aNb Media News, May 24, 2016

Cathay Capital Recapitalizes K’NEX with Founding Family

Cathay Capital North America announced that it has completed a recapitalization of K’NEX Brands. The company was founded in 1992 in Hatfield, Penn. by two serial entrepreneurs, Joel and Bob Glickman. Cathay Capital’s recapitalization of the company was completed with Michael Araten, CEO, who brings almost a decade of experience running the company. Along with the senior management of K’NEX, the Araten and Talley families (next generation Glickmans) will continue to have significant ownership in K’NEX’s new holding company, Smart Brands International Co., which was formed to acquire the interests of K’NEX and build the business into a global entity. Smart Brands will also seek to make complementary acquisitions in North America, Asia, and Europe, primarily within the construction and educational products space.

The new strategic partnership between Cathay and the K’NEX team was forged by Jerry Welch (the former CEO of FAO Schwarz) and John Lee (founder of Learning Curve Toys) from their Bambini Partners LLC, serving as strategic advisors to K’NEX. Bambini introduced Cathay as an ideal partner to address K’NEX’s desire to become a global company. The transaction was also structured to assist the founding family with a successful generational transition plan, according to today’s statement.

Cathay has provided capital to the business and access to its global network for distributing K’NEX in China, Europe, and other parts of the world. Cathay has significant experience in the toy and educational products industry with Cathay affiliate investments in Juratoys (France) and Kidsland (China). This new partnership will allow K’NEX to expand across Europe. The China rollout of K’NEX products has already started with the hiring of two distributors introduced to the company by Cathay.

ASTRA to Present Aarons with Lifetime Achievement Award

The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) announced that specialty toy retailer and industry leader Steven Aarons, owner of the Barstons Child’s Play toy stores in the Washington, DC area, will be honored at Marketplace & Academy with ASTRA’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

A veteran of over 30 years in the toy industry, Aarons was a driving force behind several ASTRA initiatives—including the Best Toys for Kids awards program and Neighborhood Toy Store Day. ASTRA says he also provided leadership to the trade by supporting the growth of ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy and encouraging ASTRA’s efforts on sales tax fairness and toy safety issues. In addition, he chaired the ASTRA board of directors from 2010–2011.

ASTRA will present Aarons with the Lifetime Achievement Award at its annual Awards Breakfast and Business Meeting, which will be held Monday, June 6 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

Incredible Novelties to Distribute Whiffer Sniffers in Canada

Bearington Collection announced a distribution partnership with Incredible Novelties to bring The Original Whiffer Sniffers to Canada. In addition, Bearington announced that it has partnered with ChizComm Ltd. to help support and grow North American marketing efforts for the brand.

The Original Whiffer Sniffers are scented plush characters with quirky personalities to match their scents. The characters are available in a collectible backpack clip, a huggable-size, and as scratch ‘n’ sniff stickers. The line will be coming to Canada this fall.

What’s New in Angry Birds Movie Toys on TTPM

TTPM is showcasing the newest toys from The Angry Birds Movie. The film opened on May 20 and did nearly $40 million at the domestic box office over the past few days. It did another $110-plus million internationally for a total of more than $150 million globally for its opening weekend. For the latest in Toys, Tots, Pets, and More as well as what’s trending, visit