Disney, Toymakers in Venture

Wednesday, September 20th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Mr. Potato Head is entering the Magic Kingdom.

Hasbro Inc. and The Walt Disney Co. announced a deal Wednesday to collaborate on projects for resorts, theme parks and hotels. The agreement also gives the Pawtucket-based toymaker licensing rights for Disney films and TV shows.

Also Wednesday, Disney announced a multiyear contract with Hasbro rival Mattel Inc. to produce preschool and plush toys, dolls, games and puzzles based on classic Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh.

Hasbro, which makes Mr. Potato Head, Monopoly and other popular toys and games, will develop action figures, puzzles, dolls and other products for Disney movies, starting with ``Monsters Inc.,'' an animated film set to be released in fall 2001.

The two companies will build a 16,000-square-foot toy store at Walt Disney World's Downtown Disney Marketplace in Orlando, Fla., featuring Hasbro toys, games and interactive products.

Disney's Pop Century resort, scheduled to open in 2001 in Orlando, will include life-sized Mr. and Mrs. Potato Heads, a Monopoly courtyard and other products based on Hasbro brands. Hasbro toys and games also will be featured in Disney hotels and on Disney cruise ships.

Disney, based in Burbank, Calif., said the agreement makes Hasbro the official toy and game company for Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort and Disneyland Paris Resort.

Financial terms were not released. Disney spokesman John Singh said the agreement will likely cover at least five years. Disney averages about two films a year, Singh said.

The deal with Hasbro takes some business from Mattel, which has been making toys based on recent Disney movies, said Chris Byrne, editor of The Toy Report in New York City.

Mattel had the rights to produce toys based on Disney movie characters for the past five years. The two companies have a long licensing relationship that started in the 1950s with the ``Mickey Mouse Club'' and continued through the 1990s with toys such as ``Walk 'n' Wag Pluto'' and ``Bounce Around Tigger.''

``Disney has been challenged to make their new characters as visible and viable with kids as some its other characters,'' Byrne said. ``One of Hasbro's strengths is its ability to interpret licensed characters into strong toys.''

Hasbro produced toys based on the ``Star Wars'' movie ``Episode I: The Phantom Menace.'' Sales of the products were strong, but did not meet expectations, partly due to a glut of ``Star Wars'' products, analysts have said.

For Disney, the agreements represent ``a strategy shift to take advantage of each company's strengths,'' Disney spokeswoman Christine Castro said.

``We have a long history with Mattel and Hasbro has great track record with licensing toys and games for major film properties,'' she said.

Hasbro, which remains second to El Segundo, Calif., toymaker Mattel, owns the Playskool, Kenner, Tonka, Milton Bradley, Parker Brothers and Galoob toy and game brands.

Shares of Hasbro were down 18.8 cents to close at $11 Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange, where shares of Mattel were unchanged at $10.56 and shares of Disney were down $1.84 to close at $37.19.


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