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.