Observations from a toy veteran (April)

The lines between a toy company and a broader-based entertainment provider keep on blurring.
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Hasbro has taken another giant leap forward in the direction of ‘entertoyment’ with the launch of its television network, The Hub.

Think new comedies and animated adventures, live-action and game shows. And think loads of toy spin offs, no doubt.

Simultaneously, on the bigger screen, Hasbro Studios will create more movies based on Hasbro brands. With Transformers 3 and GI Joe 2 already in the pipeline, it has partnered with Sony to develop Risk, the board game, into a motion picture. In further news, Twilight heart throb Taylor Lautner pulled out of a role in Mattel’s Max Steel to play the lead in Hasbro’s Stretch Armstrong because, according to one insider: “When you sign up to make a movie with Hasbro, you know it will be in theatres a year later.”

The movie revenues that Hasbro’s toy characters have generated have been substantial in recent years and Mattel must rue the day that it passed on the chance to include Barbie in the original Toy Story.

“As we continue to execute our strategy to re-imagine, re-invent and re-ignite our global core brands, we believe we should be able to grow revenues ... and absent a deterioration in consumer spending, global economic conditions or the value of foreign currencies,” said Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner. In other words, entertoyment is a top recession busting tip.

Despite the obvious fillip to toy sales that movies and TV can generate, the vast majority of Hasbro’s revenue still comes from toys without tie-ins. In 2009, out of $4.1 billion in total revenue, only $720 million were related to major movies.

The slightly self conscious stating of that fact might be an attempt by Hasbro to reassure cynical commentators.

“We are still a toy company at the end of the day,” is the message.

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Observations of a toy veteran

Politics and toys. Never the twain, eh? Well, that all might be about to change if former Hasbro CEO Alan Hassenfeld makes a run for US Senate in his home state of Rhode Island in 2012.

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