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Volume 4, No. 4

March 2009

Features 22 Barbie: Five Decades of Fabulous by Nancy Lombardi

24 Trading Card Games Go Beyond the Tabletop by Laurie Hahn

26 Kids Are Still Reading. . . But Where? by Chris Adams

28 Games: Playing to Win by Paul Narula

34 Games: Product Presentation by Paul Narula

:

38

Thames & Kosmos by Laurie Hahn

Departments

Observations & Opinions

page 6

Sizzlers

page 8

Specialty Sizzlers

page 10

The Ticker

page 12

Shelf Talkers

page 14

Entertainment Marketplace: G.I. JOE

page 16

Merchandise Makers: Techno Source

page 18

Industry Forum: Gameplan Europe

page 20

You’re Hired!

page 40

Calendar of Events

page 42

ON THIS PAGE (CLOCKWISE FROM THE TOP): the iconic 1959 Barbie that launched a legacy; Callaway Arts & Entertainment The English Roses: Friends for Life, by Madonna; and Cardinal Games’ Twilight: The Game ON THE COVER: Shown is the Generation of Dreams Barbie by designer Robert Best. COVER BY DESIGN EDGE


OBSERVATIONS & OPINIONS

WWW.ANBMEDIA.COM

TOY FAIR RECAP

T

BY

BOB GLASER

o me, the start of Toy Fair is analogous to Christmas

morning. Just as my daughters eagerly anticipated the arrival of Santa Claus with gifts, the industry eagerly

waits for the opening of the show. And while there was less traffic at this year’s show, the traffic was consistent

over the course of the show. The exhibitors that I spoke with were happy

with the traffic. Toy Fair attendance, as with any trade show, should be

more about quality of attendees over quantity. There will always be a

percentage of people who walk into a booth for a “look see,” but most manufacturers reported to me that attendees were writing orders and conducting business, which is exactly what a trade show is for.

The annual Toy of the Year Awards (TOTY) seemed to have a

similar attendance compared with the 2008 event. There were

aspects of this year’s event that did bother me. Several TIA representatives, throughout the course of the evening, did mention the tough economic times we are in. Everybody in attendance is cer-

tainly aware of this fact and we didn’t constantly need to be

reminded of it. The industry was gathered for one night to celebrate the past year’s accomplishments. They should have focused

on the positive without constantly reminding us of the negative. The

presentation of the awards (and, admittedly, I scratched my head at a

PUBLISHED

BY ANB

MEDIA • Volume 4, Number 4

PUBLISHER BOB GLASER BOB@ANBMEDIA.COM ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER ANDY KRINNER ANDY@ANBMEDIA.COM ADVERTISING MANAGER AMY LAND AMY@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 HAHN; LAURIE@ANBMEDIA.COM PAUL NARULA; PAUL@ANBMEDIA.COM WEB MASTER ERIK KIECKHAFER ERIK@ANBMEDIA.COM WEB CONTENT MANAGER BRENDAN SANABRIA BRENDAN@ANBMEDIA.COM

few of the award winners) went along smoothly. One of the highlights

CONTRIBUTORS ANDREW DOBBIE; MATT NUCCIO, MATT@DESIGNEDGE.NET

and creator of Sesame Street) into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame. It was

HONG KONG REPRESENTATIVE TONY LEE SMART REGENT PRODUCTIONS LTD., 66–72 STANLEY STREET, ROOM 603, KAI TAK COMMERCIAL BUILDING, CENTRAL HONG KONG PHONE: 2815 0166 • FAX: 2815 6911 • SREGENT@NETVIGATOR.COM

of the evening was the induction of Joan Ganz Cooney (one of the founders of Children’s Television Workshop, now Sesame Workshop,

great watching Mattel’s Neil Friedman play the straight man to Sesame

Workshop’s Elmo (who was on stage with Muppeteer Kevin Clash) as the two performed a skit to introduce Ganz Cooney.

Aside from the economy, Toy Fair attendance, and what companies

will be in attendance at this year’s Licensing Show, there was also a lot

of talk at this year’s Toy Fair about the impending changes to testing laws. A definitive answer has yet to be given and there are still a lot of

unanswered questions about this issue. We can only hope that the outcome will be a positive one that institutes a worldwide standard that benefits the industry as well as consumers.

6 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT MARCH 2009

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 2009

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 sys-

tem, 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 publi-

cation by editors, contributing writers, or solicited or unsolicited documents are not necessarily those of management.


After 50 years in the biz,

Š 2008 Mattel, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

can you imagine the size of my closet?!

Š 2009 Mattel, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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.

BAKUGAN BATTLE BRAWLERS Spin Master

HYPER DASH Wild Planet

BATHING SUIT BARBIE THEN AND NOW DOLL Mattel BEN 10 FIGURE ASSORTMENT Bandai

IMAGINEXT DC SUPER FRIENDS ASSORTMENT Fisher-Price Hyper Dash Color Wonder

NERF N-STRIKE VULCAN Hasbro

COLOR WONDER ASSORTMENT Crayola

PIXOS Spin Master

EYECLOPS NIGHT VISION GOGGLES Jakks Pacific Girl Gourmet Cupcake Maker

GIRL GOURMET CUPCAKE MAKER Jakks Pacific

STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS FIGURES Hasbro TAG LeapFrog

HOT WHEELS POWER REVVERS SPEED VEHICLE ASSORTMENT Mattel

TECH DECK BOARDS Spin Master PixOs

8 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT MARCH 2009

LEGO STAR WARS ASSORTMENT LEGO


© 2009 Mattel, Inc. All Rights Reserved. General Motors Trademarks used under license to Mattel, Inc. Vespa® and Piaggio® are registered trademarks of Piaggio® and C.S.P.A.

No need for gifts, I’ve got my own toys!


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.

36 CUBE ThinkFun Bath Toys Assortment

BANANAGRAMS Bananagrams BATH TOYS ASSORTMENT Alex Toys CALICO CRITTERS ASSORTMENT International Playthings CALIN DOLL ASSORTMENT Corolle

10 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT MARCH 2009

INSTA-SNOW POWDER Be Amazing Toys JAPANESE ERASERS BC USA

Insta-Snow Powder

PLASMACAR PlaSmart Calico Critters

PlasmaCar

QUELF Imagination Entertainment SNAP CIRCUITS Elenco


THE TICKER

A RECAP OF INDUSTRY HEADLINES TOY INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES TOTY WINNERS

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) awarded its 2009 Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards on February 15. The event was held in New York City at Pier 60/Chelsea Piers and was attended by more than 450 guests representing a cross-section of the toy industry. The TOTY awards presentation included winners in 11 categories. The Toy of the Year award winner was Bakugan Battle Brawlers Battle Pack Series 1 Spheres, by Spin Master. Additional 2009 award recipients include: Crayola Color Wonder Magic Light Brush, by Crayola (Activity Toy of the Year); Bakugan Battle Brawlers Battle Pack Series 1 Spheres, by Spin Master (Boy Toy of the Year); LeapFrog TAG Reading System, by LeapFrog (Educational Toy of the Year); Playmobil Horse Farm, by Playmobil (Girl Toy of the Year); FurReal Friends Biscuit My Lovin’ Pup, by Hasbro (Electronic Entertainment Toy of the Year); Bananagrams, by Bananagrams LLC (Game of the Year); Elmo Live, by Fisher-Price (Infant/Preschool Toy of the Year); Air Hogs Zero Gravity Micro, by Spin Master (Most Innovative Toy of the Year); Bakugan Battle Brawlers, by Cartoon Network (Property of the Year); Crayola 3-D Sidewalk Chalk, by Crayola (Outdoor Toy of the Year); and Create Your Own Pop-Up Books, by Creativity for Kids/Faber-Castell USA (Specialty Toy of the Year). During the awards ceremony were two inductions to the Toy Industry Hall of Fame: Joan Ganz Cooney, the co-founder of the Children’s Television Workshop (which became Sesame Workshop), and Jack Pressman (deceased), founder of Pressman Toy.

TOYS ‘R’ US ACQUIRES ETOYS.COM

Toys “R” Us, Inc., (TRU) announced that it has acquired eToys.com. The transaction with The Parent Company also includes the acquisition of e-commerce site BabyUniverse.com as well as ePregnancy.com. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Toys “R” Us already operates www.Toysrus.com, which includes www.Babiesrus.com. TRU says this acquisition provides the company with an opportunity to broaden its web-based portfolio. All three websites will continue to operate under their current domain names. Toys “R” Us will assume responsibility for all operations of the sites including merchandising, site management, distribution, and marketing.

HASBRO NAMED MASTER LICENSEE FOR HENSON’S SID THE SCIENCE KID

The Jim Henson Company announced that it has appointed Hasbro, Inc., the master toy and game licensee for its Sid the Science Kid property. The four-year license grants Hasbro the rights to introduce an array of products that are slated to debut at retail this fall. Sid the Science Kid is an educational animated television series airing daily on PBS Kids that uses comedy to promote exploration, discovery, and science readiness among preschoolers.

12 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT MARCH 2009

Sid the Science Kid


DENTSU ACQUIRES CHUB CITY

Dentsu, Inc., has entered into an agreement to acquire all rights, title, and interest in the Chub City brand, a line of street-savvy figural characters and vehicles originally created and marketed by Jada Toys. Chub City will be developed for an animated television series by Dentsu in conjunction with its Los Angeles-headquartered subsidiary, DCI-LA. Mitsuharu Inoue, the producer of the Bakugan Battle Brawlers animated series, will serve as creative director. An extensive new licensing program is also planned for Chub City. Dentsu will own the intellectual property and will manage ongoing interests in the brand with DCI-LA.

an item from the Chub City line

JAZWARES SIGNS ON AS LICENSEE FOR ASTRO BOY, PLANET 51, AND HERSHEY’S

Imagi Studios has granted Jazwares toy rights to the CG-animated feature film Astro Boy. Set in the future, Astro Boy is a classic superhero story about a young robot with incredible powers. His adventure-filled journey in search of his identity and destiny takes him into a netherworld of robot gladiators before he returns to save Metro City. The launch of the product line is set to coincide with the movie’s North American release in October 2009. The product range will include action figures, vehicles, electronic toys, roleplay products, and other accessories. Jazwares has also been awarded the master toy license for the animated film Planet 51. Planet 51 is an animated action comedy made and produced by Ilion Animation Studios and co-produced by Hand Made Films featuring the voices of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jessica Biel, Justin Long, Gary Oldman, Seann William Scott, and John Cleese. The launch of the product line is set to coincide with the movie’s release in November 2009. The product range will include action figures, vehicles, plush, and R/C toys. In additional Jazwares news, the manufacturer announced it has entered into a licensing Astro Boy Vinyl Figure agreement with The Hershey Company for Jazwares to design and market a line of consumer electronics featuring the iconic Hershey’s brands, including Hershey’s Kisses, Jolly Rancher, Hershey’s Miniatures, Twizzlers, and Bubble Yum. The product range will include MP3 speakers, USB flash memory drives, digital cameras, and other electronic accessories.

INDUSTRY EXECUTIVES CREATE THINKTANK

Long-time distribution executive David Wollos and veteran marketing and licensing executive Joan Packard Luks have joined forces to establish The ThinkTank Emporium—a media, marketing, and licensing company that provides coaching and guidance to property owners/licensors. Wollos and Luks will work with the content owners to develop properties in all areas of mass media exploitation. A key initial focus of the ThinkTank is the children and family category, where the company will identify content including published books, unpublished manuscripts, television pilots, and toy products and cultivate the properties for media exploitation, licensing, and retail opportunities.

MARCH 2009 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 13


SHELF TALKERS

SHELF TALKERS: CHECK TOYQUEST’S PRO-BOTS

OUT

ToyQuest released the first line of NFL-licensed Probots (professional robots) at mass retail this past holiday season. For 2009, 10 new players will be added to the lineup including two athletes from the 2009 Super Bowl, Arizona Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger. These six-inch figures are officially licensed through the National Football League and NFL Players Association. NFL Pro-bots are fully articulated and feature a unique head flipping mechanism that switches between the head of the player and the helmeted robot alter egos. In addition to the 2009 Super Bowl players Fitzgerald and Roethlisberger (and 2008 Steelers Pro-bot Troy Polamalu, which is pictured here), future Pro-bot players are expected to include Brian Westbrook of the Philadelphia Eagles, Brady Quinn of the Cleveland Browns, Darren McFadden of the Oakland Raiders, Clinton Portis of the Washington Redskins, Champ Bailey of the Denver Broncos, Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons, DeMarcus Ware of the Dallas Cowboys, and Randy Moss of the New England Patriots. Current Pro-bots include Brett Favre from the Green Bay Packers, Brian Urlacher of the Chicago Bears, Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys, Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts, Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings, Tom Brady of the New England Patriots, Reggie Bush of the New Orleans Saints, Eli Manning of the New York Giants, Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and LaDainian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers. The current line is available at Toys “R” Us stores nationwide. The 2009 line is expected to launch this fall.

14 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT MARCH 2009

THESE NEW ITEMS FIESTA TOY

AND

PAUL FRANK

Fiesta Toy and Paul Frank Industries just announced the signing of a multi-year licensing agreement for the development of a plush toy collection featuring iconic monkey Julius and the other popular characters made famous by the Paul Frank fashion brand. The plush toys, which made their debut at Toy Fair, will be exclusively distributed by Fiesta to the toy, gift, and specialty channels. In more than 10 years, Paul Frank Industries has developed a world of more than 200 playful, colorful characters including Julius, Skurvy, Clancy, Worry Bear, and Mika Cat. Fiesta’s new plush line will capture the kitschy tonguein-cheek spirit of Paul Frank Industries with toys that represent the whimsical nature and personality of each Paul Frank character.

DUNCAN’S ORIGINAL WIZ-Z-ZER

The Original Wiz-z-zer, the bestselling high-performance top of all time, at more than 25 million units sold to date, is being relaunched for its 40th anniversary this year by Duncan Toys. Duncan has updated the surface treatment of the collectible Wizz-zers with robotic characters depicted as man-eating dinosaurs, terrifying insects, and courageous Ninja warriors. The characters engage in head-to-head combat in a classic game of battling tops. For the first time, Wiz-z-zers will come with molded bases. Twelve characters will be available. Another addition to the product line is the Black Belt accessory. The Black Belt, a rubber-like band worn across the center of the top for added friction, signals that its Wiz-z-zer has a high level of competence in battle. This is designed for ages 5 and up.


HAYWIRE GROUP’S NEW LINEUP

The Haywire Group is offering a number of new games. In Word Pirate, each pirate takes a turn rolling letter dice and building a pathway of words. Players also use rock walls to block their enemies’ paths in an effort to be the first player to build a bridge across sharkinfested waters and reach the pirate loot. Action Princesses is a new twist on a classic story. These princesses may look dainty but, make no mistake, they can handle themselves and save a prince in distress while they’re at it. In this game, the princesses are gathering the tools they need to defeat the Evil King who is threatening the village and has captured prince charming. In Number Ninjas, players will have a great time on their mission to retrieve the Golden Dragon Box. Ninjas will need to solve math challenges, block their opponents, and avoid traps while being the first to reach the ancient temple where the treasure is hidden.

PORCHLIGHT AND BELLA SARA

PorchLight Entertainment has partnered with Hidden City Games to create an animated television series and long-form film content based on Bella Sara horses. Under the agreement, PorchLight will have worldwide rights to the animated productions based on the Bella Sara brand, and will simultaneously pursue feature and direct-to-DVD opportunities. Bella Sara was created in Denmark by Gitte Odder Braendgaard and features horse-themed fantasy cards that offer positive, inspirational messages to millions of young children. Each card, purchased in packs, includes a unique code that activates, at the Bella Sara website, a virtual version of the horse pictured on the card. Bella Sara taps into young girls’ love of horses and offers children the ability to nurture their virtual horses in their online stables, read stories, and play games featuring horses. ITV Global Entertainment serves as the licensing agent for the Bella Sara property.

MARCH 2009 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 15


ENTERTAINMENT MARKETPLACE

HASBRO BY LAURIE

HAHN

fter 45 years in the action figure aisle, one would think that the group of G.I. JOE operatives might be thinking of retirement. But because “every generation needs a hero,” G.I. JOE continues to thrive and will be reinvented this year with a new live-action movie, G.I. JOE: The Rise of Cobra. Hasbro first brought G.I. JOE to life in 1964, inspiring the term “action figure.” The brand has stayed in the market throughout the years with the exception of a few years between “retirement” of the classic vintage G.I. JOE in 1976 and the introduction of the new “A Real American Hero” in 1982. The G.I. JOE vs. COBRA saga, which the movie and upcoming toy line are based on, originated in the early 1980s and featured 95 TV episodes and 155 comic books in just the first series alone.

A

16 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT MARCH 2009

It has since produced more than 450 distinct pieces of G.I. JOE content, including memorable characters such as Duke, Snake Eyes, Scarlett, The Baroness, and Storm Shadow. These names will be synonymous with action and adventure again as the G.I. JOE vs. COBRA fantasy is reinvented for a new generation. The new film from Paramount Pictures and Hasbro hits theaters on August 7. G.I. JOE: The Rise of Cobra focuses on an elite G.I. JOE team that uses the latest in next-generation spy and military equipment to fight the corrupt arms dealer DESTRO and the growing threat of the mysterious COBRA organization to prevent them from plunging the world into chaos. Hasbro’s toy line allows fans to recreate the excitement of the movie in their homes. The line includes everything from action figures and playsets to roleplay items. Electronic Arts recently announced that it would bring the G.I. JOE brand to all major console and handheld gaming platforms this summer to coincide with the movie release. Toys and video games aren’t the only products to feature the G.I. JOE brand. Hasbro has signed more than 100 licensing deals for categories ranging from apparel and accessories to publishing. With licensees Simon & Schuster, C-Life Group, KIDdesigns, Brown Shoe, and Global Design Concepts, as well as the new film, G.I. JOE seems poised to reach a new generation of boys while offering a fresh take for older fans.

NEED

TO

KNOW

• G.I. JOE was inducted

into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2004. • G.I. JOE: The Rise of Cobra stars Dennis Quaid as General Hawk, Channing Tatum as Duke, Sienna Miller as The Baroness, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Cobra Commander. • The “G.I.” in G.I. JOE stands for “Government Issue.”

• The G.I. JOE Convention happens once a year and allows fans to celebrate the brand, meet new people, and look for hard-to-find figures. The convention hosts guest speakers, Hasbro panels, celebrities, activities, and exclusive product. The 2009 convention will be held at the Crown Hyatt in Kansas City, Mo., Aug 13–16. Visit GIJOECLUB.com for more information.


KIDDESIGNS

KIDdesigns will produce the G.I. JOE M.A.R.S. Laptop, a go-anywhere learning tool that makes language come alive. For ages 5 and up, the laptop teaches letters, rhymes, and spelling in Learn mode. Quiz mode tests that knowledge. The laptop comes with a full ABC keyboard and a large, easy-to-read backlit display. It also features styling based on the new movie.

BROWN SHOE COMPANY

Brown Shoe Company will produce boys’ footwear for ages 3–7, sizes 9–4. Types of shoes include athletic, skate, hikers, weather boots, rain boots, and slippers. The shoes will hit shelves in August to coincide with the movie’s release.

HASBRO

Hasbro’s G.I. JOE Movie Pit Playset recreates the fortress headquarters for G.I. JOE. Known throughout the comics, animated series, and new movie as the underground command center of the G.I. JOE team, The Pit serves as the characters’ training facility, living quarters, and heavy equipment storage facility. The expandable multi-level playset comes equipped with sounds, an elevator, and much more. It includes an exclusive 3.75-inch General Hawk figure. The playset is for ages 4 and up.

SIMON & SCHUSTER

Simon & Schuster signed on to produce a variety of books based on the new G.I. JOE movie. A movie novelization as well as The Confidential G.I. JOE Files (shown) bring the on-screen action to the page. Both books will be available this summer. Sticker books and board books will also be available.

GLOBAL DESIGN CONCEPTS

Kids will be ready for back-to-school action with G.I. JOE-branded backpacks from Global Design Concepts. The backpacks feature images of characters from the new movie, G.I. JOE: The Rise of Cobra.

MARCH 2009 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 17


MERCHANDISE MAKERS

TECHNOLOGY BY

PAUL NARULA

hen Wayne Nathan and Rich Migatz first went into business together, they never had a company such as Techno Source in mind. Originally, the pair of toy industry veterans founded the company in 2000 as a manufacturer of video game accessories. Techno Source was a side project for the two men, while they continued on with their careers in the toy business. It didn’t take long, however, for the two founders to realize that there was a growth opportunity in the realm of electronic toys and games that Techno Source could take advantage of. Soon, the company began to branch out, reintroducing LCD games to the market and crafting a full line of plug and play games for home televisions. Techno Source has now grown beyond even those roots, with new electronic versions of popular play patterns, such as the Rubik’s Cube, and games like Sudoku. The guiding philosophy of Techno Source is rooted in the woes of the toy business during the company’s early years. “There were a lot of people shaking their heads and saying kids didn’t want ‘traditional toys’ any more,” says Eric Levin, president of Techno Source. “But kids never went to mom and specifically asked for a ‘traditional toy.’ They just wanted to have fun.” Techno Source has applied that philosophy when approaching product lines that were updates of classic products, such as the company’s first electronic update of the Rubik’s Cube. Instead of trying to totally redesign the cube, Techno Source used the technology at

W

18 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT MARCH 2009

AT

PLAY

its disposal to enhance the aspects that made the cube fun in the first place. The company avoids pushing technology into its products for technology’s sake. An example of this is the company’s handheld LCD products, as well as its Plug and Play TV Game System products. “Other people making LCD games thought that they had to

compete and would make complex games that had high prices, but still didn’t have the quality or play value of a portable game system,” says Levin. Instead of trying to compete on that level, Techno Source focused on simpler LCD games that could retail for price points in the $5 range. The same philosophy was applied when the company moved into television-based plug and play products. Techno Source’s products aimed for the parents and families that would most likely shy away from those systems. “There was great value in a system with 10–20 games for $10–$20,” says Levin. Techno Source has come a long way since its products first hit the market, and Levin credits a part of that to the key licensing agreements and partnerships that Techno Source has established over the years. “One of

the ways we have been able to grow is that in our early days we were able to make alignments with big brands for our products,” says Levin. “That gave us credibility.” Techno Source has worked with entertainment brands such as Warner Bros., NASCAR, Crayola, and Sesame Street, as well as game brands such as Sudoku and Rubik’s. Levin believes that having a strong licensing foundation is important to a company like Techno Source. “Licensing is a great way to offset the risk profile of our company as well as reach a large pre-established audience that is engaged with the brands,” he says As Techno Source moves forward, the company is expanding into new categories. Upcoming product lines will feature plush, figures, and crafting activities. “On the surface, it seems like a departure, but at their heart these categories have a way that ties in technology and makes it interesting for kids,” says Levin. Techno Source will be releasing Printies, a product where children can design plush online and print out and stuff their own toys with the included kit and an in-house inkjet printer. The company has also entered a partnership with Smiley Central to create a line of plush, figures, and toys that can unlock exclusive content on the Smiley Central Studio website. The company is also building on existing products, with the new Rubik’s TouchCube featuring an accelerometer and touch-screen technology. “We’re having fun right now and we’re focused on continuing to grow in ways that can deliver within our mission: creating toys and play patterns that are improved by technology,” says Levin.


INDUSTRY FORUM

A 60th Anniversary Celebration in Nürnberg BY

he 60th Nürnberg Toy Fair, which took place February 5–9, justly claims to be the biggest international toy fair in the world, with 2,700 exhibitors and 76,000 visitors. These figures were slightly down compared to 2008, but not by as much as the fair management had feared in these extraordinary times. In recognition of the show’s anniversary and the importance of the fair, the German chancellor Angela Merkel flew in from Berlin to give the

T

The Nürnberg Toy Fair celebrated its 60th anniversary last month. To mark the occasion and to demonstrate the importance of the fair to Germany, German chancellor Angela Merkel flew in from Berlin to give the opening speech. This certainly ensured extensive German media coverage for the toy show.

20 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT MARCH 2009

ANDREW DOBBIE

opening speech, ensuring extensive German media coverage for the show, before she flew back to deal with more important issues such as saving the banks and the automobile industry. The mood of the show seemed to be cautiously optimistic, which is a step forward from the prevailing mood during the Hong Kong fair at the beginning of January. In September and October 2008, when the enormity of the financial crisis was still just unfolding, many toy companies seemed to react like deer caught in the headlights. Plans were put on hold, staff fired, and investments and recruitment cancelled or postponed. However, by the time the Nürnberg show opened these companies were emerging from collective paralysis, realizing that their 2008 results were not the end of the world, and nothing as bad as in many other industry sectors. Some, of course, never made it. On the day before the show opened, the .. German toy company Marklin, formerly a $200 million icon of German model train manufacturing, was declared insolvent. The company’s fans were met with dourfaced insolvency administrators rather than enthusiastic product demonstrators. Just before the fair opened, the death of Playmobil inventor Hans Beck at age 79 was announced. It is a testimony to his creativity and vision that worldwide sales of the 35-year-old Playmobil last year exceed $500 million. The brand has enormous

international scope for expansion, so it is hardly surprising that many companies have tried to buy Playmobil. The owner Horst Brandstaetter is simply not interested in selling the company. Another very busy showroom was that of Mattel, but then the 400 Mattel staff present from around the world would have filled the showroom space even without a single visit from a buyer. The fair organizers always invest in trying to make the show an entertaining experience, with a firework display, a huge dinner party for 3,000 people, and many other evening events. For a city of half a million inhabitants to host a show of 76,000 visitors clearly makes a dramatic impact on city life. To thank the city for 60 years of support there was an evening of late night shopping, entertainment for the public on three stages, attractions, and a huge birthday cake. U.S. manufacturers wanting to expand internationally are well advised to visit Nürnberg Toy Fair in order to have the chance to meet and talk to distributors from more than 100 countries, and to get a feel for the idiosyncrasies of different markets before prioritizing a target list of countries for potential expansion. Andrew Dobbie is managing partner for the UK’s Gameplan Europe. For more information visit gameplaneurope.com


Barbie: Celebrating Five Decades of Fabulous BY

NANCY LOMBARDI

A year-long celebration is underway for the 50th anniversary of Barbie. Mattel is celebrating the brand’s past and present while looking ahead to its future. This month, TOYS & FAMI LY ENTERTAINMENT takes a brief look at the history of Barbie.

1950

• 1959: Barbie Millicent Roberts is introduced at New York Toy Fair. The fashion doll sold for $3. Additional fashions sold for $1–$5. In its first year, Mattel says 300,000 Barbie dolls were sold.

1960

• 1962: Red Flare Barbie reflects the style of the times with a nod to trendsetter and First Lady, Jackie Kennedy, with a red pillbox-style hat and matching red overcoat. • 1965: The world is fascinated with the possibility of space exploration. Miss Astronaut Barbie shows girls that any career is possible—four years before man lands on the moon.

1970

• 1971: The Barbie Country Camper is introduced as the nation’s youth are inspired by nature, cross-country travel, and camping.

• 1977: The Barbie Star-vette is introduced as California car culture sweeps the nation.

1980

• 1981: The debut of MTV changes the music industry and subsequent generations of

22 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT MARCH 2009

kids. Barbie and The Rockers mirror the times with big hair and a popular band.

• 1989: Barbie joins the Army one year before the Gulf War begins. Barbie’s uniform is approved by the Pentagon, ensuring authenticity.

1990

• 1992: Geraldine Ferraro makes history as she runs for U.S. vice-president. Although not affiliated with any political party, Presidential Candidate Barbie is released. • 1998: The WNBA is gaining in popularity and Mattel releases WNBA Basketball Player Barbie. In addition, Barbie became a NASCAR driver, 10 years before Danica Patrick’s historic Indy Car win in 2008.

2000

• 2007: The digital revolution, while still in its infancy, is undergoing dramatic, rapid change. Kids, and therefore Mattel, are at the forefront of these changes. Barbie is reimagined as a new doll-shaped MP3

On the left is Mattel’s Barbie and Ken from the 1960s. Pictured above is fashion designer Rachel Roy’s interpretation of the iconic Barbie bathing suit at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week this past February.

player with removable snap-on fashions and the ability to link to barbiegirls.com, which Mattel says is the first-ever virtual world designed for girls.

• 2009: The 50th anniversary year-long, global celebration kicked off in February with a star studded Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week show. On March 9, Barbie’s official birthday, Mattel hosted a party in her honor. Mattel recreated Barbie’s Malibu Beach House for partygoers in none other than Malibu, California.


TRADING CARD GAMES GO BEYOND THE TABLETOP hen someone buys a trading card game (TCG) pack, chances are he’s getting more than is held within that slim foil package. Physical cards can feature detailed artwork of characters the boy may have already seen in his favorite TV show, movie, or video game. Access to an online world full of activities, games, and more also comes standard with the card pack. Offering multiple elements to a TCG helps to more deeply immerse the players into a world of fantasy while keeping the fun of game play going whenever and wherever. 4Kids Entertainment’s Chaotic TCG gives boys the ability to play the game online using the cards they own. “It’s a tabletop trading card game that’s a lot of fun to play with a friend, but what if that friend goes home? You can then upload all of our cards so you have exact virtual reproductions online so you can continue the game you started in person,” says Carlin West, executive vice-president, property acquisitions and development, 4Kids. Continuing a game’s narrative through an online component makes the most sense for today’s boys. As Mark Gross, vice-president of marketing and communications for Xeko, says, “You really don’t exist to this generation of digital natives if you don’t have a strong web presence.” Xeko, an eco-adventure TCG starring Earth’s endangered animals, encourages players to visit the website to learn more about the animals and their habitats. The website for Upper Deck’s Huntik property will see the addition of a massively multiplayer online game later this year. “Integration

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24 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT MARCH 2009

BY LAURIE

HAHN

between online experience and what happens on the tabletop is really going to become the standard in the next few years,” says Scott Gaeta, director of entertainment marketing and new business, Upper Deck. But for every online TCG, there is a TCGbased television show that features actual game play or ties into the storyline of the game. Chaotic, which airs on CW4Kids and Jetix, chronicles the lives of two boys who upload their Chaotic trading cards online and end up in the land of Perim where the creatures on the cards exist. “The TV show connects to the game through its narrative, the game connects to online, and online connects back to the TV show,” says 4Kids’ West. Konami’s Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG launched a new series last year, Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s, which airs on CW4Kids. “[Boys] see all of the dealing and the cards featured in our booster packs,” says Yumi Hoashi, vice-president of Konami’s card business. “There is a lot of crossover. The kids see it on TV and then they see it on our packaging.” Also hoping to cross over into television and movies is Hidden City Games’ Bella Sara. PorchLight Entertainment partnered with Hidden City Games to create an animated television series and long-form film content based on Bella Sara. “We have devised with PorchLight some amazing characters and scripts,” says Peter Adkison, CEO, Hidden City Games. Wizards of the Coast’s Magic: The Gathering has been pushing forward the game’s storyline through web comics and books in hopes of bringing Magic to TV and movies. “We’re a subsidiary of Hasbro and Universal

New TCGs for 2009 include Upper Deck’s Huntik, Pokémon Platinum, and Konami’s Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s.

has a deal with Hasbro for movie properties,” says Elaine Chase, senior brand manager for Magic. “Nothing has been announced yet for Magic, but it’s something that all parties are interested in, taking this cool fantasy world and putting it out there for people to see.” TV shows are just another way to let kids interact with the characters they love, as well as keep the property fresh. For Pokémon, however, video games help the property continue to reinvent itself. Pokémon’s new Nintendo DS game, Pokémon Platinum, extends into the new TCG and TV series. “[Pokémon] video games are always introducing new characters,” says J.C. Smith, Pokémon USA’s marketing director, “and the trading card games are able to take advantage of that and create new game play based on those characters and their powers as they are shown in the video game as well as in the movies and TV episodes.” However, when it comes down to it, the importance of offering multiple ways for players to connect with their favorite TCG is overshadowed by the benefits of tabletop game play. “I know there’s a lot more focus on what the online component is going to be in the future,” says Konami’s Hoashi, “but trading card games are all about being social. A lot of kids are becoming less sociable. They may be chatting online, but they’re not actually communicating with real live people face to face and trading card games promote that.” Of course, for those times when a game can’t be played face to face, or at all, the internet, video games, and TV shows will be there to keep the fun and fantasy of TCGs going.


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Kids Are Still Reading. . . But Where? hile, once upon a time, a single hit book was enough to fully immerse a child in another world, today’s multimedia children demand more than that. The days of a single-medium-driven entertainment home run are long gone. That’s not to say that books aren’t an important part of a story-driven entertainment experience for children. Because books offer such rich tales, in many cases books have served as a sturdy foundation for a wholly engrossing media platform. “Today’s kids are notorious multitaskers and multimedia consumers,” says Alyson Grubard, director, licensing & brand management at Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. “Licensors have really taken this to heart in their overall development of a brand.” In developing a property for today’s children, licensors look toward media channels such as the internet, TV, movies, and video games, as well as other consumer product categories to create an experience that envelops consumers. In addition to taking a more multimediabased approach, today’s content providers (the digital-age equivalent of publishers) need to establish a well-defined and wellknown digital footprint in the marketplace. “There is still a place for books, but if you are 13 and you’re thinking about how you’re going to spend your money, you are not cruising the bookstore,” says John Lee, CEO of Callaway Arts & Entertainment. “The online and digital worlds have been the primary source of content for kids. “ BY

CHRIS ADAMS

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26 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT MARCH 2009

Callaway is in the process of becoming a much more multi-platformed company while looking at the relationship between the target audience and its content. For its popular The English Roses series of books, penned by Madonna, the company is taking something that existed mainly as a book program and morphing it into a multiplatform, web-centric entity. The launch platform for this new model is expected to be a one-hour television special that serves as a call-to-action to bring the audience to a dedicated website to experience webisodes that are spawned from book content. “We’re not abandoning the printed page, but we’re expanding it into all of the places young people are going,” says Lee. “Because the web is so multidimensional, we can take that story and give it a lot more interactivity.” Another example of a multi-platform publishing brand is Scholastic’s The 39 Clues series. It has seen success with multiplatform publishing for the brand that has enmeshed the worlds of trading cards, the web, and printed books to establish the brand in the marketplace.

Film Fodder

The book-to-film adaptation has proven immensely successful over a long span of time. The biggest literary phenomenon of 2008 was Twilight, which captured headlines as it raked in box-office bounty. While that property focuses on teens, rather than younger kids and tweens discussed here, it does signify the power of bringing the printed page to the silver screen.

Callaway Arts & Entertainment’s The English Roses: Friends for Life!, part of The English Roses line of books by Madonna, includes a collectible myenglishroses.net membership card.

Even larger success is possible if the target audience is broader. Some of the highest-grossing movies of all time have literary roots. The key to mega success in the book-adaptation business is finding a four-quadrant movie. “Any chance you can get men and women, boys and girls to get drawn into a story, you have the biggest chance for success,” says Chip Flaherty, publisher of Walden Pond Press. “It goes back to the idea that the best stories are the ones that relate to everybody.” He adds, “It is easier said than done. It’s like saying, ‘To be a great basketball player, all you have to do is score 40 points per game’.” It may be difficult, but the list of all-time


The Latest Word

box-office toppers proves the point; The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter films that reside in the top 10 make a pretty solid case. The successes in fairly recent years have made the film industry receptive to publishing properties. “There are times when, through the successes of publishing-based movies, when more of these types of movies get made,” says Suzanne Murphy, vice-president, group publisher, trade publishing at Scholastic. “We are in a really good time for that.”

The Value of Paper

It would be impossible to talk about the latest trends of any industry without discussing the sorry state of the economy and its effects on the industry. There have been high-profile reports of bookstores suffering the effects of the economy, making them more risk averse than usual. Add into the equation that in book channels unsold books can be returned to the publisher for a refund. That puts a lot of pressure on book publishers to deliver. One advantage that children’s publishing, in particular, offers is the ongoing success of backlisted titles. “The largest amount of our sales are from backlist titles and we’re not completely reliant on new books we’re bringing out,” says Scholastic’s Murphy. “We are being really smart about how we’re promoting and spending our money on new acquisitions.” The economy has had an influence on the format of books consumers are buying. As consumers are increasingly price con-

scious, the sales of paperback books have grown while hardcover sales have waned. According to a February 12, 2009, report from the Association of American Publishers on sales from last December, while the children’s/young adult hardcover sales were down 12.4 percent for the year, paperback sales in that market were up 6.4 percent for the year. The success of paperbacks amid the current economy reflects other indicators in the family entertainment marketplace. Families that are spending more time at home are looking for a maximum amount of entertainment for the least amount of money. For instance, the board game industry is also reporting strong sales among the economic doom and gloom. After all, families still need some form of entertainment no matter how much they plan on cutting back expenses. Sure, they may nix the $70 movie night and the dinner out at a restaurant, opting instead for dinner at home, followed by a board game or a DVD movie. Then, before bedtime, mom and dad can read a few favorite books to their children while tucking them in tight. The books that parents read with their children will stay with them forever. The timeless stories that have been told to generation after generation of children live on in print and in memories. And in today’s multimedia world, those timeless tales are increasingly living on in digital formats. No matter how much things change, the constant allure, appeal, and entertainment value that a good story can offer will remain.

SCHOLASTIC: Following up on the hit book-to-movie Hotel for Dogs is News for Dogs, which will be coming out in May. A third, untitled, sequel is expected in 2010.

WALDEN POND: Savvy is the first original Newberry Honor book published by Walden (with publishing partner Penguin). A screenwriter is currently working on the movie script. SIMON & SCHUSTER: Books revolving around the Yo Gabba Gabba property are hot sellers for Simon & Schuster. Silver Dolphin: The Moving Windows series of books brings popular singalongs to life.

MARCH 2009 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 27


GAMES: PLAYING TO WIN ames are one of the few categories that can bring the generations together. Whether it’s a game of Candy Land, Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble, Uno, or any of the other countless classics, everyone has a favorite and everyone can recount a memory of playing with a friend or family member. And, even in the presence of today’s expanded entertainment options, games are still a top choice. “People grow up with them,” says Tim Wiener, vice-president of marketing at Cadaco. “Gaming is something you do your whole life.” While the category has developed and changed, games are still a strong presence in the toy business.

G

THE APPEAL

BY

PAUL NARULA

commented that the tween age group pulls away from games, yet they return as they develop into the 18–35 demographic. Despite that, there is no real standard demographic that most game manufacturers target. The target depends on what type of game they choose to develop. “The interesting part is that it isn’t really about ‘if’ they’re playing games, but ‘what’ they’re playing,” says Dan Sabato, director of marketing at Fundex. Games exist that can appeal to adults and children simultaneously. Yet there are some that are oriented more toward families, while others are designed to keep a group of adult friends playing. “I truly believe that there’s a game out there for everyone,” says Brian Turtle, sales manager at Endless Games.

Games appeal to all demographic groups because they foster an MAKING A MARK And while there may be something for everyone, not just any game interaction that many other forms of entertainment lack. It’s also a can be a success. Today’s consumers are form of entertainment that anyone suffering from “time compression.” can afford, which is why this categoPeople want to do more in less time. ry weathers all types of economic Thus, a game has to be able to facilitate storms. “It’s a fun activity that fosthat with both easy set-up and quick ters social interaction,” says Marc game play. “We want you to be able to Shinderman, general manager, open up the box and have the game going Briarpatch. Many parents view within five minutes,” says Turtle. That is games as a way to spend some time the sentiment from most game makers with their children without forcing simply because today’s consumers don’t “quality time” on the children. want to read directions. Everyone wants Games also find a home in schools, to open the box and play. Endless Games especially those games with an edufacilitates this by incorporating familiar cational slant, as they can help chilplay patterns into its new games. dren develop social skills and Quackgammon, for example, features the encourage learning. Older audiences general strategy and play mechanics of the are drawn to games for the fostering X Games Fingerboard Challenge from Cardinal classic game backgammon, but is adapted for of social interaction in a fun atmosphere simpler play. This makes it easier for children to get into the game and that doesn’t require a specific setting or group to get started. familiar enough for adults who have played backgammon to jump right THE AUDIENCE in. Also, it keeps game play quick so that groups with time constraints “The games audience has evolved significantly over the past can play a full game every time. Other companies have taken on simifew years,” says Jim Pressman, president of Pressman Games. lar strategies. Monopoly City, from Hasbro, takes the classic game of “The age demographic has shifted.” A number of manufacturers Monopoly, which could go on for hours, and provides a set of rules

28 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT MARCH 2009


GAMES: PLAYING TO WIN that can finish a game in under an years. This gives the games category a hour. In addition, Bananagrams, a high perceived value for the consumer. popular specialty game, doesn’t even In fact, a number of the companies require the set-up of a board. Players interviewed stated that their business is can open the Bananagrams pouch at least on par or higher than this time and begin play immediately on any last year, when the economy was in a surface. “A game has to be fast, easy very different place. The cost of going to understand, and fun,” says Abe out has kept more consumers at home Nathanson, CEO of Bananagrams. and games fit perfectly into their plans. While everyone likes to keep it Some game company executives, such moving quickly, it must be fun so as Susan Hebbelwaite, co-owner of Games such as Scene It? can appeal to an older crowd. players will want to play it again and Family Games U.S.A., actually think that again. If not, what’s the point of spending money on the game? even higher-priced games may find more acceptance in the current “There needs to be aspects of a game that make repeat play inter- marketplace, as consumers pull back from spending on other products esting,” says Bonnie Canner, vice-president of marketing at and become more willing to spend extra cash on products that have a Cardinal. It can be trivia focused around a favorite property such high perceived value. Fundex’s Sabato agrees. “I believe we’re going as Cardinal’s new Twilight game or some of the company’s clas- to see a little bit more of the high-cost game being sold,” he says. sics, such as chess or checkers, which have been enjoyed by gen- “People are going to be spending money on something besides their erations. Regardless of what a player chooses, there has to be a vacation and travel.” Even a high-end game is barely a fraction of a simple balance between winning and losing a game and mastering family’s budget for vacation. the nuances of play. “There has to be a challenge and a sense of accomplishment,” says Phil Jackson, group executive, Hasbro THE FUTURE Even as the game category sees success despite the recession, Games. “It has to be fun, with a balance of skill and luck.” A game focused entirely on skill means one player could dominate the changes are happening within the category to appeal to each segother. A game based entirely on luck can become frustrating for a ment of demographics. Party games for adults continue to gain popularity as evidenced by Hasbro’s Partini introduced last year player with a streak of ill fortune. and Star Trek Scene It? from Mattel. In addition, the trend of getMONEY TROUBLES ting kids active remains important. “Kids are becoming more While many product categories suffer during economic down- sedentary, so we’re looking for ways to get them up off the turns, games have proven, time and again through numerous couch,” says Lee Ann Wong, senior director of games at Mattel. recessions, to be a remarkably resilient category. The simple rea- Mattel’s new Saucer Scramble keeps kids running to catch colored son is that it’s a great form of repeat entertainment for a great saucers launched from the spaceship central play piece. This can price. “When you think of a game, you often then think about the also be evidenced in Hasbro’s Giraffalaff Limbo, as well as Wild concept of a game closet,” says Jacobe Chrisman, CEO of I Can Planet’s successful Hyper Dash and this year’s follow up, 1-2-3 Do That! Games. “These are things you play over and over. Games Stomp and Basic Fun’s Twister Take-A-Long. While these may aren’t disposable.” While a movie or a sporting event is over in a not be “traditional games” like some of the others mentioned in few hours at most, games aren’t always over when somebody the story, it just proves that as Endless Games’ Turtle mentioned wins. The game can be played again and again, sometimes for earlier, “There is a game out there for everyone.”

30 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT MARCH 2009


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Games

BY

PAUL NARULA

Whether they’re remakes of classics or entirely new concepts, games always perform well in a bad economy as families spend more time at home. Here are some of the latest products to hit shelves.

Hasbro

In Hasbro’s new Clue: Secrets & Spies, players must infiltrate a criminal organization as secret agents. Players complete individual missions to advance through the game and compete against other players. Clues to help complete these missions can be sent to players’ cell phones during the game.

34 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT MARCH 2009

Mattel

UnoMoo, from Mattel, is a new variation on the classic Uno card game. Using brightly colored game pieces rather than cards and simplified rules, UnoMoo makes Uno more accessible for younger preschool players while keeping the same play pattern that parents and older players are familiar with.


Endless Games

Quackgammon is a simplified version of the classic game play of Backgammon. The standard Backgammon play pieces have been replaced by duck figures and the rules have been simplified to allow for quick play with parents and children.

Jax Games

Sequence Numbers expands on Jax’s sequence series. Each card has an equation and the board has the answers. Players match a card to its correct answer and put down a chip. When a player has five chips in a row, they win the game with a sequence.

Cadaco

In Cadaco’s Through the Clues, players must use two provided clues to guess the correct word. Not every clue is correct and players must choose which clue to trust.

MARCH 2009 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 35


Games

Cardinal

New from Cardinal is the Twilight Board Game. The more players know about Twilight the greater their chances of winning. Answer questions about the movie and about friends to earn Scene cards and move forward around the board. The first to travel the entire board and collect all eight Scene cards wins.

36 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT MARCH 2009

Bananagrams

Jumbo Bananagrams is an extra-large set of Bananagrams tiles that is designed for use by larger groups, from schools to parties.


I Can Do That! Games

In Curious George Discovery Beach, players match their cards to objects hidden in the game board by searching where the spinner directs them. When the spinner lands on the wave, players must shake up the game board, moving the objects.

Pressman

Working with the Smithsonian, Pressman has created Be The Expert. Players use hundreds of photographs from the museum to see which item on their assignment card doesn’t match.

Family Games

Sprocket pits players against one another as they try to put all their lugs into play by creating gears on the gameboard using the included rotor pieces.

MARCH 2009 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 37


BY LAURIE

HAHN

THAMES & KOSMOS MAKES SCIENCE FUN hames & Kosmos recognizes kits weren’t available in North America, that there are problems with Holdsworth decided to become the North science education in schools. American distributor for Kosmos. Between The classes don’t engage the 2001 and 2002, Thames & Kosmos introstudents, the lessons are too duced only two kits as test runs “to see if a boring, or the curriculum is too focused on high-end science kit, a $150 science kit, testing. “It’s not a revolutionary idea, but would just be laughed at or if there would be our idea is to give children tools they can a market for it,” McGuire says. The company use outside of the classroom and toys they found success with the kits and introduced a can play with that teach them science in a much broader line of 10 products. By 2003, fun way,” says Ted McGuire, president of the product lineup had grown to 12 kits, Thames & Kosmos. Through its high-end including the original Fuel Cell Car kit that science kits for ages 5–14, Thames & lets kids build a model car that runs on water. Kosmos has been working to improve McGuire, who took over the company after informal science education outside of the his mother’s death in 2003, says the company classroom since its inception in 2001. adds five–15 new products every year. Most are The Rhode Island-based company began as designed by Kosmos and Thames & Kosmos a science museum shop at the Thames Science translates them and sells them. In 2005, the Center in Newport, R.I. McGuire’s late mother, company began co-developing science kits with Jane Holdsworth, who was the science muse- Kosmos. Thames & Kosmos comes up with an um’s director, opened the museum store as a idea and Kosmos will develop it or Thames & way to gain alternative revenue for the nonprof- Kosmos will design the products with another it museum. In this role, Holdsworth learned a manufacturer but use an experiment manual lot about the science and edufrom Kosmos. “We’re startcational toy business, as well ing to do more things to as the 180-year-old Germanmake the product line really based publishing house work for North America Franckh-Kosmos Verlagsbecause there’s a big differGmbH & Co. KG, which ence between the German became the “Kosmos” in market and the American Thames & Kosmos. market,” McGuire says. Holdsworth wasn’t selling And in North America, Kosmos science kits in her the need for high-quality store, but plenty of consumers New Thames & Kosmos kits will feature science kits continues to The Dangerous Book for Boys brand. asked for them. Because the grow. Not only are the

T

38 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT MARCH 2009

products sold in specialty retailers, but also educational supply distributors that sell to teachers and the home-school market feature Thames & Kosmos science kits in their catalogs and websites. “[The home school] market is a growing market and they really appreciate the depth and the quality in the kits,” McGuire says. “There’s quite a bit of content in each of our kits and you really get what you pay for in terms of the number of experiments and the number of parts and the quality of the curriculum. They’re not just single-use products.” Parents and teachers can feel even better about purchasing Thames & Kosmos science kits as the company begins partnerships with nonprofits this year. When consumers buy the Wind Power Energy Kit, they are donating money to The Apeiron Institute for Sustainable Living, which works to create ecologically healthy communities in Rhode Island by promoting sustainable living practices. This year, Thames & Kosmos will be giving consumers eight new kits and McGuire doesn’t seem phased by any effect the economy might have on the specialty toy market and his company. “There’s always a need for toys and, especially, educational toys,” McGuire says. “I think we may have to scale back, do fewer products or cut some, take different steps, give more discounts, or take less profit, but I think we’ll all weather it and come through it. I believe in the product we’re selling and I believe there’s a need for it, so I know people will buy it.”


This season's most highly trafficked family-friendly website, TimetoPlayMag.com offers parents and gift givers information, entertainment, and services on what's fun for children and their families. The comprehensive site includes: hundreds of toy reviews and recommendations hot toy lists and editors' picks a product/gift finder informative and amusing blog entries from leading toy, family entertainment and parenting experts seasonal stories safety tips and recall information daily giveaways of hot toys and more!

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YOU’RE HIRED

CORUS ENTERTAINMENT

NEW MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE

Corus Entertainment introduced a new management structure for the Corus Kids business. Dale Hancocks expands his role to senior vice-president, operations and associate general counsel, Corus Kids and Nelvana Enterprises. He continues to oversee rights clearance and permissions and assumes oversight of Corus’ international children’s ventures, qubo and KidsCo, as well as responsibility for Kids Can Press. Jocelyn Hamilton becomes vice-president, programming and production, Corus Kids. She will expand the current ratings momentum on YTV, while working with Canada’s production community. Colin Bohm becomes vice-president and managing director, Nelvana Enterprises. He will help grow Nelvana’s worldwide broadcast sales, home entertainment, and merchandise licensing businesses. As vice-president, worldwide sales and distribution, Lynn Chadwick will build the worldwide sales and distribution business for Corus Kids, working in conjunction with Nelvana and Corus Kids’ networks. She will also oversee the partnership with Teletoon. As vice-president, worldwide home entertainment and digital media, Peter Maule is responsible for the division’s digital and home entertainment business globally, and takes on a strategic account planning role, working with the Corus Kids sales executives to realize integrated sales opportunities for Corus content. Mark Northwood becomes vice-president, worldwide licensing, responsible for the global merchandise licensing business through the management of core brands, as well as building opportunities for new properties. Jane Harrison, vice-president and associate general counsel, assumes responsibility for all legal affairs within the Corus Kids organization. She will oversee broadcast, merchandise licensing, home entertainment, contract management, and all operating elements of Corus Kids. Laura Baehr expands her current role to vice-president, marketing, Corus Kids and Nelvana Enterprises. She is responsible for all marketing activities in Canada and internationally. As vice-president, international development, Corus Kids, Irene Weibel will continue to lead efforts to seek out the best content from around the world as well as leverage existing co-production treaties between Canada and 44 other countries. John Cvecich becomes director, Treehouse, a newly created position. He will leverage the Treehouse brand with new opportunities.

40 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT MARCH 2009

THE CANADIAN GROUP NEW HIRES

Barrie Simpson has become a partner of The Canadian Group, a toy company primarily known for its SURE-LOX brand of jigsaw puzzles, licensed games, and licensed activities. She will head up the proprietary businesses of The Canadian Group. Previously, she was vice-president and president of Warren Industries. Mary Simpson-Stratton accepted a position with The Canadian Group’s licensing and marketing group. Simpson-Stratton brings almost 10 years of marketing and licensing experience to this position.

AURORA WORLD, INC.

MICHAEL KESSLER, SENIOR VICE-PRESIDENT OF SALES

Aurora World, Inc., appointed Michael Kessler to senior vice-president of sales. Kessler will direct Aurora’s sales force of more than 200 in the U.S., Canada, and Central and South America; its communications and marketing efforts; national sales and management meetings; product development; and customer service. Previously, Kessler was vice-president and general manager of L.A. Mart at Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc.

BANDAI AMERICA, INC.

MARK SCHAFFNER, EXECUTIVE VICE-PRESIDENT OF TOYS

Bandai America, Inc., appointed Mark Schaffner to executive vice-president of toys. Schaffner will oversee the company’s sales and marketing departments. He will also be responsible for developing new alliances and strategies to take the company to the next level as a market leader in the toy industry. Previously, Schaffner was vice-president of global product development & marketing—accessory division at Philips Electronics.


SEEKING NEW OPPORTUNITIES JULIA LUND

THINK ABOUT IT DESIGN STUDIO JULIA@THINKABOUTITDESIGNSTUDIO.COM (347) 738–6862

PREVIOUS POSITION: creative director of the clock divi-

sion of M.Z. Berger and Company.

EXPLAIN YOUR NEW BUSINESS VENTURE: I now operate

my own design business, Think About It Design Studio (www.thinkaboutitdesignstudio.com). I work with various clients on the following types of projects: product design, graphic design, design consulting, package design/layout, point of purchase design/layout, instructional design, digital photography retouching, branding and identity, video and audio editing, and more.

SEEKING: My goal is to grow my business, reaching a broad range of clients by offering services for multiple facets of design. I have worked directly with licensors, retailers, and suppliers to design and develop consumer goods in the home, kids’, tween, accessories, toys, and electronics categories. If you are in need of these services, please contact me using the information provided above. PREVIOUS RESPONSIBILITIES: As creative director, I ran

all creative initiatives and product development for licensed and non-licensed clock product and packaging from concept to completion. I managed creative staff in the New York and Hong Kong locations. I also worked on location in Asia several times yearly with designers and suppliers. My efforts directly contributed to an expansion of all clock lines and retail placement. PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE: I was an associate product manager and graphic designer at M.Z. Berger. In addition, I was a freelance product designer for Toy Island.

JACOB BURNS FILM CENTER

GARY E. KNELL, BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Gary E. Knell, president and CEO of Sesame Workshop, was recently elected to the board of directors of the Jacob Burns Film Center (JBFC). The JBFC is a not-for-profit cultural arts organization dedicated to presenting the best of independent, documentary, and world cinema; promoting visual literacy; and making film a vibrant part of the community. Knell will help the JBFC further develop and broaden programs that prepare students of all ages to be fully literate in the 21st century. Previously, Knell served as senior vicepresident and general counsel at WNET/Channel 13 in New York City and was counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary and Governmental Affairs committees. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the board of governors of the National Geographic Education Foundation. Knell is an advisor to WFUV public radio at Fordham University and the Annenberg School of Communications at USC.

SPIN MASTER LTD.

GERARDO YEPEZ, PRESIDENT AND GENERAL MANAGER, SPIN MASTER MEXICO

Spin Master Ltd. announced the opening of its new office in Mexico and hired Gerardo Yepez as president and general manager, Spin Master Mexico. He will oversee its operations and lead the company’s expansion in this rapidly growing market. Spin Master Mexico is expected to be operational during the first half of 2009. Previously, Yepez was president of toys with MEGA Brands, Inc. He was also the founder of Mercasistemas, a toy distribution company that later became MEGA Bloks LatinoAmerica, a subsidiary of MEGA Brands. Yepez has also owned and operated a sporting goods manufacturing and distribution company where he introduced Wilson Sporting Goods to the Mexican market.

MARCH 2009 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 41


EVENTS OF

CALENDAR

INDUSTRY-RELATED TRADE SHOWS APRIL 14–17

GAMA Trade Show

Bally’s Las Vegas

Las Vegas

27–30

Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair hkgiftspremiumfair.com

Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Center

Wanchai, Hong Kong

ToyCon 2009

toyassociation.org

Wigwam Golf Resort and Spa

Litchfield Park, AZ

2–4

E3

e3expo.com

Los Angeles Convention Center

Los Angeles

14–17

ASTRA Marketplace

astratoy.org

St. Paul Rivercentre

St. Paul, MN

17–20

California Gift Show

23–26

Comic-Con

18–20

MAY 6–8

19–21

JUNE 2–4

24–28

JULY

23–25

AUGUST 7–11

8–11

gama.org

Hawaii Market Merchandise Expo douglastradeshows.com

All Candy Expo

Licensing International Expo Origins Game Fair

OASIS Gift Show

Minneapolis Mart Gift & Accessory Show

San Francisco International Gift Fair

allcandyexpo.com

licensingexpo.com

originsgames.com

Exhibition Hall, Blaisdell Center

McCormick Place

Mandalay Bay Convention Center

Honolulu

Chicago

Las Vegas

Greater Columbus Convention Center

Columbus, OH

californiagiftshow.com

Los Angeles Convention Center

Los Angeles

comic-con.org

San Diego Convention Center

San Diego

Minneapolis Mart

Minnetonka, MN

oasis.org

mplsgiftmart.com sfigf.com

University of Phoenix Stadium

Moscone Center

Glendale, AZ

San Francisco

FALL TOY PREVIEW TUESDAY–THURSDAY, OCTOBER 6–9; DALLAS MARKET CENTER, DALLAS

TOY FAIR 2009 SUNDAY–WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 14–17; JACOB JAVITS CONVENTION CENTER, NEW YORK CITY 42 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT MARCH 2009


Making magic happen.

Dance ‘n Twirl Palace™ Every little girl pretends to be a princess, in a pretend world where she can make anything happen! And in this palace, she can dance, twirl, ride a royal steed, use a magic wand, even meet a charming prince! But even before the wand is raised, you’ll see a different kind of magic — as the Dance ‘n Twirl Palace disappears from your shelves!

LZR44894-M7333

Fisher-Price, Inc., a subsidiary of Mattel, Inc. East Aurora, NY 14052 U.S.A. ©2009 Mattel, Inc. All Rights Reserved. ® and ™ designate US trademarks of Mattel, Inc.

www.fisher-price.com

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2/12/09 6:11 PM

Profile for aNb Media

Toys & Family Entertainment, March 2009  

Toys & Family Entertainment is a monthly magazine showcasing the hottest trends in the toy and family entertainment business.

Toys & Family Entertainment, March 2009  

Toys & Family Entertainment is a monthly magazine showcasing the hottest trends in the toy and family entertainment business.

Profile for anbmedia