ABC Kids Expo’s 2013 Show Moves Back to Vegas
ABC Kids Expo will be moving its 2013 show back to Las Vegas after feedback from industry participants, announced All Baby & Child, Inc. (ABC), the parent company and organizer of the trade show. The location for the upcoming 10th annual Expo, to be held October 14-17, 2012, will remain at the Kentucky Exposition Center. Most of the exhibit space for the 2012 show (75 percent) has already been sold.
ABC says it is working closely with Louisville officials and suppliers to address concerns for the 2012 show. Concerns being discussed include improved healthy food options and reduction in wait times, reconstruction of the expo center’s WiFi system, and more restaurant options in the city on Sunday.
For more information, or to register for the 2012 show, visit www.theabcshow.com.
Revisions Made to Key Parts of ASTM F963
The ASTM International Committee F15 on Consumer Products has approved revisions to ASTM F963 (Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety). Changes made to the standard include revisions to the section on heavy metals, the introduction of compositing procedures, and new safety requirements and technical guidance for bath toy projections, acoustics, and other potential safety hazards in toys.
ASTM F963, under the jurisdiction of Subcommittee F15.22 on Toy Safety, includes guidelines and test methods to prevent injuries from choking, sharp edges, and other potential hazards. The standard is reviewed and updated on a regular basis by the subcommittee, which includes technical experts from academia, consumer groups, industry, and government.
To view the specific revisions, click here.
December Week-Over-Week Sales Increase by Double Digits, Says ShopperTrak
Although December holiday sales remain flat year-over-year, there are double-digit increases in week-over-week sales, according to ShopperTrak; the week ending in December 10 saw a 10.6 percent increase in retail sales from the previous week. As for year-over-year, retail sales decreased 1.9 percent versus the same week last year. The loss followed a 0.2 percent year-over-year increase during the week ending December 3.
According to ShopperTrak, its holiday forecast released earlier this year, predicting a 3 percent year-over-year sales increase for November-December, was conservative. U.S. Commerce Department's GAFO estimates for November show sales rose 4.1 percent year-over-year. Weekend sales for December 10-11 were up, showing year-over-year gains as consumers spend an estimated $14.76 billion.
NRF Revises Holiday Forecast, Expects Higher Sales Growth
The National Retail Federation (NRF) has revised its holiday forecast, expecting holiday sales to rise 3.8 percent this year to a record $469.1 billion. NRF’s initial forecast, which was announced October 6, predicted a sales growth of 2.8 percent. The 3.8 percent sales increase is above the 10-year average sales increase (2.6 percent), but well below last year’s 5.2 percent increase. Last week, NRF announced that retail industry sales for November rose 4.5 percent year-over-year. Additionally, NRF’s most recent holiday survey found that the average American has completed far less of his or her holiday shopping, an indication that shoppers will be engage in last-minute purchasing.
Toys “R” Us Stores to Remain Open for 100+ Hours
For the second year, most of Toys “R” Us stores nationwide will remain open for 112 consecutive hours to help consumers with last-minute holiday shopping. The marathon began on Tuesday at 6 a.m.; Toys “R” Us stores will remain open until 10 p.m. Christmas Eve. The company’s international flagship store, Toys “R” Us Times Square, kicked off its consecutive open hours a few days earlier on Friday, December 16. In total, TRU Times Square will offer a record-breaking 208 consecutive hours of shopping. The company also announced “Family and Friends Pick Up,” which allows customers to designate an alternate person to pick up their order at the store of their choice.
Lego Gets Exclusive Rights for LOTR, Hobbit Construction Sets
Warner Bros. Consumer Products and The Lego Group announced a partnership that awards Lego the exclusive rights to develop build-and-play construction sets based on The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the two films based on The Hobbit. The multiyear licensing agreement grants access to the library of characters, settings, and stories for the Lord of the Rings property, as well as upcoming films The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again. Lego’s Lord of the Rings construction sets are slated to roll out in June in the U.S., while Lego’s Hobbit sets will premiere later next year. The first Hobbit film, An Unexpected Journey, will premiere December 14, 2012. There and Back Again will debut in 2013.
TCG Signs Deal with Build-A-Bear for Puzzles and Activities
TCG has signed a licensing agreement with Build-A-Bear Workshop to produce and distribute kids’ puzzles and activities bearing the likenesses of Build-A-Bear Workshop’s furry friends. Under terms of the agreement, TCG will manufacture, market, and distribute kids’ puzzles and Magnetic Creations for North American distribution, with a slated nationwide retail launch of fall 2012. A Squared Entertainment was responsible for bringing the parties together, and will manage the creation of the line on behalf of Build-A-Bear Workshop.
Techno Source to Bring Mexican Board Game to U.S.
Techno Source, a division of LF Products, and FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME), the commercial and brand extension arm of FremantleMedia, have signed a new licensing agreement. As part of the deal, Techno Source will bring Loteria, Mexico’s most popular family board game, to the U.S. market. Sold for more than 200 years, Loteria is a classic bingo-style game of chance that uses colorful, iconic images of Mexican culture on playing cards instead of numbers on ping-pong balls. The game will be available for purchase at mass and specialty retailers in the spring.
Aurora World Nabs License for Air Penguin App
Aurora World, Inc. has been named the newest plush license for Air Penguin, an adventure game by Gamevil, Inc. that hit No. 1 this year. Using sea turtles, starfish, and whale blowholes to avoid obstacles like slippery ice, sharks, and swordfish, players help a penguin jump, fly, and dodge through 125 levels. Aurora will release three plush Air Penguins that will hit shelves next month. Air Penguin joins Aurora’s list of plush licenses, including Lamb Chop, Hush Puppies, Raggedy Ann & Andy, and Garfield.
Beanstalk Names Licensing Partnerships for Outfit7’s Talking Friends Apps
Outfit7, Inc., maker of the Talking Friends collection of apps, jointly announced with Beanstalk key licensing partnerships for the Talking Friends characters, which
include Talking Tom Cat, Talking Ben the Dog, and Talking Gina the Giraffe. The global licensing program will expand the lineup of products across multiple product categories, including apparel and accessories, footwear, sleepwear, home décor, collectibles, and plush toys. Licensees include: Dragon-I for animated plush toys that can record sounds and play back at different speeds or pitches (worldwide); Sound N Light for interactive plush with motion and sound technology (worldwide); JAT Creative for gift and novelty items (North America); and Fine Makers for plush toys, gifts, novelty items, and collectibles (UK). Additional products will debut next year, including back-to-school, social expression, and gift and novelty products, debuting at mass, online, and specialty retailers.
International Playthings to Distribute Early Learning Centre Products
International Playthings, LLC (IPL) has partnered with Early Learning Centre (ELC) to distribute ELC’s line of infant and preschool products to the U.S. and Canada.
“We are delighted to continue our relationship with IPL on an exclusive basis,” says Anders Kloster, director of wholesale for Mothercare. “We believe this partnership will be beneficial to both parties, and fits well with the Early Learning Centre brand and our future plans for development in the U.S. and Canada.” International Playthings will debut 22 products at the American International Toy Fair in New York City.
CelebriDucks to Launch First “Hatched in the USA” Line in February
CelebriDucks, the original creator of celebrity rubber ducks, is bringing rubber ducks back to the U.S. as they plan to unveil their first “Hatched in the USA” ducks in America this February. The CelebriDucks line includes The Wizard of Oz, Elvis Presley, Alice in Wonderland, and KISS, in addition to ducks produced for the NBA, Major League Baseball (MLB), the NHL, Collegiate Mascots, NASCAR, and more. For more information, visit www.CelebriDucks.com.
Golden Bear Is Master Toy Licensee for Chloe’s Closet
Moonscoop has appointed Golden Bear as master toy licensee for Chloe’s Closet. Golden Bear will launch products including collectible figurines, character play sets and accessories, small soft toys, talking soft toys, and plush sets, during the second half of 2012 in the UK and Ireland. Further European and worldwide territories are planned. Turner Enterprises have been appointed the UK licensing and merchandising agent.
Random House Signs Deal for Pocoyo Books
Random House Children’s Books has signed a deal with Zinkia Entertainment to develop a broad range of Pocoyo books for the U.S. and Canadian markets. Under the terms of the multiyear agreement, Random House will publish Pocoyo storybooks, leveled reader books, coloring and activity books, board/novelty books, and e-books (based on the published books in the referenced formats), in English. The first three books, to be published and available at retail this summer, include a Pocoyo storybook, coloring book, and board/novelty book. Pocoyo airs in the U.S. on Nick Jr.
Skylanders Announces the Beta Launch of its Virtual World
Activision Publishing, Inc. has launched Skylanders Spyro’s Universe, in beta, which will add another dimension to Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure. The virtual world allows kids to engage with Skylanders characters and fellow players.
Found online at www.universe.skylanders.com, the Universe is a fantasy realm of floating islands designed to encourage world-building, exploration, and friendly competition. Players who own the game or figures can input each figure’s code, or use the Portal of Power to bring them to life inside the universe. Those who don’t own a figure can join the virtual world by creating a free online account, and then Eon, the helpful Skylanders guide, will provide them with a digital starter kit. For more information, visit www.universe.skylanders.com.
LeapFrog and Kidz Bop Partner to Deliver Digital Content
LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. and Kidz Bop have partnered to distribute downloadable content through LeapFrog’s new digital App Center. As part of this agreement, LeapFrog will be the exclusive brand in the electronic learning aisle to feature digital content from Kidz Bop. The LeapFrog App Center will provide musical content from Kidz Bop’s most recent releases, Kidz Bop 20 and Kidz Bop Greatest Hits, available for download this holiday season. Additional Kidz Bop content will roll out next year.
K’nex Partners for Special Exhibit at Science Museum
The Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. has opened “K’nex: Building Thrill Rides,” a special exhibit that enables young visitors to explore the science, math, and technology behind amusement park thrill rides. K’nex Brands is displaying models made solely from K’nex rods and connectors, including a rollercoaster measuring more than 10 feet tall, a six-foot Ferris wheel, and a variety of swing rides from three to 10 feet. In addition to the exhibit, the museum will feature activities and K’nex and Kid K’nex for kids ages 6 and up and ages 3-5, respectively. The exhibit will run at this location until May 6. For more information, visit www.mods.org and www.knexexhibits.com.
Nominations Now Open for 8th Annual Wonder Women Awards Dinner
Nominations 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 www.womenintoys.com.
Newark Children Receive Hundreds of Toys in Holiday Giveaway
On December 17, children in need from the West Ward neighborhood of Newark, N.J. received hundreds of toys from the Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) as part of a special holiday giveaway hosted by Franciscan Charities. In attendance were representatives from TIF and Franciscan Charities, as well as elves (local volunteers) and a special appearance by Santa. More than 700 toys were distributed to more than 600 children. The gifts were among the 500,000 toys donated throughout the year by toy industry manufacturers to The Toy Bank. Gifts were also donated via TIF’s annual Holiday Toy Drive, which is held each year from November 1 to December 31. To date, more than 175,000 toys, valued at more than $2.5 million, have been donated for this year’s Holiday Toy Drive. Toys for the Newark event were donated by Kid O Products; Pretty Ugly, LLC; Briarpatch, Inc.; and New Adventures, LLC.
Toy Collector Announces Charitable Auction
Toy Collector, which recently launched its new trading platform, has teamed up with the brand’s godfather, Marcel Van Cleemput, for a charity auction. Corgi Toys collectors can bid on one of four seats for a dinner with Van Cleemput, and all proceeds will go to the Helen & Douglas House, which provides hospice care to children and young adults with life-threatening conditions. Interested collectors can email their bid amount to firstname.lastname@example.org. Bidding will end on January 31. The dinner will take place on March 10 in Northhampton, England.
TIA Teams Up with PunchTab for “Play Happens” Toy Fair Game
Play Happens, the official game for registered attendees of the American International Toy Fair (February 12-15), will be more interactive and engaging, due to a new partnership between the Toy Industry Association (TIA) and PunchTab, an instant loyalty rewards platform. Play Happens will kick off online in the weeks leading up to the fair before transitioning offline into the streets of New York City during Toy Fair week. PunchTab’s rewards program will enable players to earn Play Happens points by interacting with the Toy Fair blog before and during the show. Points collected online can be traded in for prizes or stockpiled for the grand prize: a New York City New Year’s Eve 2012 package. During the trade show, Play Happens players can also earn points on a virtual game board by checking-in via their smartphones at different locations throughout New York City. The geo-location component is powered by FourSquare.