues include a positive foreign-exchange impact of $37.1 million. The company reported a 10 percent increase in net earnings for the third quarter 2011 that totaled $171 million, or $1.27 per diluted share, compared to $155.2 million, or $1.09 per diluted share, in 2010.
In the third quarter, the entertainment and licensing segment net revenues increased 69 percent to $46.3 million, compared to $27.5 million in 2010. Revenue in this segment reflected growth in licensing revenue associated with the sale of television programming globally, movie- and merchandise-related revenue from Transformers: Dark of the Moon, as well as a one-time payment from Universal Studios.
For consumer products, boys’ and preschool led category growth with an increase of 15 percent and 12 percent, respectively. Games and puzzles decreased 6 percent and girls’ declined to 4 percent.

Mattel Reports Q3 Results

Mattel, Inc. reported its 2011 third quarter financial results. For the quarter, the company reported net income of $300.8 million, or $0.86 per share, compared to last year’s third quarter net income of $283.3 million, or $0.77 per share.
For the quarter, net sales were $2 billion, up 9 percent compared to $1.83 billion last year. On a regional basis, third quarter gross sales increased 6 percent in the U.S. and increased 13 percent in international markets. Operating income for the quarter was $397.6 million, compared to last year’s operating income for the quarter of $358.6 million.
During the third quarter, the company repurchased approximately 6.6 million shares of its common stock at a cost of approximately $173 million.

Jakks Pacific Reports Third Quarter Sales of $332 Million

Jakks Pacific, Inc. has reported results for the company's third quarter and first nine months, which ended September 30.
Net sales for the third quarter were $332.4 million, compared to $348.7 million reported for Q3 2010. Net income for the third quarter was $34.8 million, or $1.10 per diluted share, compared to $40.4 million, or $1.23 per share for the comparable period in 2010. Net sales for the nine months were $536.7 million, compared to $549.3 million in 2010. Net income reported for the nine-month period was $28.5 million, or $0.97 per diluted share, compared to net income of $38.2 million, or $1.22 per diluted share, for the first nine months of 2010.
Jakks Pacific, Inc. expects to report 2011 net sales of $770-$775 million, and earnings per share in the range of $1.32 to $1.35 per diluted share.

Possible IPO for Rovio Entertainment

According to MSN Money, Finland-based Rovio Entertainment, the company behind Angry Birds, might be prepping for an IPO. CMO Peter Vesterbacka says Rovio is probably worth more than $1 billion, but won’t announce an IPO for at least a year. Sales of Angry Birds toys and other products total about one million items per month. It has also been reported that an Angry Birds movie is in the works.

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Editor in Chief:
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