December 08, 2011


Global Toy Fair Conference to Run Parallel with Toy Fair Nuremberg

Global Toy FairSpielwarenmesse eG announced that the 2012 Global Toy Fair Conference, running parallel to International Toy Fair in Nuremberg, will take place on February 6. At the event, experts will speak on key themes, including “Tomorrow’s Toy Industry—Opportunities and Challenges.” Speakers will include trend researchers Professor Peter Wippermann and Reyne Rice. Those with a valid entrance ticket for the International Toy Fair will be able to attend the Global Toy Conference. For more information, and to see the new homepage, visit





Report: More Than Half of Children Own a Toy Based on a Virtual World

Dubit Research has released a new study focused on the popularity of toys based on online worlds. The study looked at Disney’s Club Penguin, Mind Candy’s Moshi Monsters, Build-a-BearVille, Poptropica, and Webkinz. In the survey of 500 kids in the UK, 55 percent of children owned a toy from at least one of these games. Disney’s Club Penguin took the top spot with 32 percent of children owning a Club Penguin-branded toy. Moshi Monsters was a close second with 24 percent, followed by Build-A-Bearville (16 percent), Webkinz (5 percent), and Poptropica (2 percent). Most of the surveyed children, 73 percent, had played at least one of these online games, with half having played Club Penguin and 47 percent stating that they have played Moshi Monsters.

Rubie’s to Premiere The Annoying Orange Costumes for Halloween 2012

Annoying OrangeThe Collective has partnered with Rubie’s Costume Co. for a line of costumes and accessories inspired by The Annoying Orange. The line will debut at retail next Halloween. The deal was brokered on behalf of The Collective by The Joester Loria Group (TJLG), the licensing agent for The Annoying Orange brand. 
The collection of Annoying Orange Kitchen Crew costumes and accessories for children and adults, developed by Forum Novelties, a division of Rubie’s, will feature favorite characters from the web series, including Orange, Pear, and Midget Apple. Standard costumes will include sublimation or silkscreen on laminated foam, and deluxe versions will feature a moving mouth to resemble the characters from the web series. 


SMC Entertainment Signs Deal for The Jungle Book

The Jungle BookSMC Entertainment (SMC), the recently launched entertainment and brand management division of Sun-Mate Corporation, will attend American International Toy Fair in February with its latest property, The Jungle Book. SMC Entertainment acquired all North American television, home entertainment, licensing, and merchandising rights, as well as all promotional rights to the CGI-animated Jungle Book television series and the one-hour feature from DQ Entertainment International. In addition, the company has also acquired the master toy rights to the property for Australia and New Zealand, and licensing and merchandising rights for South Africa.
The Jungle Book is the first CGI animated series based on the classic stories to be produced in almost 25 years. Global home entertainment partners include NBC Universal for the UK, France, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan; Sony Pictures Entertainment; and other partners. In Germany, rights for figurines, puzzles, and board games are licensed to Universal Trends GmbH; in the UK, Mookie holds toy rights; and in Israel, Spark Toys has the rights for toys and games.

Baby Genius Maker Changes Name and Ticker

The former Pacific Entertainment Corporation, developer and marketer of the Baby Genius line of music and education-based product and characters, has changed its name to Genius Brands International, Inc. The company said the move is to support its growth strategy, which is driven by brand extension. The company’s ticker has been changed to “GNUS” from “PENT” because of the name change.

Round 2 Acquires Model Kit Brands from Tomy International

Round 2, LLC has acquired all rights to model kit brands AMT, MPC, and Polar Lights from Tomy International, Inc. (formerly RC2 Corporation). Round 2 acquired the brands from Tomy International after manufacturing branded model kits under a licensing agreement first signed in 2008. The acquisition gives Round 2 tooling and materials that date back to the 1950s. The tooling and artwork also represent an opportunity to bring back classic model kits in original-styled packaging.

Techno Source Named New Licensee for Barney

BarneyHit Entertainment has appointed Techno Source, a division of LF Products, as a toy licensee for Barney. Under the terms of the deal, the Barney toy range from Techno Source will include plush, play sets, and figurines, launching this spring in the U.S. and Canada.








Report: Sanrio in Final Talks for Mr Men and Little Miss

As reported in Total Licensing, Sanrio will soon confirm the acquisition of the Mr Men and Little Miss brands. Sanrio, after completing the acquisition of the properties, will launch a UK-based subsidiary, aiming to further its international business. Chorion sold the rights to The World of Beatrix Potter and The Octonauts to Silvergate Media, a new company backed by former Chorion chairman Lord Alli. Other Chorion properties, including Noddy and Paddington Bear, are still undergoing the sales process.

Learning Express to Launch Exclusive Curious George Products

Curious GeorgeLearning Express Toys will launch two exclusive Curious George products as the result of a partnership with Universal Partnerships & Licensing. The Curious George Sock Monkey (ages birth+) and The My First Sticky Mosaics Curious George Kit (ages 3+) will be available at Learning Express locations around the country.






Chuggington Feature Shop at Toys “R” Us Times Square

ChuggingtonLudorum, creators of the preschool television series Chuggington, recently unveiled a new feature shop at Toys “R” Us Times Square in New York City. The shop includes a large, 3-D display topper featuring Wilson, one of the show’s three colorful trainees. Chuggington railway sets, books, games, DVDs, and more are available at the dedicated shop. Chuggington airs daily on Disney Channel’s Disney Junior programming block.




Live Dinosaur Train Events to Come Next Summer

The Jim Henson Company has signed a licensing agreement with Rail Events, Inc. for live events based on the PBS Kids series Dinosaur Train. Fans will have the opportunity to meet series character Buddy at the events, which kick off next summer at tourist railroads and railroad museums across the U.S. and Canada
“Children will get a very personal first-hand experience to interact with Buddy, discover new adventures aboard the train, and explore natural history and paleontology in themed play areas,” said Melissa Segal, senior vice president of global consumer products at The Jim Henson Company, in a press release.

ASTRA Announces Keynote Speakers for 2012 Marketplace & Academy

Consumer anthropologists Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender, as well as “employee morale maven” Barbara Glanz, have been named the headlining speakers for the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association’s (ASTRA) 2012 Marketplace & Academy. The event will take place June 10-13 in Baltimore.
Kizer and Bender will open the event as keynote speakers. The two are nationally recognized   as experts in generational diversity, marketing and promotions, and everything retail. As part of market research, they posed as every kind of customer in stores, and at ASTRA they will share their results to help independent retailers better serve their customers.
Glanz works with retailers who want to improve morale, retention, and service in their stores.
For more information on the speakers and the trade show, visit

Nominations Now Open for 8th Annual Wonder Women Awards Dinner

Women in ToysNominations 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 a brand-new location, 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 December 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 or sponsorships, or to join Women in Toys, visit

Former Executive Re-Joins Playmates Toys

Jeff Trojan has re-joined Playmates Toys, Inc. as vice president, boys’ brands. In this position, Trojan will be charged with creating integrated marketing programs in support of a new line of action figures, play sets, and accessories based on Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles CG-animated TV series launching next fall on Nick and NickToons.
Prior to re-joining Playmates Toys, Trojan served as vice president of business development at DC Comics where he was responsible for the day-to-day management and marketplace expansion of DC Comics’ DC Direct collectibles business. Previous to that, Trojan was vice president of marketing at Play Along. During his previous tenure with Playmates Toys, Trojan served as vice president of boys’ toys.

SMC Entertainment Names SVP of Licensing

SMC Entertainment, a division of Sun-Mate Corporation, has named Lisa Streff as senior vice president of licensing. In this newly created position, Streff will develop new partnerships for The Jungle Book. SMC recently announced it signed a deal for the rights to The Jungle Book, a CGI-animated television series targeted to children ages 3 to 8. Streff is currently developing a comprehensive consumer products campaign across all key categories for the brand.
Streff is responsible for overseeing all consumer products initiatives for SMC Entertainment’s brands in North America, including licensing, merchandising, marketing, and partnership initiatives. Prior to joining SMC, Streff spent more than 17 years in the consumer products industry, serving in executive and management level positions at John Wayne Enterprises, Cookie Jar Entertainment, and NBC/Universal.

HKTDC: Exports to China and Hong Kong to Increase Next Year

At a seminar on December 2, Fred Lam, executive director of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), told audience members that American exports to mainland China and Hong Kong will likely increase significantly next year. The seminar at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York City detailed the benefits of using Hong Kong as a platform for financial services in Asia and was presented by HKTDC.
Lam said the expected rise would be helped by the Pacific Bridge Initiative (PBI), which is a trade program between the U.S. and Hong Kong. Since the initiative was implemented last November, PBI has helped triple the number of new-to-market U.S. firms. American firms are also increasingly positioning their headquarters in Hong Kong; HKTDC reports there are currently 1,330 U.S. companies headquartered in Hong Kong, up 5 percent from last year.

Target Reports November Sales Figures

Target Corporation has reported that its net retail sales for the four weeks, which ended November 26, were $6.2 billion, an increase of 3 percent from $6 billion for the four weeks last year, which ended November 27. On this same basis, November comparable-store sales increased 1.8 percent.
“November sales were near the low end of our expectations for the month as we compared against very strong performance last year,” said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president, and CEO of Target Corporation, in a press release. “As we kicked off the holiday season following Thanksgiving, sales were strongest on Black Friday as guests responded to our midnight opening and compelling prices. Our view of December remains the same—we expect a competitive and promotional environment as consumers continue to focus on value.”

Coolabi’s Management Buyout Concludes

Coolabi, a children’s and family entertainment producer and rights management company, has announced that its £4.95 million management buyout, funded by Edge Performance VCT, has been declared unconditional in all respects. As part of the terms of the deal, Edge has partnered with Coolabi’s CEO, Jeremy Banks, and the rest of the Coolabi management team to effect the buyout and take the company private. The buyout was made through North Promotions plc, a company funded by Edge.
The deal will give Coolabi access to significant additional funds, which will allow the company to invest in support of its current portfolio of brands as well as develop new properties and make strategic acquisitions. An initial £1 million will be made immediately available.
Under the terms of the agreement, Coolabi will de-list from London’s Alternative Investment market (AIM). The board will include Banks (CEO), Gordon Power (chairman), Tim Ricketts (finance director), and William Harris (non-executive director). Coolabi’s management team will remain in place.

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