Hasbro, Inc. (/ˈhæzbroʊ/; an abbreviation of its original name, Hassenfeld Brothers) is an American multinational toy and board game company. Hasbro is the third largest toy maker in the world with revenues of approximately $4.45 billion. Hasbro acquired the trademarks and products of Kenner, Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley, among others. Among its toy and game products are the iconic Monopoly board game, G.I. Joe figurine, Furby electronic stuffed animal, Transformers mechanical toys and My Little Pony. The Hasbro brand also spawned TV shows, such as Family Game Night on the Discovery Family network, to promote its products. The corporate headquarters is located in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The majority of its products are manufactured in East Asia.
In 1923, three brothers named Herman, Hillel and Henry Hassenfeld founded Hassenfeld Brothers, a company selling textile remnants, in Providence, Rhode Island. Over the next two decades, the company expanded to produce pencil cases and school supplies. In 1926, Hassenfeld Brothers was incorporated, with Hillel leaving for another textile business while Henry took charge of the corporation. With cost of pencils rising and their pencil supplier making pencil cases, the Hassenfelds began making their own pencils, becoming a source of funding for future lines.
In the 1940s, Hassenfeld Brothers produced doctor and nurse kits, its first toys, and modeling clay, becoming primarily a toy company by 1942. With Hillel's death in 1943, Henry Hassenfeld became CEO while his son, Merrill, became president. The company entered the plastic fields during World War II to support its toy line. Hassenfeld Brothers' first toy hit was Mr. Potato Head, which the company purchased from George Lerner in 1952. The toy was a smash success. In 1954, the company became a Disney major licensee.
In 1960, Henry died and Merrill took over the parent company and his older brother Harold ran the pencil-making business, Empire Pencil. Hassenfeld Brothers expanded to Canada with Hassenfeld Brothers (Canada) Ltd. in 1961. The company was approached in 1963 to license a toy based on The Lieutenant, which they turned down because they did not want to be tied to a possibly short-lived television series. Instead, in 1964, Hassenfeld Brothers produced the G.I. Joe toy, which they termed an "action figure" in order to market the toy to boys who wouldn't want to play with "dolls." In 1964 and 1965, G.I. Joe accounted for two-thirds of Hassenfeld's sales.
Having previously sold toys under the Hasbro trade name, the company shortened its name to Hasbro Industries in 1968 and sold a minor stake in the corporation to the public.
With the unpopular Vietnam War at its height in 1969, Hasbro redesigned GI Joe to be less militaristic and more adventure oriented. Its promotional efforts included the catchphrase "Boy Oh Boy! It's A Hasbro Toy!" in television commercials and print ads. Also in 1969 Hasbro bought Burt Claster Enterprises, which produced "Romper Room" and had just begun a Romper Room toy line. A month-long teamsters strike and far eastern supplier troubles caused the company to have a $1 million loss for the year.
In 1970, Hasbro began a plan of diversification and opened the Romper Room Nursery School franchise chain to cash in on President Richard M. Nixon's Family Assistance Plan which subsidized day care for working mothers. By 1975, the company had ended the nursery chain. Hasbro also entered the cookware field with the Galloping Gourmet line based on a contemporary television cooking show. With an attack of termites on the line's salad bowls, the line collapsed.
Two new 1970s toys were public relations disasters. One of the toys was named Javelin Darts which were similar to the ancient Roman plumbata. On December 19, 1988, the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned lawn darts from sale in the United States due to their hazards as a flying projectile with a sharp metal point causing multiple deaths. The other toy was named The Hypo-Squirt, a hypodermic needle shaped water gun tagged by the press as a "junior junkie" kit. Both were recalled. While Romper Room and its toy line had continued success, Action for Children's Television citizens group considered the program as an advertising channel for toys.
Merrill Hassenfeld took over as CEO in 1974 with his son, Stephen D. Hassenfeld, becoming president. The company became profitable once again, but had mixed results due to cash flow problems from increasing the number of toys in the line to offset G.I. Joe's declining sales. In 1975, the G.I. Joe line was ended by Hasbro, caused by the rising price of plastic via its raw material and crude oil's increasing prices. In 1977, Hasbro's losses were $2.5 million and the company held a large debt load. That same year, Hasbro acquired Peanuts cartoon characters licensing rights. With the financial situation poor, Hasbro's bankers made the company temporarily stop dividend payments in early 1979. The toy division's losses increased Harold Hassenfeld's resentment regarding the company's treatment of the Empire Pencil subsidiary as Empire received lower levels of capital spending to profits than did the toy division. With Merrill's death in 1979, Harold did not recognize Stephen's authority as the successor to the chairman & CEO position. As a solution, Hasbro spun off Empire Pencil in 1980, then the nation's largest pencil maker with Harold trading his Hasbro shares for those of Empire. Stephen then became both the CEO and chairman of the board. Between 1978 and 1981, Stephen reduced the Hasbro product line by one-third and its new products by one-half. Hasbro focused on simple, low cost, longer life cycle toys like Mr. Potato Head. Hasbro thus stayed out of the electronic games field which went bust in the early 1980s.
In 1982, Hasbro revived its G.I. Joe line—with the help of Marvel Comics—as an anti-terrorist commando based on current events. The company launched the successful Transformers toy line along with a children's animated TV series two years later. With the toys and TV Series being popular, Stephen Hassenfeld posed with the toys for a People magazine cover photo.
In 1982, Hasbro produced another successful toy franchise, My Little Pony. In 1983, Hasbro purchased GLENCO Infant Items, a manufacturer of infant products and the world's largest bib producer and Knickerbocker Toy Company, a Warner Communications struggling subsidiary. Hasbro paid Warner with 37 percent of its own stock—paid into a Hasbro executive control voting trust—and also received a cash infusion. In 1984, Alan Hassenfeld took over as president from his brother Stephen, who continued as CEO and chairman. That same year, the company (then the nation's sixth-best-selling toymaker) acquired the Milton Bradley Company (then the nation's fifth bestselling toymaker), bringing The Game of Life, Twister, Easy Money and Playskool into the Hasbro fold and transforming Hasbro into Hasbro Bradley. Stephen Hassenfeld became the merged company's president and CEO with Milton Bradley chief James Shea Jr. taking the chairman position. However, the executives clashed and Shea left after a few months, and Stephen and Alan returned to their previous positions.
In 1985, the company changed its name again to just Hasbro, Inc. The Jumpstarters toys were the subject of a lawsuit in 1985 when Hasbro sued a toy manufacturer for selling toys based on their Transformers design. Hasbro won the suit.
In the mid-1980s, Hasbro moved past Mattel to become the world's largest toy company. Hasbro then moved to outsell Mattel's Barbie in the fashion doll market with the 1986 introduction of Jem, a record producer/rock musician dual identity fashion doll. Initially posting strong sales, Jem plummeted and was withdrawn from the market in 1987. Hasbro followed up in 1988 with Maxie, a Barbie-sized blonde doll, so Barbie clothing and accessories would fit. Maxie lasted until 1990.
Under Alan's initiative in the late 1980s, Hasbro moved to increase international sales by taking US market failed toys overseas and selling them for as much as four times the original price. This increased international sales from $268 million in 1985 to $433 million in 1988.
In 1988, Hasbro purchased part of Coleco Industries' indoor and outdoor children's furniture and ride-on toy product lines for $21 million including two just closed manufacturing plants in Amsterdam, N.Y. In July 1989, Hasbro acquired bankrupt Coleco for $85 million. Stephen Hassenfeld died later that year with the company having gone from sales of $104 million in the year he took control to 1989 sales of over $1.4 billion.
Alan succeeded Stephen as chairman and CEO. In 1991, Hasbro purchased Tonka Corp. for $486 million along with its Parker Brothers unit, the maker of Monopoly, and Kenner Products. Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers were merged into one division. Alan moved to expand Hasbro overseas with new units in Greece, Hungary, and Mexico.
Alan saw the Far East as an important market in which to expand. In 1992, Hasbro purchased Nomura Toys Ltd. in Japan, and majority ownership of Palmyra, a Southeast Asian toy distributor. These increased the proportion of international sales from 22% in 1985 to 45% ($1.28 billion) in 1995. In 1993, Hasbro lost its bid for J. W. Spear & Sons, a U.K.-based game maker, to Mattel.
In the US, Hasbro's growth since 1980 were from acquisitions and the leveraging of the new assets. New product development was not as successful except for movie and TV tie-in product lines with Jurassic Park and Barney. Thus, US sales were stagnant in the early 1990s, falling from 1993 to 1995. To turn domestic performance around in 1994, Hasbro merged the Hasbro Toy, Playskool, Playskool Baby, Kenner, and Kid Dimension units into the Hasbro Toy Group. Meanwhile, Mattel purchased Fisher-Price and retook the top spot in the toy industry.
Hasbro Interactive was started in 1995 and released the Monopoly game on CD-ROM. Mattel also proposed a merger that year, but was turned down by the Hasbro board in 1996 due to antitrust issues and Justice Department investigation into exclusionary policies between toy manufacturers and toy retailers, particularly Toys "R" Us.
In 1998, Hasbro bought Avalon Hill for $6 million and in 1999 Wizards of the Coast was bought in a deal worth $325 million. Wizards of the Coast is now a subsidiary of Hasbro and has Avalon Hill as its division. In 2001 money-losing Hasbro Interactive was sold to Infogrames, a French software concern, for $100 million. Hasbro entered the building block toy with its Built to Rule line in 2003, which did not hold together well or were too hard for the targeted age group, thus ended in 2005.
In 2007, a workers' rights group investigated several of Hasbro's Chinese suppliers and found that, in one instance, a toy factory in China's Guangxi Province had hired 1000 junior high school students. The same group discovered other widespread labor violations, including unsafe working conditions, mandatory overtime, verbal abuse and sexual harassment of employees. Hasbro issued a statement, saying that it would "act swiftly and decisively in making any necessary changes" and had "increased the intensity of [its] ongoing safety review efforts." Critics pointed out that Hasbro had no official regulatory control of these factories. Hasbro responded by hiring independent auditors. These auditors make unannounced visits to the East Asian subcontractors. Factory managers have been coached in how to fool the auditors.
Hasbro is collaborating with Discovery Communications on Hub Network, a new cable network which began on October 10, 2010. The venture proved successful in unexpected ways when the TV revival of the My Little Pony franchise, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, became the network's highest-rated program with not only its target demographic of young girls, but attracted an unexpectedly significant cult following among teens and adults. The Hub Network was rebranded as Discovery Family on October 13, 2014. Hasbro also produces Marvel Comics and Star Wars toys, having recently renewed this deal through at least 2020.
Hasbro by April 2011 started up its 360 Manufacturing Services, a contract OEM game manufacturing operating out of Hasbro's USA plant. After the Built to Rule, Hasbro relaunched into the building block area with the Kre-O line in late 2011 starting with some Transformer based sets.
In 2012, Hasbro received a US$1.6 million tax credit from the state of Rhode Island with a promise to create 245 new jobs in the state. Instead they laid off more than 125 workers. This was followed in 2013 with further layoffs of North American workers, amounting to 10% of its salaried employees. Meanwhile, CEO, Brian Goldner signed a new five-year contract. As of fiscal year 2012, CEO, Brian Goldner had a total calculated compensation of $9,684,285. In July 2013, Backflip Studios sold a 70% stake in the company to Hasbro for $112 million in cash.
On November 12, 2014, it was reported that Hasbro was in talks to buy DreamWorks Animation. The proposal reportedly calls for the combined company to take the name "DreamWorks-Hasbro" and for Jeffrey Katzenberg to become its chairman, but as a matter of policy, neither Hasbro nor DWA publicly comment on mergers and acquisitions. Two days later, the talks were reported to have fallen through.
On July 14, 2015, the company announced the intent to sell its last two factories in Ireland and East Longmeadow, Massachusetts factories (including its 360 Manufacturing Services) to Cartamundi which should close in sixty days. Hasbro signed a five-year deal with Cartamundi to produce their board games at the East Longmeadow plant.
With Mattel adding two competing lines and other blunders and an expiration of the Disney Princess license at the end of 2015, Disney gave Hasbro a chance to gain the license given their work on Star Wars which led to a Descendants license. DCP was also attempting to evolve the brand from one of them less as damsels and more as heroines. In September 2014, Disney announced that Hasbro would be the licensed doll maker for the Disney Princess line starting on January 1, 2016.
In July 2016, Hasbro acquired Dublin-based Boulder Media Limited and placed it under the control of its chief content officer. Hasbro announced that it would launch its own convention, named HASCON, and featuring "all things Hasbro" in 2016, with the inaugural event being held at the Rhode Island Convention Center in September 2017.
In 2011, Greenpeace accused Hasbro of purchasing paper for its packaging from ancient forests in Indonesia. Hasbro changed its paper purchasing policy, earning the company praise from Greenpeace Executive Director Phil Radford, who said: "The new Hasbro policy will also increase the recycled and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper in its toy packaging. Hasbro's new commitments are great news for Indonesian rainforests and the people and wildlife that depend on them."
There have also been criticisms of Hasbro for focusing some of its products on specific demographic groups. For example, in November 2012, a letter from a six-year-old Irish girl complaining about the lack of female characters in the guessing game Guess Who? spread widely on social media and garnered attention in the press after the girl's mother posted the exchange on her blog. News reports criticized Hasbro's response as missing the point of the letter and not "kid-friendly." Guess Who? has previously received complaints over gender and ethnic bias in its choice of 24 images. Hasbro primarily sells toys directed at either the girl or boy markets. As such, there have been criticisms that Hasbro's toys reinforce gender stereotypes. For example, in December 2012, 13-year-old McKenna Pope started a campaign on Change.org, calling on the company to create a "boy-friendly" version of the popular Easy-Bake Oven and to feature boys on their packaging and materials. Within a week over 30,000 people signed her petition. Hasbro was criticized for sexist product design when its 2015 Star Wars Monopoly board game failed to feature Rey, the female protagonist in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, while nonetheless including all of the supporting male characters. On January 5, 2016, Hasbro announced that Rey would be included in future versions - but only after much criticism. This move perplexed even the movie's director, J. J. Abrams, who reportedly said, "I read that Rey wasn’t in the Monopoly game and was quickly making phone calls about this because, if it were true - and it is true, and now Hasbro, of course, has said they’re going to put Rey in—it doesn’t quite make sense why she wouldn’t be there. She’s somewhat important in the story."
On October 2, 2015, Lorraine Markham sued Hasbro for breach of contract for failure to pay royalties to her. She is seeking a declaration from the U.S. District Court in Providence that her husband, Bill Markham, was the sole creator of The Game of Life.
Over the years, Hasbro has outsourced the manufacture of its products to third-party companies, mostly in China. At the Chinese factories, which Hasbro does not directly own or operate, migrant workers are compensated with meagre salaries for their labor. At one such factory, in Dongguan, China, basic assembly line jobs pay a little over one hundred US dollars per month, China's minimum wage. A report released by China Labor Watch in 2014 revealed numerous abuses at Hasbro's Chinese supplier companies, including labor contract violations, excessive and illegal overtime, poor living conditions, environmental pollution, and more. The report was investigated by a congressional hearing in December 2014.
Outside Asia, Hasbro owns and operates only two manufacturing facilities, one in Waterford, Ireland, the other in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, USA. In recent years, the company has cut jobs at both plants in response to increasing competition from lower cost locations in China. At the end of 2006, for example, Hasbro's Irish division laid off more than one third of its workforce.
To ensure that their electronic devices are at high quality standards, Hasbro and other toy companies add a test mode to the electronic device which allows the manufacturing team and all parts of Hasbro to make sure that all the sounds are present, the moving parts and lights are working and that the electronic device powers off normally. Sometimes the hidden modes are removed from the game in the final product, but most of modern games from 2009 onwards can be accessed by a consumer. The game's instructions mentions nothing about these hidden modes and Hasbro do not share details on how to get to their own manufacturer mode as they have said that giving test mode instructions to a consumer considered to be proprietary.
Hasbro was named by Fortune magazine as one of the top 100 companies to work for in 2013, citing that the "company enhanced its vacation policy by giving new employees three weeks off in their first year instead of having to wait five years."
Hasbro has several brands of toys and games aimed at different demographics. Some of its better-known toy lines (past and present) are:
Hasbro is the largest producer of board games in the world as a result of its component brands, such as Parker Brothers, Waddingtons, Milton Bradley, Wizards of the Coast, and Avalon Hill (all acquisitions since the 1980s). As a result, it has well known and top selling games such as:
Hasbro also produces many variations of most of their games. For example, in addition to original Scrabble, the game is also available as "Scrabble Deluxe Edition", "Scrabble Deluxe Travel Edition","Scrabble Junior", and "Scrabble Onyx Edition".
Hasbro also offers games of physical skill such as:
They have also sold games in the past which are now discontinued but can be found from second hand markets which include:
Hasbro also offers a memory game called Simon which involves memorising sequences of colors and lights.
In 1995, Hasbro began a short-lived video game development and publishing venture called Hasbro Interactive, but disbanded it in 2001 when it was bought by the now defunct Infogrames. Now Hasbro develops video games based on its brands through third-party developers and licensing strategies, notably with major American companies such as Activision, Electronic Arts, and THQ. Following the rise of smartphones and tablet PCs in the 2010s, as well as major video gaming publishers cutting back on releasing games based on licensed IPs for various reasons, such as economic slumps, several of Hasbro's brands were licensed towards mobile game developers such as Gameloft, releasing their games under the label Hasbro Gaming.
On February 25, 2005, Hasbro announced that it would be introducing a musical toothbrush to the market. The Tooth Tunes, released in early 2007, transmits music from the jawbone to the ear when the bristles touch the teeth.
Pointed lawn darts, intended for use in an outdoor game, have been responsible for the deaths of three children. The most recent injury occurred last week in Elkhart, Ind., when a 7-year-old boy suffered a brain injury after a lawn dart pierced his skull.
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