Toys & Family Entertainment, November 2009

Page 1


It’s Here!

Sureshot Soccer

Sureshot Basketball

Voice Command Pitching Machine

Voice Command Quarterback

EXPERIENCE THE NEW LEVEL OF SPORTS PLAY! EA, EA SPORTS, EA SPORTS logo and “It’s in the Game” are trademarks or registered trademarks of Electronic Arts Inc. in the U.S and/or other countries. Toy Island is an authorized Electronic Arts licensee. Toys shown may vary from actual product

Sureshot Hockey

Toy Island 70 Hudson Street Hoboken, NJ 07030 tel: 201.683.9873


Volume 4, No. 12

November 2009

Features 22 Low Price, High Impact by Paul Narula

26 Impulse: Product Presentation by Paul Narula

28 Back-to-School 2009 Reflects Economic Uncertainty

by Chris Adams

30 Back to School:

Product Presentation

by Chris Adams

:

32 Steiff

by Paul Narula

34

: Product Presentation

by Laurie Leahey

Departments Observations & Opinions

page 4

Sizzlers

page 6

Specialty Sizzlers

page 8

The Ticker

page 10

Shelf Talkers

page 12

Entertainment Marketplace: Toy Story 3

page 14

Merchandise Makers: Bandai America

page 16

Industry Forum: TIA

page 18

Industry Forum: ASTRA

page 20

You’re Hired

page 36

Calendar of Events

page 38

ON THIS PAGE (CLOCKWISE FROM THE TOP): Faber-Castell’s GRIP Colored EcoPencils, Kooky Klickers’ SpongeBob SquarePants pen, and Imperial’s Strawberry Shortcake Lip Gloss

ON THE COVER: The top row shows three key chain versions of classic Hasbro Games, by Basic Fun. On the bottom row, left to right, are Crayola Dry-Erase Crayons, Elmer’s Washable Disappearing Purple School Glue Sticks, and Woody and Buzz Lightyear from the Toy Story franchise. COVER BY DESIGN EDGE


OBSERVATIONS & OPINIONS

WWW.ANBMEDIA.COM

Fall Toy Preview: A Recap BY

BOB GLASER

s I wrote in this space last month, there was some apprehension going into this year’s Fall Toy Preview due to the fact that some of the largest toy manufacturers were not exhibiting. The worry was that if the largest manufacturers were not there then the retailers wouldn’t be either. However, the overall feeling coming out of this year’s show is that there was no need to worry. Most of the manufacturers that I spoke with were very satisfied with their appointments. The absence of some of the major toy manufacturers actually turned out to be a bonus for those that did exhibit. I was told by many manufacturers that retailers spent more time with them because the retailers’ time was not monopolized by the larger manufacturers. Many even met with retailers that they don’t usually do business with. While this show is called the Fall Toy Preview, and is certainly not an “order-writing show,” two manufacturers, in particular, told me they wrote an order at this show. That alone made exhibiting worth it. The chances of that happening without the Fall Toy Preview were remote. Even though exhibitors were happy, a constant topic of conversation related to the future of the show. The board of directors of the TIA have committed to Dallas through 2011. However, the show’s timeframe may change. It could move to later in October or into September. This has yet to be determined by the TIA. The answer will most likely come from survey results. On a personal note, I (along with the aNb Media staff) have one complaint about the Fall Toy Preview. The floor’s layout is impossible to navigate. This is a complaint that has come up each year. After three years, you’d think we would have figured it out, but no such luck. My apologies for being late to just about every appointment. Next year, I won’t even try to navigate the aisles. I will simply ask the “green-shirt attendants” before setting off anywhere. Next up is the trip to Hong Kong where hopefully retailers will place orders for all the great new products shown last month.

A

PUBLISHED

BY ANB

MEDIA • Volume 4, Number 12

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 LEAHEY; LAURIE@ANBMEDIA.COM PAUL NARULA; PAUL@ANBMEDIA.COM WEB MASTER ERIK KIECKHAFER ERIK@ANBMEDIA.COM WEB CONTENT MANAGER BRENDAN SANABRIA BRENDAN@ANBMEDIA.COM CONTRIBUTOR ADRIENNE CITRIN; JEFF FRANKLIN; MATT NUCCIO, MATT@DESIGNEDGE.NET 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 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 system, without written permission from the publisher. Printed in the U.S.A. TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT and SPECIALTY EMPORIUM are registered trade-

marks 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.

4 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT NOVEMBER 2009


LastAirbenderAd.Repurpose.10_26.indd 1

10/26/09 5:57:28 PM


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.

MATCHBOX ROCKY THE ROBOT TRUCK Mattel

BAKUGAN 7 IN 1 FIGURE ASSORTMENT Spin Master

NERF N-STRIKE RAIDER Hasbro

BARBIE FASHIONISTA DOLL ASSORTMENT Mattel

Hyper Dash

PLAYSKOOL CHUCK MY TALKING TRUCK Hasbro

EYECLOPS NIGHT VISION INFRARED STEALTH BINOCULARS Jakks Pacific

TAG LeapFrog LEGO Star Wars

HALO WARS CONSTRUCTION ASSORTMENT MEGA Brands HYPER DASH Wild Planet

TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN FIGURE ASSORTMENT Hasbro

IMAGINEXT FORTRESS SET ASSORTMENT Fisher-Price LEGO STAR WARS ASSORTMENT LEGO

Tag

UNO MOO Mattel WII SPORTS RESORT Nintendo

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Bumblebee Voice Mixer

6 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT NOVEMBER 2009

TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN BUMBLEBEE VOICE MIXER Hasbro

ZHU ZHU PETS 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.

AFRICAN DWARF FROGS ECOAQUARIUMS Wild Creations

MAGNA-TILES Valtech

Only Hearts Pets

ONLY HEARTS PETS Only Hearts Club

BANANAGRAMS Bananagrams BOUNCY BALLS Play Visions

PINKALICIOUS DOLL Madame Alexander

DIGGIN’ DODGE TAG Diggin’ Active

PLASMACAR PlaSmart

JAPANESE ERASERS BC USA

STICKY MOSAICS Orb Factory

Bouncy Balls

8 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT NOVEMBER 2009



THE TICKER

A RECAP OF INDUSTRY HEADLINES 2010 TOY INDUSTRY HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES ANNOUNCED

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) announced the selection of its 2010 inductees into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame. John Lasseter, chief creative officer, Walt Disney Company and Pixar Animation Studios, and principal creative advisor of Walt Disney Imagineering, and Sam Walton, founder, Walmart will be inducted during the 10th Annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards event on Saturday evening, February 13, 2010, in New York City at Chelsea Piers/Pier 60. Established in 1984, the Hall of Fame comprises 55 individuals who have been previously honored for their significant contributions to the growth and success of the toy industry. Inductees are nominated by the industry at large and selected based on votes received from Toy Industry Association’s membership.

NICKELODEON ACQUIRES TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

Nickelodeon has acquired the global intellectual property rights to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from the Mirage Group and 4Kids Entertainment for $60 million. Nickelodeon has plans to develop a CG-animated TV series expected to launch in 2012. A feature film is also planned for 2012 with Paramount Pictures. Paramount and Nickelodeon are both owned by Viacom. Additionally, Nickelodeon also acquired merchandising rights and plans to continue working with toy licensee Playmates.

NEW L AWSUIT INVOLVING BRATZ

It has been widely reported that Bernard Belair filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Federal Court against MGA Entertainment and Mattel claiming that his copyright designs with “large heads, oval eyes, small bodies, and large feet” designed for Steve Madden shoe ads a number of years ago were stolen as the designs for the original Bratz dolls. Belair says that Carter Bryant testified that the initial Bratz designs were inspired by the Steve Madden ads. The suit doesn’t specify damages. Both Mattel and MGA Entertainment had no comment.

BARBIE MOVIE IN WORKS

According to a report in Variety, Universal Studios has signed an agreement with Mattel to create a live-action film around Mattel’s iconic Barbie. Mattel executives Richard Dickson and Rob Hudnut will serve as executive producers for the film. Variety says Mattel and Universal want to move ahead with this film aggressively, but no timetable has been set for Barbie’s big screen debut. While there have been 16 animated direct-to-video titles for Barbie, there has never before been a live-action Barbie feature film.

TRU ANNOUNCES PLAN FOR FAO SCHWARZ

Toys “R” Us announced dedicated FAO Schwarz-branded boutiques filled with a selection of its classic toys within 585 Toys “R” Us stores nationwide. In addition, there will be a relaunch of www.fao.com and the continuation of the FAO Schwarz Holiday Catalog. Beginning November 1, The FAO Schwarz boutiques will be located prominently at the front of Toys “R” Us stores. Each will feature colorful overhead signage, as well as life-sized displays of the famous FAO Schwarz toy soldier. The edited assortment of toys has been selected to highlight dozens of classic FAO Schwarz toys at affordable price points ranging from $2.99–$64.99, including annual favorites such as the FAO Schwarz Signature Holiday Ornament and 2009 Collectible Bear. Also available are FAO Schwarz mascots Patrick the Pup and his sister, Penelope the Pup.

10 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT NOVEMBER 2009


And, for those looking to emulate Tom Hanks’ character in the movie, Big, gift-givers can take home a replica of the iconic FAO Schwarz Big Piano, which was featured in the film. TRU says that this plan for FAO will remain in place after the holiday season.

ITV STUDIOS TAKES POCOYO TO THE U.S.

ITV Studios Global Entertainment and Zinkia announced multiple new international television deals for the animated children’s series Pocoyo. The new agreements will span English- and Spanish-language broadcasters in the U.S. and across Asia. The newly announced TV agreements are with Univision for Spanish-language broadcast in the U.S., which has acquired Pocoyo seasons one and two, and the Pocoyo Space Circus Special; WGBH Boston, which has acquired seasons one and two for English-speaking syndication to the American public television market; and Playhouse Disney, which has relicensed seasons one and two for broadcast across Asia. Pocoyo is the BAFTA award-winning animated adventure series for preschool children, starring an inquisitive character called Pocoyo. The show encourages children to interact with the series, promoting creativity, self-awareness, and self-confidence by learning through laughter and play.

SANRIO ANNOUNCES LICENSING AGREEMENT WITH RAZOR USA

Sanrio has announced the signing of a new licensing agreement with Razor USA, manufacturer of the Razor scooter. Marking Razor USA’s first-ever license agreement, the new Hello Kitty A kick scooter is a co-branded version of the original Razor A kick scooter, and is slated to make its retail debut the first week of November. Razor USA also announced that two additional co-branded Hello Kitty products: the Razor Pocket Mod miniature electric Euro-style scooter and Razor E100 electric scooter. They will debut next year.

CLASSIC MEDIA SIGNS BANDAI FOR TINGA TINGA TALES

Classic Media announced that Bandai has been appointed the master toy partner for its new produced-in-Africa preschool animated series Tinga Tinga Tales. Bandai will create a broad range of toy product based upon the brand and is expected to launch its range in the UK in late 2010. Bandai joins Penguin Group, the master publishing partner for the brand, as a key global partner. The series is co-commissioned by CBeebies in the UK and Playhouse Disney in the U.S. and is set to make its broadcast debut in early 2010 on CBeebies. Bandai’s territories include North and South America, the UK and Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, and an option on Australasia. Additionally, Bandai will participate in the brand’s philanthropic activity benefiting Africa. You may think you know why Elephant has a long trunk, or why Tortoise has a broken shell, but actually, there’s a whole other story! Created by highly regarded UK producer, Tiger Aspect, and inspired by traditional African folktales and art, Tinga Tinga Tales tells entertaining stories about how children’s favorite animals came to be.

Sesame Street Turns 40

On November 10, 2009, Sesame Street will celebrate its 40th anniversary. As part of the anniversary celebration, Sesame Workshop has planned a two-DVD set— Sesame Street: 40th Anniversary—that will feature content from the past 40 years. NOVEMBER 2009 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 11


SHELF TALKERS

SHELF TALKERS: CHECK

OUT

THESE NEW ITEMS

The Joester Loria Group Gets Pinkalicious

The Joester Loria Group recently announced that it has been appointed to represent Pinkalicious, The New York Times bestselling book. With almost a million copies sold, the Pinkalicious series, published by HarperCollins, includes Pinkalicious and the sequel Purplicious, both illustrated by Victoria Kann and co-authored by Victoria and Elizabeth Kann. The newest addition to the series is the recent bestseller, Goldilicious, written and illustrated by Victoria Kann. In addition, Pinkalicious, the Musical, with book by Victoria Kann and Elizabeth Kann, music by John Gregor, and lyrics by Victoria Kann, Elizabeth Kann, and John Gregor, is currently on stage in New York City and Toronto. The Joester Loria Group will be launching an integrated licensing and merchandising program for Pinkalicious and its colorful world. Graphic elements include cupcakes, flowers, butterflies, and a unicorn. There are many pinkerrific slogans, and lots of pinktastic copy from the books. As master toy licensee, Jakks Pacific will be introducing dolls, accessories, playsets, Halloween costumes, and dress-up for fall 2010. As part of its licensing agreement, Madame Alexander will continue to offer Pinkalicious soft dolls in specialty stores. The Joester Loria Group plans to license Pinkalicious products in categories including apparel, footwear, toys, HBA, social expressions, and home.

12 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT NOVEMBER 2009


McFarlane Toys Introduces Collector Level Figures

McFarlane Toys introduces the Collector Level program to give collectors more of what they want: limited-edition, highly collectible figures included with each sports action figure assortment. This line is expanding the company’s current Classic Chase and Super Chase figure releases into a consistent marketing program by developing the Collector Level. McFarlane Toys will produce special figures for the program. There are six levels in the program: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Premier, AllStar, and MVP. Each matches to a limited production range. Nearly every standard figure in a series The image on the right points out the will have an alternative figure—either a Collector Level or Classic Chase figure. enhancements in the Collector Level figure Each Collector Level figure will vary from the standard by having alternate uniforms, base variacompared with the current figure on the left. tions, trophies, awards, accessories, possibly authentic player signatures, original or replica sports memorabilia, or even pieces of actual uniforms or equipment. Each figure will be sequentially numbered on the base, and includes the players’ last name and the series name for authenticity. Each will have a production range minimum and maximum quantity matched to the specific Collector Level.

Action Sports Introduces Omni Tech Figures

Action Sports Toys introduces Omni Tech Figures with its Omni Directional Toy Manipulator. It serves as a puppet-like handle, offering players control of the figure and the skateboard simultaneously. Kids can now perform all types of realistic skateboard tricks—no batteries or remote control needed. As part of a planned line of figures from Action Sports Toys, the company introduces the line with the Omni Tech Ryan Sheckler Skateboarding Figure (shown). Sheckler is a three-time X-Games gold medalist and MTV star of Life of Ryan.

Henson’ s Fraggle Rock Forever

The Jim Henson Company announced that it is launching a new merchandise collection called Fraggle Rock Forever. The collection, slated for both specialty and department stores, will have a tiered roll-out with a selection of product due in stores for this holiday with more to come in spring 2010. The Fraggle Rock Forever collection, which celebrates the classic series, will feature product in categories including apparel, tote bags, belt buckles, jewelry, and classic plush. In addition, adult Halloween costumes will be available in 2010. Deals have been completed in the U.S. with Bioworld Merchandising, Manhattan Toy (plush shown), and Rasta Impasta and in the UK with Fashion UK as well as with the fashion retailer Zara, which will have Fraggle Rock T-shirts available in stores worldwide. Also bringing the collection to a new level are trend-driven designers such as Dr. Romanelli based in Los Angeles and Carri Munden of London-based Cassette Playa who appeal to fashion influencers. They are collaborating on a range of high-end clothing, which will be featured in upscale boutiques this holiday season. Also, part of this collection will feature a high-end costume jewelry line designed exclusively by Anita Ko in collaboration with jeweler Pascal Mouawad. Lionsgate is rounding out the assortment with the release of Fraggle Rock: The Complete Series Collection. In addition, a new DVD special, A Merry Fraggle Holiday, and the much-requested Fraggle Rock: The Complete Final Season (season 4) will be debuting on DVD in time for the holiday 2009 shopping season. The Jim Henson Company is also launching virtual merchandise including video ring tones and mobile wall paper.

NOVEMBER 2009 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 13


ENTERTAINMENT MARKETPLACE

DISNEY CONSUMER PRODUCTS BY LAURIE LEAHEY

t’s been 10 years since Disney took moviegoers to infinity and beyond. But fans of the Toy Story franchise won’t have to wait long for another trip to Andy’s room. On June 18, 2010, Disney/Pixar will round out the beloved franchise with Toy Story 3. The third installment features the vocal talents from the first two films, including Tom Hanks as Woody, Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear, Joan Cusack as Jessie, Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head, Wallace Shawn

I

as Rex, and John Ratzenberger as Hamm. The storyline follows Buzz, Woody, Jessie, and all of Andy’s toys as they experience a new kind of playtime and deal with their only owner growing up. Andy is off to col-

14 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT NOVEMBER 2009

lege but he can’t take his childhood toys with him. The toys worry they might end up being sold on eBay (a joke made in the film’s trailer), but instead they are donated to a daycare center where they must try to survive life with the preschoolers or escape and find a new home. To help promote the third film and introduce the Toy Story characters to a new generation of moviegoers, Disney/Pixar rereleased the first two movies in 3-D during a two-week engagement in October. A slew of new product also began hitting store shelves this fall, from light-up apparel and home décor to toys, electronics, food, stationery, and party items. This new content in the Toy Story franchise has set the stage for merchandising and retail programs worldwide. Disney Consumer Products hopes to attract old as well as new fans through a variety of licensed products. Products in the marketplace now are based on the overall Toy Story franchise, but Toy Story 3-branded merchandise will begin to hit stores closer to the film’s release date. The Toy Story 3 licensing program includes licensees with whom Disney Consumer Products has long-standing relationships, including Mattel and Thinkway Toys. New licensee LEGO will produce themed sets for all three films. Trends International and I Was Framed are also licensees. And Disney’s own Disney Store is manufacturing exclusive Toy Story merchandise. The new Toy Story product will allow fans of all ages to play with their favorite toys.

NEED

TO

KNOW

• Toy Story 2 won a Golden Globe for Best Film–Musical or Comedy. • Toy Story was the firstever computer-generated animated film.

• Buzz Lightyear’s name was originally Tempus from Morph. • Toy Story 3 will be released in 3-D.

• Tinny, the mute wind-up musician from Pixar’s animated short film Tin Toy, which was the inspiration for Toy Story, was originally cast as Andy’s new toy. Tinny was eventually replaced by the high-tech Buzz Lightyear.


MATTEL

Mattel’s portable, storable Toy Story Pop-Open Playworld Playset unfolds to reveal three fun play areas inspired by the original Toy Story, including Andy’s Room, Pizza Planet, and Sid’s House and Backyard. Kids can “learn to fly” in Andy’s room, escape the clutches of The Claw in Pizza Planet, create a mutant toy in Sid’s room, or plan an escape from Sid’s backyard. Each playset includes a Buzz Lightyear figure, an exclusive Scud figure, and accessories.

LEGO

The LEGO Group and Disney Consumer Products entered into a multi-year licensing agreement that gives LEGO access to an extensive portfolio of Disney and Disney/Pixar properties, including Toy Story. Beginning in 2010, kids will be able to recreate the adventures of Buzz Lightyear and Woody with LEGO toys inspired by the Toy Story franchise. Toy Story-themed construction sets will be available on both LEGO Duplo and LEGO System platforms, offering adventure and fun for ages 2–12. LEGO System products based on Toy Story and Toy Story 2 will launch in January 2010, to be followed in May by construction sets based on Toy Story 3. Toy Story–themed LEGO Duplo products launch in June 2010.

THINKWAY TOYS

Thinkway Toys brings Buzz Lightyear to life with its 16inch Ultimate Buzz Lightyear. This walking, talking, animated Buzz Lightyear features Voice Command. It will respond to the phrases “Space ranger,” “Fire laser,” “Salute,” “Star command,” “To infinity and beyond,” and more. The figure’s eyes blink, its head turns, and it speaks with synchronized lip movement in Buzz’s original voice. Kids can play with Buzz in Space Ranger mode or Toy mode for different voice pay-offs. Ultimate Buzz Lightyear also features laser-firing action with light and sound effects. Its programmable puppeteer technology allows kids to move or pose Buzz and the figure will record and play back movements of its head, arms, and legs. Ultimate Buzz comes with a wireless infrared remote control. Using the remote, kids can play an interactive Target Game with Buzz. Buzz also features an Autonomous Roaming Mode and multiple smart sensors help with motion detection and obstacle avoidance.

TRENDS INTERNATIONAL

Trends International will produce Toy Story-themed calendars (shown) and 3-D posters.

NOVEMBER 2009 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 15


MERCHANDISE MAKERS

ACTION, ADVENTURE, AND MORE BY

PAUL NARULA

he mark of Japan is easily seen Bandai. Many of Bandai’s products are based when one takes a glance at on adventure or action-oriented properties. today’s entertainment market. The company currently acts as a master toy Japanese properties and toys are licensee for some of the most popular chilan integral part of entertainment dren’s brands in the U.S., including the culture, whether it’s video games from com- American-developed Power Rangers and Ben panies based in the country or animation prop- 10, as well as Japanese-developed Dragon erties imported and dubbed into English for Ball Z, Digimon, and Tamagotchi. Bandai’s American audiences. But perhaps one of the product lines seek to connect kids to the largest and most influential of these “exports” excitement of those brands, via roleplay, has not been a specific property or prodaction figures, or even video games (from uct, but the very presence of toy the Bandai Namco branch of the compamanufacturer Bandai. ny). “Creating the emotional Bandai was originally connection between founded in Tokyo in 1950 product and content is by Naoharu Yamashina. vital,” says Schaffner. The company initially The Power Rangers focused on celluloid and property may be the die-cast toys. It was in the most impressive impact 1970s that Bandai began to create that Bandai has had on the licensed products based on U.S. licensing and retail Ben 10 Alien Creation Chamber Japanese TV properties, space. Based on the which was when the company’s presence in Japanese Super Sentai entertainment property Japan started to expand. By the 1980s, Bandai (which Bandai helped create), the U.S. adapwas acting as the master licensee for a number tation was created by Haim Saban and distribof major Japanese intellectual properties, uted by Saban Entertainment. The Power including Ultraman, Kamen Rider, Super Rangers are now owned by Disney. Bandai Sentai, Gundam, and more. Bandai America has acted as the master toy licensee for the Incorporated, the company’s U.S. arm, was brand since its U.S. debut in 1993, creating a established in 1978. new toy line for each season of the television Since being established, Bandai America series and has helped turn the series into a has continued to bring over and refine some of popular and long-lasting brand. Bandai’s strongest brands from Japan into the However, Bandai’s major product lines U.S., as well as expand its product lines with aren’t only based on Japanese imports and additional U.S.-based licenses. “Our philoso- adaptations. The company is also the master phy of providing dreams, fun, and inspiration toy licensee for the Cartoon Network properhas been the cornerstone of our success,” says ty Ben 10, which has garnered great success Mark Schaffner, executive vice-president at over six seasons over two series and is cur-

T

16 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT NOVEMBER 2009

rently in its seventh, with more on the way, as well as two television movies. Bandai has translated the property into an extensive toy line that the company continues to build upon. “Properties such as Ben 10 have enabled us to diversify and expand our portfolio in the boys’ action category,” says Schaffner. The property has allowed Bandai to create toys with unique play patterns that go beyond the standard play patterns, such as the Alien Creation Chamber, which allows kids to mix and match various alien action figures. But perhaps the most successful item in the line is the Omnitrix, which focuses on roleplay. Strong brands such as Ben 10 and Power Rangers are a part of the reason that Bandai has continued to do well in a period of economic hardship. In fact, the company is working on a plan that will expand its presence with new strategies. “Bandai America, Inc., has taken an initiative to grow in strategic categories,” says Schaffner. The company is getting into the girl’s business with new products such as its Harumika line, which allows girls to create their own fashions. Bandai has also been named the master toy licensee for the upcoming preschool girl’s show, Chloe’s Closet, which will premiere in 2010. The company will also be targeting a younger audience with the Pocoyo brand. Disney and Bandai have also announced that the original Power Rangers series, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, will be re-aired in 2010 and Bandai will be producing a new line of figures based on the original Power Rangers for the refreshed series. As 2010 approaches, Bandai’s new developments will aid the company as it looks forward to future success.



INDUSTRY FORUM

Toy Safety Certification Program Provides Mechanism for Compliance with CPSIA, Retailer Requirements BY

ADRIENNE CITRIN, TOY INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION

ctober 1, 2009, was a landmark day for the toy industry as the Toy Safety Certification Program (TSCP) officially opened for business. A comprehensive cross-industry initiative to help enhance the safety of toys sold in the United States, the TSCP spans product design to play time to help toymakers demonstrate compliance with the federal Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) and retailer requirements for toy testing. TSCP certification signifies that manufacturers have performed an analysis of their toy designs to identify and correct safety issues, assessed quality control processes at production facilities, and (as required by new federal laws) performed the prescribed safety tests on production samples using accredited laboratories. “The focus of the TSCP is on prevention—to catch problems before toys enter the marketplace,” says Elizabeth Borrelli, TSCP executive director. “Instead of

O

Responsibility for verifying that the requirements of the

TSCP have been met by participating toy companies and

private labelers lies with Certification Bodies that have been accredited by the American National Standards Institute

(ANSI) under internationally recognized standards and

practices. On October 14, 2009, ANSI announced that the first set of accreditations had been awarded to: •

Bureau Veritas Consumer Products Services

NSF International

• • •

Intertek Testing Services Hong Kong Ltd. SGS North America Inc. STR-Registrar, LLC

18 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT NOVEMBER 2009

emphasizing costly and redundant testing, TSCP requires assessment of a toy’s design and a factory’s process controls with testing serving as a final verification.” A product’s TSCP certificate is made available via a secure website for review and use by U.S. regulatory authorities as required by federal law, as well as by retailers and eventually consumers. The program is helpful for smaller companies struggling to put systems in place that will demonstrate their compliance with all relevant safety standards and laws. In addition to CPSIA requirements, the TSCP is expected to reduce redundant retail demands for testing and certification, testing frequency requirements, and the risk of inspection and detention or seizure of import shipments by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). “We believe that the TSCP fits squarely within the framework of broad-based and common-sense regulations that the CPSC is developing under the CPSIA,” says Borrelli. “Several major retailers have already pledged to accept TSCP certification to meet their overlapping requirements once the program has been fully implemented.” As the program continues to develop, Toy Industry Association (TIA) hopes to obtain recognition or acceptance of the TSCP early-intervention process through the CPSC’s rulemaking. “We have confidence in the TSCP and hope that chairman Inez Tenenbaum and her fellow commissioners will recognize its integrity and value to the toy indus-

try,” says Borrelli. “This program is the industry’s solution to fulfill the requirements of the CPSIA in an effective, efficient, and low-cost manner.” By November 14, the CPSC must establish protocols and standards for ensuring that a children’s product tested for compliance with an applicable standard is subject to testing on a regular schedule and also when there has been a material change in the product’s design or manufacturing process. Historically, CPSC has given recognition to credible and effective industry-administered compliance programs once they are satisfied with the reliability of such programs. TIA staff presented an update of the TSCP to all five CPSC commissioners and their staffs on October 14; the testimony was the latest in a series of regular TSCP updates provided to the commission. The presentation was well received. “In August 2007, the TIA board of directors took unprecedented steps by engaging all stakeholders—toy companies, retailers, government, consumers, testing labs, factories, and others—in the establishment of an industry-wide process to help assure that toys sold in the U.S. market are safe,” says Carter Keithley, TIA president. “With the official participant launch of the TSCP, that commitment is being fulfilled.” Toy companies are now able to apply for TSCP certification of their products; toys certified under the program will begin to appear on retail shelves throughout 2010. For more information on this program, visit www.toycertification.org.


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Making Play Pay: Using the Benefits of Play to Support Your Retail Strategy ears of scholarly research proves it. Healthy, developmentally appropriate play helps children grow up stronger, smarter, and more well adjusted. Children who have had access to positive play experiences are more likely to develop richer imaginations, more creative problem-solving skills, and greater capacity for self-regulation. If you sell toys, that’s an attractive list of desirable outcomes that can result, in part, from your products. How do you leverage the many developmental benefits of play into support of your marketing and sales efforts? “Sharing the good news about play is one of the cornerstones of our marketing strategy,” says Jonny Girson, owner of The Learning Tree stores in the Kansas City area. “We’re all about customer service. Helping parents and grandparents learn about play is a key part of helping them select toys that are a good fit for each child. Satisfied customers come back for more.” Mary Sisson, owner of Kazoodles, LLC, in Vancouver, Wash., takes the same approach. “We backed into a focus on play when we looked into what products work well for children with disabilities. Over and over again, we heard that play is a frequent catalyst for major developmental progress for kids with disabilities just as it is for any other children. We realized that our business is as much about play and child development as it is about toys, and

Y

20 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT NOVEMBER 2009

our sales effort should reflect that.” Here are a few ways independent retailers have found to weave the benefits of play into their marketing platforms.

• Highlight the features of play, not the features of the toy. When you are discussing a product with a potential buyer, talk about what the child can do with the toy rather than what the toy can do. Explain why a basic toy that requires a child to use his or her imagination is likely to offer more learning than one loaded with electronic gizmos. Independent retailers have a strong advantage over larger stores when it comes to customer service. Your expertise about play is one of the most significant things you offer that your competitors cannot match. • Take the play message to the community. Parent organizations, church groups, and other local organizations often need speakers for their events. Prepare a brief stump speech about play and contact targeted organizations about your availability. (Sisson says she uses the categories included in ASTRA’s Best Toys for Kids list to organize her presentations.) Not only do you build understanding about the importance of play, you introduce your expertise (and also your store) to a captive audience of potential buyers. • Treat play as a helpful, reassuring

BY JEFF FRANKLIN, FRANKLIN’S

TOYS

message to customers. Raising kids is a joyful adventure, but also a tough and exhausting one—arguably made more so by the expectations of an achievementoriented culture. Your store may be one of the few places where parents are told (quite accurately and supported by research) they can do less and their kids will be the better for it. This shapes play into a reassuring, supportive message—and positions your store as a comforting place to visit. Looking to learn more about the developmental benefits of play? For basics, check out the parent section of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) website at www.astratoy.org. ASTRA typically offers a researchsupported educational session on the importance of play at its annual Marketplace and Academy. If you’re ready to delve deeper, check out the list of texts, books, and articles compiled by the Alliance for Childhood at the link below. Help spread the message about the benefits of play. http://drupal6.allianceforchildhood.org/ play_resources Jeff Franklin is an independent toy retailer who owns Franklin’s Toys in Severna Park, Md. He is a former board of director for Playing for Keeps, a past president of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA), and a guy who just loves toys and play.



LOW PRICE, HIGH IMPACT f there’s one thing consumers want today, it’s low-priced products. A high price point on just about any item will make a consumer balk at the idea of opening their wallet. This cautiousness has extended into the toy industry, as manufacturers and retailers alike work to keep prices down and consumers interested. But the impulse category in particular has always focused on keeping its prices low and its value to both the consumer and retailer high.

I

What Impulse Means Today

BY

PAUL NARULA

that magical $15–20 price point on major items, there is no longer as large a gap in price between impulse and standard toy products. Picking up a larger or more complex toy may be a matter of spending only two to three times as much at the store, rather than five or six times as much as it could have been only a few years ago. Luckily, most impulse products are not placed in a position to directly compete with “main line” toy products and often occupy a separate position in the store. Positioned at an endcap, near the check-out aisle, or in a separate floor display, impulse items can grab the attention of a consumer whether or not they are there to purchase a toy at all. On the other hand, some retailers use the low price and attention-grabbing capability of well-placed impulse products to attract a customer to a toy aisle or department. “A parent picking up a half dozen $0.99 Hot Wheels vehicles may lead to a $49.99 Hot Wheels Super Jump Raceway track set purchase down the road,” says Tim Kilpin, general manager, girls, boys, and games at Mattel.

The simplest way to describe an impulse toy is to call it an unplanned purchase, usually at a low price point. But what truly defines an item as an impulse purchase is the way it grabs the consumer’s attention. “There’s a visual aspect, then the tactile aspect, and then the function of the product,” says Mark Chernick, CEO of PlayVisions. For PlayVisions and other manufacturers, the ability of a toy to grab either a parent’s or a child’s attention during a shopping trip is one of the most important factors in impulse sales. Impulsive Importance Many companies have had additional success with The low price of most impulse products does still licensed impulse toys, but then have the addiplay a major part in their appeal to the contional responsibility of keeping a product sumer, which is part of the reason why true to the licensed brand and at an many retailers carry impulse prodacceptable quality, which can be a ucts. Where a consumer might balk palpable challenge at lower price at spending $15 in a single trip for points. As with any category, a a single toy, many would find it strong license can give impulse easier to pay $5 as an afterthought products an automatic audience, on three separate trips for three difwhich helps the product stand out ferent products. “[Impulse products] against other items in the category and offer strong margin opportunities that proon shelves. But a strong license will not moted items from larger companies don’t procarry an impulse product by itself. vide,” says Tim Thompson, vice-president of mar“Licensing can enhance a strong product keting, Imperial Toy. The variety of packaging available and help with recognition, but in the end it Strawberry Shortcake Lip Gloss from Imperial Toy for this category helps retailers create in-store displays comes down to the product itself,” says Ken that are easy to maintain and can still grab the attention Lewis, president of 4Kidz, Inc. This “attention grab” has become more important, since con- of customers passing by. In addition, retailers can easily shift or sumers are more careful today. Though impulse product prices change the products that they display in key impulse sections, have always been low, with more toy manufacturers aiming for which can keep customers looking for new products. While this

22 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT NOVEMBER 2009



IMPULSE can create shelf-space competition for impulse manufacturers, it’s a definite added bonus for retailers. Impulse products are an important category for consumers, too, especially parents who are shopping with their children. Because impulse toys are still affordable, they serve as an excellent way to appease a child or create a gift opportunity that can give parents a breather. “Impulse toys can be great for fidgety kids in the store, on the ride home, and afterward,” says Imperial’s Thompson. “They can also make great ‘rewards’ for special events or good behavior.” On top of that, because of their low price point, many impulse products can actually be purchased by children themselves, using their own money from allowance, gifts, or other sources. Licensed impulse toys can also provide a way for kids to get involved in a popular licensing trend without spending a large amount of money (or forcing their parents to).

Technology and Impulse

Technology is always on the move in any consumer-oriented category and the toy industry is no different. Many manufacturers are taking advantage of new developments in technology to deliver products that can do more than toys have previously been able to. For impulse products, though, adding technology can be a difficult task. Many impulse products are small in size and Basic Fun has had great success with with technology, small- the Bakugan line for impulse products. er doesn’t necessarily mean more affordable. There are only so many enhancements one can add to a product before it risks being pushed out of the impulse category because of price or complexity. “We try to adhere to the old K.I.S.S. formula: ‘Keep it simple, stupid’,” says Michael Rinzler, general manager of CDI, a division of Jakks Pacific. “Basic toys with basic features do very well.” With that in mind, some impulse-focused companies have taken advantage of advances in technology to deliver unexpected levels of

24 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT NOVEMBER 2009

features in low price-point products. “Technology has definitely played a part in a manufacturer’s ability to deliver more,” says Jennifer Devine, director of public relations at Basic Fun. Basic Fun has been able to expand its line of handheld electronic impulse games with more complex products, such as the Guitar Hero Carabiner and its upcoming line of handheld versions of classic games such as Simon, Catch Phrase, and more. Devine feels that technology has allowed impulse manufacturers to “capitalize on higher price point trends” without being forced out of the impulse aisle.

Going Strong

Though everyone has felt the bite of the recession, many impulse manufacturers feel that their own category has been doing well. Low price points mean that impulse products have climbed on many parents’ priority lists as more acceptable gifts for children. As parents avoid higher-ticket items, the impulse category has stepped up to fill in the gap. “People still want and need to buy stuff, so the less expensive impulse items are a bit more recession resistant,” says David Wahl, public relations manager for Accoutrements. The only concerns expressed by those interviewed for this article center on the general health of their retail partners and the danger that impulse and the toy industry face if a major retailer falters or goes bankrupt. Many impulse manufacturers have actually increased the number of new products they will be issuing in the coming year. PlayVisions, for example, will be introducing nearly 60 new products for the impulse category in January, twice as many as the company normally introduces each year. Other companies interviewed have indicated an upcoming focus on new innovations and products that will expand the impulse category even further. Though the future is always uncertain, impulse manufacturers are looking forward with optimism and confidence.


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Impulse Toys

BY

PAUL NARULA

With affordability a primary concern for most consumers, impulse toys offer the perfect solution. Low price points, familiar brands, and classic play patterns are all a part of a category that offers options to consumers and retailers.

Basic Fun

Basic Fun has expanded its licensing partnership with Hasbro to create new products based on popular Hasbro brands. Basic Fun’s new Hasbro electronic key chains feature popular Hasbro electronic games shrunk down to a convenient portable size for on-thego play. The new products include handheld versions of Simon, Catch Phrase, and Bop It! Each product features the same gameplay as the original full-size Hasbro game and includes electronic lights and sounds just like the originals. Basic Fun will also be introducing other new handheld products, including My Sims, Frogger, and more.

4 Kidz, Inc.

New from 4Kidz, Inc., are Hot Buttons, an assortment of 12 novelty buttons that say phrases such as “I don’t think so,” “Not my job,” and “Ain’t gonna happen,” when pushed.

26 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT NOVEMBER 2009

Imperial

The new Batman flashlight from Imperial comes with a series of projection slides. Kids can project scenes featuring the DC Comics superhero on any flat surface by sliding the projection slides in the front of the flashlight. Imperial has also created a line of Batman fingerboards.


Accoutrements

Accoutrements’ newest novelty toy products are the Mr. Snot Tissues. These novelty tissues are designed to appeal to a gross sense of humor but still work as regular tissues. Other new products from Accoutrements include Bacon Soap, Corn Dog Lip Balm, Corn Dog Mints, and Cupcake Floss.

Jakks Pacific

CDI, a division of Jakks Pacific, has created a line of novelty products based around the Disney television series Phineas & Ferb. Products in the line include a sticky hand, backpack clips, fingerboard-style skateboards, and giggle heads. CDI will also be producing new lines of impulse products for Marvel Superheroes, SpongeBob SquarePants, Nickelodeon’s Slime, Hello Kitty, and more.

Play Visions

The Mondo Light Up Mylar Water Ball is part of the Hi-Bounce line of bouncing balls from Play Visions. When the ball bounces, the lights inside activate and begin to flash. The light remains active for 20 seconds and then shuts off until bounced again. Each ball contains several strips of mylar that sparkle and create colors as they reflect the flashing light. The mylar strips float in the watery interior of the ball.

NOVEMBER 2009 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 27


Back-to-School 2009 Reflects Economic Uncertainty BY

CHRIS ADAMS

ven though the economy is showing signs of promise and the stock market is rising after a long slumber, the 2009 back-to-school season reflected a shaky, uncertain economy. While economic indicators are looking up and Wall Street is showing some life, the “Main Street” end of the economy has yet to reflect these realities. With unemployment up and consumer credit markets tight, parents were strict and strategic with the money they spent preparing their children for another year of school. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2009 “Back to School Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey,” conducted by BIGresearch, the average family with students in grades kindergarten through 12 is expected to have spent $548.72 on school merchandise, a decline of 7.7 percent from 2008. (Keep in mind that the 2008 season wasn’t a strong one either.) According to this survey, the economy had a profound impact on back-to-school spending as four out of five American consumers made adjustments to back-to-school plans this year as a consequence of economic uncertainty. “Consumers in this economy are the most aggressive in regard to getting the best deals than we have seen in quite some time,” says Dr. Scott Testa, professor of business administration at Cabrini College. “When you have slow economic times, people hold off purchases as late as possible because their mindset says if they hold out there will be a better chance of finding a better deal.” The lateness of back-to-school purchases was apparent during this year’s season. Reports showed that many consumers didn’t finish up their shopping until after the school year was underway. Parents were especially keen on holding off on buying supplies that could be included on teachers’ back-to-school supply lists. Crayola, a mainstay of these lists, did see sales skew later than usual. “When faced with an uncertain economy, consumers tend to hold on to their money longer and put off making purchases until they actually need it,” says Craig Skinner, platform leader for Crayola’s essentials play platform. “In spite of the economy, Crayola had a strong back to school.” While the season did certainly see the effects of the economy, it

E

28 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT NOVEMBER 2009

Crayola Dry-Erase Crayons

may have been spared the brunt of things. Even though consumers are making adjustments to their buying strategies, they scrimp less on things for their children than in other areas. “Back to school is a resilient period for retailers because parents will not scrimp on their child’s education and will buy the items on the school list,” says Crayola’s Skinner. “They are willing to shop around for the best price, cut coupons, and pay attention to retailerspecific promotions, but in the end they want their child to have the best possible tools to be successful in school.”

Holiday Barometer?

So what does the feedback about the 2009 back-to-school season tell us about the current state of the economy? Does it give indications of consumer spending patterns moving forward? Well, those are two difficult questions. Over the past couple of years, some analysts have said that the back-to-school window is a useful barometer for the upcoming holiday season. The 2008 back-to-school and holiday seasons certainly reflected this. Sales were late (but not as late


Faber-Castell has repackaged its colored pencils to highlight their eco-friendly features. The newly named EcoPencils are made from reforested wood from Faber-Castell’s tree nursery in Brazil.

as back-to-school 2009), consumers spent a lot of time and energy digging out bargains, and they looked more toward basic items at opening price points. These things are also true (maybe even more so) for back-to-school 2009. So, what does that tell us about the upcoming holiday season? “It will be a relatively muted holiday season,” says Testa. “But because expectations are so low right now, the numbers may end up being better than are expected. Until the consumer credit market and unemployment numbers improve, I don’t think you’ll have homeruns and triples, but singles and doubles will be possible going into the holiday season and I wouldn’t have been able to say that a year ago.” The volatility of the market and the general economy do make predictions difficult at best. Even previously well-tested analytical methods have shown to be less than reliable during this downturn. “This year was particularly volatile with forecasts changing from month to month and quarter to quarter,” says Leslye Schaeffer, senior vice-president of marketing and consumer products at Scholastic Media. “While it looks as though there’s a growing confidence in the market, we remain conservative in our forecasts.” It’s true that there are some promising economic numbers and indicators coming to light. We may even technically be out of the recession. But what does all of this mean to average, everyday consumers. Many of these consumers have seen their home values

decrease, their retirement savings dry up, and their spouse, friend, or neighbor get laid off. “Even if the economy fully recovers, the consumers’ psyche may not,” adds Scholastic’s Schaeffer. While economic indicators were starting to look better right around the back-to-school season, the good news wasn’t clearly reflected in sales during that season. Consumers were still looking for as much value as possible out of each and every purchase that they made. The positive economic indicators are certainly a step in the right direction. Once certain parts of the economy start to loosen up, it carries over into other areas. What remains to be seen is how soon the lift seen on Wall Street will transfer over to “Main Street.” Will this holiday season reflect this optimism or will the shopping patterns seen during back-to-school 2009 carry over into holiday sales?

Back to School by the Numbers

Number of students attending public elementary and secondary schools in 2009: 49.8 MILLION

Number of students in prekindergarten through 8th grade: 35.0 MILLION Additional students attending private schools: 5.8 MILLION

Number of teachers employed by public schools: 3.3 MILLION

1,085,000 children attend public prekindergarten

3,790,000 students enrolled in kindergarten, an all-time high

The national average current expenditure per student by public elementary and secondary schools is projected at $10,844 source: U.S. Department of Education

NOVEMBER 2009 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 29


Back to School BY

CHRIS ADAMS

Even with the economy showing signs of improvement, back to school 2009 forced manufacturers and retailers to focus on providing as much value to consumers as possible. Basic tried-and-true items worked well, as did products that offered a new twist on the classics. Below is a sampling of some of the newest back-to-school items.

Crayola

Crayola’s biggest news for back-toschool 2010 is the Crayola Dry-Erase Crayons. These crayons are suitable for children because they’re washable from skin and fabric, won’t dry out, and have a scent that is similar to a fresh box of regular Crayola Crayons. They are available in bold, opaque colors that don’t smear and are completely erasable from most dry surfaces.

Faber-Castell

Faber-Castell has repackaged its colored pencils to highlight their eco-friendly features. The newly named EcoPencils are made from reforested wood from Faber-Castell’s tree nursery in Brazil. The line includes GRIP Colored EcoPencils, and GRIP Watercolor EcoPencils (shown), as well as Triangular Colored EcoPencils, which are easy to hold and won’t roll off a desk.

30 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT NOVEMBER 2009

Elmer’s

Elmer’s glues are a staple of classrooms across the country. Elmer’s Washable Disappearing Purple School Glue Sticks (shown) goes on purple but dries clear. Elmer’s Clear School Glue applies clear and dries clear. Elmer’s has put a big push behind the Elmer’s Glue Crew Recycling Program where consumers can drop off empty glue containers at a local Walmart. Walmart ensures that the empty products are recycled by appropriate facilities.

Kooky Klickers

Courage Brands has signed a range of licensing deals for its Kooky Klickers novelty pens. Properties include Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants (shown), Patrick, Sandy, and Plankton; Disney’s Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Toy Story characters, Disney Princesses, Disney Fairies, and Cars; and Marvel properties such as Spider-Man and Iron Man. In addition, a line of Major League Baseball-licensed Kooky Klickers are available.


Jakks Pacific

Jakks Pacific’s Happi-Go Luckies are collectible character pens that each come with a personality and a story. Each pen includes a fortune, a key chain, and a character story that is also displayed on the interactive website happigoluckies.com

Marvel

Marvel recently signed two deals—one with Elmer’s and one with Crayola—under its back-to-school umbrella. The Elmer’s deal grants the manufacturer rights to produce arts and activity products featuring Marvel’s superheroes. Products include the Spider Sense Spider-Man Blendy Pens (shown). Product categories for the Crayola deal include Mess-Free Color Wonder products, Color Explosion products, coloring pages, sketch-and-draw sets, dry-erase activity sets, and a light-up tracing desk.

HIT Entertainment

HIT recently signed on Global Design Concepts as its backpack and lunch bag licensee for the Thomas & Friends property. The line includes lunch bags, a Thomas die-cut cooler, a 16-inch backpack with sound and diamond dust, a 16-inch rolling backpack with motion light, a 12-inch mini backpack with puffed details, and a backpack with a detachable backpack. In addition, Bendon Publishing International has developed a variety of Thomas & Friends and Barney flashcards, workbooks, and learning cards.

Cra-Z-Art

Cra-Z-Art offers a range of back-to-school activity items. The Laptop Travel Desk includes crayons, markers, colored pencils, stickers, velvet posters, and more. It features tons of storage and a pop-up easel. Its handle makes it easy to take along.

Scholastic

Scholastic Media has expanded its line of Leapster Learning System titles with the latest titles— Digging for Dinosaurs and My Amusement Park—arriving this fall. These titles are designed to encourage children to learn necessary problem-solving skills while engaging their imaginations.

NOVEMBER 2009 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 31


QUALITY FIRST

BY

PAUL NARULA

ounded in Germany in 1880 by mate: price. Steiff products have a significantly Margaret Steiff, the company that higher cost than most other plush products. The bears her name has grown into a cost of a Steiff plush product can range anywell-known maker of high-quality where from $80–$250, sometimes more. Yet plush in Europe and the U.S. even in the face of today’s price-conscious conThough Steiff has consistently had a presence in the U.S. market since its inception, its key market remains Europe—especially Germany. For 2010, Steiff hopes to reinvigorate its U.S. presence targeting a new generation of shoppers who may be unfamiliar with the brand name and the “Button in the Ear” insignia, which represents its quality and authenticity. The Steiff company motto is “Only the best is good enough for children,” and Rick Emerson, marketing director for Steiff USA, A blanket from Steiff Selections, Steiff’s new baby line. agrees. “Quality is what Steiff delivers like no other manufacturer,” he says. In that vein, Steiff sumers, the high price of these products should has recently purchased its own fabric mill, not be an obstacle because Steiff’s consumer is which is the same company that had supplied not the average shopper. According to Emerson, plush to Steiff for more than a century. Steiff there is a significant number of consumers for uses woven plush exclusively, as opposed to the whom the price will not be an issue. “There are more common knitted plush. “It’s expensive buyers who are willing to pay a slightly higher and is used primarily in the fashion industry,” price for a product that is incredibly higher in Emerson says, “but our company has made the quality,” says Emerson. “It’s a good time to commitment to use this material because our [expand our presence] now because we feel brand dictates that we make only the best.” In there are voids in the marketplace.” addition, after an attempt to manufacture Steiff Steiff already has a separate line of products products in China over the past few years, the tailored for the North American consumer. company is moving its production back to These items are geared toward a certain style of Germany. The change will be complete in 2010 bear or animal that is more popular with conand will allow Steiff to once again exercise the sumers’ tastes in the U.S. It is also designed to level of quality control the company desires. be appealing to collectors, because many of the This devotion to quality does raise an issue North American items are unavailable in that is especially important in today’s retail cli- Europe. The company does have a following of

F

32 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT NOVEMBER 2009

dedicated collectors and fans in the U.S. already, but will be focusing on expanding its appeal within the three demographics that Emerson names as Steiff’s biggest purchaser: collectors, toy buyers, and baby buyers. “We will be placing a special emphasis on the baby line in the year ahead,” says Emerson. Steiff’s baby line will be targeted toward parents, grandparents, and gift givers looking to purchase an heirloom item. The company will also broaden its base of high-end toy purchasers with a special collection of products in the coming months designed to be competitive for the U.S. market. Steiff will be reaching out to fans by advertising as well as implementing market strategies using social networking. The goal of the message is to emphasize the “Button in the Ear” symbol. Every Steiff product bears a metal button in its ear with the Steiff name, elephant logo, or both. Steiff is looking to make this symbol an undisputed marker of luxury and quality, much like Tiffany’s blue box. Though this will not be the first time Steiff has made a major push into the U.S. market, the company plans to make its latest U.S. efforts its most meaningful. While Steiff is well-known amongst collectors, the goal of the new baby line is to add a new generation of Steiff fans to the company’s consumer base. The company will be unveiling its new collectible products at the New York Toy Fair. “We won’t be as quiet as we have been in the recent past,” says Emerson. “More and more people will recognize the name Steiff and know that it is a brand that is unsurpassed in quality.”



Playroom Entertainment

Playroom Entertainment mixed classic fairytale stories to produce a new line of card games called Scary Tales. Scary Tales is an expanding line of games—each new Scary Tales game adds two more fairytale legends to the game, and any combination of characters can compete against each other. The first two Scary Tales titles are Little Red Riding Hood vs. Pinocchio and Snow White vs. The Giant. In Little Red Riding Hood vs. Pinocchio, Red Riding Hood is a girl on a mission to prove that she will not be fooled twice, and Pinocchio is a fibbing, scheming puppet that won’t let you pull his strings. While playing the cards in the deck, players get the help of the Woodsman and the Cricket to aid the main character’s quest. In Snow White vs. The Giant, the Giant can crush his foes with his tremendous strength and he has his Magic Hen to help him, but sly Snow White has some tricks up her sleeves and the assistance of all Seven Dwarfs.

Aurora

Aurora World, Inc., took the bright and cheerful colors of springtime and translated them into a new line of plush gifts in time for the 2010 Easter season. Aurora’s YooHoo & Friends is available in six styles and welcome spring sporting bunny ears. YooHoo & Friends WannaBes are available in three five-inch styles—either a pink or purple bunny or a duck (shown). Each features bright colors with removable hoodies and sounds.

34 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT NOVEMBER 2009

Sabi Games

ItzaZoo is the latest computer game from Sabi Games. Following up the company’s ItzaBitza computer drawing game, ItzaZoo features Living Ink, a drawing recognition technology that animates children’s drawings right in front of their eyes. Those drawings then become in-game elements that the game’s animal characters can interact with. Like the human characters in ItzaBitza, the animal characters of the game are called Sketchies. There are five playsets, or levels, including the lion’s den and the monkey, elephant, turtle, and polar bear exhibits. As players draw items like a hammock for the monkey or a greenhouse for the turtle, they collect stars. In order to unlock the next playset, children must earn five stars. Problem solving and reading skills are necessary to gain the stars. For example, in the elephant playset, a star can be earned by watering flowers. The first step is to draw a rain cloud, then click on the cloud to make it rain and fill the bucket. As players water the flowers, the water level in the bucket goes down. If it empties before the task of watering the flowers is complete, then children must figure out that they’ll need to make it rain again in order to fill up the bucket and complete the task. For those still learning to read, ItzaZoo offers reading assistance. Instructional bubbles pop up throughout the game, giving tasks to complete or hints. Children who are still learning to read can mouse over any word and it will turn red and a child’s voice will read the word aloud. ItzaZoo is for ages 4 and up.


Imagination Box Co.

The Schoolhouse from Imagination Box Co. is more than just an average cardboard box. This paintable Schoolhouse comes complete with its own solar panels and recycling center printed right on it. The Schoolhouse is made from sturdy double-walled corrugated board that is made from 45 percent post-consumer recycled materials, which makes it durable and 100 percent recyclable. Easy to assemble, it comes with a starter set of eight non-toxic washable watercolors and works well with other watercolors, markers, or crayons. When assembled, the Schoolhouse’s measurements are 16 inches by 13 inches by 18 inches.

Paradise Horses

Paradise Horses’ new Paradise Poz-Ables is a line of four authentically themed playsets featuring a horse, rider, and accessories. Playsets include English, Western, Princess, and Racing. Each horse is fully posable, including bendable legs. The horses’ mouths open for a carrot and girls can brush the horses’ manes and tails. The highly detailed horses have lifelike features and stand seven inches tall. Each rider doll is fully posable, making it easy for them to sit on the horses. The dolls come dressed in authentic riding attire, which can be removed, and are six inches tall.

Lafayette Puzzle Factory

Puremco

With Puremco’s Dominoes to Go, dominoes fans can play their favorite games on the go. Mexican Train Dominoes includes 91 fun-sized double 12 number dominoes, eight glitter train markers, and a mini centerpiece. Spinner is a double 9 game with speed and flexibility. It includes 66 fun-sized double 9 number dominoes, plus 11 wild spinner tiles and a centerpiece. All of the pieces for both games come in a sturdy, zippered cloth carrying case.

To create its line of ColorView 1,000-piece 3-D puzzles, the Lafayette Puzzle Factory worked with puzzle artist Howard Robinson. The puzzles in this line jump off the table using special ChromoColor 3-D glasses. Without the glasses, the images are still bright, sharp, and full of color but once the puzzle is assembled and the consumer puts on the special 3-D glasses, the images jump to life.

NOVEMBER 2009 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 35


YOU’RE HIRED TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX

EMERSON & MARICK, APPOINTMENTS

Twentieth Century Fox Licensing & Merchandising appointed Andre Emerson to vice-president of video game production. In this newly created position, Emerson will oversee the production of Fox’s portfolio of video game projects based on its TV and film library. Prior to joining Fox Licensing, Emerson served as president and CEO of Bad Butterz Productions, an independent video game consulting firm represented by Creative Andre Emerson Artists Agency. Emerson also served as vicepresident/executive producer at Vivendi Games and is the creator of Dead to Rights. Twentieth Century Fox Television named Robert Marick as executive vice-president, licensing and merchandising. Marick will oversee the worldwide licensing of Fox’s portfolio of film and television properties across platforms such as interactive gaming, themed entertainment, television promotions, literary publishing, and a wide array of consumer product categories. Marick comes to Robert Marick the studio from the Walt Disney Company, where he spent more than a decade in the consumer products, music group, and home entertainment divisions. Prior to his work at Disney, Marick served as vice-president, sales & marketing at Time Warner’s WEA Corp. Earlier in his career, he also held marketing positions at Mattel Toys.

36 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT NOVEMBER 2009

BIG TENT ENTERTAINMENT

AMY JARASHOW, DIRECTOR OF BRAND DEVELOPMENT

Big Tent Entertainment appointed Amy Jarashow as director of brand development. In her new role, Jarashow will help maximize all of Big Tent Entertainment’s brands in licensee sales and at retail, including Domo, Discovery Kids, and the Telemundo brand. She comes to Big Tent Entertainment from the digital hangtag company eTAGZ, where she served as vice-president of strategic partnerships. Prior to eTAGZ, Jarashow held leadership roles at Random House and Golden Books, specifically in the areas of licensed publishing, retail marketing, and sales.

OUTSPARK

NIRANJAN NAGAR, CHIEF OF GAME OPERATIONS

Outspark, a North American publisher for free-to-play massively multiplayer online (MMO) games, appointed Niranjan Nagar as chief of game operations. Nagar will direct Outspark’s strategic technology and product development, including partner integrations and worldwide publishing of free-to-play games. He will focus on the development of Outspark’s offerings in the online gaming space, driving an industry-wide movement toward “freemium” game development, as well as building infrastructure programs for massively-connected game play. Prior to joining Outspark, Nagar was vice-president of The Sims Internet Group at Electronic Arts.


HASBRO, INC.

NEW APPOINTMENTS

Hasbro, Inc., appointed key executives at the company’s newly formed Hasbro Studios. Stephen J. Davis, president of Hasbro Studios, will lead the “virtual” studio, which will produce shows based on Hasbro’s brands, deliver new branded content, and produce programs from third-party content creators. Many of these shows will run on the new television network created by the joint venture between Hasbro and Discovery Communications that is planned to debut next fall, as well as on multiple channels in international markets. The following individuals were appointed to take on key roles as part of the Hasbro Studios management team. Bob Boden will be head of reality and game show development and production. Previously, he was senior vice-president, programming and production, Fox Reality Channel. Michael J. Vogel will serve as head of boys animation. Previously, he was director, animated programming, Sony Pictures Television. Brian Charles Lenard will take on the role of head of story development. Previously, he was director of scripted development at RDF Media Group, Pangea Management Group, and RDF USA. Linda Steiner, a veteran of Warner Bros., Cartoon Network, and ABC Entertainment, has been named head of girls and preschool programming. Lisa Licht, who served for two years as general manager of entertainment and licensing at Hasbro, has been promoted to general manager, Hasbro Studios. Mary Beth Bambridge, former head of strategic planning at William Morris Endeavour Entertainment, will be the company’s head of finance. Kevin Healy, former head of business and legal affairs, Hasbro Entertainment and Licensing, will serve as Hasbro Studios’ head of legal and business affairs.

SPIN MASTER LTD.

JEFF HURST, VICE-PRESIDENT, CANADIAN SALES AND MARKETING

Spin Master Ltd. announced that Jeff Hurst will rejoin the company as vice-president of Canadian sales and marketing. Hurst rejoins the company with more than 15 years of sales and marketing experience in the Canadian toy industry working for Hasbro, LeapFrog, and, most recently, MGA Entertainment. He will be responsible for running all aspects of Spin Master’s Canadian business.

SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT

RANDY NELLIS, VICE-PRESIDENT, CREATIVE, CONSUMER MARKETING

Sony Pictures Entertainment named Randy Nellis as vice-president, creative, consumer marketing. Nellis will oversee creative development for global licensing and promotional programs across the studio’s slate of properties, including such films as Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, The Smurfs, and SpiderMan 4. Most recently, Nellis served as vicepresident, creative at MGM Studios consumer products group, helming the rebrand of properties such as The Pink Panther and Rocky. Prior to that, he helped build the consumer products division at DreamWorks SKG and managed such franchises as Jurassic Park, Men in Black, and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.

NOVEMBER 2009 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT 37


EVENTS OF

CALENDAR

INDUSTRY-RELATED TRADE SHOWS

DECEMBER 7–10

International Halloween Show

hiaonline.com

Halloween Building

New York City

7–10

International CES

cesweb.org

Las Vegas Convention Center

Las Vegas

JANUARY 11–13

Hong Kong Intl. Licensing Show

hklicensingshow.hktd.com

Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre

Wanchai, Hong Kong

26–28

The Toy Fair

toyfair.co.uk

Olympia Grand Hall

London

11–14

30–2/4

Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair

New York International Gift Fair

FEBRUARY

hktoyfair.com nyigf.com

Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre

Jacob Javits Convention Center

Wanchai, Hong Kong New York City

4–9

Spielwarenmesse Intl. Toy Fair

toyfair.de

Nuremburg Exhibition Center

Nuremburg, Germany

14–17

American International Toy Fair

toy-tia.com

Jacob Javits Convention Center

New York City

10–12

26–3/1

MARCH 11–14

KidScreen Summit

kidscreen.com

Halloween Costume & Party Show hcpshow.com

Hilton New York

Donald E. Stephens Convention Center

New York City Rosemont, IL

Australian Toy, Hobby, & Nursery Show toyfair.com.au

Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Center

Melbourne, Australia

Boston Gift Show

Boston Convention & Exhibition Center

Boston

18–20

Ed Expo

nssea.com

27–30

Western States Toy & Hobby Show

wthra.com

Long Beach Convention Center

Long Beach, CA

Hawaii Merchandise Marketing Expo

douglastradeshows.com

Exhibition Hall, Blaisdell Center

Honolulu, HI

21–24

APRIL 17–19

27–30

bostongiftshow.com

Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair hkgiftspremiumfair.com

Orange County Convention Center

Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center Wanchai, Hong Kong

LICENSING SHOW 2010 TUESDAY–THURSDAY, JUNE 8–10 MANDALAY BAY CONVENTION CENTER, LAS VEGAS

38 TOYS & FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT NOVEMBER 2009

Orlando, FL



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