aNb Media News, February 20, 2018

JazwaresJazwares Acquires Zag Toys

Jazwares has acquired a majority interest in Zag Toys, a division of Zacks Enterprises. Zag Toys is a leader in the collectibles business, specializing in the licensing, design, and sourcing of on-trend products and toys.

This marks the second acquisition by Jazwares since Alleghany Capital’s investment in the company. Jazwares is a subsidiary of Alleghany Capital Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alleghany Corporation.

Judd Zebersky, Chief Executive Officer and President of Jazwares, commented, “Driven by the creativity of its principals, Judd Karofsky and Stacy Larsen, Zag Toys has built an impressive reputation in the industry for transforming some of the hottest pop culture and gaming brands into collectible toy lines. We are excited to partner with Zag Toys and believe our two companies share deep-rooted principles focused on creating quality products that speak to fans of all ages. Together, we will be able to further expand the 360 degree toy experience.”

toyassoclogo-pms-1The Toy Association Elects Five New Members to Board

The Toy Association announced the election of five new members to its Board of Directors for two-year terms expiring in February 2020. The meeting also elected Bob Wann, Chief Play Monster of PlayMonster, as chairman of the board, following the retirement of its current chairman, David Hargreaves of Hasbro. The announcement was made at The Toy Association’s Annual General Meeting, which is open to all Toy Association member representatives.

Wann has more than 35 years of experience at both Fortune 500 and entrepreneurial/start-up companies in the U.S and internationally. Through strategic brand and product development, combined with creative marketing, he has overseen the development and growth of some of the most recognized brands in toys and consumer packaged goods, and is widely recognized as a creative thinker and marketer, having developed award-winning programs such as Family Game Night and Get Together Games.

Wann joined The Toy Association’s Board of Directors in 2010. He currently serves on the Executive Committee and on The Toy Foundation’s Board of Directors. Wann was formerly the Association’s secretary-treasurer and served on numerous committees, including the audit, investment, and PlayCon committees.

During the meeting, four candidates were elected to serve their first terms on The Toy Association’s Board: Michael Keaton, president, Schleich North America; Tim Kilpin, president and CEO, consumer products division of Activision Blizzard; Andrew Quartin, CEO, Thames & Kosmos; and Andrew Weiner, president, Toy’n around. In addition, Smith Holland Jr., president and CEO of Crayola, has been elected to his first full term, after joining the Board in 2017 to fill a vacant seat.

Seven board members were re-elected for a second term: Kathleen Campisano, vice-president of specialty, Barnes & Noble; Jennifer Caveza, senior vice-president, Toys, Nickelodeon Consumer Products; Charlie Emby, co-president, Just Play; Barbara Finigan, executive vice-president and chief legal officer, Hasbro; Skip Kodak, senior vice-president, Americas, LEGO Systems; Geoffrey Walker, executive vice-president and chief strategic technology officer, Mattel; and Nancy Zwiers, chief marketing officer, Spin Master.

Wann named four executives to the Chairman’s Advisory Committee: former chairman John Gessert, president and CEO, American Plastic Toys; former chairman Soren Torp Laursen; Ashley Mady, president of Brandberry, head of brand development for Basic Fun!, and president of Women in Toys, Licensing, & Entertainment; and Eva Lorenz, general manager, Toys and Games, Amazon.

The Toy Association’s new Executive Committee will include: Wann; Skip Kodak of LEGO Systems as vice chairman; Richard Barry, executive vice-president and global chief merchandising officer of Toys “R” Us, as the Association’s new secretary-treasurer; Hasbro’s Barbara Finigan; Mattel’s Geoffrey Walker; and The Toy Association’s president & CEO Steve Pasierb in an ex officio role.

The meeting included remarks from Pasierb, who spoke of The Toy Association’s achievements on behalf of members and the business of toys during 2017, despite a challenging retail environment, as well as essential elements of the Association’s 2018 plans. Paul Vitale, executive vice-president of finance and operations, provided an overview of The Toy Association’s healthy financial position.

Former chairman David Hargreaves of Hasbro and Shirley Price, The Toy Association’s former secretary-treasurer and president and COO, Funrise Toy Corporation, will depart the Executive Committee and Board. Board member Jeffrey Kennis, president, Enchanted Moments has concluded his third term, and William To, president, VTech Electronics North America, will depart the Board concurrent with his retirement. In addition, Al Verrecchia has concluded his term of service on the Association’s Advisory Committee, while Honorary Advisors Alan Hassenfeld, Hassenfeld Family Initiatives, and Neil Friedman, president and CEO of Alex Brands, also concluded their terms.

witwonderWIT’s Wonder Women Awards Gala Announces 2018 Winners

Women in Toys, Licensing and Entertainment (WIT) held its 14th annual Wonder Women Awards Gala on Sunday, February 18, coinciding with the 2018 New York International Toy Fair. The Gala celebrated industry trailblazers for their contributions in toys, licensing and entertainment across a variety of disciplines.

The 2018 WIT Wonder Women Awards Winners are:

  • Wonder Woman Creator Inventor Award: Sydney Wiseman, WowWee
  • Wonder Woman in Licensing Award: Menal McGrath, Moose Toys
  • Wonder Woman in Manufacturing Award: Diana Young, Spin Master
  • Wonder Woman in Marketing Award: Julie Powell Christopher, Entertainment One
  • Wonder Woman in Public Relations Award: Susan Murphy, Coyne PR
  • Wonder Woman Retailer Award: Cindy Levitt, Hot Topic
  • Wonder Woman Rising Stars Ali Mierzejewski, The Toy Insider, and Stephanie Mendoza, Sesame Workshop
  • Wonder Woman in Sales Award: Donna Moore, TTPM

In addition to the Wonder Woman Awards, WIT celebrated several honorees at their Gala: Norma Rosenhain, Creata CEO, with the Lifetime Achievement Award; Nancy Zwiers, executive vice-president and global CMO at Spin Master, with the Elise Lachowyn Mentorship Award; and the Wonder Girl Award was given to the Toys “R” Us President of Play, 12-year-old Ariana Gentry. WIT also presented scholarships to 10 college students, made possible through the WIT Foundation’s Scholarship Program.

2018 WIT Foundation Scholarship Recipients:

  • Wharton: Venture Initiation Program: Meriem Djelmami-Hani
  • FIT Toy Design: Karen Harel
  • Stanford Design Program: Lee Marom
  • OCAD: Faculty of Design: Willow Sharp
  • OTIS Toy Design: Juliette Ward
  • OTIS Toy Design: Erika Jennings
  • University of Arkansas: Parker Milner
  • Long Island University: Abigail Sollecito
  • Long Island University: Judith Solorzano
  • GenHeration: Madison Seeley

2018 marked the second year of WIT’s Superhero Circle program, which is a means to make personal donations in support of WIT’s programming, initiatives, and scholarship program. Donations may be designated to honor the memory of loved ones.

WIT’s mission is funded through the support of its industry sponsors for 2018, including Mattel, Nickelodeon, Disney, Spin Master, Hasbro, Bandai Foundation, Jazwares, PlayMonster, and other companies.

Disney World’s Toy Story Land to Open This Summer

Walt Disney World Resort has announced the opening of the all-new Toy Story Land, inspired by Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story films, on June 30.

Guests in Toy Story Land, which is located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, will feel like they have shrunk to the size of a toy as Woody, Jessie, Buzz, Slinky Dog, the Aliens, Green Army Men, and other Toy Story characters come to life in the larger-than-life outdoor setting of Andy’s backyard.

Across 11 acres, Toy Story Land will include two all-new attractions and one expanded favorite: the Slinky Dog Dash roller coaster, Alien Swirling Saucers, and the expanded Toy Story Mania!

When it’s time for on-the-go refreshments, Woody’s Lunch Box will serve up meals and old-fashioned soda floats from a walk-up window in a setting surrounded by Andy’s favorite toys and a giant vintage thermos. Woody’s Lunch Box will also feature Mini Babybel, the Official Snack Cheese of Walt Disney World Resort.

Other Toy Story-themed lands around the world that will roll out include:
Toy Story Playland, Walt Disney Studios Paris—August 17, 2010
Toy Story Land, Hong Kong Disneyland—November 17, 2011
Toy Story Land, Shanghai Disneyland—opening April 26, 2018