Tag: Hasbro

Origins of the MLP G4 Fandom: The Two Tribes


For the record, the following rambling editorial is a recount of the very early days of the fandom.  I call it a rambling editorial as its over 3000 words and was written in a not so sober state.  While the spelling has been checked, there may be plenty of other mistakes lurking around that didn’t appear during my quick review of it.

This editorial covers the early days of the fandom, from its start on 10/10/10 with the show and the six months that followed.  These months of course were very critical to the development of the community, its when the stage was set.  While the title of the article sounds like fanfic, I discuss one topic of interest of mine with the community, namely the evolution of it all.

So in celebration, here is a boring essay on the early days of the fandom.

Read more →

Inside the Numbers: Hasbro’s 2016 Q2 Earnings


Hasbro continued to be spearheaded by its licensing deals with Star Wars and Disney Princess an Disney Frozen. Revenues overall grew 10% for the second quarter and operating profit grew 12%. The Boys segment was up 4% led by double-digit growth in Nerf, but there were issues with declines for Transformers and Jurassic World which cause a near $6 decline in the company’s stock today. Games was up 8% led by Pie-Face , Duel Masters, and Yahtzee. Preschool was up 5% and led by double-digit growth in Play-Doh. Girls was up 35% and led by Disney Princess and Disney Frozen.

MLP was hardly mentioned in the earnings call which went under 50 minutes. Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner said on the conference call that while revenues for MLP were slightly off in the quarter, there are things to look forward to in the second half of the year and leading up to the 2017 movie.

“MY LITTLE PONY declined slightly in the quarter as we transition elements of our toy line,” said Goldner. “Over the past five years, content and innovation has propelled this brand in both games and toys and consumer products.

“MY LITTLE PONY FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC season six is currently airing around the world and our fall product line features the core cast inspired by the locations they visit. MY LITTLE PONY EQUESTRIA GIRLS mini dolls have performed very well, exceeding our expectations, and are helping offset difficult comparisons to a year ago.

“This leads us to next year, when on October 6, 2017, MY LITTLE PONY: THE MOVIE will hit theatres with an all-star cast and global distribution from Lionsgate. The film introduces new characters, new worlds and new play experiences for the MY LITTLE PONY fan.”

A lot of what Hasbro is doing is indeed back-ended and that back end starts with San Diego Comic Con starting Thursday. There are a pair ofTransformers initiatives coming up this year and there’s a 2017 movie. Of course, revenues for Transformers usually face headwinds when there isn’t a movie and we’re currently two years removed from one.

Back to MLP, there is “Legends of Everfree” this Fall and the second half of Season Six starting on July 30th and the first half coming to Netflix the same day. So while this was, given its recent past, and off quarter, there is still plenty to look forward to with an emphasis on the 2017 movie.


Business: Hasbro Buys Boulder, Top Draw Bought


Two pieces of animation news came over the past couple days. First, Hasbro has closed a deal to purchase Boulder Media based out of Ireland. Boulder has produced animation for shows such as Wander Over Younder, The Amazing World of Gumball, and the new Danger Mouse among others.

“As one of the largest independent studios producing animation in Hollywood, the time is right for Hasbro to acquire its own animation studio, allowing us to expand our animation and storytelling capabilities even further,” said Hasbro Studios President Steven David whom Boulder’s staff will now report to.

It is expected that Boulder will take on some of Hasbro’s properties across various platforms in the future, though it was not elaborated on as to which ones in particular. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is animated by both DHX Media in Vancouver and Top Draw Animation in the Philippines as is Transformers:  Rescue Bots. Transformers:  Robots in Disguise is animated by Polygon Pictures in Japan.

Speaking of Top Draw, it was purchased by Grom Holdings based out of New York City on Wednesday. According to Animation Magazine, the acquisition is the latest step in Grom’s aggressive growth strategy for its “by kids for kids” social network. Grom Social intends to ramp up production for its growing video library for its website and mobile applications, as well as continue to service Top Draw’s clients. CEO and Founder Wayne Dearing will continue to run Top Draw and oversee its animation production.

“The opportunity to join Grom Social and become a part of its growth was a compelling one,” said Dearing in the article. “Transforming our company into a major player in digital media has been the focal point of our strategy to grow our business. By joining forces with Grom Social, we will achieve that goal and set the stage for strong growth within both the traditional television animation sector and new animated content for digital media. I can’t imagine a better fit for us than Grom Social.”

It is way too early to speculate how, if at all, any of this affects MLP. DHX is already working on the show, the Equestria Girls movies, and the main movie itself for Hasbro. We’ll get to know at least what’s coming with two of the three a week from Friday in San Diego as well as Hasbro’s Q2 Earnings Report set for Monday. What is for certain in the case of Hasbro is that they are going all out with their storytelling blueprint and now has an animation studio to help tell some of those stories.


Inside the Numbers: Hasbro’s 2016 Q1 Earnings

Not surprisingly, Star Wars, Disney’s Frozen, and Disney Princesses led the way for Hasbro as they reported a 16% increase in revenue over this time last year. Revenues in the Boys segment were up 24% and up 41% in the Girls segment. In the case of the latter, that ends a five-quarter skid for the Girls segment as a whole.

The Franchise Brands (Littlest Pet Shop, Monopoly, My Little Pony, Magic: The Gathering, Play-Doh, Nerf, and Transformers) were up 9% in terms of actual sales of toys and games and 1% (+4% absent foreign exchange) in terms of overall revenue. The drawback was that Entertainment and Licensing revenue dropped 30% as last year’s quarter included revenue from a digital streaming deal that included Transformers, LPS, and MLP. Both Nerf and Play-Doh record double-digit gains in revenue while Transformers was again in “difficult comparison” territory as last year, that franchise was coming off a movie.

As far as MLP goes, according to Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner—as transcribed by Seeking Alpha—MLP grew in the US and Canada segment and absent FX in the international segment.

“We continue to deliver innovative new product, strong licensing programs and compelling entertainment, including the sixth season of My Little Pony Friendship is Magic, which began airing March 26th,” said Goldner.

“In addition, the launch of the new Equestria Girls Mini Dolls! segment is off to a strong start. We are working through some retail inventory within Equestria Girls  but we are optimistic about the initial consumer reaction to our new offering and the overall outlook for My Little Pony globally.”

Asked about how he views the MLP brand going forward during the earnings call, Mr. Goldner, said that the company has very robust plans over this and next year.

My Little Pony‘s next season is just launching now and rolling out around the world, it’s the sixth season for the brand. And the theme this year is all about exploring Equestria and it ties together with lots of the initiatives that we have across the Company. We have very robust plans in multi categories for My Little Pony throughout this year, brand new toys and games products but also I’ve seen some really wonderful product in our consumer products licensing business and apparel that’s out internationally in the UK, very strong results in several categories of products setting all around the world in tune with that theme and that will roll into 2017. And then as you know for fall of 2017 November, we have our first animated feature film that will be distributed by Lionsgate in the My Little Pony movie.

So, we’ll have television entertainment, streaming entertainment across a number of different over the top providers. Kids can find entertainment, both short form and long form. And then they can also find entertainment on digital games with some new digital games that we’ll launch including one new My Little Pony digital game launching from BlackFoot studios; we continue to have a game from Gameloft throughout the year so story telling across a number of different dimensions and continue to feel very good about the brand. And as I’ve mentioned, the new Equestria Girls line and launch is and going off quite well with the new Mini Dolls! segment.”

Goldner also mentioned that MLP’s 12% increase in sales is for both the core brand and for Equestria Girls.

As with last year, there should be plenty to do with MLP in the next three quarters and into 2017. By all indications, it is still full steam ahead with My Little Pony. 


Inside the Numbers: Hasbro’s Toy Fair 2016 Presentation


On Friday, Hasbro made their presentation to investors at Toy Fair 2016 in New York City. This is where a more detailed view of things can be measured as well as previewing some of the upcoming toys and tie-ins.

When it comes to My Little Pony, it continues to be a “billion-dollar franchise at retail. The global growth of the core brand continues upward including FX according to Franchise Leader Tyla Bucher including 17% in North American and 43% in the Asia-Pacific region. Friendship is Magic is now being seen in over 190 territories. There were 15 million new app users to the MLP app bringing its global user total to 50 million. There was also a 22% growth in Consumer Products growth (aka licensing) and a 32% increase in PR and Social Media impression.

Season 6 is set to start in May on Discovery Family with the theme of “Explore Equestria” which might prove to be a segue to the upcoming movie on November 3rd, 2017. Speaking of the movie, it was announced that actress Emily Blunt (Sicario) will voice a character in the movie.

The fourth Equestria Girls movie will be titled, “Legends of Everfree” where the girls will go camping. It will stream on Netflix in the Fall prior to airing on Discovery Family. The first ten minutes of the film will be released in Summer on YouTube.

As far as toys are concerned, Hasbro previewed the new Baby Flurry Heart and Guardians of Harmony lines both set to debut in Fall.

When asked about potential challenges in marketing MLP as it is “limited” to the girls’ aisle, Hasbro Brands President John Frascotti had this response:

“It’s all about “Friendship is Magic”, said Frascotti. “As we look at expanding that across audiences, what we find is that the brand has a credible authenticity. Last year in out licenses which we now call Consumer Products, [MLP] was one of our fastest growing opportunities in all types of aisles from apparel to consumables. As we look to expanding to Preschool and “Guardians of Harmony,” I don’t think we should think about Pony as being ‘limited’ to the girls’ aisle. In fact, we look at viewership in the United States, over 30% of viewership is actually boys.

“So the brand is evolving into an all-inclusive gender brand. And while it traditionally started as a girls’ brand, it really has the legs to go just about anywhere.”

Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner added that social media reception to Guardians of Harmony has been “altogether positive” and that they will work with retailers on how to market the line.

MLP had 18 slides in the 232-slide presentation. Play-Doh which experienced another record year with 47% revenue growth absent FX, had the most slides with 20. Play-Doh celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. Nerf became Hasbro’s largest brand in 2015 also experiencing a record year with its various array of blasters. Transformers will have three movies coming up starting from 2017 with the fifth movie in the main series. The 2018 movie will focus on Bumblebee. Unfortunately, there were no slides devoted to Littlest Pet Shop. 


Guardians of Harmony Toy line Debuts Fall 2016


This coming weekend is a major event for toy companies and fans alike known as the New York Toy Fair.  Its kind of like the San Diego Comic Con, but for toys.  Companies of all sizes gather in New York City every February and show off their current and future products to fans and obviously, investors.  We’d actually like to thank the Litzky Public Relations firm who works with Hasbro for the invite to the NY Toy Fair and press preview tour of Hasbro’s section.  Unfortunately we do not have anyone close by and on duty.

Today, an article appeared with exclusive material in USA Today, which features the new toy lineup Hasbro is producing for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  The toy line is dubbed Guardians of Harmony and seems to be a major step away from the traditional figure lines MLP fans are used.  You could say Hasbro may have broken the mold on this one.

The Guardians of Harmony toy line features molded and stylized figures, many featuring multiple articulating parts making the figures very poseable.

The toy line which will debut this fall will be accompanied by a new comic series from IDW.



The upcoming line comes from consumers and fans asking for more adventure and new ways to play with core Ponies such as Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash, says Samantha Lomow, senior vice president of Hasbro Brands for Boys, Girls and Preschool Portfolio. “They just wanted the characters brought to life in a whole new way.”

(Brian Truitt, USA Today)


The Guardians of Harmony toy line, aimed for ages 3 and up, features single figures ($9.99 each) like Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Shadowbolt and Shining Armor with nine points of articulation — so kids can pose the Ponies in their favorite scenes

(Brian Truitt, USA Today)


A special set with princesses Celestia and Luna ($19.99) brings together the royal sisters for fans, and a giant 13-inch Spike dragon figure ($39.99) comes with removable armor, fireball projectiles and a saddle for other Pony characters to hop on for a ride.

Many of the new figures come right out of scenes from the cartoon, and according to Lomow, a new series of comic books from IDW debuts this fall extending some of the story lines from the series and new toys.

(Brian Truitt, USA Today)


My Little Pony has long fostered a female appeal, yet Guardians of Harmony is another way for Hasbro to release products to satisfy its current large and fervent fan base of girls and boys, young and old.

(Brian Truitt, USA Today)

Full Story via USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/tv/2016/02/10/my-little-pony-guardians-of-harmony-exclusive/80103638/


Inside the Numbers: Hasbro’s Q4 and Full Year 2015 Earnings


On Monday, Hasbro announced is earnings for the fourth quarter and the full year for 2015. Overall, net revenues were up 13% in Q4 and would’ve been up 23% absent a negative foreign exchange impact of $128.1 million in the quarter. Revenues were largely buoyed by tie-ins from Star Wars and Jurassic World as well as Disney Descendants and Sesame Street. Franchise brands declined by 3%, but would’ve been up 6% absent FX. Revenues were up for Nerf, Play-Doh, and Magic: The Gathering.

For the year as a whole, revenues reach $4.4 billion which was an increase of 4% (up 13% absent a negative FX impact of $394.5 million). Franchise brands decline 2% for the year, but would’ve been up 7% absent FX. Monopoly joined Nerf, Play-Doh, and Magic: The Gathering on the up side. My Little Pony would join that group absent FX. Operating profit for the year was up 9%.
Declines in the Girls’ department were 17% in Q4 and 22% for the year. Those declines continue to be spelled F-u-r-b-y for the most part. Core revenues for My Little Pony increased for the year, but were offset by declines for “Equestria Girls.” However, the arrival of tie-ins for both Disney Princess and Frozen should provide some tailwind in 2016.
Boys was up 35% for Q4 and 20% for the year again buoyed by Star Wars, Jurassic World, and Marvel, which more than offset anticipated declines with Transformers (i.e. no movie). Littlest Pet Shop experienced a “small revenue decrease” according to Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner, though he sees an opportunity with a new “immersive franchise story” that they will be unveiling in the future.
Further to a point on MLP, Mr. Goldner says that is remains a “vibrant and growing property” that has established itself as a “major lifestyle brand”.

My Little Pony remains a vibrant and growing property, said Mr. Goldner as transcribed by Seeking Alpha. “The core My Little Pony brand did extremely well in 2015 with positive revenue growth in several countries backed by strong point-of-sale and the launch of the new Friendship is Magic collectable segment. My Little Pony has established itself as a major lifestyle brand, and for 2015 was our top license property.

“We experience a slowdown in “Equestria Girls” that offset much of the growth we saw in other areas of the brand. In January 2016, we launched a new Mini Dolls! “Equestria Girls” line which is off to a very good start.

“Overall, My Little Pony brand engagement is very high across all lines of the business. To maintain this momentum, we are continuing to invest in multichannel storytelling, while evolving our entertainment strategy to more effectively delivery content. The success of our franchise brands contributed to the 11% revenue growth in our entertainment and licensing segment. Despite a difficult comparison with the 2014 Transformers movie, consumer product licensing revenues increased.”

The next major presentation from Hasbro will be on Friday at Toy Fair NYC at 8am Eastern Time.
THOUGHTS:  It was always going to be a bit of an ask for MLP to match or exceed what was a record year in 2014—especially given the FX impact of the past few quarters. Still, rumors and charges that the franchise may be in something of a decline are greatly exaggerated. It remains mostly a mystery what 2016 will bring for MLP apart from a new foal for Princess Cadance and Shining Armor and that the theme is to “Explore Equestria” (at least by swan boat). A major part of those questions may be answered on Friday.