aNb Media News, September 13, 2016

Spin Master in Deal with Cepia

Spin Master Corp., announced this morning that it has acquired the exclusive global manufacturing and distribution rights for certain Cepia LLC product lines, including the relaunch of ZhuZhu Pets. The agreement also provides Spin Master an opportunity to negotiate for the distribution rights to additional new products from Cepia’s Blue Whale Development, adding to Spin Master’s innovation pipeline.

Spin Master will showcase the 2017 line from Cepia, including ZhuZhu Pets, Charm U, and Chuckle Ball at the upcoming Los Angeles Toy Fair.

Founded in 2002 by entrepreneur and toy industry veteran James Russell Hornsby, Cepia is based in St. Louis, Missouri, and has offices in China. It introduced global sensation ZhuZhu Pets in 2009, selling more than 70 million units in only 18 months and generating over $2 billion in global retail sales.

Awareness of ZhuZhu Pets remains high and is expected to grow with the upcoming debut of Polly and The ZhuZhu Pets, an animated series produced by Corus Entertainment and recently acquired by Disney Channels Worldwide. The series premiered on Disney Channel in the U.S. yesterday. The U.S. premiere will be followed by debuts in Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, as well as Central and Eastern Europe. ZhuZhu Pets toys have been updated for a new audience, featuring increased playability and appealing styling based on the animated characters from the new series.

Today’s announcement follows the licensing agreement reached with Vuly Trampolines earlier this year, as well as five acquisitions since Spin Master’s Initial Public Offering in July 2015: Swimways Corp., Cardinal Industries, Editrice Giochi SRL, Etch a Sketch and Doodle Sketch from The Ohio Art Company, and global mobile digital app companies Toca Boca and Sago Mini.

TIF Partners with Children’s Hospitals for Groundbreaking Research

The Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) and Nemours, one of the country’s largest pediatric health systems, operating two children’s hospitals and more than 40 outpatient facilities with operations in five states, announced the launch of a year-long research partnership. With the support of a $400,000 grant from TIF, Nemours will explore the impact of trauma-informed patient care and the role of play in helping children and families heal and cope while in the hospital. Research findings will be used to develop an innovative, high-quality program focused on trauma-informed care, using play materials and related resources designed to support and comfort children experiencing stress reactions due to life-threatening illness, injury, or painful medical procedures.

“For well over a decade, the Toy Industry Foundation has been committed to bringing the crucial benefits of play to children in need,” said Jean Butler, executive director of TIF. “Our groundbreaking partnership with Nemours represents the next step in our journey to expand our reach by bringing the healing power of play to sick children and families living through unbelievably stressful circumstances. We are thrilled to partner with such an esteemed leader in the pediatric health care system and look forward to exploring how the use of toys, games, and other playful ‘tools’ may bring healing and happiness into these children’s lives.”

The effort is led by a collaborative team at Nemours—including the Center for Healthcare Delivery Science, KidsHealth, and the Child Life Program at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children—and is being funded by the Toy Industry Foundation. The multi-phase research will gather perspectives of patients/families of diverse backgrounds and healthcare providers regarding the need for, and best ways to deliver, trauma-informed pediatric patient care—an approach that incorporates awareness of the potentially traumatic nature of medical events and aims to reduce or prevent traumatic stress reactions in children. Researchers will then develop a pilot intervention program that facilitates individualized, trauma-informed care and includes a kit with play interventions to aid in the healing and coping process in children.

Once approved, the intervention program will first be implemented at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware and Nemours Children’s Hospital, in Orlando, Florida, with the goal of expanding to additional Nemours facilities and children’s hospitals nationwide.

Ultra Pro to Acquire Playroom Entertainment

Ultra Pro International LLC, a leading manufacturer of tabletop games and accessories, has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase Playroom Entertainment, a publisher of board and card games of strategy, party, and early learning genres. 

Playroom is the publisher of the Killer Bunnies game line, the Geek Out! party game series, the Bright Idea Games children’s educational line, and several other popular toys and games. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Ultra Pro says its immediate post-closing plans include investing in new inventory to ensure deep stock levels of its top product lines along with pursuing the numerous projects that are in development. Rowen will join Ultra Pro as the director of Playroom Entertainment and continue to manage Playroom’s product portfolio on a day-to-day basis. This acquisition coincides with the launch of several new Playroom Entertainment titles, including Pass the Pandas, a social game geared towards all ages, the family edition of its popular Geek Out! trivia game, and the releases of Sitting Ducks Deluxe, and Cthulhu-themed Unspeakable Words Deluxe.

Speakers Announced for WIT Empowerment Day

Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment (WIT) announced the speakers who will be participating in its annual WIT Empowerment Day event, which will be held on Monday, September 26, the day before Fall Toy Preview in Dallas officially begins. Held in collaboration with Walmart and the Toy Industry Association, WIT Empowerment Day provides a power-packed day of informational sessions and panels to help WIT members take their women-owned businesses to the next level.

Throughout the day, attendees can expect to hear from the following experts:

  • Alice Brooks, PlayMonster/Roominate
  • Anne Marie Kehoe, Walmart
  • Avi Levine, Star Funding
  • Belinda Gruebner, Moose Toys
  • Ben Dermer, Spin Master
  • Carlos Lopez, Toy Backer
  • David Gifford-Robinson, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council
  • Deb de Sherbinin, Kidsmart
  • Jamie Cygielman, Madame Alexander
  • Jeff Pinsker, Pressman Games
  • Jerry Welch, Bambini Partners
  • Joan Lawrence, Toy Industry Association
  • John Lee, Bambini Partners
  • Karen Kilpatrick, JazWings
  • Kelli Couchee, UBM
  • Kim Mosley, American Specialty Toy Retailing Association
  • Laura Zebersky, Jazwares
  • Marian Bossard, Toy Industry Association
  • Maureen McHale, McHale Design
  • Nancy Zwiers, Spin Master
  • Patti Becker, Becker Associates LLC
  • Paul Solomon, Moose Toys
  • Phil Sage, Hasbro
  • Sarah Wilson, Walmart
  • Stephanie Pottick, Pottick Law
  • Stephanee Synnott, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
  • Steven Heller, Esq., The Brand Liaison
  • Sue Warfield, American Specialty Toy Retailing Association
  • Victoria Cushey, Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association
  • Wendy Smolen, Consultant
  • Yolanda G. Olivarez, Small Business Administration
  • Yvonne Lee, Indiegogo

Panel Discussions are open to both WIT members and Fall Toy Preview guests and exhibitors. However, Info Sessions are open to registered WIT members only. WIT Cocktails & Connections will take place immediately following WIT Empowerment Day at 6pm on September 26. It is open to all Fall Toy Preview guests and exhibitors. Tickets to this event must be purchased separately. Click here for more information.

KidStuff Public Relations Signs New Clients

KidStuff Public Relations announced the signing of seven new clients: Big Red Rooster, Bluebee Pals, Dreamland Fairy, FlyCatcher, Handstand Kitchen, Hang In There, and Manners Made Easy. For more information, click here.

What’s New in Stuffed Animals on TTPM

TTPM is showcasing newest Stuffed Animals. For the latest in Toys, Tots, Pets, and More as well as what’s trending, visit