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January 2010 | Vol. IX - No. 1
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Toys in the News: 1-27-10


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Regal Lager Recalls CYBEX Strollers after Finger Fracture. January 27, 2010 — The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Regal Lager Inc., has announced a voluntary recall of about 1,100 CYBEX Strollers in the United States and 90 in Canada because when opening or closing, the hinge mechanism may amputate a child's fingertip or cause other harm. One child fractured a finger after placing it in the hinge mechanism. Ruby, Onyx and Topaz models are affected by the recalls; the CYBEX strollers were sold at juvenile and department stores from August to November 2009 for $140 to $260. Consumers can contact Regal Lager at 800-593-5522 for a free hinge cover retrofit kit.

Blip Toys Recalls Horse Figurines for Lead. January 26, 2010 — The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Blip Toys, has announced a voluntary recall of about 15,000 Nature Wonders HD Pinto Horse Toy Figures because the surface paint contains excessive levels of lead. The horse was sold at Wal-Mart from January through July 2009 for about $4. Consumers can contact Blip Toys at 888-405-7696 for a replacement.

RadioShack Recalls Toy Helicopters for Overheating. January 26, 2010 — The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with RadioShack Corp., has announced a voluntary recall of about 6,000 Danbar Knight Hawk Toy Helicopters because the battery compartment under the canopy can overheat when charging, potentially causing a fire. The CPSC has heard of one instance of a store demo catching fire. Consumers should return the helicopter to a RadioShack store for a complete refund.

Special Package Sends Toys to Haiti. January 26, 2010 Although most relief agencies are not accepting toy donations to Haiti, Americares noticed that the toy The Bear Buckets Club offered to donate had a 4-way locking system package that can be used by parents to store food, medicine and other perishables. The Bear Buckets Club will donate 2,000 new toys to the relief effort. Children will receive a toy and the parent will be able to use the packaging to keep essentials dry, clean and safe. For more toy companies who are helping out in Haiti, please scroll down.

Grandma Should Be Gaming. January 25, 2010 — As a specialty toy-store owner, you probably disapprove of video games for youngsters, and so do the grandparents who frequent your store. But after they've purchased some eco-friendly, open-ended toys, you may want to shoo Meemaw and Peepaw down the block to the big-box store to buy themselves a couple of high-intensity, violent video games, according to an article in Yahoo News. Evidence suggests that slaying dragons and other virtual enemies can improve older adults' reflexes, processing speed, memory, attention skills and spatial abilities.

Dead Girl Trumps Classic Detective. January 25, 2010 — By restrategizing its marketing plan to target tween and teen girls instead of adults, makers of "The Lovely Bones," directed by Peter Jackson and starring Saoirse Ronaan, have seen the movie jump up to the No. 5 spot this weekend, with a total gross of $8,800,000, according to Variety. "The Lovely Bones" beat blockbuster "Sherlock Holmes," but "Avatar" is still No. 1, with a weekend pull of $36,000,000.

Hobbico Purchases Estes-Cox. January 22, 2010 — Hobbico acquired model-rocket manufacturer Estes-Cox under undisclosed terms Jan. 15, according to the News-Gazette. Hobbico may look to expand Estes distribution internationally and to various mass retailers besides Michael's and Wal-Mart, which already carry the product line. Previous Hobbico acquisitions include Revell (2007) and United Model (2001).

Craft & Hobby Show to Welcome TIA Pavilion. January 20, 2010 — The Toy Industry Association will host a pavilion at the 2010 Craft & Hobby Association summer exhibition in Rosemont, Ill., July 27-29. The section will feature toy and children's product manufacturers who also exhibit at Toy Fair and Fall Toy Preview shows, according to a press release.

Indie Director Gets 500 Days of Spidey. January 20, 2010 — Marc Webb, director of the indie smash love story, "500 Days of Summer" has been given the nod by Sony and Marvel to helm the next  Spiderman movie. The franchise's previous director and star — Samuel Raimi and  Tobey Maguire — were nixed for this project. "Spiderman IV," written by James Vanderbilt, will focus on Spidey's younger days as a high school student, before he was bitten by an arachnid. What kind of web will Webb weave for the webbed wonder?  "I'm here because there's an opportunity for ideas, stories and histories that will add a new dimension, canvas and creative voice to 'Spider-Man,'" Variety reported Webb saying. Prospects to play the teen Spidey include "Twilight's" Robert Pattinson.

Graco's Guillotining Strollers Recalled. January 20, 2010The CPSC today announced the recall of 1.5 million Graco strollers in response to reports of five children having their fingertips amputated in the hinges, while two others received lacerations. The recalls affect Graco’s Passage™, Alano™ and Spree™ Strollers and Travel Systems. The hinges on the stroller’s canopy pose a fingertip amputation and laceration hazard to the child when the consumer is opening or closing the canopy. Only strollers or travel systems with a plastic, jointed hinge mechanism that has indented canopy positioning notches (see photo below) are included in this recall. The recalled strollers were manufactured between October 2004 and February 2008. The model number and manufacture date are located on the lower inside portion of the rear frame, just above the rear wheels. For additional information, contact Graco at (800) 345-4109 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s Web site at www.gracobaby.com.

Dorel Asia Recalls Cribs Owning to Strangulation and Suffocation Hazards. January 20, 2010 —  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Dorel Asia SRL, of Barbados, is announcing a voluntary recall to replace approximately 635,000 drop side and non-drop side cribs that pose suffocation and strangulation hazards to infants and toddlers. One infant death and 10 injuries to infants were reported. Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled cribs until replacement kits are obtained and installed.  Consumers should find an alternative safe sleeping environment for their child, and contact Dorel Asia to receive a free replacement kit. Log on to www.dorel-asia.com to order the free replacement kit to prevent child entrapment in these cribs. The repair kits will be provided to owners within the next several weeks.

Toy Companies Aid Haiti. January 19, 2010 — GeoToys will donate 5% of sales from now til the end of February to the relief efforts in Haiti. "We will be donating to Doctors Without Borders, a medical humanitarian organization and 'A' rated charity which is on the ground in Haiti doing important work," said Bob Galinsky, president of Geotoys, in a press release. Guang Yong of Sota Toys will auction a prototype of "Lightning Blanka," on February 1, with all proceeds donated to the Red Cross for relief of the disaster in Haiti. "Lightning Blanka," is a clear resin statue tinted in blue with lightning arcs painted over the body depicting the character Blanka from the legendary video game Street Fighter, made by CAPCOM.  Is your company helping out in Haiti? Let TDmonthly know.

New Licensing Consultant Rides Into Bella Sara. January 18, 2010 – Hidden City Games, Inc., publisher and worldwide licensor of Bella Sara™, announced the appointment of licensing veteran Sharon M. Bennett as licensing consultant of North America. Specializing in global licensing, brand extensions and business development, Bennett will be responsible for Bella Sara’s primary retail development, licensee relations and sales, according to a press release. Bennett’s initial priorities will be to continue building retail awareness and bringing on additional licensees in key categories including apparel, domestics, publishing, interactive, collectables and accessories. Bella Sara recently partnered with Sky High International, LLC to design and produce a variety of stationery items and with Bees and Jam, LLC to produce sleepwear and intimate apparel for girls. Bella Sara’s partnership with Jakks Pacific, its master toy licensee, has allowed the property to increase its expansion in the North American market.

Mezco Donates Wolfman to Museum. January 19, 2010 — Mike Drake, Mezco’s Director of Special Projects, presented prototoypes of 7" and 12" action figures from eponymous main character the new "Wolfman" film to the Museum of the Moving Image in New York, according to Action Figure Insider. The movie, starring Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins, features makeup designed by 5 time academy award winner Rick Baker. It will be released on Feburary 12 by Universal Pictures.

The Handmade Toy Alliance Has Mixed Reaction to CPSC Report. January 18, 2010 — This past Friday, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), released their report to Congress regarding implementation issues relating to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) as requested within the Omnibus Appropriations Bill of 2010. For the first time, the CPSC formally acknowledged that the CPSIA requires legislative changes to ensure “a more orderly implementation of the statute and enhance Commission enforcement efforts.” Specifically addressed within the report are small manufacturers’ and crafters’ concerns. “This is the first concrete, upfront acknowledgement that there are issues hindering the effective implementation of the CPSIA”, Jill Chuckas, Crafty Baby (CT) and Secretary of the HTA stated. “Still, there were many specific recommendations that we had hoped would be included with the report. We will continue our efforts until we see common sense changes that will allow crafters and other small batch manufacturers to easily show their compliance under the law and stay in business.” The Handmade Toy Alliance (HTA) has been a continuous voice for small batch manufacturers and retailers since November of 2008.

Avatar Closes in on $500 Million Mark. January 18, 2010 — Twentieth Century's "Avatar," directed by James Cameron — which combines live-action and computer animation and is available in 3D in some theaters — has accumulated $1.6 billion in sales, according to Variety. It's expected to surpass Cameron's "Titanic" take of 1.8 billion in the next two weeks and become the highest-grossing film in cinema history. Mattel is providing the merch to satisfy kids' lust for giant blue cat-critters.

India Toy Market Faces Phthalates Concern. January 15, 2010 — The Times of India reported that recent lab tests of toys from Delhi markets, conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment, showed that more than 45 percent of the products contained unsafe levels of phthalates. Safety standards for toy imports issued by the Bureau of Indian Standards do not restrict phthalates as do laws in the United States and European Union, and are set to expire Jan. 23. Chandra Bhushan, associate director of CSE, said the Indian government must now decide whether or not to regulate both imports and domestic goods for the toy industry.

Drop Side Cribs Recalled for Fall and Entrapment Hazards. January 14, 2010 — The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Caramia Furniture and Mother Hubbard Cupboard's, has announced a voluntary recall of about 1,000 Diane Cribs because the slats can come off the top or bottom rails, posing a fall or entrapment hazard to a child. There have been no reported injuries. The cribs were sold at Buy Buy Baby and other juvenile and mass-market stores from September 2002 through December 2005 for $240 to $370.

Patch to Make Toys for "Sid" and "Dinosaur Train." January 12, 2010 — The Jim Henson Company has granted two licensing agreements to Patch Products — one for foam and magnetic activities based on PBS KIds' "Dinosaur Train," and the other for science kits and toys based on the "Sid the Science Kid" TV series. "'Sid the Science Kid' and 'Dinosaur Train' will make great additions to our preschool line and we are eager to provide Sid and Buddy fans with creative, educational and fun toys and activities," Brian Maxwell, president of Patch Products, said in a press release.

Authorities Investigate Cadmium in Kids' Jewelry from China. January 11, 2010 — Inexpensive charm bracelets and other jewelry items produced in China are under federal investigation after some pieces were found to contain high levels of cadmium, a carcinogen that can impede brain development in young children. The Associated Press reported that testing conducted by Jeff Weidenhamer, a chemistry professor at Ohio's Ashland University, found that 12 of 103 trinkets purchased in different parts of the United States contained a minimum of 10 percent cadmium.

China Beats Germany in Exports. January 11, 2010 — China's total exports during 2009 exceeded $1.2 trillion, putting it slightly ahead of previous title-holder Germany. China benefited from increased activity in the last two months of the year, reported VOANews, seeing exports heightened by 18 percent in December and overall imports up more than 50 percent.

St. Martin's Press Recalls Soft Books for Lead. January 8, 2010 — The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with St. Martin's Press, has announced a voluntary recall of about 204,000 "Big Rex and Friends" cloth books because a red plastic dot sewn into the book contains high levels of lead. The books were sold at Borders, Barnes & Noble, Toys "R" Us, Amazon and other retailers from May 2004 through October 2009.

JAKKS Pacific Plans Animated Series. January 7, 2010 — JAKKS Pacific's latest venture involves not only toys inspired an animated series, but the actual television show itself. In partnership with leading Japanese animation producer Dentsu Inc., JAKKS Pacific will produce a 52-episode tween boys' action series based on MONSUNO, in which adventurous boys find themselves with access to Monster DNA, according to a press release. The series is slated for 2011 release in North America, Europe and Asia.

iPhone-Controlled Toy Helicopter Hovers at CES. January 6, 2010 — The game space could be transformed with augmented reality play facilitated through products like the AR.Drone toy helicopter from tech company Parrot, on display at the Consumer Electronics Show this week. Equipped with two video cameras and four propellers, the drone responds to movements from Apple's iPhone or iPod Touch, via Wi-Fi connection, and can send back video-generated content to influence game play in a live setting. See Technology Live, USAToday.

Jide Trading Recalls Action Figures for Lead. January 6, 2010 — The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Jide Trading, has announced a voluntary recall of about 2,100 military toy figures due to excessive levels of lead on the surface paint. The toy set was sold at dollar and discount stores from November 2008 to April 2009.

Cloud B Takes Up Residence at Dallas Market Center. January 6, 2010 — Cloud B, well known for its Twilight Turtle and Sleep Sheep product lines, now has a permanent showroom at Dallas Market Center in Texas. The plush and infant manufacturer is positioned on level 8 of the World Trade Center in the Kids World Studio #8701 and will welcome visits from buyers at Dallas apparel and home and gift shows.

Step2 Shuts Down Toy Factory. January 6, 2010 — Step2, maker of children's toys and playhouses, has closed its manufacturing plant in Fort Valley, Ga., which employed 104 full-time workers. The Sun News reported that Step2 is transferring operations to its plants in Perrysville and Streetsboro, Ohio, where the company is headquartered. At its height, the Sun Valley plant had 183 employees, but production has since dropped from 12 or more product lines to only five.

Video Games Market Sees 6.9% Decline in Japan. January 5, 2010 — The Japanese video games market fell 6.9 percent year over year in 2009, suffering the biggest loss through hardware sales, which declined 13.6 percent, GamesIndustry reported. Games from Nintendo sold best in software, while the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP took the top two rankings in hardware sales.

Nearly 80% of Kids 2-14 Obtained Entertainment Content in '09. January 5, 2010 — Seventy-nine percent of children ages 2 to 14 acquired physical or digital entertainment content within the last year — including music, video games, TV shows, etc. — according to a "Kids and Entertainment Content" report from the NPD Group. Eighty-five percent of the expenditures went to physical content. On average, children obtain their first digital content (either music or game downloads, for example) at 7 years old; yet, more than 40 percent in the study were found to be 6 years or younger for this first acquisition.

Thermo Fisher Scientific to Demo New Lead Screener at Toy Fair. January 4, 2010 — At Toy Fair next month, Thermo Fisher Scientific will demonstrate its newest handheld x-ray fluorescence analyzer, the Niton XL2 Series. The portable XRF instruments are designed to complement laboratory tests by screening toys for lead and other toxins in a quick, non-destructive manner.

UK Toy Fair Sells Out at 180. January 4, 2010 — The British Toy and Hobby Association's UK Toy Fair will welcome a full house of 180 exhibitors at Olympia Jan. 26-28. Not only are exhibit spaces sold out, but visitor registrations are also 35-percent higher than they were at the same time last year, according to a report in Retail Bulletin.

"Toying With God" Book to Explore Religious Games. December 31, 2009 — "Toying With God," due out in February from Baylor University Press, will examine the niche but burgeoning market of religious games and toys, including the contradictions and scriptural liberties sometimes taken by these "educational" playthings. Author Rebecca Sachs Norris, chair of religious and theological studies at Merrimack College, uses BuddhaWheel and other games to help her students learn about various religions, the Religion News Service reported. Co-written by Nikki Bado-Fralick, associate professor and director of religious studies at Iowa State University, the book is said to explore marketing claims for religious toys and games as well as how these products reflect modern culture.

Dorel Juvenile Recalls Bassinets for Suffocation Risk. December 30, 2009 — The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Dorel Juvenile Group, has announced a voluntary recall of about 213,000 Safety 1st Disney Care Center™ Play Yards and Eddie Bauer Complete Care Play Yards because the metal support bars at the base can come out of their sleeves and create an uneven surface that could put children in danger of suffocation or asphyxiation while sleeping. No injuries have been reported. The five models of play yards affected retailed at Target, Wal-Mart, Kmart, Sears and Babies "R" Us from January 2007 through October 2009 for $100 to $130. Consumers should contact Dorel Juvenile Group at 866-762-2166 for a free repair kit.

Kendamaspot Recalls Wooden Toys for Lead Paint. December 30, 2009 — The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Kendamaspot LLC, has announced a voluntary recall of about 300 Wooden Skill Ball Toys because the surface paint on the ball has excessive levels of lead. Versions with both red and green balls are included in the recall, and retailed online and at cultural fairs in Washington state from July 2008 through April 2009 for about $20. Consumers can contact Kendamaspot at 866-903-7795 for a free replacement ball.




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