hasbro-toy-fair-2016

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. 

StatManDan

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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.

 

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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)


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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)

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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)

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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/

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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.
StatManDan

Friendship is Magic #39 Extended Preview

Friendship is Magic #39 cover by Lea Hernandez

Friendship is Magic #39 cover by Lea Hernandez

There’s an extended preview of Friendship is Magic #39 on issuu. This issue is the second and final part of the two part arc, “Don’t You Forget About Us”, and will be released on Wednesday. You can check out the preview after the break.

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A report from Bloomberg Business is saying that toy makers Hasbro and Mattel were discussions about a possible mergersince late last year according to sources familiar with the matter. The companies are also said to have “held on-and-off talks,” but the sources have also said the talks may not ultimately lead to a deal.
Mattel did get some favorable news last week with Barbie quarterly sales rising for the first time in nearly four years, but still face considerable headwinds with the loss of the Frozen and Disney Princess licenses to Hasbro effective this year. While there were other pluses such as Hot Wheels and Fisher-Price, sales of American Girl and Monster High continued to decline.
Hasbro will announce their fourth quarter and full year 2015 financial results on Monday. The result are expected to be buoyed by sales from tie-ins Star Wars: The Force Awakens and strong showings from Nerf and Play-doh, but could be offset somewhat by continued foreign currency fluctuations.
Any potential merger involving the two largest toymakers in the United States would be subject to immense scrutiny from regulators.
(Edited 2/5)
CNBC is reporting that Hasbro made the approach to Mattel about a merger several months ago and that there are currently no talks going on now. This is not the first time this sort of thing has happened as rumors of Hasro possibly buying DreamWorks ended as soon as they were brought up.
StatManDan

Friends Forever #25 Extended Preview

Friends Forever #25 cover by Brenda Hickey

Friends Forever #25 cover by Brenda Hickey

There’s an extended preview of Friends Forever #25, which stars Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash, available on issuu. You can also check out the preview after the break.

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season6

While Season 5 is still on the minds of many, it seems our Season 5 hiatus is going to be shorter than the previous breaks.  Earlier this week a preview of a new filly alicorn toy known as Flurry Heart was leaked in Germany, including the box description which made her the child of Shining Armor & Princess Cadance.  Now we have an exclusive preview just released from Yahoo TV, featuring a 30 second clip of MLP Episode 601 which features Flurry Heart, Shining Armor & the Gang checking the baby out.

The article includes multiple animated GIFs, and a preview of some upcoming toys related to Season 6.  You can check out the 30 second preview and other information over on Yahoo TV (Video is embedded below).  More information to come.

Season 6 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic will premiere on Discovery Family this spring. The Crystal Empire playset will be available in fall 2016.