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January 2005 | Vol. IV - No. 1
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Toy Industry News Briefs

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-- Sales at Toys R Us Slip: Toys R Us Inc. said on Thursday its sales at U.S. stores open at least one year fell 2.2 percent during the crucial holiday shopping season (1/6/05, ALR).

-- Michaels Store Dec. Sales Rise: Arts and crafts supply retailer Michaels Stores Inc. on Thursday said December same-store sales rose 14 percent and increased its fourth-quarter outlook, while total sales increased 19 percent to $557.9 million from $470.2 million and customer traffic was up 11 percent (1/6/05, ALR).

-- Sales at Children´s Place Surge: Children´s Place Retail Stores Inc. on Thursday said same-store sales at its flagship locations surged last month, and total sales more than doubled, boosted by the acquisition of Walt Disney Co.´s Disney Stores. Sales at Children´s Place stores open at least a year grew 21 percent in December, nearly twice the 11.2 percent growth forecasted by analysts polled by Thomson First Call and dwarfing a gain of 7 percent in the year-ago period (1/6/05, ALR).

-- Mad Catz Expects Increased Sales: Mad Catz Interactive, Inc. ("Mad Catz"), the world´s third-largest party video game accessory provider, announced today that it expects net sales for its fiscal 2005 third quarter ended December 31, 2004 to be in excess of $50.0 million, an increase of more than 20% over the comparable period last year (1/6/05, ALR).

-- Sony Debuts New System: Sony debuted its PlayStation Portable at a press event on Wednesday. The PSP, which went on sale in Japan last month, can display photos and play music and movies in addition to games, and Sony has big plans for the device, expecting it to sell 3 million units by the end of the company´s fiscal year this spring (1/5/05, ALR).

-- Retailer to Deliver Presentation: The Children´s Place Retail Stores, Inc., a specialty retailer of children´s merchandise, ages newborn to ten years old, today announced that it will deliver a presentation at the SG Cowen & Co. Third Annual Consumer Conference at The Westin New York at Times Square on Tuesday, January 11 (1/4/05, ALR).

-- Radica Games Continues Sega Partnership: Radica Games Limited plans to manufacture and distribute Play TV® Legends Street Fighter® II Special Champion Edition in honor of Capcom´s 15th anniversary of the release of the legendary video game, the first to introduce two-player fighting action (1/4/05, ALR).

-- Toys R Us 2004 Announces Holiday Sales Webcast: Toys "R" Us, Inc will announce its results for its 2004 Holiday Sales on Thursday, January 6, 2005 and will webcast its conference call at 10:00 a.m. (EST) that same day from the Toys "R" Us web site at (1/3/05, ALR).

-- Three THQ Titles Awarded: THQ Inc., a worldwide developer of interactive entertainment software, today announced that three of its key titles - Warhammer® 40,000: Dawn of War(TM), Full Spectrum Warrior(TM), and Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams(TM) - achieved "Best of 2004" accolades from game sites, and (1/3/05, ALR).

-- Retailers´ Stocks Close Low: Retailers´ stocks closed fractionally lower Friday, Dec. 31, dampened in part by pullbacks of more than 1 percent in shares of Gap Inc., Circuit City Stores Inc. and Toys "R" Us Inc (12/31/04, ALR).

-- Action Products Shows Big Gains: Action Products, the self-described "leading toy designer and manufacturer of educational and positive, non-violent branded toys for pre-school children through pre-teens," announced on that it expected December sales to be at least 85% over last year´s sales, with the incoming order rate for future shipments and the release of twelve new products producing strong preorders for the first quarter of 2005 (12/30/04, ALR).

-- Toys R Us Execs to Get Bonuses: Toys R Us has told its top executives, including president John Barbour and chief financial officer Ray Arthur, that it will pay them bonuses if they remain with the company through an upcoming restructuring, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Toys R Us announced last month it would split its two businesses, Toys R Us and Babies R Us, in the first half of 2005 (12/29/04, ALR).

-- Midway to Develop Football Game: In the wake of Electronic Arts´ exclusive deal with the National Football League, Midway Games will develop Blitz: Playmakers, a project that will, according to Midway´s chief marketing officer Steve Allison, "include all the gameplay and fun the NFL won´t allow" (12/29/04, ALR).

-- EA to Buy French Company: Electronic Arts, the world´s largest video game publisher, earlier this month (December) said it was buying almost 20 percent of French video game maker Ubi Soft Entertainment, fueling speculation it might bid for the whole company (12/30/04, ALR).

-- Companies Report Holiday Highs: Although neither company is releasing holiday financial details until February, both and Shelburne, VT-based gifts marketer Vermont Teddy Bear Co. (NASDAQ: BEAR) are already boasting of big boosts in order volume, with Amazon reporting that it set a company record with more than 2.8 million units ordered in a day and Vermont Teddy Bear Co. reporting a 29% increase in holiday orders through Dec. 26. Vermont Teddy Bear said it received about 105,000 orders in the latest period for its BearGram, PajamaGram, TastyGram and Calyx & Corolla gift products, up from about 81,000 orders taken a year ago.(12/28/04, ALR).

-- Interplay Joins with Israeli Game Developer: On December 23, 2004, Interplay Entertainment signed an agreement with Majorem, an Israeli game developer to exclusively publish and distribute "Ballerium," the massively multiplayer online strategy game. The game, currently in beta testing, is expected to be commercially launched by summer 2005 (12/28/04, ALR).

-- Babies R Us to Open NYC Store: Toys "R" Us, Inc. announced that it will open the first Babies "R" Us store in Manhattan, which is expected to open by holiday 2005 and will replace the Toys "R" Us store that currently occupies the space at 24-30 Union Square East in New York City (12/27/04, ALR).

-- Mad Catz Launches Wireless Controllers: Mad Catz Interactive, Inc., the world´s third party video game accessory manufacturer, announced the launch of wireless versions of its highly successful MicroCON(TM) line of "micro" sized controllers for Xbox®, Playstation®2 and Gamecube(TM) video game systems (12/23/04, ALR).

-- Mattel´s Overseas Factories Improve: Overseas factories owned and operated by Mattel along with suppliers have made progress but still need to improve working conditions, an independent auditor said Friday (12/17/04, ALR).

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