After decades, Mattel is losing the license to make toys based on most of the DC Comics stable of characters. DC’s parent company, Warner Brothers has signed a new deal with the Toronto-based manufacturer Spin Master Corp., the maker of Air Hogs, Tech Deck, Hatchimals and Paw Patrol among others. Spin Master gains the rights to produce products for the ” boys action category, remote control and robotic vehicles, water toys, and games and puzzles,” while Mattel will retain the rights to preschool and girls toys. Mattel will hold the boys license through 2019, with the first Spin Master DC items arriving in 2020. They have never produced action figures before.
This news comes as Mattel has posted its lowest stock values in 18 years. In July, the makers of Barbie and Hot Wheels announced plans to lay off 2,200 employees. Like all producers of playthings, Mattel has been hit hard by the closure of Toys ‘R’ Us, but the loss of the DC license has driven Mattel stocks even further down, even though in October, Mattel announced that part of the reason for weak overall sales was the poor performance of DC Comics toys. So they may be just fine with losing the license.
Mattel has announced plans to “aggressively pursue” new licenses, noting that Hasbro’s deals for Marvel and ‘Star Wars’ will expire in 2020.
Mattel keeps the rights to preschool, which consists mainly of the Imaginext line, and girls toys, which includes the DC Superhero Girls line. But after a massive launch in 2015, this collection looks to be on its last legs, judging by its vastly reduced presence at retail. But maybe Mattel will revamp this concept.
Last year, Mattel was involved in a lawsuit filed by Hasbro over the use of the name “Bumblebee.” Mattel and LEGO produced toys based on the superhero of that name in the DC Superhero Girls line, while Hasbro planned to brand its Transformers toys with the Bumblebee moniker to tie in with the new movie. The case was settled out of court, but it surely had a negative impact.
As for its boy toys, Mattel produces action figures and other items in a variety of scales and price points for different demographics. But its attempt to court adult collectors with the DC Multiverse line has been a dismal failure. Walk into any Walmart and you will find dozens and dozens of these toys, based on ‘The Dark Knight Returns’, The CW shows, and the films, that have been hanging there collecting dust since 2016 and don’t appear to be going anywhere soon.
But it remains to be seen how Spin Master, a manufacturer known for making novelties, will handle more traditional playthings and collectibles.
Are you sad to see Mattel lose the DC license?
Source: LA Times