November 17, 2009

ASTRA Reveals 2010 Marketplace Theme

ASTRAThe American Specialty Toy Retailing Association has announced that the theme for the 2010 Marketplace & Academy in Providence, R.I. will be “Full Speed Ahead. Start Here.” The event recently changed its dates to June 13-16, 2010.





CPSC to Hold Town Hall Meeting on Toy Safety

Inez Tenenbaum, Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) chairman, will hold a town hall meeting at Toys “R” Us Times Square on November 17 at 9:30 a.m. to answer consumers’ questions and concerns about toy safety hazard and requirements. 
Tenenbaum, who will be joined by Jerry Storch, chairman and CEO of Toys “R” Us, and Alan Korn, executive director and general counsel of Safe Kids USA, will also talk about the steps the agency is taking to ensure that children’s toys are safe.
The event is open to the public and press, although questions will only be taken from audience members. One-on-one press interviews will occur immediately after the meeting.

Mattel Donates $1.85M to Otis College

At the Omni Los Angeles Hotel last Tuesday, Mattel, Inc. donated a $1,850,000 gift to the Otis College of Art and Design, during the school’s annual “Otis Report on the Creative Economy of the Los Angeles Region.” The 2009 report, Unleashing L.A.’s Creative Potential, discusses the state of creativity in business and the workplace. Mattel International President Bryan Stockton, who is also a member of the Otis Board of Trustees, presented the gift to Samuel Hoi, president of the college. The donation will be used to support Otis student scholarships, the art and design curriculum, and efforts to enhance the facilities.

Target Entertainment Group Signs First Licensee for Brit Chicks

Brit ChicksTarget Entertainment Group has signed Prosperity Industrial as its first licensee for Brit Chicks. The Hong Kong-based manufacturer will produce beaded craft items, including beaded jewelry kits, spray pens, spray tattoo pens, spyro art and stencil sets, paper styling kits, and scrapbooks. The licensing deal gives Prosperity Industrial worldwide rights, excluding the UK.
Brit Chicks recently premiered its virtual world, In the virtual world, girls ages 12 and younger can create their own character, chat with friends, play games, and download music, among other things. Target was appointed by Brand Champions, Ltd., the product developer and licensor, to represent the worldwide licensing rights of the brand.

FAO Schwarz Auctions Packages for Toys for Tots

FAO CharityFAO Schwarz is a hosting a special online auction of four exclusive packages, called experiences, for fans of Muppet Whatnot, Barbie, LEGO, and the FAO Schwarz brand. All of the proceeds from the auction will benefit the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. Online visitors to can bid to win one of the four packages through December 10. The highest bidder of each package will receive a keepsake in addition to the prize.
Toy donations will also be accepted through December 6, and cash donations may be made through December 24 at FAO Schwarz Fifth Avenue in New York City and FAO Schwarz in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas. For more information on the packages, visit

Upper Deck Teams with Operation Gratitude for Military Care Packages

The Upper Deck Company has partnered with Operation Gratitude, a non-profit organization that sends care packages to U.S. service members across the world, to launch Upper Deck’s Million Pack March for the Troops campaign. As part of the campaign, Upper Deck and other donators will send sealed packs of Upper Deck trading cards to deserving U.S. military members overseas.
Upper Deck will kick off the campaign by donating 100,000 packs of cards. The goal is to send 1,000,000 packs of cards by Veterans Day 2010. The company will host donation drives at major industry shows, such as the National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore, and will work with Upper Deck Diamond Dealers and hobby shops to establish donation drop-off points.

Chorion Appoints New Licensing Agent

Noddy in ToylandChorion has picked Haven Licensing to be the agent for its brands Olivia, The World of Eric Carle, and Noddy. The agreement is for Australia and New Zealand. Haven is already sub-agent for Beatrix Potter in the region, and Chorion’s Mr. Men and Little Miss.




Indian Court Categorizes Scrabble as Game, Not Puzzle

In a Supreme Court case in India, it was ruled that Scrabble falls in the category of game, not educational toy or puzzle. The court concluded that since Scrabble was not a puzzle it was liable to special taxes. In a puzzle, said the court, the outcome is pre-determined, such as in a crossword or jigsaw puzzle, and there are clues. In Scrabble, there is no fixed outcome and there’s an element of chance and skill, which the court defined, is absent in educational toys. Toys and games manufacturers Pleasantime Products and Funskool sought a tax exemption arguing that Scrabble was a puzzle.

Ubisoft Presents Petz Sharing and Caring Month

Ubisoft is teaming up with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and pop band Honor Society for the launch of new Petz games and Sharing and Caring Month. The new video games for Nintendo DS will allow users to care for their virtual “petz” and send them to other Petz games via wireless interconnectivity. Users can also share their pets on UbiWorld,
Also on, there will be a Petz Cause House featuring the ASPCA. Inside the virtual house, through January 4, visitors can play mini-games and earn points. The total number of points visitors earn will be announced weekly and kids can learn how those points could potentially help animals. Ubisoft will also donate funds to the ASPCA. Honor Society will contribute to the partnership by spreading awareness to its fans on caring and nurturing for animals.

Chorion Appoints New Licensing Director

Chorion has appointed Rachel Bader as licensing director, packaged good and promotions. Chorion’s portfolio of brands includes Olivia, Mr. Men and Little Miss, Noddy, Paddington Bear, and The World of Eric Carle.
Most recently, Bader worked as director, licensing and consumer promotions at Scholastic Media. Prior to that, she founder and co-owned the stationery company Kickball Designs and served as senior manager/event producer at Kirshenbaum Bond and Partners.

I-Star Picks Snuggie Toys Founders for VP Positions

I-Star Entertainment, LLC has appointed Snuggie Toys’ founders and executives, Alex and Stuart Kessler, as executive vice president and vice president of sales, respectively. As part of the appointment, I-Star now controls some of Snuggie Toys’ products including its NFL and NFL Rush Zone licensed products, Colorforms, Max & Ruby products, Franklin Record and Play lunchbags and plush, Wittle Bittles plush characters, Pet Rocks items, Lunch N Fun products, Pro-Tabletop Sports (PTS) products, and Casper products.
The company has also appointed Robert Leff as senior vice president for sales and marketing. Leff has more than 40 years of experience in the toy industry, serving in positions such as vice president of Coleco Toys, executive vice president of Toybiz, and president of Toy Island.

Mega Brands Announces 3Q Results

Mega Brands has announced its third quarter results. The company reported net earnings of $72 million, or $1.22 diluted earnings per share, compared to a net loss of $122.1 million, or $3.34 diluted loss per share, in the same quarter of 2008. Net sales in the quarter decreased to $118 million compared to $160.9 million in the third quarter of 2008.
Net sales of toys declined to $86.2 million compared to $107.9 million in the same quarter of 2008. The company attributes the decrease to lower shipments in the boys 5-plus and magnetic construction categories. Net sales of stationery and activities declined to $31.7 million compared to $53 million in the comparable quarter of 2008.
Earlier this week, Mega Brands announced a settlement in a lawsuit with Lawrence, Jeffrey, and Sidney Rosen, former owners of Rose Art. The settlement resulted in a gain of $72 million or $1.22 diluted earnings per share.

Disney Announces 4Q Results, Executive Switch

The Walt Disney Co. has announced its financial results for the fourth quarter. Disney reported net income of $895 million, or 47 cents per share, a gain of 18 percent, compared with $760 million, or 40 cents per share, in the same period in 2008. Revenue rose to almost $9.9 billion, up 4 percent from $9.4 billion in the same period last year.
Disney Consumer Products reported a 28 percent decrease in operating income to $151 million, compared to $211 million a year ago. Revenue for the quarter dropped 12 percent to $646 million, compared to $735 million last year. Disney Interactive Media Group, which includes Club Penguin, reported a loss of $114 million for the quarter, compared to the loss of $120 million in 2008. Revenue for the group increased 8 percent this quarter to $157 million, compared to the fourth quarter in 2008, which reported revenue of $145 million.
Walt Disney Pictures reported a $13-million loss for the fourth quarter, compared with operating income of $98 million in 2008. Operating income for theme parks for the quarter fell 17 percent to $344 million, compared to $412 million last year.
The company also announced that CFO Tom Staggs will trade position with Parks and Resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo. CEO Robert Iger said the trade will give the executives broader experience.

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