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Table of contents

July 2010 volume 5, no. 8

features

departments

on this page

24 spin Master set to Launch Zoobles

4 observations & opinions

(left to right): a Zooble from Spin Master, Hasbro’s Nerf Super Soaker Rattler Water Blaster, SwimWays’ Hydro Flyer, Wham-O’s Extreme Slip ’n Slide Freestyle Boogie, and ToyQuest’s Banzai Wave Breaker Water Park

by Chris Adams

26 Mattel scares Up new Property: Monster High by Nancy Lombardi

28 An Action-Packed category by Paul Narula

30 Action Figures: Product Presentation by Paul Narula

32 Water Toys: Product Presentation by Chris Adams

34 Pool Toys Make a splash with Families by Laurie Leahey

35 Pool Toys: Product Presentation by Laurie Leahey

38 Specialty Emporium: Discovery bay games by Paul Narula

6 sizzlers 8 specialty sizzlers 10 The Ticker 12 shelf Talkers 14 entertainment Marketplace: Garanimals 16 Merchandise Makers: Innovation First 18 industry Forum: TIA 20 industry Forum: ASTRA 22 industry Forum: Design Edge 40 you’re Hired 42 calendar of events

on the cover Inset is Finis’ Wyland Dolphin Tail. Action figures, from left to right, are Hasbro’s Cobra Mech Suit, Bandai’s Ben 10 Ultimate Alien Rath, Jakks Pacific’s UFC Machita, and Mattel’s WWE FlexForce Fist Poundin’ John Cena. cover by

Design eDge


OBSERVATIONS & OPINIONS

WWW.ANBMEDIA.COM

A SUCCESSFUL MONTH FOR TRADE SHOWS B G BY

OB

LASER

ast month I attended two successful trade shows. The month began with a trip to—hot, hot, hot. . . but it’s a dry heat—Las Vegas for Licensing Show. Although I attended Licensing Show for years in New York City’s Jacob Javits Convention Center, I didn’t attend last year’s show in Las Vegas so I wasn’t sure what to expect. My first impression was that Advanstar, the company that puts on Licensing Show, obviously uses the same company that the Toy Industry Association does in Dallas when laying out the show floor. Maybe I am just an old, soured trade show veteran, but I like to walk up one aisle, turn the corner, and walk down the next aisle. There is no need to spend half the day trying to figure out how the trade show is mapped out. Don’t switch the aisles on me in Vegas and please don’t make me walk in circles again this October in Dallas. Most of the years I attended Licensing Show, while walking the easy-to-follow grid of the Javits Center, there was always buzz about a specific property. There was always that fear from licensees that they were missing something hot and if they didn’t get in early they’d miss the boat entirely. For a variety of reasons, that has not been the case for many years now. The buzz that I picked up on at last month’s event was that exhibitors and attendees were simply happy to still be in business. From there, the focus became let’s get back to business and deliver what consumers want for 2011 and 2012. The licensors I met with had a great lineup of properties—most of which focused on long-term brand building, classic characters, and a lot of re-interpretations of days past. However, there was one bit of buzz coming out of Licensing Show and it was Classic Media’s Beth Nock. She won $24,000 from a $5 slot machine! Congratulations to Beth! The second industry show I attended was the annual American Specialty Toy Retailing Association’s (ASTRA) Marketplace & Academy. For those not familiar with this group, it is comprised of independent toy store owners and those manufacturers and reps that supply these stores with product. Over the years this show has evolved into quite a successful event. Think Toy Fair but on a much smaller scale. This old, soured trade show veteran loves the layout of this event. I get to walk down one aisle, turn the corner, and walk up the next aisle. However, the easy-to-navigate layout of this show is not what makes it so successful. What makes it a success is the passion and dedication of the people working in this segment of the industry. Repeat attendees, and first timers alike, come to this event and celebrate, sometimes commiserate, and, most importantly, focus on continuing to produce high-quality products that children will play with and remember for years to come. To help get the word out about such products, ASTRA is uniting toy store owners for the first time this year to celebrate Neighborhood Toy Store Day. On Saturday, November 13, ASTRA will announce the winners of its “Best Toys for Kids List” through its member stores and to the media. This is an opportunity for independent toy stores to garner publicity to show how vital they are to their local community and how important their product assortment can be for a child’s development. Let’s hope these successful trade shows lead into a successful holiday season. But first, enjoy the summer!

L

4 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT JULY 2010

PUBLISHED

BY ANB

MEDIA • Volume 5, Number 8

PUBLISHER BOB GLASER BOB@ANBMEDIA.COM ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER ANDY KRINNER ANDY@ANBMEDIA.COM CONTROLLER MARY GROGAN MARY@ANBMEDIA.COM EDITOR IN CHIEF JIM SILVER JIM@ANBMEDIA.COM EDITORIAL DIRECTOR NANCY LOMBARDI NANCY@ANBMEDIA.COM MANAGING EDITOR CHRIS ADAMS CHRISA@ANBMEDIA.COM EDITOR AT LARGE CHRISTOPHER BYRNE CHRISB@ANBMEDIA.COM ASSISTANT EDITORS LAURIE LEAHEY; LAURIE@ANBMEDIA.COM PAUL NARULA; PAUL@ANBMEDIA.COM WEB MASTER ERIK KIECKHAFER ERIK@ANBMEDIA.COM WEB CONTENT MANAGER BRENDAN SANABRIA BRENDAN@ANBMEDIA.COM CONTRIBUTORS KIMBERLY CARCONE; KATHLEEN MCHUGH; MATT NUCCIO, MATT@DESIGNEDGE.NET PUBLIC RELATIONS REPRESENTATIVE JOSSLYNNE WELCH LITZKY PUBLIC RELATIONS, 320 SINATRA DRIVE, HOBOKEN, N.J. 07030 (201) 222–9118 EXT. 13 • JWELCH@LITZKYPR.COM INTERESTED IN A SUBSCRIPTION? CONTACT SUBSCRIPTIONS@ANBMEDIA.COM ANB MEDIA, INC. 229 WEST 28TH STREET, SUITE 401, NEW YORK, N.Y. 10001 PHONE: (646) 763–8710 • FAX: (646) 763–8727 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT and SPECIALTY EMPORIUM are published monthly by aNb

Media, Inc. Copyright 2010 aNb Media, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic or

mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. Printed in the U.S.A. TOYS & FAMILY

ENTERTAINMENT and SPECIALTY EMPORIUM are registered trademarks of aNb Media, Inc.

Opinions and comments expressed in this publication by editors, contributing writers, or solicited or unsolicited documents are not necessarily those of management.


SIZZLERS

Sizzlers: What’s Moving Off Store Shelves? What Are the Hottest Web Orders? Here is an alphabetical listing of the hottest-selling items in the toy industry, based on a combined survey of both offline and online retailers, reflecting the previous month’s sales.

LEGO Toy Story 3 Western Train Chase LEGO Toy Story 3 Trash Compactor Escape Iron Man 2: 3-in-1 Repulsor

Zhu Zhu Pets

3-D Sidewalk Chalk

COZY COUPE Little Tikes

IRON MAN 2: IRON MAN HELMET Hasbro

CRAYOLA 3-D SIDEWALK CHALK Crayola

LEGO STAR WARS ASSORTMENT LEGO

HOT WHEELS TOY STORY 3 SPARKS TURBO L AUNCHER Mattel

LEGO TOY STORY 3 TRASH COMPACTOR ESCAPE LEGO

IMAGINEXT TOY STORY 3 PLAYSET ASSORTMENT Fisher-Price

LEGO TOY STORY 3 WESTERN TRAIN CHASE LEGO

IRON MAN 2: 3-IN-1 REPULSOR Hasbro

POWER WHEELS BARBIE LIL’ TRAIL RIDER Fisher-Price

IRON MAN 2: ARC LIGHT Hasbro

6 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT JULY 2010

STEP 2 WATERWHEEL ACTIVITY PLAY TABLE Step 2 SUPERSOAKER WARS SHOTBLAST WATER BLASTER Hasbro TOY STORY 3 BARBIE AND KEN MADE FOR EACH OTHER GIFT SET Mattel TOY STORY 3 U COMMAND BUZZ LIGHTYEAR Thinkway ZHU ZHU PETS & ACCESSORIES Cepia


SPECIALTY SIZZLERS

Specialty Sizzlers: What’s Moving Off Store Shelves in the Specialty Market? This is an alphabetical listing of the hottest-selling items in the specialty segment of the toy industry, based on a survey of independent toy and gift retailers, reflecting the previous month’s sales.

BANANAGRAMS Bananagrams DELUXE ICE CREAM KIT Sassafras DJUBI—THE NEW TWIST GAME OF CATCH Djubi

ON THE

HEXBUG Innovation First

Tidoo Strawberry Doll

MINI OGODISK SUPER DISK SET Ogo Sport

Bananagrams

QWIRKLE MindWare STICK ’N STYLE RAINBOW BANGLES Orb Factory TEA SET Green Toys TIDOO STRAWBERRY DOLL Corolle YBIKE EXTREME YBike Tea Set

8 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT JULY 2010

Hexbug


The TICKeR

A Recap of Industry Headlines Visit www.aNbMedia.com for More Spin MaSter Suing Crayola for infringeMent Spin Master announced that it has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Central District of California against Crayola and its intellectual property holding company, Crayola Properties, Inc. According to the complaint, Crayola knowingly, willingly, and unlawfully is infringing and intends to infringe on Spin Master’s Liv trademark (from its Liv line of dolls and the accompanying www.livworld.com website) by introducing its new Liv Crayola line of products targeted at young girls. Spin Master is seeking damages, attorney’s fees, and a permanent injunction barring Crayola from infringing on Spin Master’s Liv trademark. A request for comment from Crayola was unanswered as of press time.

liMa announCeS liCenSing induStry down in 2009 During Licensing Show, the Licensing Industry Merchandisers Association (LIMA) announced the results of its Licensing Industry Survey. Brand owners collected nearly $5.2 billion in licensing royalty revenue in North America in 2009, down 8.7 percent from the year before. This marks the second year of decline. Overall royalty revenues declined 5.6 percent in 2008 after steadily rising each year since LIMA began collecting data. LIMA’s numbers are derived from results of its annual survey of companies directly involved in the licensing business, examination of public financial documents, and interviews with licensing industry executives, with the goal of providing reliable data to help licensing professionals identify trends and growth opportunities. “These results are not surprising as consumers continued to limit their spending on non-essential products for most of 2009,” says Charles Riotto, president of LIMA. “Looking ahead, however, as the economy continues to improve and retailers’ inventories come back into balance, I am optimistic that we are poised for improvement as we see our members exploring new and different opportunities and partnerships to ensure future growth.” Nearly half (46 percent) of licensing industry royalty revenues are generated in the character segment, which includes characters from all portions of the entertainment business. This segment declined 7.9 percent in 2009. Other major segments of the licensing industry include corporate trademarks/brands, accounting for 17 percent of the business; fashion, which makes up 14 percent; and sports, which comprises 13 percent.

tranSoM Capital group aCquireS unCle Milton Los Angeles-based private equity firm Transom Capital Group announced that it has acquired Uncle Milton Industries, Inc. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

tru introduCeS ChriStMaS Club Toys “R” Us introduced its first-ever Christmas Savers Club. It’s a program that allows shoppers to begin setting aside money with the added benefit of earning a bonus, simply for saving early. Customers can start growing their holiday savings today by requesting a Christmas Savers Club Card at any Toys “R” Us store throughout the country. Those who sign up between now and October 16, 2010, will receive a three percent bonus based on the total funds they save. Customers can save up to $2,500 per card, which

10 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT JULY 2010


means the most aggressive savers can earn up to $75 on top of the money they load on their cards. To maximize the amount of time to save for holiday purchases, the bonus will be added to shoppers’ cards on October 31, 2010, for the kickoff of the holiday shopping season. Shoppers can use their Christmas Savers Club Card at all Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us stores across the United States. Additionally, shoppers can make purchases with their Christmas Savers Club Card online at Toysrus.com and Babiesrus.com. With no fees associated with the program, shoppers can start their Christmas Savers Club Card with as little as $1, and the value on the card never expires. However, Toys “R” Us notes that cash and credit refunds on the Christmas Savers Club Cards are not allowed except where required by law. Receipts are needed to redeem funds on lost or misplaced Christmas Savers Club Cards.

4Kids introduces Henson’s scribbles 4Kids Entertainment has introduced The Scribbles, the newest irreverent character group derived from Jim Henson Designs, showcasing 14 new characters of the collection along with product samples from Japan. The Scribbles represent elements of our own psyche and imagination, brought to life by the magic of Jim Henson. Inspired by original scribbles by Jim Henson himself, these Scribbles embody all our pent-up emotions. Since they were first introduced in 2009, Jim Henson Designs products have seen success in Japan. A range of products including apparel and accessories for children and adults is available in Tinkerbell stores, Kiddyland, and Fotoist Stores throughout Japan. Additionally, products from Sekiguchi, including plush and collectibles, are in stores across the country.

classic Media announces Voltron relauncH At Licensing Show, World Events Productions and Classic Media announced the relaunch of Voltron. Classic Media is to helm international distribution and worldwide merchandising and licensing for Voltron. A new series, Voltron Force, is the first original franchise-related television content in 10 years and is scheduled to debut on Nicktoons in 2011. In addition, Mattel is developing a new line of Voltron toys.

FreMantleMedia teaMs witH irwin FaMily FremantleMedia has partnered with Australia Zoo and Terri, Bindi, and Robert Irwin to develop new opportunities in television and licensing globally. The agreement will see FremantleMedia appointed as the international multi-platform entertainment partner. FremantleMedia will be exploring global opportunities in television production, distribution, home entertainment, consumer products, live events, and digital platforms. Initial creative discussions have included new filming opportunities with Terri, Bindi, and Robert Irwin, as well as activity around existing brands Australia Zoo, Crocodile Hunter, Bindi the Jungle Girl, Wildlife Warriors, and The Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve. The deal respects the rights of the current partners and provides a platform for future development of the brands globally.

disguise to oFFer Hasbro-branded costuMes Disguise has signed a new three-year agreement with Hasbro to produce Halloween costumes and accessories in conjunction with most Hasbro brands. The agreement grants Disguise expanded and exclusive rights to manufacture and distribute Hasbro-branded Halloween costumes and accessories to all channels in the United States and Canada beginning with the upcoming Halloween season. The agreement includes rights to produce Halloween costumes for all appropriate ages based on the Transformers 3 movie scheduled for release in summer 2011, in addition to Hasbro-inspired TV shows from Hasbro Studios such as G.I. JOE and My LITTLE POny that will air this fall on The HUB, the Hasbro and Discovery Communications joint-venture cable television network.

JULY 2010 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 11


SHELF TALKERS

The Newest Items Now in Stores Have a PupCake

Well Made Toy Manufacturing introduces a line of plush animals called PetCakes. These collectible plush pets feature plush cupcake wrappers and decorative “frosting tops.” Series one, the PupCake group shown here, focuses on dogs. Twinkle Sprinkles is a beagle. Coco-Coconut is a poodle. Blueberry Buddy is a shar-pei. Randy Candy is the mutt of the group. Additional series of animals are expected for the PetCakes.

Put on Your Thinking Cap

Mentor InterActive, Inc., announced the introduction of thinkSMART video games in North America. Based on the challenging and successful brain teasers and puzzlers from Ravensburger, the thinkSMART DS game offers a great variety of brain teasers, beaters, puzzlers, and mental challenges for all ages. The thinkSMART Family for Wii also adds physical challenges that the entire family can play together. The thinkSMART series of games increase skills in logical thinking, three-dimensional perception, math, memory, language comprehension, and much more. Mentor InterActive is introducing a thinkSMART game for every member of the family. Kids thinkSMART for Nintendo DS (for ages 8 and up) has three levels of difficulty and six categories of games including language skills, logical thinking, math, memory, reasoning, and pattern recognition. thinkSMART for Nintendo DS challenges older players with three levels of difficulty and six different training categories including language, memory, mathematics, spatial reasoning, grasp, and logic. thinkSMART Family for Wii is the original brain and physical training program designed for the entire family. It helps develop language, memory, mathematics, spatial reasoning, and logic skills in an imaginative and creative way.

OWI’s Kits Offer Fun in the Sun

OWI’s Mini Solar kits provide just the right mix of hands-on learning and outdoor fun for the summer. The three newest kits, with suggested retails of $19.95, provide just the right mix of learning, creativity, and fun. The T-3 Transforming Solar Robot allows science fiction buffs to build, disassemble, and build again—a tank, robot, or scorpion. When the sun activates the solar panel, these intergalactic creatures spring into action. The 3-in-1 Solar Stallion (shown) creates a tangible lesson in solar energy. Young horse lovers will enjoy assembling and re-assembling the flying Pegasus, the Horse Trainer, or Chariot, as the “driver” holds a solar panel that activates the horse when pointed at the sun or a halogen light. The Solar System will delight young astronomers as paintable planets revolve around their very own solar-powered “sun.” The kit comes with six colors of opaque acrylic paint, plus a brush, which makes for the perfect mix of science and creativity.

12 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT JULY 2010


Mompreneur Creates Line of Teaching Toys

The “Teach My. . .” line, from Teach My, Inc., was founded in 2007 by mompreneur Christy Cook. She created her own learning kit called Teach My Toddler. Working with her son for a mere 20 minutes per day, she was able to use the kit to teach him to read by age 3, according to the company. The line has since been expanded with a kit for infants called Teach My Baby. The next item in the line is expected to be Teach My Preschooler, which is a kit designed to prepare preschoolers for kindergarten. It is expected to launch this fall. Teach My Toddler is an all-in-one learning system to master the basic skills, which include the alphabet, numbers 1–10, basic shapes, and basic colors. The tools within each section coordinate to encourage natural repetition. For example, in the alphabet section, the letter A has an image of an alligator on the flashcard, in the book, and on the poster, allowing the child to recognize the letter. Each section of the Teach My Toddler kit includes a coordinated board book, puzzles, flashcards, and a poster board. The kit also includes a teaching guide for parents with suggestions on how to best use the kit. The kit is available now for ages 18 months and up. It has an MSRP of $49.99. Teach My Baby, available now for children ages 6–18 months with a suggested retail of $49.99, is an all-in-one learning system that transforms playtime by providing the tools babies need to incorporate learning into play through puzzles, blocks, finger puppets, and mirrors designed to teach early learning of first words, first numbers, sounds and touch, and self recognition. The kit is divided into four sections devoted to each of these key skills. Each skill includes a set of toys to stimulate baby’s senses and encourage learning.

JULY 2010 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 13


ENTERTAINMENT MARKETPLACE

GARAN, INC. BY LAURIE LEAHEY

ow do you know if feelings of self-confidence, according to your shirt matches the company. your pants? Just look The brand received a nationwide for the friendly animal relaunch in 2008 and is available exclusiveface. This is the prem- ly at Walmart stores. Garanimals continues ise behind Garanimals, a children’s to offer quality, affordable, and stylish clothing line that has been mixing and apparel that’s easy for moms, and kids, to matching its way into kids’ closets for match for newborns through size 5T. more than 35 years. In August 2009, Garanimals expanded Garan, Inc., a wholly owned compa- its brand with a new line of play and learnny of Berkshire Hathaway, was ing toys for infants, toddlers, and founded in 1946 but it waspreschoolers, also sold exclusively at n’t making children’s clothWalmart. Items in the collection ing. Instead, the company range in price from $3–$29, started out making prodwith many of the ucts for the governtoys featuring the ment. It began clothing’s mix-andmaking children’s match theme in some clothing in 1951, way. There is even but the Garanimals Garanimals footwear brand didn’t launch from licensees Elan until 1972. Polo, E.S. Originals, Garanimals was SG Footwear, LJO, born out of the idea and BCNY to make that there is a posthe outfits complete. the Garanimals characters (above) and itive connection Walmart shelves an infant and toddler girls’ outfit for fall between how chilwill be stocked this dren dress and how fall with Garanimals they feel about theminfant plush and toys and selves. The innovaaccessories from licensees tive mix-and-match such as 1st Learning, tagging system Cache, Maxim, Patch allows kids the creativProducts, and Prestige Toy. ity and independence to A line of Garanimals books select their own clothes is also in the works. From and dress themselves. Through closet to playroom, these small, successful decikids will look good sions, children develop early while having fun.

H

14 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT JULY 2010

NEED

TO

KNOW

• The “Garan” in Garanimals comes from the tagline “Garan-teed” when the company began making products for the government in the 1940s. • Every year, Garanimals’ lead designers travel all over the world to research fashion trends. Every collection is inspired by the latest and upcoming styles. • The Garanimals mix-andmatch system works like this: Kids look for the Garanimals printed on the inside back panel of the shirt. If they find the same Garanimals printed inside on the waistband of the pant, skirt, or short, it creates a perfectly coordinated outfit. • The Garanimals website, www.garanimals.com, features coloring activities, stories, online games, ecards, and crafts for kids.


PRESTIGE TOY

MAXIM

Maxim currently produces nine different items in its Garanimals line, ranging from simple building blocks to more involved learning cubes. The company also takes a sustainable approach to the product and packaging. New items will launch this fall.

Prestige Toy will produce a line of infant soft toys for Garanimals. The toy line will feature familiar Garanimals characters and will coordinate with the Garanimals newborn and infant apparel. The line, which will be introduced at retail later this year, will include 30 different items that are geared toward boys and girls, as well as a selection of gender-neutral toys.

PATCH PRODUCTS

Garanimals games from Patch Products include the What’s On My Head? Game. Each player wears a card on his head but doesn’t know what is on the card. Other players give hints and everyone tries to guess what is on their heads. Once the game is completed, players will celebrate by singing “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.” The game is for two to four players ages 4 and up.

SG FOOTWEAR

SG Footwear is producing both boys’ and girls’ Garanimals fleece slippers with animal appliqués.

CACHE

Cache Sales’ Garanimals Learn & Turn is an action-packed tube. Push, slide, or turn the ends to let the beads pass through the tube. Watch the beads slide down and listen for calming sounds. When all the beads get to the bottom, turn the tube over so the beads go back the other way. The tube also rolls on the floor as children crawl. It is for ages 18 months and up.

ELAN POLO

Elan Polo’s Garanimals shoes come in two styles this fall: Ariana and Noelle (shown). Both shoes feature a non-marking sole.

JULY 2010 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 15


MERCHANDISE MAKERS

BUGGING OUT BY

PAUL NARULA

obots come in many shapes product development team observed hobbyand sizes, especially in the toy ists and scratch builders showing off small business. From lifelike plush robots that were hand assembled with electo moving action figures, tronic components,” says Joel Carter, vicefrom voice-activated com- president of marketing at Innovation First. mands to motion-sensing Even though these miniatriggers, robotics have ture robotic “bugs” funcbecome a major part of the tioned poorly and were toy industry, just as they expensive to manufacture, have also become a major the development team saw part of science education. potential in the product. One of the companies that The company used its has been a part of the risexperience in robotics to ing robot tide is create low-cost versions of Innovation First, the manthese “bugs” with ufacturer of Hexbugs. improved functionality Innovation First did not and longer battery life. the original Hexbug start out in the toy industry. The Hexbugs brand has Initially, the company developed electronics met with great success in the toy industry. for unmanned mobile ground robots in 1996. Since the release of the original Hexbug, The company increased its presence in the which reacts to touch and sound, the comparobotics world and first entered the world of ny has introduced four new types of robotics for children in 2006 with the VEX Hexbug—the radio-controlled Robotics Design System for middle schools Inchworm, the light sensitive and high schools. VEX kits provided students Crab, the high-speed Ant, and with everything needed to build a working the micro-sized Nano. robot in the classroom and the kits were sold Each new Hexbug to schools and educational programs around has been a new the country. The company also created the success for VEX Robotics Competition, designed to give Innovation First. students a chance to share their interest in “People are drawn to robotics and celebrate their accomplishments. Hexbugs for their fascinating Innovation First didn’t officially enter the behavior, bug-like attributes, and eye-catchtoy industry until 2007 when it created the ing packaging,” says Carter. “The Hexbug Hexbug line. The idea for Hexbugs came to Nano is so animated that it even fools cats Innovation First while employees were and dogs into thinking it might be alive.” attending electronics trade shows in the wake While the Hexbug brand is more conof the VEX system’s success in schools. “The sumer-oriented than the school-based VEX

R

16 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT JULY 2010

product line, Innovation First still hopes that the brand will help introduce children to robotics. “Hexbugs are designed to give children a positive experience with robotics at a young age,” says Carter. Innovation First was a robotics and electronics company a decade before it even considered entering the toy market and the Hexbug brand is not only a source of income, but also a means of education. The company even offers a Hexbugs fundraising program for schools in which schools or school-based organizations sell Hexbug products to raise money for roboticor other science-based programs. In the meantime, the company will continue to build on the success of Hexbugs and especially the micro-sized Nano. “We are working on larger and more specialized Habitat Sets and more track accessories that will be released in the near future,” says Carter. Hexbugs are available in more than 25 countries and Innovation First will continue to build the brand’s distribution out of its offices in the UK and Asia, as well as by establishing relationships with new Hexbug Nano international distribuHabitat tors. The company is also working on new bugs and more accessories for its existing products. “Pop culture and the media continue to build the buzz for robotics by rolling out new stories and characters built around ever increasing technical capabilities,” says Carter—and if anyone hooked by that buzz wants to go further, Innovation First can help them get there.


INDUSTRY FORUM

TIA Enhances Trade Show Offerings, Benefitting Buyers and Sellers

ith all that hinges on both buyers and sellers having a successful—and financially rewarding— show experience, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) is constantly on the lookout for new opportunities to enhance its annual “Go to Market” trade events. What’s in store for this year’s shows? Well, the simple answer is high-tech tools will continue to take center stage.

W

NEW SOFTWARE PARTNERSHIP MAXIMIZES “FACE TIME” FOR FALL TOY PREVIEW ATTENDEES

Fall Toy Preview, which takes place October 5–8 in Dallas, brings toy company representatives together with mass merchandiser buyers to preview product offerings more than a year in advance of the following year’s fourth quarter target. This preview opportunity fosters consideration of buyer feedback before products are finalized for production and facilitates a longer lead time for manufacturing and shipping.

ECRM’s MarketGate Business Process Software will be used for the dual purpose of enhancing the efficiency of scheduling face-to-face meetings between retail buyers, participating suppliers, and manufacturer’s reps while also making possible the review of relevant and necessary product information before, during, and after Fall Toy Preview, says Toy Industry Association. WWW.FALLTOYPREVIEW.COM

18 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT JULY 2010

BY

KIMBERLY CARCONE, TOY INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION

This year, TIA has partnered with Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing (ECRM) to harness its MarketGate business process software for the dual purpose of enhancing the efficiency of scheduling faceto-face meetings between retail buyers, participating suppliers, and manufacturer’s reps while also making possible the review of relevant and necessary product information before, during, and after Fall Toy Preview. In advance of the show, exhibitors will upload product data, descriptions, and specifications that can be reviewed by buyers prior to the appointment; during and after the show sellers can use the software to automatically populate custom retailer forms or to generate customized product catalogs for specific retailers. Conversely, retail buyers will create profiles—including contact information, company profiles, marketing profiles, and more—that provide exhibitors with detailed information about the outlet and the buyer they will be meeting. Appointment scheduling—and putting product in front of potential new accounts— also becomes much easier and more efficient with the ECRM tool. Retailers can send meeting requests directly to their suppliers; sellers can use the software to request meetings with registered retailers. Meeting notes and recaps can be stored in the system and will be ready for distribution immediately following the meeting. Additional features are also available. “The MarketGate software is specifically designed to help both buyers and sellers improve sales, reduce expenses, and go to market faster and more efficiently,” says

Marian Bossard, TIA vice-president of meetings and events. “TIA’s decision to incorporate the software for Fall Toy Preview was driven by major retailers expressing the need for an improved process from preview to purchase. Even though we are still months out from the show, the response from all participants—including those major retailers— has been extraordinarily positive.”

TOY FAIR AND ENGAGE! CONFERENCE AND EXPO TO CO-LOCATE AGAIN IN 2011

Looking ahead to 2011, TIA and Engage Digital Media (formerly Show Initiative, LLC) have announced that the Engage! Conference and Expo will co-locate for the second time with the American International Toy Fair at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City. Spanning a four-day period that begins on Sunday, February 13, the 108th annual Toy Fair will bring together nearly 1,100 manufacturers, distributors, importers, and sales agent exhibitors to interact with more than 10,000 buyers from nearly 5,750 retail establishments around the world. Additionally, Toy Fair brings key youth entertainment licensors together with exhibiting product marketers. The show, which continues to satisfy the needs of increasingly diverse audiences, grew to more than 25,000 attendees in 2009, a 4 percent increase in attendance over the previous year, and is now ranked among the top 50 largest trade shows held in the United States. Engage!, which is a technology event for youth entertainment professionals, will


overlap with Toy Fair on February 15 and 16, bringing to the Javits Center a broad array of executives from technology, toy, and entertainment companies; youth brands; marketing and advertising agencies; and inventors, designers, and product development experts. In addition to its exhibition space, Engage! boasts a powerful conference program that helps attendees learn how to leverage their tangible products to develop engaging and profitable digital products on mobile devices as well as robust interactive online services. “The crossover between youth entertainment and online engagement is accelerating as rapidly as the pace of technology innovation,” says Christopher Sherman, executive director of Engage Digital. “Mobile content, touch platforms, and online innovation will be the cornerstones of Engage!’s conference content in 2011.” TIA’s Bossard agrees. “The toy and game market is absolutely driven by innovation and trends. It makes perfect sense to bring the knowl-

edgebase of Engage! Expo into the Javits Center during Toy Fair so that our exhibitors and attendees have the opportunity to learn more about the technologies that exist and how these technologies can be used to support their brands.” All Engage! Expo attendees will receive access to the Toy Fair show floor and all Toy Fair attendees will receive access to the Engage! show floor. One- or two-day conference passes will be available for the Engage! conference program; TIA members who exhibit at Toy Fair are entitled to half-price registration discounts for the two-day pass. Kimberly Carcone is director of trade show and event marketing for TIA. For more information about TIA’s trade events, visit www.toyassociation.org (follow the link for “events”) or contact TIA at (212) 675–1141.

JULY 2010 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 19


INDUSTRY FORUM

Tips for Helping Customers Understand Developmentally Appropriate Play BY

KATHLEEN MCHUGH, ASTRA

f you are a specialty toy retailer, no doubt you see parents in your store who are there because they are looking for ways to help their child get ahead. With today’s focus on children’s accomplishments at younger ages, we should not be surprised that parents seek to enrich—and often accelerate—their kids’ mastery of functional skills such as reading and math. Some may turn to the specialty retailer for help in finding toys that encourage early learning. If you have customers with an overemphasis on premature skill-building, you may find yourself thinking, “Why can’t they let kids be kids?” You may feel reluctant to provide the products parents are seeking because you do not feel they are in the best interest of the child. Here are some tips from the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) for working with parents who are pushing their children to learn cognitive or academic skills too quickly: • VIEW PARENTS’ QUESTIONS AS OPPORTUNITIES FOR PARENT EDUCATION. If they are shopping at your store, chances are good that parents view you as an expert on toys and play, and they will listen to your advice on healthy play choices. Requests for play materials inappropriate for the developmental level of the child are opportunities to direct parents to options that better suit the youngster’s needs—and to send the child home with better

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20 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT JULY 2010

informed parents who understand why play is more important than flash cards. • BRUSH UP ON THE BASICS OF PLAY AND CHILD DEVELOPMENT. You and your staff don’t have to be multi-degree experts to offer useful, credible information about child development. Some of the basic developmental tasks that children typically address through play at different ages are: O BIRTH–AGE 1: Children are discovering the world around them. Play primarily uses sensory activities— seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching. O AGES 1–2: Children now have mobility, which extends the boundaries of their curiosity. Play focuses on exploring qualities of objects, building physical skills (especially gross motor), making friends, imitating, and the beginning stages of pretending. O AGES 2–3: Language skills, the capacity to imagine, and social skills increase rapidly. The importance of toys, especially those that encourage fantasy play, increases. Roleplay begins. O AGES 3–5: Children take charge of play, are generally self-initiating, and become deeply engrossed in play. They are developing creativity; learning to manipulate letters, numbers, and words; and developing the social skills needed for kindergarten. • UNDERSTAND HOW VARIOUS TYPES OF PLAY CONTRIBUTE TO HEALTHY DEVELOPMENT. Again, this doesn’t require in-depth expertise. There are many types of play—

including physical, imaginative, creative, problem solving, sensory, and social— and children need a “balanced diet” of all types to develop into a balanced person. Many parents have a bias toward particular forms of play. It may be the ones they enjoy or find the most comfortable or the least messy or the most convenient to do with their children. Suggest other forms of play to parents focused primarily on cognitive development. • OFFER ALTERNATIVES TO PARENTS’ “DRILL AND KILL” INSTINCTS. Parents may remember (selectively) their own process of learning to read and try to replicate it through school-like techniques that are not generally practiced today. But there are many fun and low-stress strategies parents can use to promote literacy that are part of the family’s daily routines. Check out the web resources below (and find others) with suggested family activities that translate easily into product suggestions: • http://www.ed.gov/Family/GrowthChart/page2.html

• http://www.illinoisearlylearning.org/tipsheets/homeactivities.htm

• http://www.illinoisearlylearning.org/tipsheets/ bookstoddler.htm

• LEARN MORE ABOUT PLAY FROM ASTRA. Visit www.astratoy.org and click on the Parents section. Put ASTRA’s annual Marketplace & Academy on your calendar for an opportunity to hear from the child development experts that ASTRA includes in its educational program. Kathleen McHugh is president of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA).


INDUSTRY FORUM

M ANUFACTURING S HIFTS BY

MATT NUCCIO, DESIGN EDGE

Matt Nuccio reports from a business trip to Jordan.

few weeks ago, I stepped off of a plane into Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan. My work in the toy industry has brought me to so many interesting places around the world. But, in all honesty, I was a bit nervous about this particular business trip. In preparation for the trip, I hadn’t shaved in weeks figuring a beard might help me fit in—or at the very least help me look just a bit less “American.” Although I know that Jordan is a U.S. ally, I also know it isn’t entirely safe. In 2005, suicide bombers killed 60 people and injured another 115 when they blew up three hotels, including the one I was staying in, the Radisson SAS Hotel. Adding to my already frayed nerves, I was stupid enough to watch the Iraq war movie, The Hurt Locker, on my connecting flight into Heathrow. Of course, I stepped off the plane completely paranoid with two hours to kill waiting for my associate from my Hong Kong office to arrive and meet me. Design Edge, although known for our product and package design, also manufactures packaging for many companies around the world out of our Hong Kong-based Design Edge East division. In addition to toys we also work for the garment, housewares, and electronics industries. Until recently, Thailand had been a garment manu-

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TO

facturing hub, particularly underwear. But over the past two years the political system in Thailand has been falling apart. I am sure everyone has seen some of the recent news coverage about the uprising in Bangkok. As a result, many major companies had to start looking elsewhere to make their garments. High tariffs imposed by the U.S. caused them to leave China years earlier. At first, the place to be was India, and then I watched it quickly shift over to Jordan. This made no sense to me at first. The common consensus is that India is supposed to be the next China. Factor in that the toy industry has been getting wood from Vietnam for years—so why not manufacture there? How about Malaysia? As it turns out, the U.S. has been subsidizing Jordanian manufacturing in exchange for open trade agreements with Israel in an effort to maintain the peace. The following morning we were picked up by a driver and escorted to the factory. The driver had a Pound Puppy in his back window, which made me feel at home. But that quickly changed as we approached the industrial zone where I read a road sign that said “30km to the Iraqi border”—not exactly comforting. We arrived at the factory and were greeted by a man who resembled Osama Bin Laden—again, not exactly comforting. He politely brought us into a small office where a large portrait of King Abdullah II hung. I was a stranger in a strange land. Then another man strolled in and introduced himself. His name is Ramzi, the head of operations for the factory. He was cool and collected. His English was impeccable. He offered us coffee and asked us if we liked jazz. I told him I did and we proceeded to talk about Miles, Dizzy, Bird, and Monk. I suddenly felt at ease. He then took us on a tour of the facility. It was state of the art and impressive by any standard. He explained

J ORDAN

how Jordan’s business has been growing exponentially over the past few years. More and more top U.S. companies are moving in. Over the next three days we discussed our business objectives and drafted the outlines for our agreement. Afterward he took us to his favorite jazz bar. I was shocked at how Westernized it was. The musicians were top notch and the clientele was friendly. We discussed politics and I admitted my fears about coming to Jordan. He expressed how scared he is to come to New York. We both agreed that the militant fundamentalists (regardless of religious or political beliefs) are the problem and not the everyday people. I think the one thing that the everyday people in all corners of the globe can agree on is we all want to live in peace. The next two days we set off as tourists visiting Petra and Philadelphia (yes they have a Philly. In fact, it’s the U.S. city’s namesake), shopping centers, and city sights. And, you know what? I found that everywhere we went people were charming, polite, and very respectful to us. By the time I left I was no longer nervous. I had learned that there is a giant world out there and everyone is working hard to get their piece of the pie. When cultures unite we can accomplish anything. It seems to me that people are just scared of change. The toy industry has been in China for so long that everyone just assumes we should stay there. Yet, as of now, prices keep going up because of labor and material shortages. I’m not suggesting that the entire industry move to Jordan. But I now realize that we shouldn’t be so complacent because there are so many options in today’s global economy.

Design Edge is a New York-based graphic design and research development studio. Matt Nuccio can be reached at matt@designedge.net.


SPIN MASTER SET BY

TO

LAUNCH ZOOBLES

CHRIS ADAMS

S

pin Master is in the midst of launching a major initiative: Zoobles. The line will be strategically introduced throughout the rest of the year in North America and Australia with international rollout, including Europe and Latin America, beginning next year. In developing the Zoobles line, Spin Master used the boys’ hit toy line Bakugan as a starting point— only the Zoobles line diverges quickly as it is targeted toward girls ages 4–9. Zoobles are collectible, colorful balls that spring to life and transform into endearing characters once they are placed on their “Happitat.” Each Zooble will come with its own Happitat. When petted, Zoobles react by blinking their eyes, wagging their tails, wiggling their ears, and more. The Zoobles characters, which will number more than 100, hail from different areas of the mysterious Zoobles Isle. These areas include Petagonia, Seagonia, and Azoozia. The characters of Petagonia will be the first to launch. “At launch, we will run TV ads that focus both on specific Zoobles SKUs as well as the overall brand to introduce girls to the Zoobles world and the characters,” says Cristy Collins, marketing

director for Spin Master’s girls’ division. “Later in the season we will focus on playsets.” The initial playset offerings include Kelp’s Undersea Playground, which will have an estimated retail price of $19.99, and Razzoos Treehouse, which will have an MSRP of $29.99. In addition to toy product, a recent deal between Spin Master and Cartoon Network Enterprises will jumpstart the licensing program for the Zoobles. The agreement, which was announced in June, gives Cartoon Network Enterprises multi-category global licensing and merchandising rights for Spin Master’s properties. The Zoobles is one of three properties that will be the initial focus of the agreement. According to Collins, Cartoon Network will license the Zoobles brand in key categories, including apparel, consumer electronics, and fashion accessories, in 2011. With the dual-pronged support of the Zoobles brand from Spin Master’s own toy line and Cartoon Network’s burgeoning licensing program, it is clear that the brand is a priority for Spin Master. The manufacturer has already shown that its boys’ Bakugan line is a hit and with the launch of Zoobles it will be letting girls in on the collectible, transforming character fun.

above is a character from Spin Master’s Zoobles line, to the left is the Razzoos Treehouse playset, and on the right is the Twoble pack of two Zoobles

24 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT JULY 2010


MATTEL SCARES UP NEW PROPERTY: BY

NANCY LOMBARDI

attel has something a bit different up its sleeve these Draculaura, by contrast, is 1,599 years old. days. Monster High is the newest doll line targeting The daughter of Count Dracula, her freaky flaw is she can’t see her reflection tweens from Mattel. But to simply call it a doll line in a mirror. Her favorite subject is creative writing but she hates that there are would be wrong. Monster High is a new property—one not enough vegetarian selections in the Monster High creepateria. that has absolutely nothing to do Mattel has a full product line, which spans fashion dolls, plush, and with Barbie—created internally by Mattel, which the handheld devices. A host of licensees are already on company plans to turn into a long-term brand. board with product expected to debut this fall. Apparel “Monster High is the first property that highdesigned for tweens will be available at Justice for lights our commitment to developing new franback-to-school. The line of clothing features the chises,” says Susie Lecker, vice-president of marbrand’s signature Skullette (shown here on the logo) on keting for Mattel. “This is the first time in our histops, bottoms, sleepwear, accessories, and cosmetics. tory that Mattel is launching a comprehensive Amscan, an existing licensee of Mattel, will intromulti-platform, cross-category franchise that delivduce an exclusive line of costumes for Party City. ers rich content via publishing and web, entertainHigh IntenCity created hair accessories and jewelry ment components such as animation and live-action, that mix Monster High’s Skullette and edgy style with Shown here are the characters in as well as an array of consumer products such as apparsofter lace, bow, and charm accents. Mattel’s new property, Monster High. el, accessories, and toys simultaneously at launch.” Accessory Innovations introduces clutches, totes, and From the left is Clawdeen Wolf, Lagoona Blue, Cleo de Nile, Deuce Gorgon, The first step from a product standpoint is fashion messenger and cross-body bags. Ashko Group will make Frankie Stein, and Draculaura. dolls—certainly a category that Mattel is more than socks, knee highs, leg warmers, sandals, and flip flops. familiar with. However, to get this property off the ACI International introduces slippers in two styles. ground Mattel is reaching out to girls where they are these days and that’s Mattel and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers have signed Lisi Harrison on the internet. Mattel’s monsterhigh.com explains the backstory of the to a multi-year/multi-book deal to write Monster High young adult novels under characters, allows girls to explore the school, and offers free webisodes. As the company’s Poppy imprint. (Harrison is the author of both the Clique and soon as product is available in stores, kids will be able to take product codes Alpha series, which are New York Times best-selling young adult novels.) and use them on the site to unlock areas. The first book in the series, Monster High, is slated to go on sale September The premise behind Monster High is that, “each of the beastly students at 1. Mattel says that the following installments will be released twice a year with Monster High has her own freaky flaw that makes her real. It could be embar- the second book in the series slated for spring 2011. rassing at first but each has accepted it and realizes it’s what makes her In addition, Mattel is developing a 30-minute animated special webisode unique,” according to information provided by Mattel. “Each trait, whether it’s slated for this fall. It is expected to feature American Idol star Allison Iraheta. a special ability or flaw, is related to the characters’ monster heritage. Some Universal Pictures has acquired the film rights to develop a live-action movie. imperfections are also based on trials and tribulations and real flaws that teens Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, best known for their work on Hairspray and deal with everyday, making the characters relatable.” Chicago, have signed on to produce alongside Mattel execs Tim Kilpin and Barry The characters’ monster heritage profiles them as the children of Waldo. Writers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar have signed on to script the film. Frankenstein and his bride, Count Dracula, The Werewolf, Medusa, and other The duo is best known for bringing Smallville to TV and for Spider-Man 2. such timeless monsters that consumers are familiar with. The property is loosely tapping into the Twilight-inspired goth/vamEach character has a content-rich profile, which is explained on the site. pire/monster genre that continues to be popular with both kids and adults, Frankie Stein, for example, at 15 days old, is the daughter of Frankenstein which could make it a huge success. However, the property will not be withand his bride. Her favorite subject is history and her BFFs are Draculaura out challenges such as, will retailers give it the time it needs to gain traction and Clawdeen Wolf. Her profile also includes pet peeves, freaky flaws, with girls? After all, it’s going up against some stiff competition in the fashfavorite activities, foods, color, and fashions. ion doll aisle, most notably Barbie.

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AN ACTION-PACKED CATEGORY BY

PAUL NARULA

hey may have poses, accessories, playsets, and a general similarity in design, but don’t make the mistake of calling action figures “dolls.” The category hasn’t been called that since it emerged in the 1960s with Hasbro’s G.I. JOE figures. Since then, the category has been through many changes. The products certainly have, with action figures available in sizes ranging from oneinch to six-inches and articulation ranging from five points to 500. But perhaps more importantly, the market has changed as well. Technology has come a long way since action figures were first introduced and many forms of entertainment now clamor for the attention of children. Parents have tightened their purse strings and costs are rising across the board. However, the category continues to push forward despite difficulties, thanks to factors such as the long-standing strength of established brands, the strength of new brands, and the innovation and direction taken by a number of the manufacturers in this category.

T

favorite shows and movies,” says John Blaney, senior vice-president of boys marketing at Jakks Pacific. Action figures provide another tool children can use to enhance their imaginative play. “Even in the video game era, action figures provide a unique and personal play pattern that nothing else can,” says Mez Markowitz, president of Mezco Toys.

If an action figure has to have anything to be successful, it’s the “action.” While the original classics such as G.I. JOE and other figures did not have a huge range of movement, at the time that wasn’t necessary. Now, as the development of technology continues to race forward, manufacturers cannot simply rely on a figure’s movable arms and legs being all that it takes to move product. “The action figure category has evolved over time,” says Chris Meyer, marketing director at Diamond Select Toys. “The figures made today are vastly superior to the figures made years ago. You see much more detail and articulation, with a deeper span STILL PLAYING of characters to choose from.” Figures today come The fact that action figures have with more accessories, more lights and sounds, and remained a strong category throughout the more “action” than previous figures could include. years is not a surprise for most manufacChildren want to be able to re-enact their favorite scenes turers. “Action figures have been around from shows and movies and while the imagination can do for so long that kids and parents are autoa great deal during playtime, help is always appreciated. matically aware of them,” says Christy That help can come in a number of forms. The articuKaskey, founder of Kaskey’s Kids, which lation of a figure is always important—if a figure can’t be produces a number of sports-based action figposed in the same way as the character it represents, it’s ure kits. Nostalgia definitely plays a factor, less appealing to the child. Action-based features help as as parents are already familiar with many well, such as the projectile-firing action that is a part of of the characters from when they were chilmany of Bandai’s Ben 10 action figures. Often, suppleJakks’ UFC figures (left) are aimed toward the dren. Action figures also have the advantage collector market, while its TNA Wrestling line (right) is mentary products, such as vehicles or playsets, can bring more child-oriented. of portability over bigger and more complex an action figure’s play value up exponentially. Jakks toys. “You can bring a whole set to the Pacific, which has had success with the UFC and TNA beach, or just the one figure to a restaurant,” says Kaskey. Price, as always, is brands for action figures, also releases scale models of the UFC Octagon and also a major factor. Most action figures are priced in between $5–$10, making TNA’s wrestling rings to help make action figure play more realistic for the them more affordable than portable electronics or other easy-to-transport toys. child. Hasbro has supported its G.I. JOE line with iconic vehicles such as the Of course, it’s not just the desires of parents that have kept the category H.I.S.S. Tank, a classic action figure vehicle from the 1980s that is being going since the term “action figure” was coined in the 1960s. Kids, especially remade for the modern G.I. JOE line. young boys, have been enjoying the category for decades. “It’s a way for kids Technology has also added the ability to include entirely new features on to live out the experience and be closer to their favorite characters from their action figures. Mattel’s Avatar action figures, based on the James Cameron

28 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT JULY 2010

AND A KUNG FU GRIP


film, use i-TAG technology to unlock special features incorporated into the figures. The company’s new FlexForce WWE figures (a new license for Mattel) use Mattel’s FlexForce technology to imitate wrestlers’ signature moves. “We look forward to keeping our action figures fresh through innovation, exceptional engineering, and our pure passion for the category,” says Doug Wadleigh, vice-president of marketing, girls, boys, and games at Mattel. Of course, it’s not just children who are buying action figures. The collector market has always existed within the category, with adults purchasing figures from their favorite series and keeping them in their boxes or perhaps putting them on display. This market has certainly not faded over time and, in fact, in the wake of recent economic difficulties, has actually seen a surge in business. “Statues and collectibles are just too expensive!” says Geoff Beckett, president of Shocker Toys. As a result, many collectors have turned to picking up action figures instead. Companies such as Shocker Toys cater toward the collector rather than the child or parent consumer. Shocker, for example, produces a number of figures featuring cult classics or niche licenses that aren’t commonly known. The upcoming Shocker Toys Indie Spotlight Series will feature figures of The Tick, Dick Tracy, Zombie, and other similar characters from “indie” properties. The collector side of the action figure category has also received a boost from the fact that video games and technology have become more prevalent in today’s culture, creating a “nerd cool” aesthetic that makes hobbies such as toy collecting more acceptable in today’s world. “When I was in high school, I had to hide the fact that I collected or bought toys from my friends,” says Randy Falk, director of product development at NECA. “Nowadays, that’s not even enough of a hobby to earn you a label.” The hobby has lost a great deal of the stigma that surrounded it. Falk points to

MORE THAN ONE MARKET

shows on networks such as G4 and Spike—both targeted toward the same 18–34 age demographic that is the majority of the collector market—where toys and action figures are proudly displayed on the workstations of network personalities or celebrities. “You’re not going to get as many strange looks now,” says Falk. He also notes that in the past few years, Toys “R” Us has opened up the space in its action figure section to support more products for the collector. For both the collector and the children’s market, licensing and branding are enormous parts of the action figure category. Movies have been a major source of strong licensing in the past few years, especially with action-oriented films such as Iron Man 2, Avatar, and the more recent Jonah Hex. Hasbro has had particular success with action figure lines based off the Star Wars franchise, including big-ticket vehicle items such as the new Star Wars AT-AT. Children’s television has provided for a number of strong properties as well, thanks to shows such as Ben 10, which has proven to be a successful license for Bandai. Bandai’s latest Ben 10 figures, the Ben 10 Ultimate Alien line, features characters from the Ben 10 Ultimate Alien show. For some companies, their strongest and most popular brands have become licenses in their own right. Hasbro’s G.I. JOE brand has been a part of the action figure category since it first appeared in the 1960s and has maintained success through both innovation and nostalgia. “Parents want to share the enjoyable experiences they had when they were kids with their own children and we’re thrilled to be able to do that with the G.I. JOE brand,” says Jeff Labovitz, marketing director for Hasbro’s G.I. JOE brand. “Many adults without kids still enjoy collecting toys and participating in the fantasy that they most likely discovered in childhood.” Hasbro has also had similar success with its Transformers brand, with the two recent

BRANDED FOR LIFE

Rath, from Bandai’s Ben 10 Ultimate Alien line

films’ success energizing action figure sales along with the Transformers Animated television show. The new Power Core Combiner line is based on the villain Devastator from Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen with characters combining to form a larger figure. While many manufacturers have weathered the economic storm that raged over the past few years, the action figure category did not emerge unscathed. NECA’s Falk notes that a number of smaller companies have come and gone in the past few years, either due to the economy or due to poor decisions. Rising manufacturing costs have put many companies in the position of having to choose between affordability and quality. But most manufacturers mentioned a solid increase in business in the past year. Strong new brands have emerged, creating opportunities for licensees. Classic brands, such as Transformers and Power Rangers, have been re-invented and re-introduced just as their original childhood fans are hitting their late 20s and early 30s—the default age for the collector’s market. In addition, new sources for brands and opportunities have emerged thanks to the continued growth of the video game category. “There’s a lot out there,” says Shocker Toys’ Beckett. “If we can put out a property like The Tick and see the success we’ve seen with it, then that’s a victory.”

ACTION IN THE FUTURE

JULY 2010 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 29


Action Figures BY

PAUL NARULA

Having all the powers of your favorite superhero in the palm of your hand is essentially impossible, but the action figure category strives to bring kids as close to that fantasy as possible. The category has remained strong for more than 40 years and shows no sign of slowing as it expands to encompass characters from entertainment franchises including movies, video games, sports, comic books, and more. Kids continue to seek out figures of their favorite action heroes while collectors are still adding to their collections every year. As a new crop of properties emerges and classic properties are refreshed, manufacturers anticipate a successful future. Here is a small sampling of recent and upcoming products in this ever-expanding category.

Jakks Pacific

Jakks Pacific will continue to produce action figures for the Total Nonstop Action (TNA) Wrestling brand. The new TNA Deluxe Impact Wave line hits shelves this month with figures of TNA stars such as Kurt Angle, Jeff Jarrett (shown), and AJ Styles. For fans of the UFC brand, Jakks will release Wave Five of its UFC action figure line next month, featuring fighters such as Marchita, Rampage, Bonnar, and more. Jakks will also be releasing figures based on the children’s television show Phineas & Ferb and children’s property Club Penguin.

Hasbro

Mattel

Mattel has expanded on the WWE license with new WWE FlexForce figures. Each figure, based on one of the WWE star wrestlers, can deliver one of the wrestler’s signature moves using Mattel’s FlexForce features. Fist Poundin’ John Cena and Undertaker (shown) can deliver punches. Other figures can perform kicks or flips.

Hasbro will continue to develop its G.I. JOE action figure and entertainment brand with a number of new products based on both the classic G.I. JOE action figure property and the G.I. JOE film license. The new Pursuit of Cobra line will feature stylings similar to the G.I. JOE: The Rise of Cobra film for figures such as Cobra Commander (left). It will also include figures with included vehicles, such as the Cobra Mech Suit (right).

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Bandai

Mezco Toys

The new Ben 10 Ultimate Alien line from Bandai is the next in Bandai’s action figure lines based on the popular animated television series. The line includes figures based on the aliens that Ben transforms into on the show, such as Big Chill and Rath, as well as a number of the Ben 10 villains, such as Vilgax. Bandai has also created a full line of vehicles and playBen 10 Ultimate sets for use with the Ben 10 Alien Vilgax Ultimate Alien figures.

Mezco Toys has teamed up with Warner Bros. Consumer Products on behalf of DC Comics for the newest line of its MezItz figures. The first DC Mez-Itz, Batman and The Joker, made their debut last month at the San Diego Comic Con. Mezco will continue to release various Mez-Itz sets several times a year, drawn from multiple sources in the DC Universe.

Shocker Toys

Shocker Toys is releasing the next wave of its Indie Spotlight figures. Indie Spotlight Series 2 will feature The Tick, Dick Tracy, Jack Staff, Ignacia, and King Zombie.

Kaskey’ s Kids

NECA

Dick Tracy

Having had great success with its latest product, Hockey Guys, Kaskey’s Kids has signed a licensing deal with the NHL to create NHLlicensed Hockey Guys. This is Kaskey’s Kids first professional sports licensing deal and builds upon the company’s formerly collegiatebased licensed products. The company will continue to search for new ways to translate sports into simple action figures.

NECA is the official licensee for action figures for the Predator film, which hit theaters this month. While at press time the company was unable to reveal the design of the Predator figures, they will be highly detailed figures based on the new film’s depiction of the Predator aliens. NECA has also produced a full line of figures based on the Jonah Hex movie, which came out last month. Characters include Jonah Hex (shown), Turnbull, and Lilah.

JULY 2010 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 31


WAtEr toys BY

CHRIS ADAMS

When kids are out of school and the dog days of summer are attacking, the water toys category offers a range of options to cool off from the heat, from a basic water blaster to an elaborate inflatable water park. This perennial summer play category is a favorite way for kids to enjoy even the hottest of days all while keeping cool and having a blast. Below is a sampling of some water toy options offered by a range of manufacturers.

toyQuEst Among ToyQuest’s Banzai offerings is the Wave Breaker Water Park. With this water park, kids can scale the climbing wall before sliding the banked curve slide that dumps them into the splash pool. For the tamer at heart, there is a smaller slide that also plunges into the splash pool.

HAsbro This year, Hasbro combined its Nerf and Super Soaker brands. The inaugural line includes the Nerf Super Soaker Shot Blast, which is a water blaster that Hasbro says can shoot up to 25 feet with just a single pump. This blaster is compatible with Hasbro’s Tactile Rail System accessories and features an adjustable and removable shoulder stock. Additional Nerf Super Soaker offerings include the Nerf Super Soaker Bottle Blitz, the Nerf Super Soaker Hydro Fury 2-Pack, and the Nerf Super Soaker Rattler.

MGA EntErtAinMEnt With MGA Entertainment’s Little Tikes Spray and Rescue Fire Truck, little firefighters can ride in a footto-floor truck that includes a removable pressurized water tank with hose that really squirts water. The water tank holds two gallons of water. Also from Little Tikes is the Anchors Away Pirate Ship, which features two characters, a squirting shark, and a constantly running water fountain. Its center mast is a battery-operated constant-flow water fountain. Kids can aim and squirt water from its water cannon.

32 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT JULY 2010


WhAm-O Wham-O’s Extreme Slip ’n Slide Freestyle Boogie water slide comes with a Boogie board kneeboard, which lets kids cruise down the slide at fast speeds. This also includes a waterfilled ramp to add to the extreme action.

Prime time tOys Prime Time Toys’ new Max Liquidator XT-Grip is easy to load with water. Just pull back the handle while the nozzle is in water. The new XT-Grip handle gives kids better performance and power. Prime Time says the blaster can shoot water up to 30 feet.

internAtiOnAL PLAythinGs International Playthings’ Water Bomber Jai Alai is a classic flip-toss game with a wet twist. The set includes two jai alai baskets for tossing and catching, a water bomb play ball, and 20 water balloons. Using the pump on the handle of the basket, kids can pump the water balloons full of water.

BAckyArd OceAn Backyard Ocean’s Surfer Slide is a water slide that includes an inflatable surfboard that kids can ride on down the slide. Just hook the slide up to a garden hose and water will sprinkle onto the slide.

AquA Leisure Geyser Guys The Geyser Gusher, by Geyser Guys, has no moving parts. It squirts a one-inch stream of water by employing the Venturi effect. The Venturi effect is the reduction in fluid pressure that results when a fluid flows through a constricted section of pipe.

Drenchers, from Aqua Leisure, are brightly colored foam footballs and baseballs that come in two sizes. The balls are designed to be dunked in the water and thrown and will splash water in a spiral.

JULY 2010 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 33


Pool Toys Make a Splash with Families BY LAURIE LEAHEY

ust when you think you’ve outplayed every pool toy you own, something cooler and even more fun hits store shelves. Every summer, pool toy manufacturers up the ante by offering new ways for kids and adults to play in the pool. From refreshed classic play patterns to toys with technology, there is something for every age group and every price point. Offering exciting new pool toys that are also affordable is especially important right now because consumers, despite any uptick in the overall economy, are still watching where their money goes and looking for the best value. “You read about the economy coming up but that’s not the average family. The average family is still watching and making sure that their money is used well,” says Douglas Rubel, president of Mindwalk, Inc. He says families are looking at what they already own and finding ways to get the most value out of these items. This includes backyard pools. Michael Bernstein, senior vice-president of marketing for Jakks Pacific, says that “people are staying at home in a tough economy and spending more on activities around the house.” Just like last summer, many families are opting to spend their vacation time splashing around in their backyard pool as opposed to spending hundreds of dollars to do the same thing at a hotel pool. “They may be taking vacations this year, but the pool never goes away,” says Monica Jones, marketing director, SwimWays. “They are not going to stop investing [in their pool]. It’s a big part of their backyard.” So big that, after conducting focus groups with moms, SwimWays discovered that the pool is con-

J

34 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT JULY 2010

sidered to be a family safe haven. “It’s where they come home from work and school, meet at the pool, and everybody gets along,” Jones says. “We really want to create something that makes that pool experience that much more fun.” Every pool toy manufacturer is focused on the fun factor. Delivering the fun, however, is the challenge. Joseph Pokowitz, head of marketing at Prime Time Toys, says the company offers innovation by using different materials. “We’re known for our mixed media toys—things that

SwimWays’ Hydro Flyer (bottom) and Mindwalk’s Underwater Soccer Ball use kid power instead of batteries.

incorporate not just plastics, but foams and fabrics and really tactile products that are fun to play with,” he says. The company also takes cues from trends in the toy market not only for creating new pool toys, but also for updating and refreshing some of Prime Time Toys’ existing brands to make them something that the con-

sumer hasn’t seen before. Other pool toy manufacturers also keep tabs on what’s trending within the toy industry, but some companies, such as Fundex, know that sometimes a pool toy or game is fun because it’s social. “We try to expand on the game play so we’re adding social interaction for everyone,” says Nick Riek, product line manager, Fundex. “How can we get more people incorporated or add new ways for the kids to play or add an element of creativity so kids can come up with their own interaction with the game?” In the past, many pool toys featured a technological element that allowed for sound or motion in the water. These days, pool toy manufacturers understand that with technology comes a higher cost and they’re not willing to deliver that cost to consumers. Some see pool toys as an antidote to an already high-tech world. “There’s enough technology inside between the Nintendos and the Wiis and everything else,” says Prime Time Toys’ Pokowitz. “When you get outside in the backyard, it’s just time to run around and have fun.” “We do look at technology because that’s the exciting thing to bring about in the pool, but that’s sort of the easy part,” says SwimWays’ Jones. “The more difficult part is doing a kid-powered item and making that exciting. If you have something without batteries and you can make it really perform, that’s really exciting.” As Mindwalk’s Rubel says, “The goal is never technology.” Instead, the goal is to create pool toys that get kids having fun outside and that bring families together.


Pool toy manufacturers understand that many families are choosing to spend more time at home than on summer vacations. For this reason, parents and kids want exciting new toys for their backyard pool. Below are a few examples of what’s new in pool toys.

Fundex

Finis

With Finis’ Wyland Dolphin Tail, kids can pretend to be mermaids or dolphins while swimming. The Dolphin Tail is a monofin that slips onto both feet and secures with an adjustable Velcro strap. It is available in aqua blue and pink. A portion of the sales goes to Wyland’s ocean preservation efforts.

Jakks Pacific

Jakks Pacific continues to produce the Funnoodle, which it acquired from the 2002 acquisition of Toymax. Kids can choose from the original Funnoodle or the Funnoodle Monster Noodle, both available in a variety of colors.

With Fundex’s Lil’ Leapers, kids take aim and launch a frog toward the lily pad. The largest lily pad is worth one point, medium is worth two points, and the smallest is worth three points. The player with the most points after all frogs have been thrown is the winner. This portable game comes with three floating lily pads, four frog bean bags, and instructions. The largest lily pad snaps together to create a storage bag. It is for one to four players ages 4 and up.

Geyser Guys

The Geyser Spray Baseball sprays water in a 10-foot diameter when dunked and thrown or when hit with the Geyser Spray Bat. The soft baseball comes in green/yellow, red/orange, and dark blue/light blue color combinations. The bats are available in lime green. The baseball and bat come packaged together, but additional baseballs can be purchased separately.

JULY 2010 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 35


Prime Time Toys

Prime Time Toys’ lightweight, fabric Splash Paddles let kids lob a water-soaked Splash Bomb. The set includes two eight-inch diameter paddles and a colorful Splash Bomb ball. Splash Paddles are for ages 4 and up.

Big Time Toys

Mindwalk

Mindwalk’s Underwater Soccer Ball brings the game of soccer to the pool. Kids can kick the ball underwater just like a real soccer ball. Inflate the ball with the included universal adaptor and water from any hose. It is for ages 6 and up.

Dive Hero Dive Sticks let kids swim with their favorite characters, including Spider-Man. Big Time Toys’ dive sticks are molded in the form of the characters so that kids can play with the dive sticks as pool toys or as action figures outside of the water.

Opa Cove

Opa Cove created Sea Squirts, life jackets and swim-assist vests that look like different types of fish and sea mammals. The Sea Squirts design includes a flexible fin on the back of each vest, which is entertaining for kids, but also strong enough to be grabbed to pluck a child out of the water in an emergency situation. The Sea Squirts product line is fabricated with neoprene outer shells and durable zippers and buckles. Sea Squirts come in several designs including clownfish, great white shark, pink dolphin, blue dolphin, killa whale, and angel fish.

36 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT JULY 2010

SwimWays

With just the power of a rubber band to wind up the propeller, kids can launch the Hydro Flyer and watch its underwater stunt diving action. The Hydro Flyer performs loops, dives, and glides up to 20 feet. Adjust the tail fin to control the action.


Discovering Fun

t’s never easy starting off in the toy business, especially in a competitive category such as games. But when Discovery Bay Games (then named Baffle Gab) hit the market in 2006 with its puzzle game Baffle Gab, the Port Townsend, Wash.-based company got its first taste of success with the help of launch partners such as Disney, Hilton Hotels, and Milk Media. Discovery Bay Games has since moved its headquarters to Seattle and has produced more than 100 new games and puzzles since its creation. The core of Discovery Bay’s design philosophy and mission, according to Craig Olson, the company’s CEO, is that a game should help “strengthen the connection between friends and family by creating enjoyable play experiences through innovation.” The company’s name, Discovery Bay, has its roots in the discoveries that players make while engaged with the products and in the innovation that goes into each Discovery Bay product. One example of such innovation is Discovery Bay’s Guesstimation trivia game, which plays like a traditional trivia game with the exception that players only need to guess at the answers and rewards are given not for guessing correctly, but guessing close enough. Other games, such as Liebrary, challenge players to bluff and use their creativity to outwit opponents. Discovery Bay also has unique games such as Heart 2 Heart, billed as “The Game of Self Discovery,” where players must answer and ask personal questions of each other and themselves that can lead to victory. “The [Discovery Bay] mission influences everything, from packaging design to game play,” says Olson.

I

38 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT JULY 2010

BY

PAUL NARULA

In addition to having creative or innovative game play, Discovery Bay focuses on having products that are easy to learn for all ages. Because many board games and puzzles are used by parents as a way of getting a family together for activities, Discovery Bay tries to focus on making its products capable of bridging the age gaps between a family while still keeping everyone engaged in the game. “By creating amazing experiences through game play, our hope is that consumers will at right: SNL—The Game below: Guesstimation

play our games time and time again,” says Olson. This philosophy was a part of the company’s very first game, Baffle Gab, in which players would use given words to quickly create a short story for points. The game’s vocabulary was kept at a fourth grade level to encourage younger children to play while giving enough of a vocabulary for older children and parents to feel comfortable rather than constrained. The creative storytelling aspect of the game brings in additional balance, moving imagination to the forefront and allowing players to express themselves in multiple ways.

Though the company has grown, Discovery Bay Games remains a specialty company and as such works closely with its retailers to ensure success for both the company and its customers. “Knowing the retailer and the customer is a key part of [this business],” says Veronica Sanchez, director of sales at Discovery Bay Games. Because Discovery Bay Games has a wide variety of products for a number of age ranges, the company is able to work closely with its retailers to create packages that will work for a specific retailer, as well as working closely with retailers to provide additional signage, sample games, and displays. Discovery Bay also applies the same creative and innovative philosophies of its games to its packaging, which can feature eye-grabbing artwork or interesting shapes and designs related to the game. Discovery Bay will continue to expand with new games and puzzles, both original and branded. The company has signed a licensing agreement with Broadway Video to create Saturday Night Live—The Game, in which players compete with SNL activities based on episodes from the 1970s through the present. Working with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, Discovery Bay has created a line of jigsaw puzzles, flashcards, and more. The company has also signed the Norman Rockwell brand for puzzles as well as the Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern for Bizarre!—The Game. The company is also looking for content partners to bring product to other platforms. “Discovery Bay Games will continue to create products that bring friends and family together to interact, play, and laugh,” says Olson.


YOU’RE HIRED

HASBRO

SIMON WATERS, SENIOR VICE-PRESIDENT, GLOBAL LICENSING

Hasbro, Inc., named Simon Waters as senior vice-president of global licensing. He joins Hasbro from The Walt Disney Company, where he served most recently as vice-president, global franchise development and strategic marketing. Waters will be based at Hasbro’s Los Angeles office and will report directly to John Frascotti, Hasbro’s global chief marketing officer. Waters previously held executive positions at Universal Music Group and Bertelsmann Music Group.

NELVANA ENTERPRISES NEW APPOINTMENTS

Nelvana Enterprises announced new appointments in its merchandise licensing and marketing groups, both headquartered in Toronto. Peter Maule is now vice-president, worldwide home entertainment and licensing, the Americas. He will assume the leadership of the merchandise licensing team, adding expanded responsibilities to his previous role of vicepresident, worldwide home entertainment and digital media. Carly D’Eon has been promoted to senior manager, licensing North America, and will oversee U.S. retail management, adding to her current portfolio of soft lines, social expressions, and health and beauty. Her former title was manager, licensing North America. Tonya Lindo, director, licensing North America, will be taking on master toy partnerships in addition to interactive and publishing. Nikki Hawke has come on board as director, marketing. Her position includes overseeing the launch of the new CGI Babar property. Hawke was formerly a senior brand manager at Global Television. Stephanie Zhuang has been promoted to marketing manager. Her duties include the brand management of the relaunch of Beyblade. Zhuang’s former title was project manager.

THE UPPER DECK COMPANY PAUL MEYER, PRESIDENT

The Upper Deck Company appointed Paul Meyer as its new president. Meyer brings more than 20 years of executive-level experience to Upper Deck. Most recently he served as president and chief operating officer for Shuffle Master, Inc., a supplier of automatic card shufflers and proprietary table games. Prior to Shuffle Master, Meyer served as president of the integrated solutions division of Concurrent Computer Corporation and has held leadership positions in a wide range of industries, including toy manufacturing, video game developing and publishing, and turnaround/restructuring consulting.

40 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT JULY 2010

SPIN MASTER

CRAIG SIMS, VICE-PRESIDENT, GLOBAL LICENSING

Spin Master promoted Craig Sims to vice-president, global licensing. Sims will manage and oversee all master toy opportunities and brand licensing initiatives for Spin Master, across all territories. He will be responsible for managing the relationships with all the consumer product groups within all the major kids studios and broadcasters globally. Sims will also oversee the evaluation, selection, and acquisition process in attaining new licenses for the company.

CLASSIC MEDIA MAKES CHANGES WITHIN CONSUMER PRODUCTS & MARKETING DIVISION

Andrew Kerr, current executive vice-president, international marketing & consumer products, will leave Classic Media at the end of this month in order to start his own venture. He will continue to provide non-exclusive consultancy for Classic Media. Kerr’s responsibilities will be Andrew Kerr assumed by Nicole Blake, who has been promoted to executive vice-president, global marketing & consumer products. Blake’s role will now include the UK and the rest of the world. In addition, current London office executives Claire Shaw and Mat Way will also see their responsibilities increased. Shaw’s expanded role as vice-president, consumer products & retail will see her drive all licensing, retail development, and promotional activity for the company’s brands in the UK. Way adds international consumer products to his current global live entertainment responsibilities, becoming vice-president, consumer products & live entertainNicole Blake ment, international.


HIT REALIGNS BUSINESS

HIT Entertainment realigned its business units to increase its brand focus. The realignment involves the creation of four new divisions that will form two new lines of business—one focusing on Thomas & Friends and the other on HIT Global Brands (Angelina Ballerina, Barney, Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam, Pingu, and Rainbow Magic). The Thomas & Friends line of business will comprise three divisions: the New York-based Thomas Americas headed by Pam Westman (which will focus on North and South America), the London-based Thomas EMEA headed by Rick Glankler (which will focus on the UK, Europe, Middle East, and Africa), and the Hong Kong-based Thomas Asia headed by Antonio Huab (which will focus on Asia, including Australia and Japan). Westman, Glankler, and Huab will all report to Sangeeta Desai, HIT’s COO. The HIT Global Brands business will be managed from London by Jon Owen as one global division. Owen will also have local staff based in New York, London, and Hong Kong reporting to him. He will also report to Desai. HIT’s finance, legal, HR, and IT groups will remain centralized staff units supporting both lines of business. As part of this restructuring, Peter Byrne, executive vicepresident of international consumer products and home entertainment, will be leaving the company.

CBS CONSUMER PRODUCTS

PIERCE & MARTIN, PROMOTIONS

CBS Consumer Products promoted P.J. Pierce to vicepresident of licensing and Maryann Martin to vice-president of operations. Pierce heads up CBS Consumer Products’ soft goods category. He is responsible for developing strategic branded licensing partnerships in apparel, accessories, and related categories for CBS’s entire portfolio of properties. Pierce joined CBS Consumer Products in January 2008 as director of licensing. Martin, former director of operations, will continue to run the operations area, including developing and maintaining the contract management system and asset management and approvals systems. She also contributes to the product development of video games, publishing, and live shows, and is the brand expert for the CSI and NCIS franchises, Criminal Minds, and Ghost Whisperer.

NICKELODEON CONSUMER PRODUCTS

LOURDES AROCHO, VICE-PRESIDENT, TOYS AND GAMES

Nickelodeon Consumer Products (NCP) promoted Lourdes Arocho to vice-president, toys and games. Arocho will continue to seek new partnerships and set strategies for all toy categories, as well as lead and oversee the toy team on the extension of Nickelodeon’s evergreen properties, Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants; current properties including iCarly, Nickelodeon Movies and Paramount Pictures’ The Last Airbender; and Nickelodeon’s most recent acquisition, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In addition, she will direct the product launches of the network’s newest hits, Team Umizoomi and Victorious, and will manage relationships with industry leaders including Fisher-Price, Playmates, Spin Master, and Hasbro. Arocho joined Nickelodeon in 2007 as director of toys and games for NCP. Prior to joining Nickelodeon, Arocho was director of international licensing & merchandising for New Line Cinema.

SANRIO, INC.

NEW APPOINTMENTS

Sanrio, Inc., expands its senior management team. Jill Koch has been promoted to vice-president of brand management and marketing. She will be responsible for maintaining the integrity and identity of the Sanrio brand and its characters. Koch will work closely with the design team on product development and brand extension. She will continue to oversee the expansion of Sanrio’s co-brand initiatives and collaboration programs, as well as the management of public relations and marketing to build and drive consistent brand messaging. Koch has been with Sanrio since 2002. Cindy Elfenbein has been named executive director of retail business development. She will develop new business opportunities with key retailers and create unique partnerships and promotions between Sanrio licensees and retailers. Previously, Elfenbein held senior management positions at Sony Pictures Entertainment, DIC Entertainment, and Warner Bros. Consumer Products. Sanrio promoted Linh Forse to senior licensing manager, responsible for the management of the company’s licensing partners in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Her focus will be on expanding distribution in the Canadian market and developing licensing programs for emerging characters. Forse has been with Sanrio since 2008.

JULY 2010 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 41


EVENTS OF

CALENDAR

Industry-Related Trade Shows SEPTEMBER 17–19

Hawaii Market Merchandise Expo douglastradeshows.com

25–26

Blaisdell Exhibition Center

Honolulu

Indy Baby and Toddler Expo

bebepaluzza.com

Merchandise Mart

4–8

MIPCOM

mipworld.com

Palais des Festivals

Cannes, France

21–24

iHobby Expo

ihobbyexpo.com

Donald E. Stephens Convention Center

Rosemont, IL

28

OCTOBER 5–8

Time to Play Holiday Showcase

Fall Toy Preview

10–13

toyassociation.org

The ABC Kids Expo

theabcshow.com

NOVEMBER 2–5

SEMA/AAPEX

18–19

Toy & Game Inventor Conference

14–16

sema.org

PLMA

16–18

G2E

20–21

timetoplaymag.com

Chicago Toy & Game Fair

DECEMBER

plma.com

Altman Building

Dallas Market Center

Las Vegas Convention Center

Dallas

Las Vegas

Las Vegas

Navy Pier

Chicago

Donald E. Stephens Convention Center

Las Vegas Convention Center

toyandgameinventors.com

New York City

Las Vegas Convention Center

globalgamingexpo.com chitag.com

Denver

Navy Pier

Rosemont, IL Las Vegas Chicago

5–8

Grand Strand Gift & Resort Show

urban-expo.com

Myrtle Beach Convention Center

Myrtle Beach, SC

8–11

Philadelphia Gift Show

philadelphiagiftshow.com

Greater Philadelphia Expo Center

King of Prussia, PA

JANUARY 10–13

25–27

Hong Kong Toys and Games Fair The Toy Fair

hktoyfair.com toyfair.co.uk

Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Center

Olympia Grand Hall

Hong Kong London

FALL TOY PREVIEW 2010 OCTOBER 5–8; DALLAS MARKET CENTER, DALLAS; WWW.TOYASSOCIATION.ORG

AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL TOY FAIR 2011 FEB. 13–16; JACOB JAVITS CONVENTION CENTER, NEW YORK CITY;

WWW.TOYASSOCIATION.ORG

INTERNATIONAL HALLOWEEN COSTUME & PARTY SHOW 2011 MARCH 10–13; AMERICA’S CENTER & DOME, ST. LOUIS, MO.; 42 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT JULY 2010

WWW.HCPSHOW.COM



Toys & Family Entertainment, July 2010