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.

Hasbro in Talks to Buy DreamWorks Animation

Hasbro logoAs initially reported by Deadline, Hasbro Inc. is in early talks to buy DreamWorks Animation SKG. The deal would give the toy maker, which has clout with major retailers, an animation studio that just recently began diversifying beyond the movies.

For each company, a deal could help accelerate movement beyond their core businesses. DreamWorks Animation has expanded into consumer products in recent years, but still lags behind Walt Disney Co., while Hasbro recently sold off some of its stake in the Hub cable network.

dreamworks_animation_logoThrough its relatively new film label, Allspark Pictures, Hasbro has movies in the works based on its toy brands, My Little Pony and Jem and the Holograms. It is also launching a new Transformers cartoon series on the Cartoon Network, having had trouble edging in on children’s networks Nickelodeon and Disney Channel.

Should a deal be reached, it would likely come during the next two to four weeks, and would result in a family entertainment powerhouse to be called DreamWorks-Hasbro, according to a source in the article. Hasbro could also have management of the new entity already in place: On Wednesday, the company appointed Stephen Davis, who has led Hasbro Studios since its launch in 2009, to the role of executive vice president, chief content officer.

In this new role, Davis will be responsible for developing content for Hasbro’s brands across multiple platforms. He will also work closely with Hasbro’s president and chief executive officer, Brian Goldner, to oversee Allspark Pictures (This aspect of Davis’ role was announced prior to news about the possible Hasbro-DreamWorks deal), as well as franchise films such as Transformers that are produced in partnership with major studios.

Chicago Toy & Game Group to Honor The Kohner Family at TAGIE Awards

ChicagoDuring the 2014 Toy & Game Inventor of the Year (TAGIE) Awards, the Chicago Toy & Game Group will present this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award to The Kohner Family, which includes brothers Frank and Paul Kohner and Paul’s son, Michael Kohner. The latter will accept the award on behalf of The Kohner family, which has worked in the toy and game industry for almost 75 years.

In 1940, Paul Kohner founded Kohner Brothers alongside Michael’s uncle, Frank Kohner, and what began as a wooden bead company quickly transformed into a toy-making endeavor. The Kohner Brothers cemented their place with the introduction of the game, Trouble, featuring the Pop-O-Matic dice device.

In addition to the Lifetime Achievement Award, the In Memoriam award will be given to the family of Bill Goodman, while Hasbro Co. will receive the 2014 TAGIE Excellence in Character Design award for the Transformers toys in celebration of the brand’s 40th anniversary. The TAGIE Awards are scheduled to take place in the Grand Ballroom of Chicago’s Navy Pier on November 21.

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...]

Angry Birds Transformers Rolls Out Worldwide

ABTransformersThe Angry Birds Transformers mobile game is now available on the Apple App Store, to be followed by the Android version on Google Play on October 30 and on Amazon on November 4. Also available is the Angry Birds Transformers Telepods product line from Hasbro, which allows players to teleport figures straight into the game and gain unique powers.

This new mash-up combines the Angry Birds world with the iconic Transformers franchise. With an edgy ’80s vibe, Angry Birds Transformers brings a humorous twist to the beloved Transformers characters. Angry Birds are disguised as robots in disguise when Eggspark plunges to Piggy Island changing the pigs and the eggs in its wake. The Autobirds and the Deceptihogs will have to join forces to prevent the rioting EggBots from wreaking havoc.

Developed in collaboration with Hasbro, the Angry Birds Transformers Telepods gaming platform will allow fans to teleport their favorite characters directly into the game, bridging the digital and the physical play experience. The toys change form, like the original Transformers.

Hasbro Franchise Brands Show Strength in Third Quarter

Hasbro logoToday, Hasbro Inc. reported financial results for the third quarter, in which net revenues increased 7 percent to $1.47 billion, compared to $1.37 billion last year. Foreign exchange had an unfavorable $10.8 million impact on third quarter revenues.

Reported net earnings for the third quarter were $180.5 million, or $1.40 per diluted share, compared to $126.6 million, or $0.96 per diluted share, last year. Adjusted net earnings for the third quarter were $187.8 million, or $1.46 per diluted share, excluding a pre-tax charge of $11.6 million, or $0.06 per diluted share, related to the restructuring of the company’s investment in the Hub Network joint venture. By comparison, adjusted net earnings for the third quarter last year were $172.5 million, or $1.31 per diluted share.

U.S. and Canada segment net revenues increased 4 percent to $764.3 million compared to $735.6 million last year. International segment net revenues increased 11 percent to $649.3 million compared to $582.7 million last year, reflecting 7 percent growth in Europe, 24 percent growth in Latin America, and 11 percent growth in the Asia Pacific region, as well as growth in the Boys, Girls, and Preschool categories. In total, Emerging Markets revenues increased 29 percent. [Read more...]

Disguise Celebrates Halloween with Popular Licenses

DisguiselogoDisguise Inc.’s Halloween costume line-up for this year includes popular characters for the entire family based on theatrical blockbusters, popular television shows, pop culture, and more.

This year’s line-up includes toddler and children’s costumes for Elsa, Anna, and Olaf from Disney’s Frozen, as well as an adult Elsa costume. From Disney’s Maleficent, Maleficent and Aurora costumes are available in sizes for children and adults. Disney Junior properties such as Sofia the First and Doc McStuffins have costumes in baby, toddler, and child sizes.

The classic Minnie Mouse costume is available in sizes ranging from baby to adult. Super Mario Bros fans can dress up as their favorite characters including Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach. Costumes for Bumblebee and Optimus Prime from Hasbro’s Transformers are available in baby to adult sizes.

Children and adult fans of Hasbro’s My Little Pony can dress up as their favorite characters, including Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie. Accessories and costumes for Saban’s Power Rangers span from baby, to child, to adult.

The costumes are available at mass market, specialty, and online retail outlets including Target, Wal-Mart, Toys “R” Us, Spirit, Buy Seasons, and more.

Toy State Showcases New Branding for Road Rippers and Nikko

Toy State New BrandingOn Monday, Toy State unveiled new branding designs for its flagship lights and sound and R/C product lines, Road Rippers and Nikko. The company is showcasing the new-look product lines and branding at Fall Toy Preview in Dallas, and will continue to highlight them at Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair in January.

Toy State acquired Nikko and Nikko Entertainment BV in May. The moves came on the heels of a period of aggressive growth, including new licensing partnerships with Hot Wheels, Transformers, Hello Kitty, and Angry Birds.

“We couldn’t be more excited about the new logos and packaging these leading brands will have when they hit retail shelves in 2015,” said Andy Friess, Toy State’s general manager of U.S. operations and senior vice president of global marketing. “Redefining the Nikko brand was a major design objective following our acquisition, and returning Road Rippers to its signature ‘orange package’ roots provides an exciting refresh for the leader in the lights and sound vehicle category.”

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.

Hasbro Shows Off New Transformers Toys at Comic-Con International

SuperionAt Comic-Con International: San Diego last week, Hasbro unveiled new toys from next year’s Transformers lines, including Transformers: Robots in Disguise and Transformers Generations.

Transformers: Robots in Disguise, based on the upcoming animated series, features new designs for favorite Transformers such as Bumblebee and Sideswipe, as well as new characters including Underbite and Strongarm. Meanwhile, the Transformers Generations line gets a new theme next year: Combiner Wars, which lets fans build Combiner figures such as Superion and Menasor, or customize their own. Voyager Scale figures act as the torso, while interchangeable Deluxe Scale figures serve as the arms and legs.