Hasbro is a United States-based, multinational toy and boardgame company. It is one of the largest toy makers in the world. The corporate headquarters is located in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, United States. The majority of its products are manufactured in East Asia.
In 1923, two brothers—Henry and Helal Hassenfeld—founded Hassenfeld Brothers, a textile remnant company. Over the next two decades, the company expanded to produce pencil boxes and school supplies. In the 1940s, Hassenfeld Brothers produced doctor and nurse kits, its first toys. Hassenfeld Brothers' first toy hit was Mr. Potato Head, which the company purchased from inventor George Lerner in 1952. The toy was a smash success. In 1964, Hassenfeld Brothers produced the G.I. Joe toy, which they termed an "action figure" in order to market the toy to boys who wouldn't want to play with "dolls". The company shortened its name to Hasbro Industries in 1968. In 1983, Hasbro produced another successful toy franchise, My Little Pony. The company acquired the Milton Bradley Company in 1984, bringing The Game of Life, Candy Land, Twister, Chutes and Ladders and Yahtzee into the Hasbro fold, and found continued success in 1984 with the release of the first Transformers toys. The Transformers Jumpstarters toys were the subject of a lawsuit by Hasbro in 1985 where they sued a toy manufacturer for selling toys based on their design. Hasbro won the suit. In 1986, Hasbro acquired Playskool, which purchased Mr. Potato Head from Hasbro that year. Parker Brothers was purchased by Hasbro in 1991, and with it Monopoly, the most successful commercial board game of all time.
Hasbro, Inc. is now the parent company of several subsidiaries. The toys and games produced by these companies retain their brand identity, which is an important advertising consideration. Many of Hasbro's games have been around so long that they have entered into popular culture. In 1998 Hasbro bought Avalon Hill for $6 million and in 1999 Wizards of the Coast was bought in a deal worth $325 million. Wizards of the Coast is now a subsidiary of Hasbro and has Avalon Hill as its division. In 2001 money-losing Hasbro Interactive, a subsidiary formed in 1995, was sold to French software concern Infogrames for $100 million.
Some of the Hasbro-owned subsidiaries are/were:
- Avalon Hill (an imprint of Wizards of the Coast, see below)
- Claster Television
- Milton Bradley
- Parker Brothers
- Selchow and Righter
- Tiger Electronics
- Wizards of the Coast
- TSR, Inc. (through their purchase of [[Wizards of the Coast])
The largest subsidiary of Hasbro was probably Kenner (in Cincinnati, Ohio). Kenner was the toy company that was behind the success of the Star Wars, Play-Doh, Super Powers, M.A.S.K., Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears toy lines. When Tonka and then later Hasbro acquired Kenner, the Kenner location became the foremost producer for Hasbro "boys toys", leading production on the high-profile lines of 12" G.I. Joe releases of the nineties, and the Transformers, Batman and Star Wars toys. However, after sales declined in 2000 after the Star Wars toy market saturation implosion, Hasbro faced a difficult decision in cutting back its spending in order to continue to cater to their primary buyers. They decided to close the entire Cincinnati plant, relocating about 100 employees and laying off over 400. This decision, while good for Hasbro, created a ripple effect on the Cincinnati job market which continued to push businesses out of Cincinnati, which, with Procter & Gamble and Hasbro, had managed to be the midwest city for corporate advertising and graphic design.
In the early 21st century, Hasbro allowed for the use of Mr. Potato Head in a community art project similar to those with cows in Chicago and pigs in Cincinnati. Painted and re-outfitted versions of Mr. Potato Head by various artists sprouted up all over Rhode Island and were welcome additions in front of businesses and buildings (including a New England staple, Dunkin Donuts) for the duration of the project.
Hasbro would be the largest toy and game publisher in the world if it were not for Mattel's Barbie franchise.
In 2008, Hasbro acquired game maker Cranium, Inc. for $77.5 million. The deal was announced on January 4 and closed on January 25.
Hasbro is collaborating with Discovery Communications on The Hub, a new cable network slated to begin on October 10, 2010. Hasbro will also produce Marvel Comics toys until 2017. The Walt Disney Company's purchase of Marvel in 2009 came as a blow to Hasbro, as it is likely Disney will give the Marvel license to their rival Mattel. Hasbro had also hoped their collaboration with Marvel would pad out their channel's schedule with Marvel cartoons.
Over the years, Hasbro has outsourced the manufacture of its products to third-party companies, mostly in China. At the Chinese factories, which Hasbro does not directly own or operate, migrant workers are compensated with meager salaries for their labor. At one such factory, in Dongguan, China, basic assembly line jobs pay a little over one hundred US dollars per month, China's minimum wage.
In 2007, a workers' rights group investigated several of Hasbro's Chinese suppliers and found that, in one instance, a toy factory in China's Guangxi Province had hired 1000 junior high school students. The same group discovered other widespread labor violations, including unsafe working conditions, mandatory overtime, verbal abuse and sexual harassment of employees. Hasbro issued a statement, saying that it would "act swiftly and decisively in making any necessary changes" and had "increased the intensity of [its] ongoing safety review efforts." Critics counter that, as Hasbro has no official regulatory control of these factories, it responds to such investigations by acquiring independent auditors, who make unannounced visits to the East Asian subcontractors. Factory managers are then "coached" in how to fool the auditors.
Outside Asia, Hasbro owns and operates only two manufacturing facilities, one in Waterford, Ireland, the other in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, USA. In recent years, the company has cut jobs at both plants in response to increasing competition from lower cost locations in China. At the end of 2006, for example, Hasbro's Irish division laid off more than one third of its workforce.
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Hasbro is the largest producer of board games in the world as a result of its component brands, such as Parker Brothers, Waddingtons, Milton Bradley, Wizards of the Coast, and Avalon Hill (all acquisitions since the 1980s). As a result it has well known and top selling games such as: