Monday, February 23, 2009

Lego sales up 18.7%, profits up 31.5% in 2008

    Ventes en hausse de près de 20%, bénéfices en nette progression et prévisions optimistes pour 2009 : «Nous ne nous attendions pas à une telle croissance des ventes», avoue ce lundi le directeur du groupe, Joergen Vig Knudstorp. Pour l'exercice écoulé, le bénéfice net a bondi de 31,5% à 1,35 milliard de couronnes danoises (181 millions d'euros) contre 1,02 milliard en 2007, sur un chiffre d'affaires de 9,52 milliards, en hausse de 18,7% sur un an, selon un communiqué.

    Lego n'a jamais été aussi solide. Avec 22 milliards de petites briques en plastique produites chaque année, le groupe danois de jouets (premier fabricant européen et sixième mondial) a enregistré en 2008 l’un des meilleurs résultats de son histoire en dépit de la crise internationale.

    Article Link (Libération)

    Children Get Cellphones at Age 8

    According to a recent study by the charity Personal Finance
    Education Group, the average child gets a cellphone when they're

    To look at the stat differently, 35% of 8-year-olds have a mobile phon.

    Article Link (Gizmodo)

    Friday, February 20, 2009

    Tween Virtual World Status Q1 2009



    According to leading market research
    company, The NPD Group, U.S. retail sales of toys generated $21.64
    billion in 2008 compared to $22.32 billion in 2007*, a decline of 3
    percent.  With a loss of 5 percent, the fourth quarter of 2008 (Oct. -
    Dec.) showed the most significant decline in sales for the year.

    Despite slowing sales, particularly during the turbulent economy
    that plagued the fourth quarter of 2008, recent research from NPD**
    shows spending on toys captured the largest share of total expenditures
    on kids ages 0-14 during the five weeks leading up to Christmas. 
    Apparel & accessories, video game hardware, and video/PC game
    software followed toys in terms of dollar sales ranking.

    Top properties for the year (based on total dollar sales) included
    Barbie, Crayola, Star Wars, Transformers, and Webkinz.  Licensed toys
    represented 27 percent of total industry sales in 2008, mirroring
    2007's 27 percent.  Star Wars and Disney Princess topped the list of
    2008's best-selling licensed properties.

    Article Link

    Thursday, February 19, 2009

    Tween Trends

    The Basics. A quick refresher course in the demo reminded
    us that an 8 year old and a 12 year old are developmentally
    (physically, emotionally, cognitively) worlds apart. This translates to
    a difference in the way they care for their appearance (fun colors,
    yummy smells vs. spa-type products for girls), relate to their parents
    (temper tantrums vs. door slamming) and most relevant to this
    conference play (starting card collections/Webkinz-type online activity
    vs. strategy games/social sites like MySpace and Facebook) and
    entertain themselves (superhero-based fantasy vs. real-world-hero-based

    Tween Trends. Recent studies show an increasingly strong
    bond between parents and their tweens (the rise of co-viewing
    televisions shows), kid activism (wanting to make the world a better
    place) and a less encouraging upswing in anxiety at a younger age with
    11-12s worrying about doing well in school, going on their first date,
    etc. Not surprisingly, girls especially struggle with self-esteem).

    Article Link

    LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0 Gets Color Recognizing Camera


    Pocket Lint has been checking out the 2009 Toy Fair in NYC, and
    they’ve spotted some of LEGO’s new Mindstorms NXT kits. The 2.0 version
    has a new sensor that can differentiate between colors, it can store
    and display images on its LCD, and it can also play back sounds. The
    kit will cost about $280 when it becomes available later this year…
    Watch some of the new models shoot stuff and try to bite you, after the

    Article link

    Saturday, February 14, 2009

    Disney Sets World of Cars for Summer 2009

    Disney announced that it would launch World of Cars Online this summer. The world was first announced as in development in November 2007, and Disney began previewing World of Cars with an avatar creator and Test Track a year later. With codes already available in Mattel toys for extra virtual items and a bonus track, Disney is already pushing for World of Cars to be a hit revenue stream at retail. Once the world launches, Disney says players will be able to race on  tracks and earn their way to the big leagues, explore a wide world of environments, build their own garages, cars, and tracks, and more.

    Disney Pixar World Of Cars Online Trailer

    Friday, February 13, 2009

    DFC: Club Penguin Earned $50-$150 million in 2008

    Penguin earned $50 million to $150 million in 2008 according to
    estimates by DFC Intelligence. The full study on MMOs and virtual
    worlds will come out next month, but the analysts shared the top-earning titles with GigaOM ahead of time.

    The top earner is World of Warcraft with an estimated revenue of over $500 million, but the more casual title, Maple Story, isn't far behind at number 3 with an estimated $150-$500 million.

    Penguin checks in at number 7, ahead of hardcore adult titles like Age
    of Conan, Warhammer Online, and Lord of the Rings Online. Considering
    that it's the title with the youngest audience and by far the most open
    ended, it's a very respectable showing.

    Club Penguin makes
    money from products other than its virtual world, including standalone
    video games and toys, but it's not clear whether that revenue is taken
    into account here. If not and it's based only on the virtual world's
    subscriptions which range
    from about $5-$6, that would put Club Penguin's subscriber base 
    somewhere between 8.3 million users and 30 million users
    , which
    range from $57.95/year to $71.40/year, that would put its subscriber
    base at somewhere between 700,000 (which is where the service was
    reportedly at around the time it was acquired by Disney in Summer 2007) and 2.58 million users.

    Article Link

    Mattel Q4 2008 Earnings: BarbieGirls MP3 Player Drove Decline

    Worldwide Mattel Boys and Girls brand sales
    decreased by 2% and U.S. sales dropped by 1%. Barbie in particular, saw
    a 9% decline in worldwide sales with a 7% drop in the U.S. According to
    CFO Kevin Farr, one of the "primary drivers of the global decline," and
    the first one listed in yesterday's Q4 2008 earnings call, was the MP3
    player that launched alongside the world.

    The MP3 player initially offered access to exclusive content in the virtual world, but was eventually replaced by a subscription model in April when executives found that girls were more interested in the digital content than the consumer electronics device. 

    irtual worlds are being pitched by some, like Build-a-Bear, as value
    adds that extend the life of a toy, but the toys still have to be sold

    Mattel, at least, seems to be looking for some bounce back
    in 2009. It's not clear how much of that will tie in to, but it seems likely we'll see at least a few
    connections to Barbie's 50th Anniversary.

    "We have some exciting
    plans for Barbie in her 50th. And although it wasn't a great year for
    the doll category in general - I think the doll business was impacted
    to some degree by maybe the Wii system or Webkinz - the fact is we have
    some relatively good news on Barbie," said Bob Eckert, Chairman and
    Chief Executive Officer

    Article Link

    Robot Land theme park finally breaking ground in South Korea

    Or, at least we hope it is. If you'll recall, we heard way back
    in August of 2007 that South Korea was set to begin construction on a
    robot-themed park. Here we are in 2009, and we're basically getting the
    same story all over again. Reportedly, the nation's Ministry of
    Knowledge Economy is expecting to get going on Robot Land this year, as
    the government has set aside $559 million for construction in Incheon.
    We're also told that actual plans for that second park
    have yet to materialize, making us wonder even more if this whole thing
    isn't slipping to vaporware status. At any rate, the parks would sure
    be good for the local economy (assuming anyone has the money to go),
    but we're at the point of recommending that you not hold your breath on
    seeing this up by the promised open date of year-end 2013.

    Article Link

    Wednesday, February 11, 2009

    Bossa Nova интригует публику экстравагантными роботами

    На ярмарке игрушек в Лондоне (<a href="">Toy Fair</a>), где Bossa Nova и устроила премьеры, Prime-8 показывал скорость на бегущей дорожке. Вряд ли она входит в комплект (фото с сайта

    На ярмарке игрушек в Лондоне (Toy Fair),
    где Bossa Nova и устроила премьеры, Prime-8 показывал скорость на
    бегущей дорожке. Вряд ли она входит в комплект (фото с сайта

    Говорят, новорождённый пингвинёнок каким-то образом умеет общаться со своей мамой. Стоимость Penbo пока неизвестна (фото с сайта

    Friday, February 6, 2009

    A gorilla-based robot has been voted one of the best new products of 2009 by the Toy Fair trade event.

    A gorilla-based robot has been voted one of the best new products of 2009 by the Toy Fair trade event.

    by a Lebanese entrepreneur with a PhD in robotics, the Prime-8 robot
    uses motion sensors to throw coconut missiles and has a bloodcurdling
    growl that would ward predators, or snooping people, away.

    Sarjoun Skaff spent seven years developing the state-of-the-art robot
    technology, and his Pittsburg-based company, Bossa Nova Concepts, is
    now ready to launch the Prime-8 and its penguin-based sister robot Penbo

    Article Link

    Thursday, February 5, 2009

    Citroen DS3 Inside Concept

    Disney Online Revenues - Q4

    Interactive Media revenues increased 47%, or $229 million, to
    $719 million primarily due to increases of $160 million at Disney
    Interactive Studios and $71 million at Disney Online.

    The increase at Disney Interactive Studios was primarily due to the
    performance of new High School Musical, Hannah Montana and Turok
    self-published video games in fiscal 2008 compared to Pirates of the
    Caribbean, Spectrobes and Meet the Robinsons games in fiscal 2007. The
    increase at Disney Online reflected higher virtual world subscription
    revenue due to a full period of Club Penguin, which was acquired in the
    fourth quarter of fiscal 2007.

    Costs and expenses, which consist primarily of video game and
    internet content development costs, product costs, distribution and
    marketing expenses, general and administrative costs, and technology
    infrastructure costs, increased 25%, or $193 million, to $974 million
    driven by increases at Disney Interactive Studios and Disney Online,
    partially offset by lower costs related to mobile phone services as a
    result of the shut down of the domestic business in the first quarter
    of fiscal 2008. The increase at Disney Interactive Studios reflected
    higher product, distribution and marketing costs associated with volume
    growth and increased investment in video game development. At Disney
    Online the increase was driven by higher development and marketing
    costs related to the website and virtual worlds, including
    the impact of a full year of Club Penguin, and the website.

    Article Link

    Disney to Invest More in Virtual Worlds, Sees Them Close to Profitable

    "We expect to continue to invest further in these businesses and
    particularly in Disney-branded video games, websites, and virtual
    worlds for the next few years," said Thomas O. Staggs, CFO and Senior
    Executive Vice President.

    "Our investment in Virtual World will continue and I think we will
    ramp up somewhat. We believe that is a business that can ramp to
    profitability actually reasonably quickly and show some nice returns
    for us. Of course, Club Penguin is already profitable but I think there
    is more for us there in that property and in the other properties that
    we are developing," he explained.

    Providing the opportunity to
    both provide a consumer touchpoint and directly monetize its evergreen
    franchises, virtual worlds seem to be playing an increasingly large
    role in Disney's Interactive Media Group

    Article Link

    Tuesday, February 3, 2009

    MoshiMonsters secures further backing, acquires TutPup

    Mindcandy, best known for its MoshiMonsters
    educational virtual world for kids has pulled off a number of moves in
    a short space of time, including raising a new round and acquiring

    Firstly, it’s raised further amount of funding, although the amount
    was not disclosed. It’s emerged that just before Chistmas MindCandy
    raised a round of Convertible Loan Notes. All its existing VC investors
    participated (Accel, Index and Spark), plus one new investor, who
    remains unnamed. CEO Michael Smith told me “I’m very happy with the
    deal as the cash should take us to breakeven. Loan Notes make sense
    because if we decide to raise another round it would be at a higher
    valuation than we could have achieved in December, when Moshi Monsters
    was still pre-revenue.”

    Plus, this month Moshi has launched its subscription service - no
    doubt good timing. For £4.95 a month (or £35 for the year) users get a
    Moshi Monsters passport and can access premium elements.

    Smith says this is going well enough to make them “cash flow
    positive on a daily basis”. In December Moshi reached one million
    users, boosted by early viral growth without any formal marketing so
    far. Moshi Monsters lets its target market of young users create and
    care for cartoonish monsters. IN doing so they must pass through
    educational tests like 60-second puzzles each day across a range of
    skills like maths and English.

    MindCandy has also acquired the TutPup
    gaming site from Cominded, the company owned by Paul Birch, a
    co-founder of Bebo and brother to Michael Birch. The site has 350,000
    registered users and allows kids to play multi-player educational
    ‘puzzle battles’ against each other. Try it - it’s addictive.

    The plan now is to integrate it into Moshi Monsters to increase the breadth of multi-player puzzle games.

    Article Link

    How to Reach Today’s Kids and Teens: Click, Click, Talk, Talk, Talk.

    Did you know that 82% of US teens ages 12-17, and 43.5% of children ages
    3-11, will use the Internet on a monthly basis in 2009* – both
    from computers and their mobile phones?

    It’s true. Today’s kids and teens are online, mobile, and
    always on the go. With toy media budgets tighter than ever in a
    challenging economy, it may be time to rethink your spending patterns to
    catch your moving audience where they are.

    Our audience navigates and communicates across social networks, text
    messaging, instant messaging and virtual worlds,” says Debra
    Williamson, author of the new report, Kids and Teens: Communication
    Revolutionaries. “They expect transitions between communications
    media to be seamless—messages sent by one means ought to be
    accessible in another. The distinctions many adults make between
    ‘online, ‘offline’ and ‘mobile’ are
    meaningless to these young multimedia mavens. Kids and teens just
    communicate, period

    While TV remains an important part of the marketing mix,
    today’s forward-thinking youth entertainment marketer must
    integrate online and mobile media spending in order to stay relevant and
    pertinent. And make no mistake: pertinence matters if your message is to
    break through.

    Article Link

    Sunday, February 1, 2009

    The Top 10 Money-Making MMOs of 2008

    Game industry analyst DFC Intelligence
    will publish a comprehensive study of massively multiplayer online
    worlds next month, and was nice enough to give us an advance peek at
    their list of MMOs and MMORPGs that earned the most revenue in 2008.

    The numbers are primarily estimates based on publicly available
    reports, DFC’s David Cole told me, and are decidedly on the “very
    conservative” side. The wide revenue spreads reflect the fact that 2008
    earnings are still being counted, though more exact numbers are
    promised in the firm’s Feb. 16 report. “We indicate ranges because
    these numbers are estimates for 2008 based on where we think these
    products will end up,” said Cole. However, when the final numbers are
    reported, the rankings below should remain the same, though “maybe a
    slot here or there” will change.

    While no one will be shocked by World of Warcraft’s heavy earnings,
    Cole believes the Asian MMOs, which are developed at far lower budgets,
    have a higher profit margin. “Profit margin on Asian games is
    incredibly high,” he told me. That’s true even though most of the Asian
    MMOs charge the equivalent of 5-6 cents an hour with usage cards, Cole
    noted, a model that has yet to be widely adopted by Western developers.

    Speaking of which, it’s notable that the bottom of the top 10 is
    where the big budget MMORPGs in the World of Warcraft vein — LOTRO,
    Conan, and Warhammer — reside. (All below the no-frills Runescape, which we wrote about last July.)

    1. World of Warcraft, launched 2004

    Genre/Platform: Western MMORPG; client install with 3D graphics

    Revenue sources: Monthly subscription, retails sales, prepaid cards (in Asia)

    DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $500 million-plus

    2. Fantasy Westward Journey, launched 2004

    Genre/Platform: Asian MMORPG, client install with 2.5D graphics

    Revenue sources: Prepaid cards

    DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $150-$500 million

    3. Maple Story, launched 2003

    Genre/Platform: Asian MMORPG for kids, client install with 2D graphics

    Revenue sources: Microtransactions, prepaid cards, international licensing

    DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $150-$500 million

    4. Shanda (company, includes Legend of Mir and World of Legend series), launched 2003

    Genre/Platform: Asian MMORPG, client install with 2.5 graphics

    Revenue sources: Prepaid cards, virtual item sales, freemium subscriptions

    DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $150-$500 million

    5. Lineage I and Lineage II , launched 1998 and 2003

    Genre/Platform: Asian MMORPG, client install with 2.5 graphics (Lineage) and 3D graphics (Lineage II)

    Revenue sources: Subscription, prepaid cards

    DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $150-$500 million

    6. Runescape

    Genre/Platform: Western MMORPG for kids, web-based with 2.5D graphics

    Revenue sources: Premium subscription, prepaid cards, real-world advertising

    DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $50-$150 million

    7. Club Penguin, launched 2006

    Genre/Platform: Virtual world for kids, web-based 2.5D graphics

    Revenue sources: Premium subscriptions, prepaid game cards

    DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $50-$150 million

    8. Lord of the Ring Online

    Genre/Platform: Western MMORPG, client install with 3D graphics

    Revenue sources: Subscription, retail sales

    DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $50-$150 million

    9. Warhammer Online

    Genre/Platform: Western MMORPG, client install with 3D graphics

    Revenue sources: Subscription, retail sales

    DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $50-$150 million

    10. Age of Conan

    Genre/Platform: Western MMORPG, client install with 3D graphics

    Revenue sources: Subscription, retail sales

    DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $50-$150 million

    The most popular MMO among this 10, in terms of active
    players? That requires more speculation, but it’s almost certainly not
    World of Warcraft. Cole points out that Fantasy Westward Journey
    registered an astounding 2-3 million concurrent players last August.
    Though Warcraft now boasts some 11 million+ subscribers,
    “You’re lucky to get 5-10 percent [of them] playing at the same time,”
    he said. Maple Story developer Minho Kim told me last December that his
    MMO has 87+ million registrations, but wouldn’t specify how many of
    them were monthly active users. DFC’s Joost van Dreunen estimates it to
    be 15-20 percent of that figure — i.e., 13-17.4 million regular Maple
    Story players.

    Conan and Warhammer were released in 2008, but otherwise, Cole says
    the rest of the list is fairly similar to that of 2007. That will
    probably remain true this year, though watch for hotly anticipated MMOs
    like Free Realms and Lego Universe to make a concerted effort to crack the top 10.

    Article Link