Lucasfilm defends Lego ‘Star Wars’ deal

Other licensees Hasbro and Galoob dissatisfied

NEW YORK — Lucasfilm Ltd. defended its just-announced agreement with the Lego Group for the marketing of “Star Wars” toys, claiming other “exclusive” licensees have known all along that the $900 million-a-year franchise would be seeking a “construction-toy” partner to complete the line.

Press accounts Thursday indicated the Lego deal would upset Hasbro and Galoob Toys, each with similar deals that together promise to enrich Lucasfilm by as much as $750 million. But when asked about conflicts the Lego deal had created with existing partners, Howard Roffman, Lucasfilm’s VP of licensing, called such reports “seriously misinformed.”

Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars” agreement with Hasbro is for action figures, Roffman explained, while its Galoob agreement is for vehicle toys. The San Rafael-based entertainment firm also has a pact with its own LucasArts Entertainment unit to market software that features “Star Wars” characters.

“We entered into agreements with each of these companies with the understanding that we would be pursuing a construction toy,” Roffman said. “Lego now completes the line.”

The first “Star Wars” product to be marketed by Lego is due out next spring. Initial characters, all from the original “Star Wars” trilogy, will be followed by new characters inspired by the three prequel films, the first of which opens in May 1999.

“Star Wars” is the first entertainment property to be licensed by Lego, known worldwide for its durable building blocks and high-end educational products. The company, with sales of $1.3 billion, is said to have estimated the “Star Wars” addition will add another $1 billion to annual revenues.

Financial details of the licensing arrangement were not disclosed.