aNb Media News, January 17, 2018

LEGO, Teams Up with Chinese Internet Giant Tencent

The LEGO Group has teamed up with Tencent to deliver safe digital LEGO experiences to Chinese children and increase the awareness of digital safety among children and parents in China. Under this new partnership, the companies will collaborate across a broad range of digital content and digital platforms.

Designed to comply with the LEGO Group Digital Child Safety Policy, developed with input from UNICEF and Tencent’s Penguin Grow with You—Child Protection in Digital Age framework and Growth Guardian Platform, the partnership aims at creating a safe online eco-system covering platforms, content, and experiences tailored for Chinese children.

The scope of the partnership includes the development of a LEGO video zone for children on the Tencent video platform and development, publication, and operation of LEGO-branded licensed games. It also includes the publication and operation of the online operation system for LEGO BOOST and the exploration to co-develop LEGO Life, a safe social network for children, in China.

9 Story Acquires Out of the Blue Enterprises

9 Story Media Group has acquired Out of the Blue Enterprises. Founded in 2005 by Blue’s Clues co-creator Angela Santomero and former Nickelodeon executive Samantha Freeman, Out of the Blue is best known for its  Emmy-nominated literacy series Super WHY, the Mister Rogers Neighborhood-inspired Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, and the interactive art adventure program Creative Galaxy for Amazon Studios. Out of the Blue also owns the legacy toy brand Colorforms and is in production on a new animated series based on the classic brand. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Out of the Blue, based in New York City, will become a wholly owned subsidiary of 9 Story Media Group with Managing Director Samantha Freeman staying on to lead the company and Co-Founder Angela Santomero continuing to serve as creator and executive producer.

9 Story and Out of the Blue have previously worked together on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, which 9 Story produces and distributes internationally with The Fred Rogers Company in association with Out of the Blue. The two companies have also worked together on Creative Galaxy for Amazon Studios, for which Out of the Blue produces and 9 Story is the animation partner. Both series are currently in production on new seasons.

Known for its full-scale production and international distribution capabilities, 9 Story Media Group employs almost 600 staff with facilities in Toronto, Dublin, and Manchester. Its animation studio, Brown Bag Films, is recognized worldwide for children’s series such as Doc McStuffins, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Top Wing, Octonauts, and The Magic School Bus: Rides Again. Out of the Blue is known for its in-house creative and full-service management of licensing and merchandising.

Worldwise Purchases PetEgo

Worldwise has acquired the Chicago-based PetEgo, LLC, makers of travel and lifestyle pet products. This acquisition reinforces Worldwise’s commitment to further invest in its SHERPA brand, infusing contemporary design into the pet travel and lifestyle categories. The extensive PetEgo product lines complement the SHERPA travel line, scheduled to premier at Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Florida, March 21-23, 2018.

The PetEgo line includes crash-tested carriers, products to protect a car’s interior, and patented solutions for the active outdoor lifestyle, all designed with a modern Italian aesthetic. PetEgo products are also distributed internationally under auto brands Mercedes Benz and Subaru.

Emanuele Bianchi, founder and lead designer of PetEgo, will become an integral part of Worldwise’s product development efforts and join the Worldwise executive team. He will head up the Travel Design Group under the leadership of Denver-based Managing Director Of Canine Products, Neil Werde.

The acquisition is effective immediately.

Steiff Gets Back to Roots, Relaunches in the U.S.

Steiff has announced the introduction of an all-new plush collection, Soft Cuddly Friends, which will be the key component in the 135-year-old brand’s relaunch in the U.S. as a plush toy company.

“In America, Steiff has gradually become a collectible brand instead of a plush brand,” says Jim Pitocco, president of Steiff North America. “In Europe, it’s always been a toy brand. We’re committed to bringing Steiff back to department stores, toy stores, and gift shops as what it truly is meant to be: an imaginative toy and companion for children. Over the years, we had become a collectible company that also sold toys. It’s time we get back to who we truly are: a classic toy company that also sells collectibles.”

The Soft Cuddly Friends line will feature ultra-high quality materials, intricate hand craftsmanship, and the signature Steiff Button in Ear. The products range from the classic teddy bear to puppies, elephants, and lambs for ages birth and up.

New Study Finds Young Moms Reach for Toys with Developmental Messaging

New research commissioned by The Genius of Play, The Toy Association’s initiative to raise awareness about play’s critical role in child development, finds that moms of young children are more likely to choose toys for their kids that incorporate developmental messaging than toys that do not.

According to the survey conducted by ConsumerQuest, the name, look, and key features of a toy play the leading role in mom’s choice. However, applying The Genius of Play’s logo and commentary, “Through play, kids learn valuable developmental skills that they will use throughout their life. That’s The Genius of Play!,” added more than a 10-percent gain to the toy’s likelihood of being selected by mothers.

The research confirms that mothers seek out playthings that nurture specific developmental skills. Participants named skills including: enhance creativity, develop active imaginations, teach kids to think outside the box, foster strategic thinking, and sharpen communication skills as their top five attributes when choosing a product.

ConsumerQuest surveyed 450 moms with children ages 3–8 between October 16–24, 2017. Survey participants were asked about the appeal of a mock-up electronic toy puppy. Some product descriptions included The Genius of Play logo and main message while others only provided standard product features.