Chicago-based edu-toy company Learning Curve recently purchased a select number of lines owned by defunct toyco Eden. Headed to Learning Curve is the Madeline doll and plush license, as well as Eden’s entire line of proprietary infant and preschool specialty plush. Neither of the privately-held companies released the terms of the agreement, though John Lee, president of Learning Curve, says the brands represent two-thirds of Eden’s annual revenue. The acquisition of the lines will give Learning Curve a stronger presence at department and gift store channels, areas that Lee says are under-developed for the company.
Furthermore, Lee says the addition of the Madeline license will help to balance Learning Curve’s portfolio of licenses (including Thomas the Tank Engine), which are mostly boy-oriented. ‘We have other girls properties, like FeltKids and Small Miracles, but clearly Madeline is a much bigger property,’ says Lee.
As part of the agreement, Learning Curve has agreed to fulfill outstanding orders for Madeline and other Eden-branded products, and will begin shipping the merch in late May. Rights to the remaining plush and toy licenses that Eden held (which Learning Curve did not pick up) such as Arthur, Blue’s Clues and Paddington Bear, will revert to the individual property holders.
Industry rumors that 60-year-old Eden was teetering towards bankruptcy had been running rampant since early March, when the company stopped shipping orders to accounts and returning outside phone calls. Sources cite an overall slowdown in toy sales, combined with accelerated consolidation in the specialty toy and gift retail channel, as the key reasons for the company’s demise. To be sure, Eden is not the only plush toyco to suffer a credit crunch in the last few months. In mid-March, Woodland Hills, California-based plush producer Applause narrowly escaped extinction, after an investment group led by former Applause CEO Robert Solomon bought the company out of foreclosure.