Hasbro

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What’s most striking about the cavalcade of new toys recently rolled out at New York City’s own Toy Fair is how familiar they are. Look, over there! Transformers that switch from vehicle to robot and back, right next to the new G.I. Joe sets! Behind them, an ever-evolving set of Star Wars figures and play packs, just a short stroll from tiny Mr. Potato Heads dressed as Marvel superheroes. There is, of course, also a heavily armed raccoon screaming pithy remarks to anyone who will listen, but a lot of what rounds out Hasbro’s latest set of toy lines are old characters made new – or, at least, newish. The team at Hasbro is kind enough to preview its major lines – from Marvel to My Little Pony and back – every year before Toy Fair really gets going, allowing journalists to pack a small convention center and ooh and ahh (sometimes, quite loudly) over new collections, especially those pegged to new feature films (Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and the latest Transformers all debuted fresh toy accompaniments) and existing properties that still stand tall (yes, there were plenty of Star Wars items, though nothing that seems directly related to the new films in the series). What toys are destined to crowd your shelves soon? And which toys just might give us a read on heavily anticipated films? Take a look, and brace for those tiny Mr. Potato Heads.

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With New York Comic-Con kicking off today, Gotham is about to be inundated with all sorts of geeky goodness, and the fine folks at Hasbro like to stake their cool claim early. Every year the toy company hosts a swinging party called “Twas the Night Before” before the con kicks off, and they use the lure of hand-crafted thematic cocktails, finger foods, and tons of toys to get the press to turn out. It works - very well - for one simple reason (no, not the booze), but because nothing is off limits for play and examination, even new toys that haven’t been released yet (and toys that are quietly shuffled out of the party space when things get really rolling). Yes, you can manhandle that new Spider-Man mask, and then you can go right ahead and pose for pictures with a new My Little Pony right next to a display of new Furbies that give birth to small Furby eggs. Playing with toys will never get old. Probably. We think. After the break, check out some of very favorite things from last night’s “Twas the Night Before…” shindig, including new toys from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Transformers: Age of Extinction, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and many more.

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My Little Pony at Comic-Con 2013

No matter how many times you go to Comic-Con, you haven’t actually “done Comic-Con” until you go through the effort to buy an exclusive offering. There are many exclusives offered every year, ranging from t-shirts to figurines wearing SDCC t-shirts to limited edition toys that are pretty much like any other toy except for a little sticker on it that says “SDCC Exclusive.” Some are harder to get than others. There may be fewer or there just may be a greater demand. The King of all exclusive dealers is without a doubt Hasbro, the license holders for Marvel, Transformers, G.I. Joe, My Little Pony, Star Wars, and a slew of others. Mattel is often a prized dealer as well, and players like NECA can draw crowds too, but nothing quite like Hasbro. Every so often I’ll get bit by the exclusive bug and head to the Hasbro booth to get a limited edition Transformer or G.I. Joe. These ones don’t often sell out, so I rarely make a big deal about getting them and if I don’t, oh well. It’s not the end of the world. This year, however, I decided to do a favor for a friend and to partake in an experiment. I was going to try and go the whole nine yards and get one of the most sought after exclusives year after year: an SDCC My Little Pony.

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Glitter n Gold

As a child, my toy box was mostly devoid of the kind of big name toys made popular in the neon-tinted heyday of the eighties – while I was happy with a murderer’s row of Barbies and Popples of various sizes (do you remember Popples? No one else ever remembers Popples), I never had a Teddy Ruxpin, a Cabbage Patch Kid, a Pound Puppy, a My Little Pony, or a Simon. The coolest thing I had was an ALF doll, and even I suspect that was only cool to my older, foul-mouthed cousins and not to the rest of the innocents who populated my grade school. What I never had, and what I always wanted, was a Jem doll. Star of the 1980’s cartoon series, Jem and the Holograms, Jem was simply everything. Sure, her dual personas – as rock star Jem and music company executive Jerrica Benton (the most amazing eighties heroine name ever) afforded her the ability to be both a businesswoman and a major music star (along with being an excellent friend and the head of charitable foundation), but the show was also packed with awesome tunes, surprisingly wacky action sequences, a love triangle with a dude named Rio for chrissakes, and the use of earrings to trigger the hologram (the hologram! The eighties! Yes!) that allowed Jerrica to become Jem. Jem and the Holograms was awesome and Jem dolls were awesome and I never had one and it was just very sad. Until now! As is […]

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Hasbro’s stock is still way down from last year, but it’s actually climbed upward after the abomination that was Battleship tried to puncture everyone’s eardrums with pure awful. Maybe it triggered more Transformer toy sales? At the very least, something must have worked. Or someone high up thinks it did. Luckily for humanity at large, the toy company is still convinced it belongs in the filmmaking business, financing partnerships that amount to wide-release commercials for their products. As if to calm all of our fears, they announced that they were still dedicated to bringing Hungry Hungry Hippos, Monopoly and Action Man to the big screen. Who knows if they’ll ever actually get made, but if they don’t, we can still get a view into what the trailer for the Hippos movie will look like thanks to our good friend ChugsTheMonkey and his mash-up skills. [Check Out More Mash-Ups]

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Hungry Hungry Hippos

You see what happens when you buy a bunch of tickets to a movie called Transformers? Ever since Hasbro made a gabillion dollars by licensing one of their toy properties for a big screen adaptation, they’ve been trying their damnedest to get every dumb hunk of plastic you played with as a kid into the multiplexes as the latest and greatest summer blockbuster. Already we’ve gotten two Transformers sequels, an abysmal G.I. Joe movie, and a movie about a board game. The disastrous box office performance of this summer’s Battleship and the ending of some of the development deals that Hasbro had with Universal doesn’t seem to be bringing anyone to their senses when it comes to making movies about board games either. The L.A. Times has a report that Hasbro has now signed a trio of new development deals, this time with upstart production company Emmett/Furla, to make more movies based on stupid toys. First in line for development is Monopoly, a movie about that board game with the fake money you always tried to play with your brothers and sisters but never got to the end of before someone quit. Presumably this will be a story about a decrepit old man with a monocle building hotels and taking over railroads, all while bankrupting his friends and loved ones. Sounds scintillating. I hear there’s a scene where he has to go directly to jail that will have you on the edge of your seat. Also included in this dumb deal […]

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Drinking Games

By now, you’ve come to realize that 2012 was the year of Taylor Kitsch. It hasn’t necessarily been a good year for him, but it has indeed been his year in movies. Between a disappointing turn in John Carter and a underwhelming Savages, he ran off to join the Navy and fight aliens in Battleship. This is quite possibly his best performance yet, considering his acting in this flick is Oscar-worthy compared to co-star Rihanna. You can check it out for yourself because Battleship hits DVD and Blu-ray this week. Based on the popular Hasbro board game, Battleship chronicles the story of an alien invasion attacking Naval warships near Pearl Harbor. You remember the aliens from the board game, don’t you? If not, have a few drinks while you watch the film, and it will soon all be clear. (Hint: It won’t be clear at all.)

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This Friday I took a little meander around the Hall early in the morning and snapped some pictures, which turned out to be a secretly and accidentally smart thing to do since I ended up stuck in line for the majority of the day before seeing about three hours of panels. It was the Hall H line from Hell, but that didn’t stop us from getting a ton of cool pictures for you to check out. Come on in to the gallery and see some cool stuff from GI Joe, Iron Man, Prometheus, Gremlins, and a very sexy pin-up of our very own Rorschach!

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Well friends, San Diego Comic-Con is officially almost here. For all intents and purposes, the Con kicked off tonight with Preview Night, a once upon a time small gathering of people walking around the floor which has blossomed into SDCC Day 0 with tens of thousands of people storming the floor in search of collectibles, exclusives, and nerdy babes. I braved the floor to get a taste of what was being offered and this year seems a little bit subdued compared to years past. Films like Total Recall really busted their cherries last year, which takes some of the cool factor off of what they brought to the Con this year – basically another nifty car and some badass looking cops. What would it have been like for the newbie though? Glad you asked!

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You would think that toymaker Hasbro and their various movie-making partners would have learned their lesson after the less than stellar box office performance of Battleship. That lesson being, nobody wants to see a movie about an inanimate object that has no pre-established characters, stories, or mythology. Clearly no lesson has been learned, however, because a press release put out by Sony Pictures today brings us just about the worst news ever. It seems that Sony is teaming up with Hasbro and Adam Sandler’s production company Happy Madison to bring us an animated feature version of Tonka trucks. Yes, you read that right: Adam Sandler’s buddies are going to make a movie about plastic toy trucks. Seeing as Sony is already in the process of developing feature films for other Hasbro properties like Risk and Candy Land, the fact that a toy truck movie is going to be coming our way soon shouldn’t come as a surprise, but somehow it still stings. Let’s let the president of Sony Pictures Digital Productions, Bob Osher, try to sell us on the project, and see if that helps. Osher says, “In its 65 years, TONKA has become more than a toy or a brand – TONKA trucks are a rite of passage for kids all around the world. Time spent with these toys creates memories that last a lifetime as kids are inspired to play using the boundaries of their imagination. We look forward to creating a family friendly motion picture that brings […]

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Boiling Point

With what is being called a massive failure at the box office, pulling in just $25 million domestic dollars (or 12% of its budget), Peter Berg‘s Battleship is sinking, but not before firing a warning shot across the bow of stupid ideas. And by a “warning shot across the bow” I mean a giant, moronic cruise missile. Battleship wasn’t destined for failure – after all, almost any idea can be made good. If you ignored the title, the idea of a few naval vessels fighting off aliens sounds pretty cool and not altogether stupid. However, you slap the Hasbro logo in-front of the credits and include a sequence where a missile destroyer blindly fires into the ocean while a captain shouts out “J-11″ and the stupidity quotient rises exponentially.

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Can you hear it? Out there in the distance, on a cold crag of rock with the wind whipping at its monstrous back is a marketing department VP howling at the empty night. Battleship – in all of its $209m budget plus probably $200m more in marketing – was hoping for the kind of win at the box office that would signal the go-ahead for two more movies and the trappings that come with franchises. It did not succeed. As proof that sticking feathers up your butt and calling yourself a chicken doesn’t work, the Peter Berg-directed pile of messy noises made a paltry $25m this weekend, coming in at #2. A fitting, metaphorical place. It’s not surprising that The Avengers ended up back in the top spot, this time earning another $55m – bringing its domestic take closer to the half-billion mark and making its grand total right at $1.8b (with a b).

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When a “loose” adaptation of Hasbro’s iconic board game Battleship was announced, it didn’t take a genius to figure out what type of film was in the making: big, loud, manic summer fun. The man to deliver on that promise was none other than Peter Berg, a director whose filmography ranges from Friday Night Lights to Hancock. After over three years of working on the film, Berg didn’t make a film that passes itself off as anything it’s not; he’s made Battleship. Battleship features the expected markings of all commercial tentpole films, something Berg did not want to shy away from. As the anti-film school director put it, he wanted to make a global event film, one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. When your film’s based on a popular board game, how could you? Berg, along with his potential blockbuster, could not be more self-aware. Here is what Battleship director Peter Berg had to say about letting life inform storytelling, his organic and actor-friendly approach to filmmaking, and how to keep your sanity while crafting a $200m event film:

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On December 7, 1941, the naval base at Pearl Harbor was attacked by 353 Japanese planes. It was a day that lives in infamy, but now director Peter Berg has reconciled the Americans and Japanese (finally!) in the dumbest, broadest, most pointlessly explosive way possible with Battleship. This obnoxious chore of a movie suffers from two cardinal sins. One, it’s probably the smallest-feeling big movie of the past three decades. Two, it steals so much from other, better movies that there’s no doubt Universal‘s legal team spent time considering possible action. Everything from the script to the CGI are low quality, making this $200m tentpole feel like it was made for fifteen bucks and a pack of gum.

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When asked at WonderCon 2012 about the forthcoming Battleship, Peter Berg told The Hollywood Reporter what the world already knows: that the movie has nothing to do with the game it’s based on. “It certainly doesn’t have any direct correlation to the game. That being said, it was a lot of fun to try to find way to reference the game. If you look at the ordinance that the enemies use, it looks a bit like pegs. Both of our ships’ radar systems have trouble seeing each other, so they gotta try and predict where the enemy is so that they can go after them. And there were some other things that were kind of fun,” said the director. So there you go. Apparently a tiny, peg-based production design and the fact that radar systems are imperfect are enough to constitute name recognition. This is Hollywood at its most moronic, and it’s nice to see that Berg recognizes that. They should stick it in the commercial for Hasbro. Without sarcasm, it’s refreshing to see that the production isn’t falling all over itself to try to sell something that no one’s buying anyway. A little honesty can go a long way.

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Look, Battleship will probably end up proving that it has at least a few original ideas in its head. Someone out there has to have shoved in one or two scenes that don’t look exactly like other movies, but the trailers certainly aren’t out to prove that. Nevertheless, it’s time to stop ragging on this flick for being a moronic idea and time to start ragging on it as a clear patchwork of other movies. Somehow, Universal has bypassed the need to do Hollywood math by simply copying and pasting directly from other films that have been successful. Why make something like Iron Man or like Transformers when you can go ahead and just make them again under a different name. Watch this new trailer and try to say with a straight face that the alien design isn’t Iron Man with a paint job. Watch the giant building collapse and try not to think up 5 other movies within the past 2 years where it’s happened (and try extra hard not to imagine the exact same scene in Dark of the Moon). No one says much of anything. Probably a good thing. But, whew, the action sure does look eye-popping.

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Recently, it was reported that Universal Pictures ended their deal with Hasbro – meaning that movies adapted from Hasbro products that nobody wanted to see in the first place, like Ouija Board and Monopoly, now have very questionable futures. Or, at least, you would think that they would have very questionable futures. In actuality they all seem to be getting scooped up by other studios pretty quickly. First, Relativity Media acquired the rights to Stretch Armstrong, and now, in news that surely must be ushering in the end of the world, Sony and Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison are teaming up to make Candy Land, which Sandler himself intends on both co-writing and starring in. Kevin Lima (Enchanted) is attached to direct the project, with Robert Smigel and Sandler in talks to pen the screenplay. Why make a Candy Land movie? Columbia Pictures president Doug Belgrad says, ”Candy Land is more than just a game. It is a brand that children, parents and grandparents know and love. The world of Candy Land offers an extraordinary canvas upon which to create a fantastical, live-action family adventure film with a larger than life part for Adam. We are thrilled to partner with Hasbro and Happy Madison on this project.”

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Hasbro saw dollar signs after Transformers, and they’ve gotten greedy. It’s one thing to take toy robots and convert them into movie stars, but projects like Monopoly and Ouija Board sounded too ridiculous (and non-cinematic) to make the transition. First, Universal backed out of a new Clue, then the Ouija Board movie, then Monopoly and now they’re getting out of another project born from their toymaker partnership. According to Deadline Deltino, Stretch Armstrong is dead at Universal. The project, like the flour-filled rubber toy, would have starred Taylor Lautner with Rob Letterman set to direct. Speculating on the reasons is futile and a waste of the time we could all spend celebrating. Universal may be regretting that major Hasbro deal now, but they’re wising up to the shifting needs of an audience that wants story and not plastic. The project isn’t completely done, though. It’s found a home over at Relativity Media – which is sort of sad considering the risk-taking that studio has done in the past few years. This, of course, is a risk of a different kind. It’s a formula that only appears to work these days. It’s a project that has all the elements for success, but doesn’t pass the smell test in the first place. The new press release from Relativity also doesn’t include anything about Lautner or Letterman. Looks like they’re officially done with Stretch as well. If only everyone were. Hopefully this doesn’t hurt the chances of a Happy Fun Ball movie. That […]

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With $1.1b in international revenue for the third film alone, it’s not really news that Hasbro is drooling for another Transformers flick, but The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that the company is currently in talks with Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay about moving forward. This also isn’t a surprise, and since it’s widely known that Bay and star Shia Labeouf have been unenthusiastic about returning to the franchise, it won’t be a surprise when they pass on the director’s chair and the star trailer respectively. However, there’s something important to consider here. With Bay gone, the biggest force in the franchise is gone, and without Labeouf, its face is gone as well. That means that someone can pull out the old drawing board and start again on creating a franchise that does a better job of focusing on the cool part of Transformers (the Transformers) and on crafting a better sci-fi story. Meanwhile, Hasbro continues fruitless development on their other projects. Battleship is storming the beaches in the near future, but Candyland, their Ouija Board movie and several other projects are still not nearly as far along as they should be for the amount of time that’s been spent promising them. That’s probably a good thing. The world doesn’t need another Clue movie, but another shot at getting transforming robots might be just the thing humanity is crying out for.

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In 2008, Universal made a deal with Hasbro to develop movies based on plastic and particle board. Now, three years later, they’ve dropped Clue, and they’re also more interested in paying Hasbro a $5m penalty than in actually making the Ouija Board Movie. According to Vulture, the project – which was being produced by Michael Bay and directed by McG (a hell of a pair if there ever were one) – is now in turnaround. Bay and McG are now free to shop it around to anyone that wants to take it. This might be just another cautious step in a trend where studios are wising up to what audiences are getting tired of, but it also represents further proof that 90s style filmmaking is dead as a doornail. McG pitched the project as a large-scale adventure ala Jumanji, which sounds like a strong idea, but apparently Universal wasn’t keen on the concept for the price. It’s a signal that that kind of family adventure is done, while blockbusters are still trying to find a type of adventure that does work. Johnny Depp acting drunk seems to work, but apparently not when he’s playing a Native American sidekick. Meanwhile, the only company who’s discovered the formula for consistently bringing in large numbers of adults and children is Pixar. Maybe they should get their busy hands on this one, too.

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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
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