Toy and Licensing Community Buzzes as Disney Announces Acquisition
2009 | Mickey Mouse and Iron Man joined together in the
same family when The Walt Disney Co. announced on August 31, 2009, that
it will purchase Marvel Entertainment Inc. for $4 billion in cash and
stock. Under the deal, which is expected to close by the end of
the year, Disney will acquire the rights to 5,000 Marvel characters.
Many of the characters – including the Fantastic Four and the
X-Men – were co-created by comic book legend Stan Lee.
“It’s the greatest thing that could happen to both
companies,” Lee told USA Today.
“The deal makes perfect sense,” agreed Reyne Rice, toy
trend specialist, TIA. “Both Disney and Marvel are responsible for
so many of the hot properties and prominent characters that are in the
marketplace today. This is huge news for the toy
The acquisition will strengthen Disney’s boy’s portfolio
for both younger boys and to the action figure collector (usually males
ages 13 up through adults).
“The deal shores up Disney’s relative weakness in the
boys’ area,” said Sean McGowan, toy industry analyst,
Needham & Co. “And from Marvel’s standpoint,
it’s a good price that allows them to monetize upon what they have
built upon in the last few years.”
Both companies have used story-telling to build
upon iconic characters for generations and generations. Disney has
a long-revered strength of using beloved characters and stories to build
their brands. Marvel’s characters also have complex storylines and
deeply entrenched histories, built over the 70 years of Marvel comics
The strength of these characters has translated into many licensing
deals for the toy industry with both Marvel and Disney:
- Mattel’s licensing deals with Disney for Princesses, Toy
Story, Cars, and High School Musical have helped them bring these iconic
characters to life in the toy box for kids around the
- Hasbro has a long-term master toy licensing deal with Marvel
Entertainment for the core action figures, action figures accessories,
role play and games.
- Jakks Pacific manages the doll businesses for Hannah Montana, and
Jonas Brothers and the large role play items for Disney Princesses and
Fairies (through their CDI division).
- The Disguise division of Jakks Pacific (acquired in late 2008)
manages the Halloween character licenses for Marvel, Disney, Hasbro, and
many of the core top 25 licensed properties.
- Toy manufacturers who are top players in their respective categories
– including Leapfrog in educational learning products and
Screenlife with Scene-It DVD trivia games – also have licensing
agreements with Marvel.
“This is great for the companies who hold the toy
licenses,” McGowan added. “It’s a positive thing for
toy companies like Hasbro since Disney will be working hard to expand
and exploit some of the lesser known Marvel characters.”
The acquisition will also help Marvel gain international exposure and
expansion as part of the world’s largest entertainment
company. Disney’s global portfolio was measured at $38
Billion dollars for the past 12 months.
Investors welcomed news of the acquisition by driving up Marvel
shares by 25% to $48.37.
The Disney investor conference call will be available for
replay through September 14 at 7 p.m. EDT.