Disney’s buying spree…what are the ramifications for Hasbro?

When the news about Disney and Lucasfilm exploded all over my Internets last week, I contemplated writing something up about it, just because any major corporate changeover with Lucasfilm could have a potential impact for Hasbro, being one of Lucas’ largest licensees.  Ultimately I didn’t write anything up, but with the sudden unfounded rumors today about a potential purchase of Hasbro by Disney (yes JUST A RUMOR.  Do not freak out yet!) I figured perhaps I should talk about it a little bit.

I’ve seen a lot of commentary about this subject, obviously, with two corporate giants that are pretty near and dear to many of our geek hearts, but most of the focus of these comments is how Disney’s influence will directly impact Lucasfilm itself.

The larger question would seem, as far as toy fans are concerned, is how will this change impact Hasbro as one of Lucasfilm’s primary licensees and the major manufacturer of all Star Wars related action figures?  I’ve seen many folks concerned that this could spell doom and gloom for Hasbro, or that Disney’s previous contracts with Mattel would more or less guarantee a shift from Hasbro to their competitor, which could (hypothetically) spell doom and gloom for the Rhode Island toy maker.

I believe in the short term, this Disney move actually helps Hasbro.  And helps them quite a bit.

How so?  Click the Read the Rest of the Story link below for my thoughts.

Along with the Disney purchase, we all received news that the next installment in the Star Wars film franchise would be Episode VII, now slated for 2015.  Well, I think we all know what this means… moar toyz!  This is a good thing, especially considering Hasbro has a firm grip on the action figure license until 2020.  In the five years between 2015 and 2020 there is the potential for at least two more Star Wars films and perhaps more, and I think most folks would agree the buzz surrounding a live action Star Wars film hasn’t been this hyped up since Episode One.  Even though they made a boatload of cash, the Star Wars prequels are obviously not favorites among the adult collector crowd, and many folks have actually pointing fingers at the prequel figures in the Vintage Star Wars line causing that line’s potential demise.

But if Disney can reinvent the Star Wars franchise and get the buzz positive again, I think the results at retail for the Star Wars toys could be huge.  We could see a real revitalization of the action figure market for Star Wars, which would hopefully spill over into other brands.

Now what about this latest rumor?  And yes, it is (as of this point) a totally unfounded rumor…what would a Disney buy out mean for Hasbro, and also for G.I. Joe?  I think ultimately a Disney purchase would be very beneficial for Hasbro as a company.  Disney has a fantastic corporate structure, they have worldwide visibility, and they are perhaps the one and only entertainment entity that could successfully absorb Hasbro and maintain the infrastructure necessary to continue their operations.

However, I would fear that the prospect for G.I. Joe specifically likely would not be so positive.

It’s long been suspected, and he more or less confirmed it at the G.I. Joe Convention in Providence in 2010, but a lot of the reason for G.I. Joe’s constant attempts at retail success are due to Alan Hassenfield at Hasbro.  As one of the very few inhouse brands that Hasbro fully owns, Mr. Hassenfield understands the potential windfall that another successful G.I. Joe iteration could bring.  Not only that, but I sense a deep feeling of loyalty for the brand that essentially built Hasbro in the 1980’s.  Hassenfield has said before that while they had successful toys in that time frame (such as Mr. Potato Head) it was really G.I. Joe and more specifically G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero that made Hasbro the corporate toy giant that it is today.  Part of me suspects that if Hasbro did get purchased by Disney and Alan Hassenfield lost a level of control, G.I. Joe might end up as one of the casualties.  Not to mention the fact that Disney is reportedly pretty cutthroat about under-performers, and if G.I. Joe doesn’t pull its weight with retailers, I don’t see the brand getting multiple tries over and over and over again.

But who knows.  At this point it’s so early to speculate, and these are CRAZY UNFOUNDED RUMORS so perhaps we’ll be getting ourselves in a tizzy for nothing.  Speculation is fun, though, and when you imagine the worldwide saturation of Disney, not to mention their direct ties to Hollywood and animation, it’s tough not to get excited about the prospect, even as part of me considers that G.I. Joe may not be a part of that plan.  Just thinking about what could happen with some Hub programming moving to Disney or just Disney produced animation and films for Hasbro properties…  could be some pretty cool stuff there.

I’d be interested to hear other thoughts in the comment section below.

20 thoughts on “Disney’s buying spree…what are the ramifications for Hasbro?

  1. Spin Master got the license for Disney’s Tron Legacy line… I don’t think Hasbro has much to worry about, Mattel seems to license Disney products on a case-by-case basis and they don’t have a particularly stellar record regarding Boys Toys.

  2. Great thoughts. I do fear for Joe a little. Military toys are not without some controversy. So many companies want product totally free of potential issues. Dis. is one of them to be sure. Who knows what may happen, but Joe and Hasbro are almost one in the same. It would be sad to see them broken up!

  3. I really, really, REALLY doubt that Disney would buy into Hasbro. Disney has historically been reluctant to get into direct manufacturing of licensed goods, preferring to put the focus on the creative side.

    Anyway, GI Joe and Transformers fit very well into the Marvel stable if worst comes to worst. The company that truly would get screwed in that situation would be IDW, since about 50% of their line would get re-absorbed by the House of Ideas.

  4. I don’t see any benefit for Disney buying up Hasbro.

    During the 80’s what helped contribute to the success of GI Joe was that there was Kenner and their Star Wars line. Hasbro focused a lot of attention on GI Joe, and won (IMHO) enough that they eventually bought (merged, whatever) Kenner. Now what exists is that there’s no rival for Hasbro to focus their attention on their own in-house brand as they once did.

    But buying Hasbro just doesn’t make sense. Granted with Disney owning Marvel, and Hasbro doing the toys for Marvel, but the relationship on that part seems good and stable.

  5. I’ll believe it when I see it. If it does happen though, I’m really not that worried. Disney are not always the cutesy brand people want to believe they are. They’ve handled Marvel amazingly well, for example. I also doubt that they would unceremoniously dump GI JOE without at least trying to relaunch it.

  6. As long as Hasbro has the Star Wars license I don’t see it being any benefit to G.I. Joe. Hasbro is just competing with themselves. The Kenner-Hasbro merger was the worst thing to ever happen to Joe, its taken a backseat to star wars ever since.

  7. I agree with most in that this Hasbro buyout won’t happen. Disney just spent 4 billion on Lucas Film. I doubt they would continue absorbing/buying companies after a purchase this exorbitant. A fantasy of mine is that Disney buys star wars figure licensing from Hasbro and Hasbro invests everything in GI Joe. But the most frustrating thing is that the last two waves of figures from POC were given such a terrible market. Everytime I bought a zombie viper from walgreens the person checking me out would comment, “whoah, what is this? It’s awesome!”
    How can you give such an awesome line a chance if you put no effort into commercial distribution? Lucky for us there’s the internet, but still, the random former fan of GI Joe has no clue about POC…At the end of the day speculation and no numbers makes the company man reluctant in investing in a property. If hasbro was purchased by disney I’d be very worried about the lifeline of GI Joe.

  8. GI Joe may be a casualtie since they have not done anything with the brand since they made changes to the movie. There has been Kre-o but I don’t see that working as well, They could have least released new toys in to the market by doing a line that led up to the movie.

  9. Why buy Hasbro for a couple of billion$$ when Disney can get Hasbro to pay THEM a billion$$$ or so for the toy license rights for Star Wars and Marvel etc? Having Hasbro as an outside licensor just makes more sense, rather than buying them outright.

  10. If Disney buys Hasbro, logically we might just see G.I.Joe and Transformers comics under a Marvel banner again. That I would not mind.

  11. I don’t believe that it is in Disney’s best interests to buy Hasbro. Now if they make a few really successful movies then maybe… but until then I think others here have stated the right track. Disney will license product to Hasbro as long as it benefits both companies.

  12. Why do people think this? Hasbro has a separate department and team working on each property. What the Star Wars people do has no bearing on what the GI Joe people do. The reason GI Joe isn’t doing well has nothing to do with whether Hasbro focuses on it or not. It’s because retailers don’t care. If Hasbro wasn’t interested in it being a success, then the line would have died a long time ago and we never would have seen any attempts to revive it, which Hasbro has done at least 4 or 5 times now with the 3.75 figures. More if you want to count efforts such as Sigma 6 and such. We also wouldn’t be seeing the movies either. Star Wars has very little to do with the success or failure of GI Joe.

  13. Not really. If Disney were to buy Hasbro then that would make Star Wars an in house property. Right now, Hasbro has to split the profits between themselves and Lucasfilm/Disney. With a purchase of Hasbro, Disney would get ALL the profits, which would be more than what they’re getting now.

  14. I don’t know if this purchase would be good or bad for Gi Joe. It makes a lot of sense for Star Wars and even Transformers. SW is already a big part of the Disney experience. SW and TF are both global brands. I have spent a lot of time over seas and you can find SW and TF anywhere but I assure you “A Real American Hero” doesn’t sell in the middle east. There is no reason to believe that Disney would shutter the Joe brand on that reason though. I don’t know why people automatically get worked up about Disney buying companies though. They have huge pockets and why would they buy properties only to remove them from the shelf? It doesn’t make sense.

  15. Because both Joe and Star Wars (not counting sigma six) are trying to be the best boys toy, especially in 3 3/4 ” Imagine someone owning both k-mart and wal-mart, neither would need to be risky to try and overtake the other. It’s a lack of competition.

  16. I could tolerate that. Just put Atkins on art, and give current and past Joe writers a chance or mini here and then. (Jerwa!)

  17. we all have heard the rumors Joe has struggled because of politics and those who are left minded. Supposedly Disney leans to the left, i worry about that.

  18. Why SHOULD one try to overtake the other? Either way, Hasbro gets money. I don’t see why they need to compete at all. My point was that the belief that Hasbro neglects it’s other properties for Star Wars is false. There is no “split focus”. Joe is Joe and Star Wars is Star Wars and Marvel is Marvel and My Little Pony is My Little Pony. The failure or success of one has nothing to do with the other.

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