December 28, 2011


 Toy Fest West

NPD Releases Shopping Activity Weekly Holiday Trends Report

For the week ending December 26, 2011, The Shopping Activity Weekly Holiday Trends report from market research provider The NPD Group, Inc., shows an increase in the number of shoppers in the market. Sixty-nine percent of U.S. consumers went shopping at brick-and-mortar retail compared to 68 percent the prior week.
This week’s results show that overall brick and mortar shopping visits increased by 6.5 percent this week, but despite the increase in the number of shoppers in the market, brick and mortar shopping conversion remained relatively stable.
In addition to the increase in brick and mortar shopping visits this week, the average amount spent per buying visit was up 4.7 percent, from the prior week. This increase in spending is the largest week over week increase reported since the week of November 28, which included Black Friday.
Online shopping activity continued its decline. For the week ending December 26, 2011, online share of buying visits declined to 13.9 percent, down from 16.4 percent the prior week.

U.S. Toy Recalls Down in Fiscal ’11

There were 34 toy recalls in fiscal year 2011, down from 46 toy recalls in fiscal year 2010, 50 in 2009, and 172 in 2008, U.S. officials said. Consumer Product Safety Commission officials said stronger federal rules are making a positive impact and restoring confidence in the safety of toys.
New toy safeguards include:
—Establishing the lowest lead content and lead paint limits in the world.
—Setting a stringent limit on the use of certain phthalates, compounds the Phthalate Esters Panel of the American Chemistry Council says are used primarily to soften vinyl. The Environmental Protection Agency regulates phthalates as pollutants, the non-profit Environmental Working Group says on its website.
—Converting voluntary toy standards into mandatory standards.
—Requiring third-party testing and certification of toys designed or intended primarily for children age 12 and younger.
—Closing in on new limits for cadmium in toys.
—Working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to track shipments in transit from other countries, thereby increasing seizure of dangerous imported toys.
These safeguards, along with safety-conscious steps taken by many toymakers and sellers, have contributed to a continued decline in toy recalls, officials said.

Bandai to Distribute Monsuno Toys in Japan

MonsunoJakks Pacific, Inc. has entered into a manufacturing agreement with Bandai Co., Ltd. for the toy line based on the Monsuno boys’ action adventure property. The Monsuno original animated television series is in production by Pacific Animation Partners LLC, a joint venture between Jakks Pacific and Dentsu Entertainment USA, Inc., a subsidiary of Dentsu Inc. Bandai will exclusively distribute and market toys based on the Monsuno television series in Japan, under an agreement between Bandai and Dentsu. Jakks Pacific will manufacture the Monsuno toys.
Nickelodeon will launch the series to audiences on owned channels in the U.S., Latin America, the UK, key European and Eastern European territories, Australia and New Zealand, India, Southeast Asia, Russia, and Africa. The Monsuno series will first launch in the U.S. on Nicktoons.

Lego Introduces Line for Girls

Lego FriendsThe Lego Group is turning its focus to girls with its new Lego Friends line, a new play theme that tailors the Lego construction experience especially to girls ages 5 and up. Lego Friends is designed to deliver on a girl’s desire for realistic role-play, creativity, and a detailed, character-based world with the core values of Lego building, according to the company.
The Lego Friends collection of 23 products ranges in price from $5.99 to $99.99, and the first 14 will be available for sale in the U.S. beginning January 1. The line launched in the UK this week, and a rolling international launch will follow in the spring, with the remaining nine sets launching in the summer months.

Aurora World and Ty Settle Copyright Infringement Case

YooHooAurora World, Inc. has reached a settlement agreement with Ty, Inc. in regards to the federal copyright lawsuit over Aurora’s YooHoo & Friends brand. Aurora says that both parties have reached an amicable settlement of their dispute, and the court has entered a consent decree in the action.





Hasbro Files Lawsuit Against Asus over Transformer Prime Tablet

AsusHasbro is accusing Asus of trademark infringement with the release of the Transformer Prime tablet.
The toymaker claimed in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles federal court last week that the electronics maker is creating confusion by blending the Transformers and Optimus Prime names. Hasbro said in a statement that Asus is counting on consumers associating the new tablet with children’s toys to sell the Transformer Prime. Hasbro is seeking damages and an injunction preventing sales of the tablet.
The 10.3-inch tablet transforms into what is essentially an Android-based laptop when connected to an optional keyboard/dock.
Central News Agency’s Focus Taiwan news channel reported that production of the Asus Transformer Prime tablet will continue and will not be affected by a trademark infringement lawsuit, according to Asus spokesman Chang Wei-ming. Internal assessments conducted by the company found no patent infringement issues, and the company feels that the lawsuit is unlikely to affect production, Chang said.

Wimpy Kid Files Trademark Infringement Lawsuit

Diary of a Wimpy KidWimpy Kid, Inc., copyright holders of the popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid book series, has filed a trademark-infringement lawsuit against comic-book publisher Antarctic Press, claiming that Antarctic has violated Wimpy Kid’s intellectual property with its book Diary of a Zombie Kid.
According to the suit, Zombie Kid, published by Antarctic in August 2011, is “substantially similar” to the Wimpy Kid book line, and “obviously intended to confuse the public into believing that defendant’s books are addition to such series.”
The complaint, which was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, alleges multiple counts, including federal trademark infringement, false designation of origin, trade dress infringement, federal trademark dilution, and deceptive trade practices. Wimpy Kid, Inc., which is owned by Wimpy Kid creator Jeff Kinney, is asking the court to enjoin Antarctic from further alleged trademark infringement. The company is also seeking treble damages, plus attorneys’ fees and Antarctic’s profits from Diary of a Zombie Kid.
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid book series has sold more than 52 million copies in North America alone, according to the suit, and has spawned a film series.



LeapFrog to License Hasbro Studios Animated Television Shows

My Little PonyLeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. and Hasbro, Inc. have reached a deal for LeapFrog to license Hasbro Studios animated television shows. Financial terms were not disclosed. Beginning this month, episodes from My Little Pony Friendship is Magic, The Adventures of Chuck and Friends, and Pound Puppies will be available through LeapFrog’s app center. Hasbro Studios develops and produces TV shows based on Hasbro’s brands. Each video app will feature two episodes from one of the shows. Hasbro will continue to provide LeapFrog with additional content. The apps, which retail for between $5 and $10, are available through the LeapFrog app center, which is accessed through the LeapFrog connect application for LeapPad Explorer kid-size tablet and Leapster Explorer handheld learning device platforms.

Learning Express Adds 16 New Franchise Stores in the Last Quarter of 2011

The national educational toy store franchise Learning Express has announced the establishment of 16 new franchise stores in the last quarter of 2011.
“Our stores are truly neighborhood toy stores. Our businesses are growing and our success has been a community effort,” says Sharon DiMinico, founder and CEO of Learning Express Toys. According to DiMinico, unlike several big box retailers that have fallen victim to economic pressures and have been forced to close their doors, Learning Express toy stores continue to serve children in communities across the nation.
Learning Express recently announced a partnership with Universal Studios’ Partnerships & Licensing team to develop exclusive Curious George products.

American Classic Toy Goes Global

Global Products and American Plastic Equipment, Inc. announce that Global will take over the marketing and distribution of American Classic Toys as of January 1, 2012.
The American Classic Toy line, including Mr. Machine, Lots of Dots, Super Pool, Wonder Jet, Puzzle Cubes, and Evel Knievel, will return to the U.S. Global will be showing in Hong Kong January 2-12 at the New East Ocean Centre; 9 Science Museum Road, Suite 412; Tsim Sha Tsui; and at the American International Toy Fair in New York in February.
For further information, contact Lance Koenig at or Jerrey Lebowitz at

Urban Expositions Acquires Portland Gift & Accessories Show, Cash & Carry Trade Shows from Western Exhibitors

Urban Expositions has acquired the Portland Gift & Accessories Show, San Francisco Cash & Carry Show, Seattle Cash & Carry Show, and Portland Cash & Carry Show from Western Exhibitors. The latest acquisitions are part of the continued western region growth strategy for Atlanta-based Urban Expositions, which purchased the San Francisco International Gift Fair and Seattle Gift Show from dmg world media in 2009 and launched the Las Vegas Souvenir & Resort Gift Show in 2007. 
As part of the seamless transition plan, Kelly McLoughlin, long-time manager for all four shows under Western Exhibitors' management, now joins Urban Expositions in the same role.
Effective immediately, Urban Expositions assumes management duties for all four shows, including sales, marketing, operations, and other day-to-day activities. As part of the sales agreement, the Western Exhibitors management team will serve an advisory role throughout the transition process.
Held annually at the Oregon Convention Center, the next Portland Gift & Accessories Show is scheduled for March 3-5. For exhibitor, buyer, or other information on the Portland Gift & Accessories Show, San Francisco, Seattle, or Portland Cash & Carry Shows, visit Urban Expositions can be reached at (800) 318-2238 or .

Stan Clutton, Industry Veteran, Passes Away

Industry veteran Stan Clutton has passed away after a brief battle with cancer. Clutton has worked at many top toy companies, including Hasbro, Galoob, Tyco, and Mattel. He was currently senior vice president of licensing, inventor relations, and new business at Fisher-Price.
“Stan had a big heart, an unforgettable laugh, and a spirit of wonder that guided his incredible gift for finding inventions in toys that would make children and grown men believe in magic,” says toy trends expert Reyne Rice. “He recognized the genius in Tickle Me Elmo and hundreds of other toys. He touched the lives of millions of children across the world. His legacy was the gift of joy, and he will be missed.”

Sears to Close More than 100 Stores

Sears Holdings Corporation has provided an update on its quarter-to-date performance and planned actions to improve and accelerate the transformation of its business. Comparable store sales for the eight-week (QTD) and year-to-date (YTD) periods ended December 25, 2011, for its Kmart and Sears stores are as follows: Kmart was down 4.4 percent QTD, and down 1.8 percent YTD. Sears Domestic was down 6 percent QTD, and down 3.3 percent YTD.
Kmart’s QTD comparable store sales decline reflects decreases in the consumer electronics and apparel categories and lower layaway sales. Sears Domestic’s quarter-to-date sales decline was primarily driven by the consumer electronics and home appliance categories, with more than half of the decline in Sears Domestic occurring in consumer electronics. 
According to CEO Lou D’Ambrosio, specific actions the retailer plans to take include closing 100 to 120 Kmart and Sears full-line stores.

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