LEGO Launches Social Network
LEGO has launched its own safe social network designed specifically for kids: LEGO Life.
Although it shares a similar interface to social networks like Instagram—offering users the ability to post images of their LEGO creations, follow fellow builders, and comment with the custom LEGO Emoji Keyboard—LEGO Life has many added safety features. LEGO Life prevents kids from sharing personal information, images, or anything that could allow users to identify and locate one another. Avatars are customized LEGO minifigures, account names are randomly generated, comments are heavily monitored, and marketing and advertising is restricted to LEGO-related content.
The app-centered digital experience allows kids to personalize their LEGO experience through direct interaction with their favorite LEGO characters, exclusive content, an in-depth 3D LEGO minifigure avatar creator, and building inspiration and challenges. The app also encourages kids and tweens to identify and “follow” topics of interest so that their feed is populated with relevant images, challenges, and more. For example, kids can choose to follow groups dedicated to certain animals, vehicles, heroes, specific LEGO themes, seasonal programs, or regional topics.
The app is now available for download in the App Store and Google Play in the U.S., Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Denmark, Austria, and Switzerland, with additional markets rolling out through 2018.
Jazwares, USP Studios in YouTube Content Partnership
Jazwares has obtained the licensing rights for the digital kids content producer USP Studios’ original YouTube-exclusive properties. JazWings, the idea incubation arm of Jazwares, and USP Studios will develop animated content based on new brands in the JazWings incubation program to air on YouTube.
With billions of views and growing, animated shows by USP Studios are known by kids and parents worldwide.
Beyond a traditional licensing program with Jazwares, JazWings and USP Studios are also looking at new ways to build brands from the ground up. Multiple projects are already in the works with new releases planned for as early as this spring.
Toysmith Named Exclusive Oball Distributor
Toysmith has been named the exclusive distributor of Kids II brands Oball, Oball H2O, and Oball Go Grippers for the U.S. specialty toy and gift market.
This expands on Toysmith’s existing exclusive partnership for other Kids II products, including Bright Starts and Baby Einstein.
Mattel Misses Mark in 2016 Earnings
Mattel, Inc. reported its full year and fourth quarter 2016 financial results last week, which Mattel Chairman and CEO Christopher Sinclair says was negatively impacted by numerous industry-wide challenges. The Board declared a 2017 first quarter cash dividend of $0.38 per share, which is flat compared to the first quarter of 2016.
For the year, reported worldwide net sales were down 4 percent, and were down 2 percent in constant currency, versus the prior year. Worldwide gross sales were down 3 percent as reported, and were flat in constant currency. Excluding Disney Princess, worldwide gross sales went up mid-single digits as reported, and up high-single digits in constant currency.
Fisher-Price worldwide gross sales rose 2 percent, and up 6 percent in constant currency. Wheels worldwide gross sales were up 6 percent, and up 11 percent in constant currency. Barbie worldwide gross sales were up 7 percent, and up 9 percent in constant currency.
Reported operating income was $519.2 million, and an adjusted operating income was $560.8 million, compared to an adjusted operating income of $623.6 million in the prior year. Reported earnings per share were $0.92, and adjusted earnings per share were $1.06.
For Q4, net sales were down 8 percent, and were down 6 percent in constant currency, versus the prior year. Worldwide gross sales were down 5 percent as reported, and were down 1 percent in constant currency. Excluding Disney Princess, worldwide gross sales were flat as reported, and up mid-single digits in constant currency. Fisher-Price worldwide gross sales were down 3 percent as reported, and up 2 percent in constant currency. Wheels worldwide gross sales were up 13 percent, and up 18 percent in constant currency. Barbie worldwide gross sales were down 2 percent, and up 1 percent in constant currency.
Reported operating income was $262.6 million, compared to reported operating income of $294.1 million in the prior year’s fourth quarter. Adjusted operating income was $269.2 million, compared to an adjusted operating income of $306.3 million in the prior year’s fourth quarter. Reported earnings per share were $0.50, and adjusted earnings per share were $0.52.