top of page

H Is For Hasbro & Hot Wheels – A To Z Of The Toy Industry

HASBRO is one of the giants of the toy business and has been for a long time. Not that many people though know that the first iteration of the company started life way back in 1923, when three brothers – Henry, Herman and Hillel – started the company then known as Hassenfeld Brothers. The company began by selling textile pieces, before developing the business into pencil cases and school supplies, and then setting up their own pencil manufacturing facility. The first toy products created were modelling clay and doctor/nurses’ outfits, and the company had effectively become a toy company by the 1940s.

Fast forward to today and Hasbro has a massive presence and impact across the toy business. The array of iconic brands they own or control is vast, including: Play-Doh, Monopoly, Transformers, My Little Pony, Nerf, Kenner, Tonka, Milton Bradley, Parker Brothers, Magic: The Gathering, Furby, Mr. Potato Head and we could go on (and on!).

Today Hasbro is much more than just a toy company – the Rhode Island headquartered business which started out selling textile odds and ends is now a global entertainment content powerhouse, with ongoing interests in movies, TV and other forms of video content.

HOT WHEELS is the major market leader in vehicle toys. Over 6 billion Hot Wheels die cast vehicles have been sold since Mattel first launched the brand back in 1968, with more than 800 models and over 11,000 variations of cars produced. Mattel co-founder Elliott Handler instigated Mattel’s move into this space after seeing his son playing with Matchbox cars. Despite the lack of enthusiasm of his wife and fellow co-founder of Mattel, Ruth Handler (most famous for her origination of Barbie), Elliott developed Hot Wheels in conjunction with Jack Ryan and the first Hot Wheels product line hit shelves in 1968. Hot Wheels enjoyed staggering success from launch. Today Hot Wheels is a massive toy brand, with brand extensions a plenty, from track sets to garages for cars, and much more. Hot Wheels is one of the most iconic and commercially successful toy brands of all time.

Do you need help to understand the toy & game business? We help people from all around the world to understand and successfully enter the toy business. For more information on how we do this, check out our services here: www.KidsBrandInsight.com/services

Have you listened to our Playing At Business podcast? We talk about selling toys & games, interview successful people from across the toy business & we look at key trends in the toy & game business: https://playingatbusiness.libsyn.com/

G Is For G.I. Joe, Giochi Preziosi & Gender

G.I Joe is the iconic toy which created the action figure category. And G.I. Joe has been a major presence in the toy business ever since it launched in 1964. Originally, toy executives were not convinced that boys (in the 1960s) would want to play with ‘Dolls’, and this perception led to the invention of the phrase ‘action figure’. An African American figure was introduced the following year, and over the years there have been many different iterations of the G.I. Joe brand. Movies based on the franchise released in 2009 and 2013 performed ok at the box office. Snake Eyes, a G.I. Joe spin-off is due to launch within 3 weeks of the publishing of this article. Generations of children (primarily boys, see GENDER section below!) have grown up playing with G.I. Joe, and the brand looks set to enjoy success in the future.


Giochi Preziosi – founded in 1978 in Italy by Enrico Preziosi, Giochi Preziosi is a powerhouse of the toy industry, especially in Southern Europe. The company owns brands including Gormiti (monster like figures) and Cicciobello dolls. Following on from the acquisition of UK toy company Flair Leisure back in 2008, recent acquisitions of Spanish toy company Famosa and Trudi (a Plush toy company) have increased the presence and power of the company. All those doing toy business in Europe will know that Giochi Preziosi is a company with substantial and growing presence.


Gender as a topic in relation to toys is a very contentious area these days. To try to explain this as succinctly as possible: rightly or wrongly over time toys have been used by parents to help children explain traditional gender roles. Historically speaking, these were perceived to be as follows: boys/men – aggressive, physical play to reflect aggressive, physical persona. Girls/women – a softer, more nurturing outlook. We aren’t going to get into why and how those traditional perspectives of gender roles are right or wrong, but what we can be sure of is that media and social perceptions of prescribed gender roles have changed massively over the last few decades. Toy stores once labelled aisles in store as ‘Boys’ or ‘Girls’, and some toy companies still report their business on these gender specific grounds. Today though the best approach for toy companies is to create toys which they feel the market wants, but without telling people that a particular toy is for one gender or another. That isn’t always easy, but therein lies the challenge for modern day toy people – we are trying to meet the needs of traditionalists and those who are more progressive and finding that balance is really hard. In more than a decade of writing articles on the toy business, this topic of gender and toys is the only one which has consistently delivered angry backlash, so for that reason we’re going to leave this one here for now!

Do you need help to understand the toy & game business? We help people from all around the world to understand and successfully enter the toy business. For more information on how we do this, check out our services here: www.KidsBrandInsight.com/services

Have you listened to our Playing At Business podcast? We talk about selling toys & games, interview successful people from across the toy business & we look at key trends in the toy & game business: https://playingatbusiness.libsyn.com/

F Is For Fun, Frisbee & Factories

FUN

There are many complicated reasons why there is a toy business which is worth only a little under $100 billion globally. But the start point for explaining the size of the toy industry is that children (and adults) love to have FUN! Children are more hedonistic than adults with less concern for implications and responsibilities, therefore toy products which offer them a lot of fun will be very appealing! There are many developmental benefits of playing with toys, and these are quite often used to persuade parents to buy toys they don’t really want to buy for their kids. Developing fine motor skills, dexterity, visual observation, co-ordination, communication skills – all of these are positively enhanced by playing with toys, but it is usually a mistake to forget that toys are all about FUN!

FRISBEE

This iconic outdoor toy has a fundamental appeal based on something people love to do – throw and catch objects. With Frisbee though, the aerodynamic design/shape allows even children to throw the ‘disc’ further than they would be able to throw some objects, and even more compelling is the ability to develop skills to throw the Frisbee with fade, curl or even to make the Frisbee return to the thrower. Many a Frisbee experience involves a skilled player teasing the catcher with a fade away throw which appears to be catchable, but in the end just sneaks away due to the skill of the thrower. According to Wikipedia, there was a flying disc product on the market in 1937, but the brand name Frisbee first surfaced in 1957 associated with a product sold by Wham-O, who to this day still sell Frisbee. Total Frisbee sales to date are reported to be in excess of 100 million units, which is phenomenal. Generation after generation have enjoyed playing with Frisbee, and despite all the technological developments society has seen since 1957, this simple but hugely compelling toy is just as much fun as ever!

FACTORIES

Not the most exciting end of the toy business, but nevertheless, without factories we would have no toys to sell. There is a saying that ‘Innovation dies on the factory floor’, which is quite a negative perspective, but the reality is that a good idea is no good if it cannot be produced. The toy manufacturing landscape is a few years into a shift from China being the dominant toy manufacturing hub to more of a multi-hub situation with India, Vietnam & other Asian countries picking up toy production, alongside some ‘Near shoring’. Many in the toy business presume that China has always been the place for toy production, but if you speak to the old timers in the business, they will tell you of a time before China’s rise, when they sourced from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan & other hubs. Regardless of where the toy factory is based though, a good factory protects the factory workers, complies with all regulations for countries they are supplying and of course manufactures toys at competitive costs in what is a very price driven industry.

(N.B. F would also be for Furby, but we already covered that in the previous article in this series, see that article here: https://www.toyindustryjournal.com/e-is-for-etch-a-sketch-elmo-electronics-a-z-of-the-toy-business/

Do you need help to understand the toy & game business? We help people from all around the world to understand and successfully enter the toy business. For more information on how we do this, check out our services here: www.KidsBrandInsight.com/services

Have you listened to our Playing At Business podcast? We talk about selling toys & games, interview successful people from across the toy business & we look at key trends in the toy & game business: https://playingatbusiness.libsyn.com/

Home: Blog2
Home: About Me
bottom of page