Disney has decided to split its toy-merchandising baby down the middle, granting Hasbro rights to develop toys, action figures and games based on its films and TV shows, while also announcing Wednesday a slimmer pact with rival toymaker Mattel.
Since 1996, El Segundo-based Mattel had enjoyed a broad toy-merchandising pact with Disney similar to the new one with Hasbro. But Mattel will now market only preschool and plush toys, dolls, games and puzzles based on classic Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh.
“It just strengthens our licensing business to take advantage of two great companies,” Disney spokeswoman Chris Castro said.
At least one observer tied Disney’s embrace of Hasbro to Mattel’s winning the right to sell toys based on Warner Bros.’ upcoming “Harry Potter” movie.
“Mattel’s going to be pretty consumed with ‘Harry Potter,’ ” said Chris Byrne, editor of industry publication Toy Report. “The studios wouldn’t want to be in competition.”
Pawtucket, R.I.-based Hasbro has only limited rights to merchandise “Potter” trading cards, electronic games and candy, though Disney’s Castro insisted that the matter had not entered into Disney’s decision.
The Mouse House didn’t disclose financial terms of its multiyear pacts with Hasbro and Mattel.
Among the films for which Hasbro will market toys and games is “Monsters, Inc.,” a Disney/Pixar animated feature set for fall 2001 release.
Deal also makes Hasbro the official toy and game company for Disney resorts, hotels and cruise ships.
(Bloomberg News contributed to this report.)