December 14, 2009

Federal Court Stays Bratz Ruling

A federal appeals court in Pasadena has suspended a ruling that ordered MGA Entertainment to stop selling Bratz products this year, recall remaining toys, and give ownership of the brand to Mattel. The U.S. 9th Circuit appellate panel stayed the order until it can rule on MGA’s appeal to the $100 million lawsuit it lost to Mattel last year. The suit by Mattel claimed copyright infringement and breach of contract against MGA, and a U.S. court ruled in favor, agreeing that doll’s designer had been working for Mattel when he designed the doll, which gave Mattel the design rights. MGA was ordered to transfer its ownership of the Bratz line to Mattel by 2010. According to the BBC, Bratz dolls are estimated to make MGA a profit of $500 million a year.

Sign of Growth For Most Global Toy Markets

According to The NPD Group, toy sales from January to October in 11 global toy markets showed signed of growth. Outside of the U.S. and UK, which experienced moderate revenue declines, and Spain, which saw flat sales, the countries that were analyzed—Germany, Poland, France, Australia, Italy, Austria, Belgium, and Portugal—experienced revenue growth when compared to the same period last year.
Action figures, accessories & role play, arts & crafts, and building sets were the categories that showed growth in almost every country measured. Youth electronics and plush had the highest declines. Recently, The NPD Group reported that U.S. toy industry sales fell 3 percent during the 12 months ending in August compared to last year. Despite the drop, said the group, the toy industry’s gain for the 12-month period outperformed consumer product categories including apparel, consumer technology, and video games.

Hot Wheels Latest Licensed Product for Neat-Oh!

Neat-Oh! International, LLC has been named the latest licensee for Hot Wheels. The licensed Hot Wheels ZipBin products will join Neat-Oh!’s other 40 products in its 2010 catalog including LEGO ZipBin products, ZipBin Minis, and ZipBin Shapes. The Hot Wheels ZipBin, like other ZipBin products, transforms from play mat to carry case so kids can store their toys. The new Hot Wheels ZipBin product line will debut at Neat-Oh!’s Hong Kong Toy Showroom and at New York Toy Fair in February.

Sesame Street Launches E-Books

Sesame Street E-bookSesame Workshop has launched its first eBook collection in which Impelsys will be the exclusive licensee/seller of the television show’s ebook content at A selection of Sesame Street eBooks is now available to read online for free, with new titles to be added in January. The online reads will be available in three formats: eBooks, audio eBooks, and interactive eBooks in which readers can look and listen to stories, and engage in activities.
In spring 2010, Sesame Workshop and Impelsys will offer individual titles readers can purchase or an annual subscription that will allow readers to access more than 100 books. Visitors to the website will also be able to download a rotating selection of five free eBooks, one being featured on the website each week.

It’s a Wonderful Life Merchandise Program to Launch Holiday 2010

It's a Wonderful LifeParamount Licensing and Coca-Cola have teamed up to develop a co-branded merchandise program based on It’s a Wonderful Life. The program will launch for holiday 2010 and run through 2011, the 125th anniversary of Coca-Cola and the 65th anniversary of the film. Merchandise categories will include home décor, apparel and accessories, tabletop, seasonal, drinkware, games, social expressions, confectionary products, collectibles, and publishing.




Big Tent Announces New Domo Licensees

DomoBig Tent Entertainment has signed new licenses for its Domo property.  Nancy Sales Company will create Domo plush toys in various sizes, as well as soft sculpted key chains, beanbag toys, vinyl inflates, rubber basketballs, and novelty play balls.  The products will be available at amusements parks, carnivals, arcades, and coin-operated cranes in spring 2010. A&A Global has signed a deal to create stickers, temporary tattoos, and 2-D and 3-D novelties, which will be available in vending machines nationwide in fall 2010. Bell Sports will develop scooters, skateboard decks, helmets, and protective gear featuring Domo that will be in sporting goods and mass market stores in fall 2010.   

Evenflo Recalls Activity Learning Centers

Evenflo has recalled approximately 66,000 of its ExerSaucer 1-2-3 Tea for Me activity learning centers. The product was recalled because the fake candle on top of the cake toy can detach and pose a choking risk, although the activity center can still be used once the cake toy is removed. The products were sold at stores nationwide between December 2007 and March 2009. An additional 13,660 activity centers were recalled in Canada. For more information visit or

Ming the Minibus to Premiere in Hong Kong

A new cartoon series, Ming the Minibus, will premiere on the ATV Network in Hong Kong, Southern China, and Macau in January. The series will run 52 different episodes during the year. Ming the Minibus follows the vehicle and his two student passengers as they travel to a different city each week. Viewers learn facts about each destination through the stories, songs, and computer graphics.
In conjunction with the television launch, the producer of the cartoon, Good Link International, Ltd., will develop and launch a toy line, which will feature plush, toy vehicles, back packs, travel accessories, and room décor.

New StinkyKids Plush to Premiere in 2010

StinkyKidsStinkyKids, an Atlanta-based company, has announced that the last four characters of the StinkyKids brand will premiere in Nordstrom specialty stores next year. Six of the 10 StinkyKids character plush dolls premiered this holiday season in all 110 Nordstrom shops. Each plush doll comes with a matching trading card and collectible bookmark. 
The StinkyKids are a group of 10 diverse kids who learn to make right choices through the mistakes they make. The “little stinKers” live by the motto “Always Be A Leader Of Good,” and living by that motto, StinkyKids donates 10 percent of its profits to the charity Books, Bears, and Bonnets, Inc.


Penguin United Unveils New Wii Controller

Penguin United has premiered a new controller, the 4 in 1 Control Brothers, that allows gamers to use their Wii remote as a traditional controller for Super Mario. Instead of holding the Wii remote as a vertical wand, Penguin’s controller allows the remote to be gripped in a horizontal position using both hands. The 4 in 1 Controller Brothers is suitable for titles such as Super Mario Brothers and Super Smash Bros. Brawl

ASTRA Reveals 2010 Marketplace & Academy Speakers

ASTRAThe American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) has announced that specialty retail consultants Rick Segel and Doug Fleener will headline ASTRA’s 2010 Marketplace & Academy. Fleener will open the event with a keynote address titled “Raise the Bar! How to Create and Profit with a High Performance Retail Team.” Segel will close ASTRA’s 2010 event with a presentation titled  “Marketing Optimization: The Secrets of Getting Better Results on a Shoestring Budget.”
Fleener is the former director of retail for Bose Corporation and a veteran retailer with more than 25 years of hands-on retail experience. He has owned and operated his own specialty stores, and authored numerous books and articles, including The Profitable Retailer.
Segel also has 25 years of experience in retail. Segel is the author of nine books, including Retail Business Kit for Dummies, Laugh & Get Rich, and The Essential Online Solution: A Five Step Formula for Small Business Success.
ASTRA’s 2010 Marketplace & Academy will take place June 13-16, 2010 in Providence, R.I.

Toys “R” Us Reports Third Quarter 2009 Results

Toys “R” Us, Inc. has reported its fiscal results for the third quarter beginning August 2 and ending October 31, 2009. Net results improved by $37 million to a loss of $67 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2009, compared to a loss of $104 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2008. Operating loss improved to $9 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2009, compared to a loss of $54 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2008.  The company attributes the improved third quarter performance to reduced operating expenses and an increased gross margin rate.
Net sales during the quarter were $2.7 billion, compared to $2.8 billion for the same quarter in 2008. The entertainment product category, which includes video game hardware and software, accounted for the majority of the total sales decline, while total sales in the traditional toy categories of learning, core, and seasonal were up slightly.
Toys “R” Us ended the third quarter of fiscal 2009 with cash and unused credit lines of approximately $1.5 billion, including approximately $193 million that was available to its Japan subsidiary. Long-term debt was lowered by $220 million to $5.9 billion at the end of the third quarter of fiscal 2009 compared to the third quarter of fiscal 2008. Total inventory at the end of the third quarter was down $91 million or 2.8 percent, compared to the same period in 2008.

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