Toyco Hasbro is poised to reach beyond toys and games with the formation of Hasbro Properties Group Worldwide, a new unit that launched last month with a mandate to leverage the company’s brands and intellectual properties into new entertainment mediums and platforms.
‘In the last year or so, we’ve been looking at ways to grow the corporation, and one of the solutions we agreed upon was for the company to increase its emphasis on leisure-time entertainment,’ says Willa Perlman, GM and section head of Hasbro Properties Group.
Under the HPG moniker, there are four departments responsible for developing Hasbro properties and brands into a specific entertainment product category or sector: TV, video, film and location-based entertainment such as theme park shows and live theater are overseen by Hasbro Entertainment Media Group; publishing goes to Hasbro Publishing Group; and licensing is now helmed by 3D Licensing Group, which previously managed international licensing of Hasbro brands. 3D will also subsume the division that used to handle the domestic licensing of Hasbro brands.
At the top of HPG’s flow chart is Fantasy Factory, a department comprised of creative producers, art directors and writers who, says Perlman, will ‘evaluate the core essence of our brands with the goal of creating a kind of intellectual property bible that will allow us to exploit the characters into different entertainment formats.’ Additionally, FF is charged with the task of creating new properties. Once Fantasy Factory has completed its evaluation, each property is then handed over to the other divisions, which will seek partners to develop various entertainment products around them. The process will serve to unify aspects of the company’s business that it had heretofore conducted on an ad-
hoc basis across a number of departments. ‘In the past, we would pursue these activities more as an extension of our desire to secure promotions for our toys and games, rather than looking at the intellectual property as the mechanism that drives the wheel of revenue opportunity,’ says Perlman.
Right now, HP has 12 properties up for consideration, including the development of a TV show and book line based on the Action Man franchise, a boys toy line that’s currently available in Europe and Australia and slated to hit TV screens in the U.S. sometime in Q4 2000, a TV show based on the early `80s Atari game title Centipede, as well as book lines based on Furby, Tonka and the Playskool brand.
The first property to go through the Hasbro Properties pipeline was its toy franchise Beast Machines, which yielded a TV show of the same name that began airing on the Fox Family Channel in September. Hasbro co-financed the first 26 eps with co-producer Mainframe Entertainment. In most instances, says Perlman, where Hasbro is moving its properties into a new medium, it will be looking to strike similar partnerships whether in the publishing, TV or film business.’There’s no hard and fast rules on this. But we’re not looking to get into the TV production business, per se. The driving force for me, [in taking our brands into new mediums], is in trying to retain as much control over our intellectual properties as is possible,’she says. Perlman can add to those properties trading card game Magic: The Gathering, which Hasbro acquired last month as part of its purchase of Seattle toyco Wizards of the Coast for US$325 million.