December 16, 2010


Report: Most Toy Buyers Know What and From Where They Will Buy

According to Toy Purchase Decisions, the latest report from The NPD Group, the majority of toy buyers know what toy they will buy and at what store. The report finds that 62 percent of toy purchases are planned and more than three-quarters of buyers (77 percent) who made a planned purchase said they knew specifically where they wanted to shop.
If a specific toy was unavailable at a store, 42 percent of toy buyers would look for that toy at a different store and 9 percent would look online to purchase it. Only 22 percent of buyers said they would look for a different product in the same store.
For those purchases that were not planned (38 percent), 70 percent of the unplanned purchases were impulse buys. The other 30 percent of purchases were made because either the buyer was coerced into the purchase by a child (21 percent), or the buyer remembered they needed to buy a toy when they were in the store (9 percent).
According to the report, planned purchases result in higher price points than unplanned purchases; the average price of planned purchases is 1.5 times higher than unplanned.  Building sets and youth electronics, categories with the highest price points, are two of the categories most likely to be planned.

Survey: More Holiday Shoppers Prefer to Buy in Store Than Online

According to the third wave of StrategyOne’s Annual Holiday Shopping Index, more people, 59 percent, prefer to do their holiday shopping at brick-and-mortar stores and retail outlets, compared to the 41 percent of consumers who prefer to do their holiday shopping online. Women preferred stores over online at a higher percentage (62 percent) than men (56 percent).
The Clicks vs. Bricks holiday survey conducted by StrategyOne asked 1,072 Americans, between November 29-December 1, whether they thought the best deals were found online or in retail stores, where they preferred to shop, and more.
When asked which is the easiest way to do holiday shopping, 74 percent stated online compared to 26 percent who said at stores and retail outlets. The answers were more evenly split when asked about where the best holiday deals are found; 52 percent said online and 48 percent said at stores and retail outlets.
More people (54 percent) thought online shopping was the best way to ensure that they will stick to their holiday budget, and most (87 percent) felt that stores and retail outlets were the best shopping destinations to get into the holiday spirit.
The StrategyOne survey also found that U.S. consumers are disappointed by the amount of bargains in stores this holiday season; 68 percent said there weren’t enough low prices, and 45 percent experienced sticker shock with prices that were generally higher than they expected.

University Games Acquires American Plastic Equipment

Skittle PoolUniversity Games has acquired American Plastic Equipment, Inc. and now holds the rights to more than 100 classic games, including Kaboom, Green Ghost, Kabala, Crazy Clock, Poppin’ Hoppies, and the line of Skittle games featuring Skittle Pool.
University Games plans to re-issue the selected games in broad game and electronic formats over the next three to five years.



Disguise Extends Bakugan Licensing Deal

BakuganDisguise, a division of Jakks Pacific, Inc., has announced it will continue to produce a full range of kids’ Halloween costumes based on Nelvana Enterprises and Spin Master, Ltd’s Bakugan brand. As part of the two-year deal extension with Cartoon Network Enterprises, the company will release Bakugan Gundalian Invaders costumes across all tiers of retail in time for Halloween 2011.






The Canadian Group Releases Justin Bieber Games and Puzzles

Justin Bieber gameThe Canadian Group has become a “belieber” and is introducing board games and puzzles featuring pop star Justin Bieber, as part of a licensing agreement with Bravado. The Canadian Group’s products—available now at mass market, toy, drug, online, and music retailers—include two board games, Always Be Mine and Backstage Pass, as well as 100- and 300-piece standard and poster puzzles. The 100- and 300-piece puzzles are available in three-title assortments and include bonus collectible photo cards. The deal is for North American distribution.


Regal Logistics Opens New Distribution Center at Port of Charleston

Regal Logistics, a third-party logistics company, has bought a new distribution center in Berkeley County, S.C. The company reports that the multi-million dollar investment is expected to generate 30 new full-time jobs, and 50-100 seasonal jobs.
The new distribution center is at 1980 Technology Rd., three miles from I-526 and four miles from Port of Charleston’s main Wando Welch Terminal. The 351,000-square-foot building is now open for business and features a modern tilt-up concrete panel facility.
Regal provides distribution, pick and pack, export/import shipping, consolidation, cross docking, transloading, drop shipping, administrative support, and value added services at its new facility, which is fully equipped with the latest information technologies including WMS, EDI, ASN, RFID, and a real-time inventory and shipment dashboard.  Companies interested in securing warehouse space should call (866) 300-5580. 
Regal will begin hiring for warehousing and administrative positions next year, with an average wage range of $11 to $18 per hour. Qualified candidates should email their resumes to

Toys Top Kids’ Holiday Wish Lists, Says NPD

After asking parents “What is on your child’s wish list for the upcoming holiday season?” for three weeks, The NPD Group has released its results. According to the results, 38 percent of parents with kids ages 0-14 responded with toys. Other answers included video games (15 percent), consumer electronics (9 percent), clothes (7 percent), sporting goods (6 percent), and books (3 percent).
Top toy categories included dolls, vehicles, building sets, and arts and crafts. The top 10 properties (in alphabetical order), across all weeks, were American Girl, Barbie, Dora The Explorer, LeapFrog, Lego, PillowPets, Star Wars, Toy Story 3, Transformers, and ZhuZhu Pets. Top video game hardware systems on kids’ wish lists included the Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS. 
The survey tracked 4,600 mentions of wish-list items. The research comes from NPD’s Kids Industry Data Service (KIDS).

Walmart Launches Toyland in Stores

Walmart has launched a one-stop toy destination, Toyland, in nearly all of its stores nationwide. With the addition of Toyland, Walmart now has the largest square footage dedicated to toys among all retailers. Featured products include Scrabble Flash, Furreal Friends GoGo My Walkin’ Pup, Paper Jamz, Hide-and-Seek Jojo Interactive Bunny, and more. Toyland will be featured in Walmart Garden Centers through December 19.
Walmart has also announced its “Toys and More” event, in time for the last holiday shopping weekend. Beginning at 9 p.m. on December 17 through December 19 (or while supplies last), Walmart stores will offer up to $50 in savings on many toys and electronics.

Nearly One-Fourth of Moms Active on Social Media Buy a Children’s Product Because of a Posted Recommendation

According to a new study commissioned by Child’s Play Communications from The NPD Group, Inc., 79 percent of all moms in the U.S. with children under the age of 18 are active in social media, and nearly one-fourth (23 percent) of those active social media moms said they have purchased a children’s product as a result of a recommendation from a social-networking website or blog. The survey, “Social Media Moms: How Networking Impacts Purchasing Behaviors,” tracked the behaviors and opinions of more than 2,000 active social media moms (defined as moms who currently belong to a social-networking website and/or write, read, or comment on blogs).
On average, active social media moms who purchased a children’s product based on a social media recommendation did so five times in the past year. More than half of those moms (55 percent) purchased because of a personal review blog, and 40 percent purchased because of a Facebook recommendation.
The survey results also show that 43 percent of active social media moms who use social media websites on a daily basis have purchased a children’s product because of a recommendation on these websites.

Pawparazzi Launches Virtual World

Planet PawparazziNoodle Head, Inc. has extended its Pawparazzi brand and has launched Planet Pawparazzi, a virtual world based on the collectible toy line of glamorous, miniature plush dogs and cats.
Planet Pawparazzi ( features interactive games and activities. Visitors arrive at the Planet Pawparazzi airport terminal where they can take a tour bus to Hollywoof; a pink limo to the Hotel Pawparazzi for pet dress up; or catch a flight to New York City to be on a celebrity quiz show. The PawBlog allows pets to share their exciting lives, and kids can sign up to receive Tweets from their favorite characters. Planet Pawparazzi is free to sign-up.
The company is also extending the Pawparazzi brand, as part of an integrated licensing and merchandising program, to include publishing, interactive, apparel, accessories, social expression, home décor, entertainment, and more. Bennett Branding is spearheading the effort.

Import Cargo for 2010 Expected to Increase 17 Percent Over 2009

According to the latest monthly Global Port Tracker report by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates, import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to increase by 9 percent this month compared to December last year. Import cargo volume for the year is expected to increase 17 percent compared to 2009.
The report also states U.S. ports handled 1.34 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU) in October, the latest month for which actual numbers are available. That was unchanged from September, but up 13 percent from October 2009. October was the 11th straight month to show a year-over-year improvement. One TEU is one 20-foot cargo container or its equivalent.
November is forecast to total 1.25 million TEU, a 15-percent increase over last year. December is forecast at 1.18 million TEU, up 9 percent from last year. January 2011 is forecast at 1.16 million TEU, up 8 percent compared to January of this year. February, traditionally the slowest month of the year, is forecast at 1.1 million TEU, up 10 percent from this past February. March is forecast at 1.14 million TEU, up 6 percent, and April is forecast at 1.18 million TEU, up 4 percent.

TIA to Debut “Play Happens” Virtual and Social Board Game

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) is launching a new initiative, “Play Happens,” to correspond with the 2011 American International Toy Fair, to be held February 13-16 in New York City.
“Play Happens,” is a virtual and social board game created by TIA to bridge the online and offline activities of Toy Fair attendees and exhibitors. The initiative will turn the city into a virtual game board during the show.
At 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, February 12, “Play Happens” will kick-off, running until 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, February 16. Players “check-in” using their smartphones at locations throughout the city and earn points on the virtual game board. Different locations will have different point values, and special events, such as the Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards, will earn higher points.
The player who earns the most points during the game will win a New Year’s Eve 2011 prize package, which includes roundtrip airfare for two to New York City; a two-night stay at the newly renovated NY Marriott Marquis Hotel, located in Times Square; two tickets to the Marriott’s New Year’s Eve Gala; and ball-level viewing of the drop at midnight.

Drop-Side Cribs to be Banned in the U.S.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has unanimously voted to ban the manufacture, sale, and resale of drop-side cribs. The Associated Press has reported that all cribs must have fixed sides starting next June, and businesses will be given a year to buy new cribs. The ban comes after the death of 30 infants and toddlers within the past decade. In the past five years, more than 9 million drop-side cribs have been recalled in the U.S.

AutoOcar to Develop First Bluetooth-Controlled Die-Cast Car 

Beanstalk, a global brand-licensing consultancy, has secured an agreement on behalf of Ford Motor Company, with AutoOcar Ltd., a company specializing in Bluetooth solutions, to develop the first Bluetooth-controlled die-cast car.
The Ford premium Bluetooth enabled die-cast car range, which can be controlled remotely via Bluetooth by iPhone and Android phones, will launch at retail early next year across Asia, Europe, and North America. The models will include the Ford Focus RS500, Ford Fiesta, and Ford Mustang GT at 1:43 scale. Software will be downloadable from the AutoOcar portal, Android’s Market, and the Apple iTunes Store.

Animorphs Series to Relaunch in May

AnimorphsStarting this May, Scholastic will re-launch K.A. Applegate’s bestselling Animorphs series. Each re-issued book will be published with a lenticular cover that actually morphs.
The Animorphs series of books, 54 in total, was first published in June 1996. The brand also includes two spin-off series and 10 companion books.
The re-issued paperback editions will include Animorphs #1: The Invasion and Animorphs #2: The Visitor in May, followed by Animorphs #3: The Encounter in July, Animorphs #4: The Message in September, and Animorphs #5: The Predator in December.



AGP Signs Licensing Deals in Italy

American Greetings Properties (AGP) is partnering with Italy’s Cartorama for new Care Bears- and Twisted Whiskers-branded stationery and back-to-school products.
Among the new products will be licensed notebooks and folders, agendas, plush gifts, backpacks, and other stationery and back-to-school items. Additionally, next year Cartorama will launch two separate Care Bears programs for children and teens, plus a line of Care Bears greeting cards.
AGP has also signed a deal with Topps Europe for a new collection of collectible Care Bears trading cards. The collection, to hit more than 30,000 kiosks in Italy in February, will feature a selection of special flocked cards as well as a collector binder filled with activities.

First Thomas & Friends App for iPad Released

Thomas & Friends AppCallaway Digital Arts has partnered with Hit Entertainment to bring Thomas the Tank Engine to life on the iPad. Misty Island Rescue is the first Thomas & Friends app designed specifically for the iPad. The interactive app, based on the feature-length movie of the same name, tells the story with multi-touch animation and narration. The app includes games, sound effects, activities, and more. Misty Island Rescue is available for download from the App Store on iPad or at The app will be released for the iPhone and iPod Touch next year.

Gisele & the Green Team Premieres on AOLKids

Gisele & the Green TeamA Squared Entertainment’s (A2) new animated property, Gisele & the Green Team, has premiered as a part of AOLKids. Created in collaboration with supermodel Gisele Bündchen, Gisele & the Green Team follows a group of teenage girls who lead double lives as supermodels and environmental superheroes. The 26 short-form webisode series teaches viewers about the planet, diversity, self-confidence, and sisterhood.
In addition to the webisodes, the interactive website ( features games, a Girl Power section that includes inner and outer beauty tips, and a Go Green section that highlights daily tips, facts, and news about environmental action and awareness. A2 enlisted the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to help create the Go Green section.
Xing Xing, a digital animation studio in Beijing co-produced the animated webisodes with A2 Entertainment.

Zim Squared Distributes Despicable Me Materials to Students

Zim² (Zim Squared), a youth marketing company that provides free materials to teachers, distributed Universal Despicable Me rewards stickers and posters to 4,000 public and private schools, reaching more than 1 million children in kindergarten through sixth grade. After rave reviews from teachers and parents, the company distributed additional Despicable Me stickers and posters at more than 1,000 Bright Horizons, Boys and Girls Clubs, LA’s Best After School Program, pediatrician offices, and museums.
Created by Jeremy Weiner, Zim² aims to marry fun educational products with exclusive product placement for children’s entertainment brands. The free materials include book covers, bookmarks, growth charts, calendars, and more.

Madame Alexander

Hasbro Promotes Finigan to Chief Legal Officer

Barbara Finigan has been promoted to senior vice president, chief legal officer and secretary of Hasbro, Inc., effective immediately. Finigan will oversee all legal activities for the company on a worldwide basis and replaces Barry Nagler who is retiring from the position. Prior to her promotion, Finigan served as vice president of litigation, employment, and compliance in Hasbro’s legal department. Finigan has worked for Hasbro for 19 years.

NRF Revises Holiday Forecast After Strong Numbers in November

The National Retail Federation (NRF) has revised its holiday forecast, upping it to an increase of 3.3 percent compared to the increase of 2.3 percent the NRF originally expected. The upward revision is due to improvement in a variety of economic indicators, including stock market gains and consumers’ recent income growth, says NRF.      
According to the NRF, November retail industry sales (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) increased 0.8 percent seasonally adjusted over October and 6.8 percent unadjusted over last year.
November retail sales released by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants) increased 0.8 percent seasonally adjusted over October and 9.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
Sales at clothing and clothing accessory stores increased 2.7 percent seasonally adjusted over last month and 9.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores sales increased 2.3 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 15.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

TRU Reports Financial Results for the Third Quarter

Toys “R” Us, Inc. has reported its financial results for the third quarter, which ended October 30. Net sales were $2.7 billion, an increase of 1.9 percent compared to the same period last year. Net loss for the quarter was $93 million compared to $67 million in 2009. The increase in net loss reflects both the decline in Adjusted EBITDA and an increase in interest expense.
The juvenile and core toy categories were the strongest in the quarter, generating net sales growth of 3.1 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively. The entertainment category (which includes video game hardware and software) was the weakest, declining 15 percent.
Toys “R” Us Express pop-up locations increased by 452 during the third quarter. The company now has a total of 656 locations open worldwide for the holiday season versus 91 locations last year.

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