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ASTRA’s New Board

Members of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) elected three new specialty toy industry leaders to its board of directors at ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy, which is taking place this week in Phoenix, Ariz. Here is the list:

Todd Andersen, Hub Hobby Center, Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.

Dee Farrell, Neat-Oh! International LLC, Chicago, Ill.
Erik Quam, Fat Brain Toy Co., Elkhorn, Neb.

Dean May, Toys Unique!, Dallas, Texas assumed the chair-elect position. Michael Levins, CEO of the Norwalk, Conn-based innovativeKids, who served as chair-elect over the past two years, assumed the role of chair of the ASTRA board of directors.

The nominating committee for ASTRA’s 2014 slate included Steven Aarons, Barstons Child’s Play, Washington DC, who chaired the committee; Jamie Gallagher, Creativity for Kids, Valley View, Ohio; Kate Tanner, Kidstop Toys, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Dana Barnes, High Five, Inc., Ashburn, Va.; Linda Hays, Hopscotch Toys, McMinnville, Ore.; and Michael Levins, innovativeKids, Norwalk, Conn.

Saban Hires Castle

Saban Brands announced the appointment of Daniel Castle as managing director of strategic business development. In his new role, Castle’s primary objective will be to build the business through strategic and organic growth while expanding its reach through new licensing and business development as well as the acquisition of additional brands. Based in New York City, Castle will work in close collaboration with president Elie Dekel.

Most recently, Castle was vice-president of international and business development at Iconix Brand Group.

Prior to Iconix, Castle was with In Private, a leading private label woven manufacturer, where he managed the mass market retail and department store accounts focusing on Target, Kohl’s, and J.C. Penney. In 2005, he founded the designer fashion label, Castle Starr.

MGA Hires Gates as President

MGA Entertainment (MGAE) announced that Anne Gates has been appointed its president. She will oversee all of MGAE’s global business and operations. Gates joined the company in early 2014.

Gates previously served as global executive vice-president and CFO of Disney Consumer Products, where she oversaw all business development, finance, IT, global franchise marketing, and North American sales. Prior to that role, she was executive vice-president and managing director at Disney Consumer Products Europe, in London. Prior to joining Disney, Gates worked for PepsiCo, Bear Stearns, and AT&T.

Franklin Joins Jewel Branding & Licensing

Jewel Branding & Licensing announced that Beth Franklin has joined the company as director of licensing. Prior to joining Jewel, Franklin spent 20 years at Elvis Presley Enterprises where she was responsible for growing the Elvis Presley brand globally through new licensing opportunities in a wide range of product categories.

She will be responsible for seeking out new licensing opportunities for the company’s designers and brands as well as managing key client accounts.