Lego Ascends Brick by Brick to No. 1 Toy Firm

(Image Credit: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

Morning Money Memo:

Move over Mattel. There is a new titan in the toy industry. Lego has become the world's largest toy maker thanks to the success of "The Lego Movie" - one the year's top box office hits - and the products associated with it. The privately held Danish firm says sales in the first six months of this year rose 11 percent. Mattel's revenues declined with falling sales for Barbie dolls, Hot Wheels and the Fisher-Price brand. "Lego has come back from near extinction a decade ago to become the most powerful global toy brand, with its construction bricks played with from China to Brazil," The Financial Times reported. Lego sales in China jumped more than 50 percent. Asia is now a big growth market for the toy industry.

Apple is under an iCloud after weeks of gains and a record-high stock price. Days before the reported launch of the iPhone 6 and other gadgets including a smart watch, the leading tech company is facing questions about the iCloud celebrity photos hack and a recent iTunes outage. Apple shares tumbled nearly 5 percent in the past 24 hours. Rival Samsung announced a major product release and "also revealed a deal with Facebook's new acquisition Oculus to produce a virtual reality headset that connects to your phone," Forbes reported.

Tesla Motors has plans for a huge factory in the Nevada desert to produce hundreds of thousands of batteries for its next generation of mass-produced electric cars. Tesla is expected to start building its $5 billion plant outside Reno. The company has said the factory will employ about 6,500 people. Tesla's choice of Nevada over California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico takes it a big step closer to mass producing an electric car that costs around $35,000 and can go 200 miles on a single charge. That range is critical because it lets people take most daily trips without recharging, a major barrier to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. The "gigafactory," as Tesla calls the project, would bring the cost of batteries down by producing them on a huge scale. It's roughly 10 million square feet, equivalent to about 174 football fields, would be running by 2017. That is when Tesla hopes to introduce its Model 3.

Detroit's bankruptcy trial, the latest municipal bankruptcy case in U.S. history, is heading into its third day. Creditors who object to the proposed settlement are having their say before a federal judge. Detroit wants to cut $12 billion in unsecured debt to about $5 billion through its plan of adjustment, which a judge must approve. Most creditors, including more than 30,000 retirees and city employees, have endorsed it. Bond insurers Syncora Guarantee and Financial Guaranty Insurance Co. lead a small list of creditors opposing it. The insurers and the city have made their opening statements. The proceedings could take many days, with dozens of witnesses.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio Twitter: daviesnow

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