Weekly E-News, Issue #220, July 10, 2007

Original Movie Spawns Live Action Series
Cartoon Network is producing its first-ever live-action series, “Out of Jimmy’s Head” in the fall. The series is based on last year’s original movie Re-Animated and continues the crazy adventures of Jimmy Roberts and his animated world with Golly and the gang.
 
LeapFrog Enterprises Takes New Read on Education Site
LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. is sponsoring the new Learning to Read center on Education.com, a new reading resource that will provide easily accessible, high-quality educational and developmental reference and editorial content that address the critical and often challenging topic of learning to read.

As a trusted leader in creating fun and engaging learning experiences for children, LeapFrog is uniquely positioned to team up with Education.com, a comprehensive, one-stop destination that allows parents to take an active role in their children’s education from pre-school through grade 12.
 
Ohio Art Sketches Out Deal with Freeze Tag
Ohio Art entered into a partnership with Freeze Tag, a publisher of casual online games, to create Etch A Sketch-themed games available for download online and other gaming platforms later this year. The digital version will allow users to sketch, paint, color pictures, and add text on the computer screen and then send them digitally to others via e-mail or saved for later use. The program also features interactive games starring Etch A Sketch-themed characters called “Knobbies”.
 
Duo Mobilizes First Joint Venture Deal
FremantleMedia and Mobliss launched Atomic Wedgie, the first mobile channel to launch from the joint venture between the pair.  Atomic Wedgie is now on Helio’s nationwide service and offers users a menu of 12 different programs to choose from with more than 150 mobile shorts to watch. The channel’s launch on Helio will include 50 new shorts for some of FremantleMedia’s most popular shows including “Baywatch Babes,” “Secret Girlfriend,” and “Bush Bites” as well as the debut of new programs such as “White People Dancing.”  

The Hautman Brothers Grow Bedding Business
 MHS Licensing signed Virtual Sales Group Corporation (textiles division) as the newest member of the Hautman Brothers’ licensee family. The company will be creating bedding ensembles under the Scarborough Home and Decor label including comforters, sheet sets, bed skirts, coordinating decorative pillows, shams, throws and window treatments for distribution through the catalog and retail store trades.  

Equestrian Brands Saddle Up Together
Ariat International, Inc. and Breyer Horses teamed up for the first time to create a 2007 Ariat Limited Edition Collectible. Artist Susan Carlton Sifton created the first sculpture in the line, which is a chestnut colored mare with three white socks. It displays the Ariat logo on its right hip. Ariat will offer the special, limited-edition model as a children’s gift with purchase item at participating English and Western retail stores from November 17 to December 28, 2007 throughout the U.S., Europe, and Australia.
 
HIT Entertainment Taps New Turkish Agent
HIT Entertainment appointed Sinerji as its new licensing agent in Turkey with responsibility for “Thomas & Friends,” “Bob the Builder” and “Barney & Friends” across Turkey. “Thomas & Friends” and “Barney & Friends” are broadcast on Show TV, Turkey’s terrestrial broadcaster, and reach over 18 million households.

April Cornell Extends Product Portfolio
April Cornell Holdings, Ltd, will mark the arrival of fall with new licensees including C&F Enterprises, Inc., Crazy Mountain, Now Designs/Danica, Homefires, Manual Woodworkers & Weavers, and Martha M.
 
E&B Giftware to Support Book Series
Chicken Soup for the Soul, through its licensing agency, SloaneVision Unlimited, entered into a relationship with E&B Giftware to manufacture an electronic scroller that gives the user sayings from “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books via a hand-held device. Quotes will be taken from classic Chicken Soup stories as well as “Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul” aimed at that market.

Woolworths Predicts it’s Top Ten Winners for Xmas 2007
The UK’s biggest toy retailer Woolworths has put its money behind what it believes will be the top ten selling toys this Christmas. Launching its Xmas line-up in London this week, the retailer believes that a mix of the traditional and the technological will be a hit with kids this year. The UK toy market is worth £2.1 billion a year according to Woolworths, with some half of all sales made in the last quarter of the year.

Among the characters set to appear under trees all over the UK are a talking parrot, Iggle Piggle, Makka Pakka, and Upsy Daisy from the BBC’s “In The Night Garden,” and the new Transformers—making a hit off the back of the film released in the UK later this month. Dr Who, Barbie, and Spidersapien are also on the list.

Woolies is backing the board game Eternity II, which was invented by aide to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher Christopher Monckton. The puzzle-based game made by Tomy includes the possibility of winning a $2 million prize.

Commenting Nick Hill, head of toys at Woolworths says, “This is the best toy line up for some years. There’s technology with the FlyTech Dragonfly and the Fur Real Parrot, a retro flavor with new Transformers and Dr Who toys, classic Barbie and a board game everyone’s going to be fighting over to get their hands on $2 million.”

Woolworths Top 10 Toys for Christmas 2007, with Selling Price (in alphabetical order)

Barbie Island Princess Talk and Sing Styling Head, £39.99

Dancing Iggle Piggle, £34.99

Dr Who Dalek Sec Voice Changer Helmet, £29.99

Eternity II, £34.99

FlyTech Dragonfly, £39.99

FurReal Parrot, £69.99   

Roary Remote Control Car, £24.99

Spiderman Ultimate Web Blaster, £39.99

Spidersapien, £69.99

Transformers Movie Arm Blaster, £29.99.

Strong Trading at Game Group
UK-based Game Group has reported strong like-for-like sales in a trading update for the 22 weeks to June 30, with sales up 47% in the UK and up by 43% for its international operations in France, Spain, Sweden, and Australia. Profit before tax for the first half is predicted to be between £1 million and £3 million for the six months to July 31, before exceptionals. The acquisition of Gamestation in May and the launch of Sony Playstation 3 in March this year have, however, impacted on margins for the business—hardware sales achieve substantially lower margins than games. A store-opening program remains on track with 50 additional outlets—mostly outside the UK—planned before Christmas this year. Chairman Peter Lewis cautions that despite strong consumer demand, the UK trading environment, “continues to be very competitive with retailers expending the PC and video games offer to capitalize on the growing market.” Games operates 1,037 stores and concessions plus 28 franchise stores internationally.

Gill Pritchard Takes Children’s Lead in BBC Worldwide
BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the UK broadcaster BBC, has appointed Gill Pritchard as head of children’s in the home entertainment team. The role has stood empty since the end of 2006 and follows a reorganization that has taken the children’s business into the £186 million turnover home entertainment division.

Pritchard’s career was previously business development director in charge of developing and building the commercial media player that BBC Worldwide plans to launch later this year. Before that she was head of strategy at BBC Worldwide and also spent a year at the BBC as financial & commercial strategy manager. Before joining the BBC, she was a consultant at both Deloitte & Touche and Andersen Business Consulting. Pritchard takes up the role in September.
 
Execs on the Move
Bruno Schwobthaler has been promoted to senior vice president sales and business development for Warner Bros. Consumer Products Europe/Middle East/Africa. Brand Sense Partners named Robert Hollander to the newly created post of vice chairman and Ramez Toubassy as president with responsibility for day-to-day operations of the company. Condé Nast Publications named Tanya Isler, Jennifer Bomhoff Nitz and Meaghan Mooney as directors in its new business development department within its Editorial Assets & Rights division to develop and extend the company’s assets into new product categories and services.

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