Excerpts from the Hasbro Website:
History from 1923 to 2002
1923 to 1967 -- Hassenfeld Brothers
1920s - The Beginning
Hasbro was founded in 1923 by two brothers, Henry and Helal Hassenfeld, in a small office in Providence, Rhode Island. Originally named Hassenfeld Brothers, the Company first sold textile remnants, but soon moved into manufacturing pencil boxes and school supplies.
In 1928, Playskool, a company that was to become part of the Hasbro family in the mid-1980s, was founded in Milwaukee. Two former school teachers had the idea that preschool aged children could benefit early learning experiences at home before they got to school, hence the name, Play-Skool.
1930s - Free Parking
Parker Brothers, also a company that would later join the Hasbro family, launched a game about real estate wheeling and dealing in 1935. MONOPOLY went on to become the world's all-time, best-selling game.
1940s - Expanding to Toys
Henry Hassenfeld's son, Merrill, became president of Hassenfeld Brothers and the Company expanded its product line to include paint sets, wax crayons, and its first toys, doctor and nurse kits.
In 1947, the Mound Metalcraft company launched the world's first TONKA trucks outside of Minnetonka, Minnesota. Hasbro would go on to purchase the Tonka Corporation in 1991.
SCRABBLE debuted in 1948 exclusively at Macy's store on 34th Street in New York City. Today, over 100,000,000 SCRABBLE games have been sold around the world, making it the best-selling word game of all time! First manufactured by Selchow and Righter, the SCRABBLE game was acquired by Hasbro 1989 and is currently a PARKER BROTHERS game.
And 1949 was a "sweet" year in games as well. Milton Bradley introduced CANDY LAND, every American child's first game.
1950s - A Spud is Born
A "groundbreaking" toy was created in 1952 -- MR. POTATO HEAD! MR. POTATO HEAD was the first major toy success for Hasbro and revolutionized the toy industry by being the first toy to be advertised on television. One of the most recognized scents is that of PLAY-DOH, and the world's favorite modeling compound was "discovered" 1956 by a company called Rainbow Crafts out of Cincinnati, Ohio. The formula remains top-secret more than 45 years later!
1960s - Go Joe!
The 1960s was a "hot" decade. Kenner Products, later purchased by Hasbro in 1991, created the EASY-BAKE OVEN in 1963 and gave little girls everywhere a chance to bake their very own treats. Hasbro launched the world's first "action figure" in 1964 - G.I. JOE. The designers at Hasbro wanted to provide boys with a poseable figure as a plaything, but the no one thought that boys would play with a "doll," hence the creation of the term "action figure." G.I. JOE was a huge success from the start and nearly 40 years later, G.I. JOE has become an American icon and is still tremendously popular with kids.
In 1966, Milton Bradley introduced TWISTER and when Johnny Carson played it on "The Tonight Show," the game became a phenomenon. The successes of MR. POTATO HEAD and G.I. JOE fueled Hasbro's growth and in 1969, the company made it's first major acquisition when they purchased Romper Room, the production company for the world's longest running children's TV show.
1968 to 1984 -- Hasbro Industries
Hassenfeld Brothers changed its name to Hasbro Industries in 1968 and became a publicly trade company with a listing on the American Stock Exchange.
1970s - A New Kind of Action Figure
The next major revolution in the toy industry, and for that matter, in the entertainment industry, was the widespread success of Kenner's Star Wars line in 1977. Star Wars radically changed the profile of the action figure market, taking the size of the figure down to 3-3/4" and bringing retail price down making it possible for the first time for kids to collect them all!
Another revolutionary innovation occurred in the 1970s; this time in the games category. The Milton Bradley Company put electronic lights and sounds in a game for the very first time with the 1978 introduction of SIMON.
1980s - A Decade of Growth
The 1980s was an incredible decade for Hasbro, marked by major successes in its toy line and key acquisitions that set the stage for Hasbro's position as the owner of the industry's most beloved brands. After a brief hiatus from the market, G.I. JOE returned in 1982 as a playroom staple in the 3-3/4" scale. The "new" G.I. JOE was named "A REAL AMERICAN HERO" and spurred children's imaginations by battling the evil COBRA COMMANDER and his forces. The return of G.I. JOE was a tremendous success with kids, and spawned a hit animated television series and best-selling comic book line.
The following year, another legendary toy brand was born - MY LITTLE PONY. Little girls around the world quickly discovered the magic of MY LITTLE PONY through Hasbro's product line, and an animated television series and feature films.
Hasbro became the biggest toy company in 1984 with the purchase of The Milton Bradley Company. The deal paired the hottest toy company in the world with the strength and stability of one of the world's most respected game companies. In addition, the Milton Bradley acquisition also brought with it the Playskool company based in Chicago, and opened up the door for international expansion.
Hasbro had another hit in the boys toys aisle in 1984 when it introduced a unique concept -- die-cast cars and planes that transformed into robots -- called TRANSFORMERS. At the time, the industry was skeptical; no one had ever paid eight to ten dollars for a die-cast car. But the Hasbro team's instincts were right and TRANSFORMERS sales soared throughout the decade. Just like G.I. JOE and MY LITTLE PONY, TRANSFORMERS was popular beyond the toy aisle with a comic book series, and an animated television show and feature film.
1985 to present -- Hasbro, Inc.
In 1985, Hasbro Industries officially changed its name to Hasbro, Inc.
1990s - Innovation and Excitement
The Nineties was an exciting decade for Hasbro. The Company made significant acquisitions that solidified its leadership and greatly expanded its vast brand portfolio. In addition, Hasbro had a number of hits throughout the decade thanks to a keen instinct for innovative products, new technologies and burgeoning trends.
In 1991, Hasbro made another significant acquisition - the Tonka Corporation, including its Kenner Products and Parker Brothers divisions. The acquisition brought rich additions to Hasbro's portfolio including TONKA, PLAY-DOH, EASY-BAKE OVEN, NERF, MONOPOLY and a wide range of licensed properties such as Star Wars and Batman.
In 1992 manufacturing of all Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers board games was consolidated in East Longmeadow, MA, the MB facility, and the new organization was renamed Hasbro Games.
One of Hasbro's proudest moments happened in the mid-90s. On Valentine's Day, 1994, the doors of the Hasbro Children's Hospital opened in Providence, Rhode Island, dedicated to state-of-the-art pediatric and family care.
Hasbro entered the video gaming market in 1995 with the creation of Hasbro Interactive. In a short time, Hasbro Interactive launched a number of successful software franchises based on its own brands, including TONKA and MONOPOLY, as well as established new software brands, such as ROLLERCOASTER TYCOON. Hasbro sold its interactive division to Infogrames Entertainment SA in 2000, and the Company's brands continue to thrive in the video gaming market through a licensing agreement with the Infogrames.
The second half of the 1990s saw several key acquisitions for Hasbro. In 1995, Hasbro acquired the Larami company, which made Super Soakers, the world's best selling water toys. In 1997, Hasbro purchased the Russ Berrie and Company subsidiaries, Cap Toys and OddzOn, picking up the KOOSH brands and the highly successful interactive Cap Candy line, which featured SPIN POPS. The following year, Hasbro welcomed Tiger Electronics, Avalon Hill, maker of strategic board games, and Galoob, which owned MICRO MACHINES, into the Hasbro family.
Also on the corporate front, Hasbro switches its listing to the New York Stock Exchange in June of 1999.
Hasbro closed out the decade and century with a number of successful lines. In 1998, one of the decade's most popular and innovative toys was introduced. FURBY, a cuddly animatronic pet with a very spunky "personality," had children begging their parents for one during the holiday season. Furby was a true craze with adults waiting in line as new shipments were delivered! More than 40 million FURBY toys were sold in three years!
After a 16-year wait, the world was given another installment in the Star Wars saga along with a diverse toys and game line from Hasbro.
Hasbro has always prided itself on identifying trends and picked a winner with POKEMON. By mid-1999, millions of kids around the world were collecting, playing and watching POKEMON. Later that year, Hasbro acquired Wizards of the Coast, makers of the Pokemon collectible trading cards that had become a worldwide phenomenon. Wizards of the Coast was also the creator of the world's best selling card game, MAGIC: THE GATHERING, and owners of the best-known role playing game of all time, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS.
2000 and beyond...
Over the past few years, Hasbro has placed renewed emphasis on building its business through a three-pronged approach - building upon its core brands in both toy and non-toy categories; identifying opportunistic trends and innovative products; and licensing agreements with the entertainment industry's premier companies, such as Disney and Lucasfilm.
Hasbro teamed up with the Walt Disney Company in 2000 on a diverse and exciting relationship. Hasbro became the master toy licensee for all of Disney's event films, in addition to some classic properties, and was named as the official toy and game company for Walt DisneyWorld, Disneyland and Euro Disney. As part of the agreement, Hasbro worked with Disney to design and develop a special toy store, called Once Upon a Toy that opened in Downtown Disney in the summer of 2002.
In 2001, Hasbro experienced many successes. G.I. JOE and TRANSFORMERS have been rediscovered by a whole new generation of kids. Sales of both G.I. JOE and TRANSFORMERS saw high double-digit increases for the year. Hasbro Games enjoyed a strong year as well with double-digit increases in the Family Games and Adult Games categories. In addition, WHEELS ON THE BUS was the year's best-selling new preschool game.
In 2002, Hasbro had a number of hits. G.I. JOE and TRANSFORMERS continued to be very popular with kids and adults with sales of each up in the high double digits. Several new introductions, including BEYBLADE, had a terrific start. For Hasbro Games, new introductions, such as the TRIVIAL PURSUIT 20TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION, SCRABBLE FOLIO EDITION and MONOPOLY AMERICA EDITION enjoyed strong sales. In fact, TRIVIAL PURSUIT 20TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION became the #1 new item in the entire toy and game industry.
With the hottest new technology and innovation, unique products for "tweens" and new twists on classic toys and games, Hasbro's 2003 product line-up had a number of successes. Among Hasbro's 2003 line were the hottest brands from the previous holiday, including FURREAL FRIENDS, G.I. JOE and BEYBLADE, which has sold more than 5 million tops in the U.S. alone. Hasbro re-introduced the popular MY LITTLE PONY brand, which was an instant hit with little girls around the world. Also introduced were innovative products, such as VIDEONOW, a portable and affordable personal video player.
EASY-BAKE marked 2003 by celebrating its 40th anniversary with the "Baker of the Year" contest. The contest and its winner generated significant national media coverage with appearances on such media outlets as The Tonight Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, CNN and CBS's The Early Show.
In 2004, Hasbro continues to drive its core brands to new heights by reinventing them and making them as fresh and as relevant today as when they were first introduced. One such example is the return of those beloved wobbly characters-The WEEBLES. First introduced in 1972, the WEEBLES are more wobbly than ever as PLAYSKOOL brings this wonderfully wacky, classic brand back for a new generation to enjoy.
Two of Hasbro's brands will celebrate major anniversaries in 2004. G.I. JOE, the toy industry's first action figure, will celebrate its 40th anniversary by introducing a new adventure-VALOR VS. VENOM-and the 40th Anniversary Collection. And, TRANSFORMERS will mark its 20th anniversary as the legendary kids' and collector favorite.