An Empire Built to Market Toys

So far, the 4th installment in the rehash of my childhood favorite cartoon show has cleared over $750 Million worldwide and became the highest grossing movie in China. The “Baysplosive” film has done for my children what the original series did for me (I just coined that. Baysplosive!). A healthy enthusiasm for giant robots and a feeling that good will always triumph has been kindled in their souls. But have you ever thought about how the Transformers came into being?

Most of our childhood favorite cartoons spawned their own merchandising lines. They were a hit with the kids, so the toy companies bought the rights to make sure the kids could take their favorite hero to the grocery store with them – back before hand-held TVs and video games. There were backpacks, thermoses, lunch-pails, hats, and anything else they could merchandise with the successful brand. But not Hasbro’s legendary line.

Read the Wikipedia entry on the famous alterable automobiles. The toy line, originally produced in Japan by Takara, Hasbro bought the exclusive rights to the line, allowing Takara to continue to produce them in Japan, but taking the rest of the world for their own. Fresh off of the success of the GI Joe line, Hasbro knew exactly what to do to make sure these figures won the hearts and imaginations of kids everywhere.

They immediately set to work creating the television series and comic books they would use to sell the new toy line. Once kids knew who the heroes and villains were, they knew which toys they wanted to buy. What began as a purchase of a toy line expanded into a billion dollar empire. Over the past 30 years, the Transformers have become a part of every child and geek’s life. I even have an Optimus Prime anniversary edition here at my desk. If you look closely, you can see it this picture:

An Empire Built to Market Toys

Now that you’re done enjoying my mess, enjoy some of the brilliant marketing that helped build this toy-based empire for Hasbro. Then do us a favor and leave your thoughts in the comments below. Also, we’d love to know what you want to see us do a Throwback Thursday tribute to. We’ll see you next week!

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About the author:

Michael McNew
Web developer, marketing innovator, technology enthusiast, and founder of Visceral Concepts, Michael McNew has developed a passion for delivering value to small business, turning his creativity towards image and reputation building for small business owners.