aNb Media News, May 30, 2018

PlayMonster Buys Interplay in First International Acquisition

PlayMonster has acquired the privately held, UK-based toy company Interplay UK Ltd. The announcement was made from from DisToy.

The companies have had strong partnership since 2016, when PlayMonster acquired a North American license for Interplay’s top-selling My Fairy Garden brand, which is distributed in more than 10 countries to date. Now PlayMonster, based in Wisconsin, has acquired Interplay’s operations and full brand portfolio. The new relationship will mean increased growth potential for both PlayMonster and Interplay in existing markets through new and incremental product categories.

“This is PlayMonster’s first international acquisition and its largest acquisition to-date,” says Bob Wann, chief PlayMonster of PlayMonster and chairman of The Toy Association. “This important step will strengthen the excellent team we have, as well as expedite the growth of PlayMonster and Interplay brands around the world. With Interplay becoming the first subsidiary, with an office and employees who will continue the business as usual from their headquarters in Marlow, it gives both companies and outstanding opportunity to grow their business globally.”

Ross Ainsworth, founder of Interplay, adds “Our team at Interplay shares with PlayMonster a common philosophy of the importance of play, as well as a passion for creating high-quality, enduring products at affordable prices. We have incredible respect for what the PlayMonster team has been building, and we are looking forward to expanding our brands into North America and beyond.”

Wann attributes the success of Interplay to Ainsworth, who has nurtured the company since its conception. “Ross’s passion, creative excellence and team of employees are what got Interplay to where it is today, and it will be an honor to take his vision the next level,” says Wann.

Jazwares Acquires Russ Berrie, Applause

Jazwares has acquired the Russ Berrie and Applause brands.

The Russ Berrie brand originated in 1963 and has historically included a variety of gift items, such as stuffed animals, mugs, picture frames, figurines, greeting cards, and stationery. The Applause brand has offered stuffed toys and collectible figurines since 1966. Together, the brands were acquired from Larsen & Bowman Holdings Ltd. and Maple Licensing Ltd. through Jazwares’ affiliate, Zag Toys.

Jazwares is a subsidiary of Alleghany Capital, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alleghany Corporation.

University Games Acquires The Haywire Group

University Games has acquired The Haywire Group.

Haywire was founded in 2005 by Barbara and Michael Fisher as a place where they could improve the lives of kids around the world through game play. Since 2005, Haywire has introduced dozens of games directed at helping kids develop their fine and gross motor skills, reading, early math and critical thinking skills. In 2017, Haywire broadened its scope with the trivia game Are You Dumber than a Box of Rocks?

“We are honored to have the great assortment of games from The Haywire Group join our stable at University Games. I hope that the rest of the world enjoys Flickin’ Chicken as much as I do, and who doesn’t like a good game of Shaboom?” says University Games’ co-founder, Bob Moog.

Michael Fisher adds, “For The Haywire Group, we look forward to our collaboration with University Games to broaden our reach internationally and expand our mission to help kids learn and develop as people. University Games shares our original goal of mixing learning and fun.”

Along with their creative team, Michael and Barbara Fisher will continue to be active in the game industry under Haywire’s sister company, Grand Prix International (GPI) and its newly expanded Design and Development Services.

University Games will expand the reach of the Haywire product line to include international markets in Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand in 2018 and then additional international markets in 2019.

TOM_SERIES 22_Keyart with logoMattel Greenlights Thomas & Friends Series 23 for 2019

Mattel has greenlit another series and special for Thomas & Friends to premiere in 2019.

The new series will consist of twenty 11-minute episodes and three 22-minute specials. The programs will continue the themes of exploration and discovery while adding new locations and friends from around the world. This brings Thomas & Friends library of content to more than 550 episodes.

The greenlight for series 23 has been signed up by broadcasters Channel 5 Milkshake (UK), ABC TV (Australia), Televisa (Mexico), TV Cultura (Brazil), Super RTL (Germany) and Nick Jr. (USA).

The series undergoes a major refresh that takes Thomas farther than ever before, introducing kids to new countries and cultures. The show has a contemporary feel, a brand-new theme tune and a refreshed Steam Team to include three girls and three boy engines. The all-new format series will feature faster-paced action, more humor, new music, new international friends, animals, and fantasy elements.

vewd sesame imageSesame Launches New Vewd Streaming App

Sesame Workshop launched a new Sesame Street streaming TV app for Vewd-enabled connected TV devices. The app features content from the 48 seasons of the children’s TV series and includes dedicated sections to Sesame Street characters including Big Bird, Elmo, Cookie Monster, Bert and Ernie, and more. The new app is available on connected TV devices from Sony, Samsung, HiSense, Tivo, Vestel, and others.

The app was built in partnership with Vewd and the video technology provider Kaltura. Kaltura added compatibility with Vewd Snap, the industry’s app creation and distribution tool. Apps created through the integration have a consumer experience, while further providing content owners an easy way to scale their content offering.

By building in compatibility for Vewd Snap, Kaltura makes it easy for customers like Sesame Workshop to go to market quickly, cost-effectively and at scale. With only a minimal set of inputs, Vewd Snap brings to life a full HTML5 TV app complete with a turnkey user experience and light customization options. The app then gains distribution through the Vewd App Store.