Hasbro Opens Ticket Sales for HASCON

hasconHasbro opened ticket sales for its first HASCON FANmily event. Single day and three-day tickets and VIP packages are now available for purchase worldwide.

Appearances and meet and greets featured at the event so far include Transformers films produce Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, Stan Lee, original Transformers voices Peter Cullen and Frank Welker, “Chewbacca Mom,” and more. [Read more...]

Stanley Weston Passes Away

Stanley Weston, the inventor of the G.I. Joe toy action figure, died on May 1 in Los Angeles at the age of 84.

Weston was born in Brooklyn, New York on April 1, 1933. He attended Jamaica High School in Queens and New York University before entering the army shortly after the end of the Korean War.  [Read more...]

Hasbro’s Special Edition Comic-Con International Toys Include Jem, My Little Pony, Transformers, and More

JEM_SDCC_Doll_OOP4Hasbro Inc. is attending Comic-Con International in San Diego with special edition action figures and toys drawn from its popular brands and licenses. Along with items tied to movies, animated series, comics, and video games—such as My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and the classic Transformers cartoon—the toymaker is showing off licensed properties for Star Wars and Marvel.

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Toys “R” Us Unveils Exclusive Comic-Con International: San Diego Toys, Launches Collector Vector

Photographer Dennis Stylist LinToys “R” Us today revealed its lineup of exclusive figures and playthings, which will be available at Comic-Con International: San Diego next month. The retailer will provide convention goers with the opportunity to be among the first to purchase exclusive figures, figure packs, and play sets including Batman Classic TV Series Batgirl, from Mattel; G.I. Joe Desert Duel and My Little Pony Daring Do Dazzle, from Hasbro; and more.

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Merger Deal Between Hasbro and Dreamworks Animation Reportedly Dead

It’s been widely reported that merger negotiations between Hasbro and DreamWorks Animation have been called off, due in part to the stock performance of Hasbro, as well as the high asking price by DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Hasbro reportedly ended conversations on Friday, for reasons that included a $30 share price asked for by Katzenberg. Some analysts deemed that price high. In addition, the possible merger had a negative effect on Hasbro’s stock–it fell on both Thursday and Friday–which is said to have concerned execs at the company.

The deal would have been worth at $2.3 billion, as reported by Variety.

By joining forces with DreamWorks Animation, Hasbro would have had the means of increasing its film and TV presence, while in theory, DreamWorks would have benefited from a more diverse revenue stream via Hasbro. DreamWorks’ properties include Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, and Madagascar. Hasbro, meanwhile, owns such toy brands as Transformers and G.I. Joe.

COMMENTARY: China Toy Expo Showcases Regional Toy Brands with Worldwide Potential

DreamBeyond2Toy trade shows are terrific places in which to catch a sneak peek of the next play product sure to take the marketplace by storm. Recently, I was covering China Toy Expo, sponsored by China Toy & Juvenile Products Association, which took place this past week at the Shanghai New International Expo Center in Shanghai. While the show featured plenty of toy brands that would be familiar to Westerners—many of them imported by Chinese companies for domestic distribution—there were also lots of Chinese toy manufacturers on-hand, bearing properties that they hope will do well at home.

And of course, if a product does well in its native market, one assumes there’s a good chance it will gain an international partner that will help it take the next step. Think of Lego, which began selling in Europe during the 1940s before expanding to North America during the ’60s. Not every new toy brand can be Lego, of course; however, it’s always fun to speculate on new products and their potential to become the next big global star due to built-in appeal, compelling features, etc. Here are a few domestically-made items from China Toy Expo, which in this author’s opinion, have a shot at breaking out worldwide. [Read more...]

Hasbro to Step Back from The Hub Children’s Network

Hasbro logoAs reported by The Wall Street Journal, Discovery Communications Inc. and Hasbro Inc. are ending their equal partnership in The Hub, a cable network that hoped to become a force in children’s television against Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel.

Under the terms being completed, Discovery would take a controlling interest in The Hub and reposition the channel as a family network aimed at parents as well as children. Hasbro will retain a large stake in the service and control six hours of daytime programming on the network, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Launched in 2010 with a $300 million investment from Hasbro for half of the network, The Hub was designed to be an outlet for some of Hasbro’s best-known toy brands, including G.I. Joe, Transformers, and My Little Pony.

The makeover could take place as early as the fourth quarter, with The Hub renamed Discovery Family.

COMMENTARY: Dolls for Boys Are a Sign of the Times

Fritzi, from Haba

For the most recent issue of The Toy Book, I had a chance to research trends in the doll industry, and one that stuck out is an increase in dolls with potential appeal for boys. Arklu, the creator of Lottie Dolls, is planning to introduce its first boy doll, Kite Flyer, this fall. Meanwhile, Haba will be introducing Fritzi, a doll that has no assigned gender—Fritzi can be a boy doll for boys, or a girl doll for girls. There’s also Grandmas2Share, which is marketing grandmother-themed dolls as playthings for children of both genders. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Animation Has Long Been a Promotional Vehicle for Toys

BrandonEngel1by Brandon Engel

You’ve likely heard about the massive success of The Lego Movie, and maybe you were even one of the millions worldwide who have gone to see it. Despite its financial success, some have blasted the film for essentially being a glorified, expensive commercial for Legos. I don’t think that anyone can deny that The Lego Movie is obviously commercially motivated, but does that make it wrong? Is it all that different from children’s movies selling toys based on the film?

BrandonEngel2Last Christmas, the Frozen Castle Playset and matching Barbie dolls from the Disney film Frozen were at the top of many children’s lists for Santa. Every time a commercial appeared for the movie or the toy, they advertised each other. Is The Lego Movie any different just because the toy existed before the movie? Here is the bigger question: In an age where almost no image is spared licensing of some form, where does the line get drawn between entertainment and commercial? [Read more...]

A Squared Entertainment Merges with Genius Brands International

GBIGenius Brands International Inc. and A Squared Entertainment LLC will merge to form an intellectual property (IP) and multimedia content creation and distribution company focused on branded content with a purpose for kids. The assets and experience of both companies will be consolidated under the Genius Brands International banner.

Andy Heyward, formerly CEO of DIC Entertainment and co-president of A Squared Entertainment, will assume the role of Chairman and CEO of Genius Brands International. Amy Moynihan Heyward, formerly co-president of A Squared Entertainment, will serve as president. Klaus Moeller, currently CEO of Genius, will become vice president of special markets, and will continue with the company as a member of its board of directors.

The company will utilize its combined strengths to build upon its unique “content with a purpose” positioning. In addition to producing original content with subject matter experts, the company will develop interactive digital entertainment in all formats including broadcast, online, mobile, tablets, and more. A comprehensive consumer products program will be created to extend the learning into other areas outside of digital media.

Andy Heyward is a multi-Emmy Award-winning producer of children’s entertainment. He has produced more than 5,000 episodes of award-winning children’s programs, including Inspector Gadget, Alvin and the Chipmunks, G.I. Joe, Hello Kitty’s Furry Tale Theatre, and Sonic the Hedgehog. Amy Moynihan Heyward is a brand-marketing executive who has spent more than 20 years managing, creating, and launching brands with a focus on kids.