M Is For Mattel, Monopoly, MGA, Marvel & My Little Pony – A To Z Of The Toy Business
M is one of the most important of all letters when it comes to the toy business. We have some real behemoths in this instalment.
Mattel was founded way back in 1945 by husband-and-wife team Ruth & Elliot Handler, along with Harold “Matt” Manson (who soon exited the business due to ill health). The company’s iconic toy brand Barbie came to market in 1959, quickly becoming the best-selling toy for the company. Barbie today is still a global market leader in the toy Doll category and is a massive profit generator for Mattel. In recent times Barbie has been adapted to meet the times we with a broader array of looks, shapes and other variations. Mattel launched Hot Wheels in 1968, originally the product line was designed by a bonafide rocket scientist and a real-life car designer. Fisher Price makes up the third side of Mattel’s triangle of iconic brands, having been acquired by Mattel back in 1993. Mattel today remains one of the biggest toy companies in the world, and after a few rocky years looks set to be on an upward trajectory again.
THE iconic board game has sold more than 275 million copies since Parker Brothers released their version of the game back in the dark days of the great depression in 1935. Parker Brothers originally rejected the game because it was “too complicated, too technical, [and it] took too long to play”. The game is famous for causing (mostly good natured) family arguments and for games that last for hours and hours, or even days. Generation after generation has enjoyed teaching the game to their children. Today there are many, many versions of Monopoly, with numerous companies who produce local and niche versions around the world. A DVD game version and multiple video game versions have been launched. The Monopoly world championships event seeks to crown the world champion player, and there is also a variety of successful fruit and quiz machines.
MGA has been one of the most disruptive toy companies of all time. The company shot to the forefront of the toy business with the launch of Bratz dolls in 2001, which took significant market share from Mattel’s flagship Barbie at the time. But MGA wasn’t done disrupting, in more recent years, L.O.L. Surprise! Has been a phenomenally successful product line which appears to have all the hallmarks of a long-term brand. Aside from the Dolls category, MGA Entertainment also owns iconic U.S. toy manufacturer Little Tikes, having acquired the company from Newell Rubbermaid in 2006. Little Tikes iconic Cosy Coupe product has sold millions and millions of units over time, and is itself considered an iconic toy in the U.S.
In the last decade or so, Marvel has played a massive role in the toy business, with the ongoing cinematic universe being the highest grossing ever with box office takings in the region of $23 billion usd. Superheroes and villains have long since played their part in the toy business. Marvel is in many ways the modern-day cinematic representation of this. Since being acquired by Disney for $bn usd back in 2009, Marvel has been a blockbuster movie making machine, and has significantly boosted the toy business overall, especially Hasbro who have produced many iterations of Marvel toys to mush commercial success.
MY LITTLE PONY
This super cutesy line of ponies first came to market in 1981 as My Pretty Pony before becoming My Little Pony in 1982. There are have been several phases in the story of M.L.P., with numerous relaunches over the decades. The brand has sold well in excess of 100m toys over time, and spawned numerous TV series and movies.
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