November 10, 2009
Battlestrikers

Mega Brands Settles Lawsuits with Former RoseArt Owners

Mega Brands has settled a legal battle with the Rosens, the former owners of RoseArt Industries. Under the terms of the settlement, Mega Brands will receive approximately $17.2 million, and the Rosens will give up additional claims that totaled approximately $54.8 million. The Rosens will recover approximately $20 million in taxes, which they prepaid.
Mega Brands acquired Rose Art from the Rosen family in 2005. In 2006, the Rosens filed a suit accusing Mega Brands of insider trading, alleging that the company had known that a toddler died after swallowing magnets from a Magnetix playset in 2005. Mega Brands countersued, claiming the Rosens withheld and misrepresented information about serious defects in Magnetix, which the company acquired as part of the 2005 purchase.
Mega Brands recalled the product in March 2006 and in April 2007.  In March 2008, the company made a separate recall of its MagnaMan line due to the same problem.

Retailers to Settle Lead Lawsuit

Target Corp., Toys “R” Us, Inc., and Kmart have agreed to pay $454,000 in penalties to settle a lead claim. The three retailers, along with other manufacturers, were sued in November 2007 after they sold or made toys with excessive amounts of lead, which violated federal toy safety standards.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Target will pay $210,000, Toys “R” Us will pay $175,000, and Kmart will pay $69,000.

Risk, Ouija, Micronauts to Become Movies

RiskHasbro has signed deals with Sony Pictures Entertainment and Universal Pictures to produce screen adaptations of the board games Risk and Ouija, respectively. Brian Goldner, Hasbro’s CEO, and executive Bennett Schneir will produce the Risk movie with Overbrook Entertainment. The deal with Sony Pictures allows Hasbro to produce two large-scale movies.
Additonally, Universal will develop a movie based on the Ouija board game. The movie is being described as a “supernatural action-adventure movie” and will be written by Lost executive producers and writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. It’s expected that certain rules of the game will find its way into the plot, such as never use Ouija alone, never use it in a graveyard, and always say good-bye.
The Ouija movie is part of a six-year deal between Universal Studios and Hasbro to produce at least four movies based on Hasbro’s toys and games. So far, Hasbro’s Stretch Armstrong, Candyland, Monopoly, Battleship, and Ouija are being developed as movies by Universal.
The Wall Street Journal has also reported that a movie based on the Micronauts could be produced with Star Trek director J. J. Abrams. Hasbro recently acquired the Japanese toys.

Dollar General Announces Discounted Toys

Dollar General has announced that almost 200 of its toys will be on sale for $5 or less and 75 toys will be priced at $1 or less. The retailer’s toy selection includes Matchbox and Hot Wheel Die Cast cars for $1 or less, Littlest Pet shop figures for $5 or less, and Toy Story Activity Tables for $25 for less.

E-Tailors Jade’s ToyBox and ZABA to Open Pop-Up Shop

Online retailers Jade’s ToyBox and ZABA are opening a holiday pop-up store in New York City. A portion of the sales from the products––which include eco-friendly toys, clothes, and family activities––will be donated to children’s charities, such as DKMS Americas, a charity who recruits bone marrow donors for leukemia patients.
The store will be opened through Christmas Eve. Holiday activities will be held at the shop, including storytime for charity, craft workshops, Santa portraits, and Santa letter-writing workshops. For more information, visit www.jadestoybox.com or www.zababoutique.com.

JPMA Study: Juvenile Sales Remained Constant in 2008

JPMAA study by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) states that the U.S. market for juvenile products made approximately $2.7 billion in manufacturer sales in 2008. According to the report, more than 75 percent of sales were made through mass merchandisers, discounters, and specialists. Independent juvenile accounted for 16 percent of online dollar sales in 2008. The report also states that in 2008, 56 percent of total gross shipment from juvenile product manufacturers were estimated to be green and eco-friendly, compared to 41 percent in 2007.
JPMA defines the juvenile products market as everything for baby, from pre-natal to preschool, excluding food and apparel. JPMA’s figures represent total sales through major distribution channels, including mass merchandiser, discounters and specialists, independent juvenile, department stores, drug and grocery stores, warehouse clubs, and e-tailers.

ASTRA Announces its 2009 Best Toys for Kids List, Marketplace Date Change

The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) has announced its 2009 Best Toys for Kids List. The selected toys include Natural Skwish by Manhattan Toy for infant play, Chicky Boom by Blue Orange for 3- to 7-year-old games, and Bananagrams by Bananagrams, LLC for 8-years-and-older games. For the complete list and more information, visit www.astrabesttoysforkids.com.
ASTRA has also announced that its 2010 Marketplace & Academy has changed to June 13-16, 2010. The event will still be held in Providence, R.I.

The Ball, Big Wheel, Game Boy Inducted into Toy Hall of Fame

The ball, the Big Wheel tricycle, and the Game Boy were inducted into the 2009 National Toy Hall of Fame by the Strong National Museum of Play. Criteria for the inductees included icon status, longevity, discovery, and innovation. Other nominees for this year’s hall of fame were Cabbage Patch Kids, the Game of Life, Hot Wheels, the paper airplane, playing cards, Rubik’s Cube, sidewalk chalk, the toy tea set, and Transformers.
The ball, Big Wheel, and Game Boy join previous National Toy Hall of Fame inductees such as the bicycle, Play-Doh, the jump rope, and Mr. Potato Head. The Big Wheel was introduced at the 1969 Toy Fair in New York City and the Game Boy, by Nintendo, premiered in 1989.

Cookie Jar Launches Free Children’s TV Website

Jaroo.com, a new website that offers free videos of kids television programming and movies, has launched. The website will offer full-length episodes of current and classic kids television shows and movies. The website will initially offer over 50 TV series with more than 500 episodes available, including Inspector Gadget, Johnny Test, Super Mario Bros., Zelda, The Adventures of Paddington Bear, and an exclusive U.S. premiere of Mona the Vampire. New episodes are expected to be added daily.
Programming found on Jaroo.com will initially come from Cookie Jar Entertainment’s library, but the website plans to add shows from other television distributors and produce original content. 

Walt Disney to Open Shanghai Park

The Walt Disney Company has gained approval from the Chinese government to build a theme park in Shanghai. The theme park will be Disney’s fourth outside the U.S. The park will cost approximately $3.6 billion and occupy 1,700 acres. Disney and its partners are now allowed to move forward in construction plans.
It is reported that the Chinese government will hold a 57 percent stake in the Shanghai park and Disney will own the rest. The park may be completed by 2014.
Disney opened a Hong Kong resort in 2005, but residents of mainland China need a visa to visit. The Hong Kong park is also expected to add more rides such as “Toy Story Land” and “Grizzly Trail.”

TIF Kicks Off its Virtual Do Good Stuff-a-Thon

Toy Industry FoundationThe Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) has kicked off its month-long virtual Do Good Stuff-a-Thon in partnership with the My Stuff Bags Foundation. The event will allow individuals to stuff a duffel bag online by sponsoring items that go in each bag. Items include blankets, clothing, toiletries, and toys for foster children across the country. Individuals can participate during the month of November by visiting the Virtual Do Good Stuff-a-Thon webpage at the Toy Industry Foundation website.
Participants can select items to put in their duffel bag, which mimics an online shopping cart. A TIF-sponsored physical Do Good Stuff-a Thon was held last spring. TIF is expected to donate $400,000 and 50,000 toys to My Stuff Bags over a two-year period.

The Berenstain Bears to Premiere on the Big Screen

HarperCollins Children's BooksWalden Media is acquiring the film rights to children’s book series The Berenstain Bears. 21 Laps, Nelvana, and Walden Media will produce a family comedy, which will feature a mix of live action and CG-animated characters. Shawn Levy’s 21 Laps has produced movies such as Night at the Museum and Cheaper by the Dozen 2.  Nelvana produced the animated The Berenstain Bears television series, which airs on PBS.
The Berenstain Bears, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, are the bestselling character-based children’s books in history, with over 260 million in sales. 

Discovery Bay Games Named as New Ringling Bros. Licensee

Ringling Bros.Discovery Bay Games has been granted the rights to manufacture and market Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey products including board games, non-electronic card games, and jigsaw puzzles. “The greatest show on earth” also expanded Rasta Imposta’s Ringling Bros. licensed-products to include Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey makeup and makeup kits.

Hamleys.com Available After Glitch

Hamleys, a UK toy retailer, temporarily lost its website because its domain name was not renewed. Customers trying to visit Hamleys.com were directed to a holding web page by Network Solutions, the registers for the website, which displayed advertisements for rival toy companies. When clicked, the advertisements took customers to websites such as John Lewis, Amazon, and Argos. According to a company spokesperson, the domain name has now been renewed, and Hamleys.com is accessible again.

Speed Racer Enterprises Joins Macy’s Parade

Speed Racer Enterprises will join the 83rd Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, held in New York City.  The Mach 5 will make its debut at the annual holiday event, held on November 26.

Sam Armstrong Joins PlaSmart

Sam Armstrong, former CEO of Schleich North America, has joined PlaSmart as its new COO. Armstrong will oversee daily operational functions and support sales, as well as marketing initiatives. Armstrong’s 20-year executive experience in the toy industry includes working at Schleich and owning his own Canadian toy company.

Toys “R” Us’ 3Q Store Sales Down Nine Percent

Toys “R” Us, Inc. has announced that fiscal sales for the third quarter at comparable stores fell 9 percent. The company attributes the decline to weak video game-related sales and a shift in the timing of its "Big Book" holiday promotional advertisement guide.
According to the Wall Street Journal, in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said that same-store sales were down 7.2 percent in the first 12 weeks of the quarter, compared to the 6.8 percent decline in second quarter.
Toys “R” Us also announced a private offering of $650 million in senior secured notes due 2017. The proceeds and cash on hand are expected to be used to repay a $600 million senior secured real estate loan and related mezzanine loans. The company had a long-term debt of $5.5 billion as of August 1.

JAKKS to Sell Convertible Senior Notes

JAKKS Pacific, Inc. announced it will raise $85 million through a private placement of convertible senior notes. According to the company, the proceeds from the offering, along with cash on hand, will be used to buy back all or part of its notes, due in 2023.
The notes will be convertible at any time only upon specified events. The notes, due in 2014, will be offered to qualified institutional buyers and the buyer will get a 30-day over-allotment option of up to $15 million notes.

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