Hasbro was founded in 1923, and has since risen to be the largest toy company in the world. With names like Milton Bradley, Parker Brothers, and Kenner under its belt, Hasbro boasts a wide variety of trademarks and intellectual properties. And, if you look at a few of these properties - Transformers, My Little Pony, etc. - you will find a good number of names that you’ll recognize from films and television. Hasbro’s involvement with animation dates back decades, and has been a crucial part of the industry - and vice versa, animation has played a large role at Hasbro as well.
Hasbro cartoons started in the 1980s, with the serial G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero premiering September 12, 1983. The production involved Sunbow Productions, Marvel Productions (yes, THAT Marvel), and Toei Animation. A Real American Hero ran for three years, but was only a beginning. In the next five years alone the same partners helped produce Jem and the Holograms, Super Sunday, Inhumanoids, Visionaries, Spiral Zone, a My Little Pony show, and three Transformers shows. Every single one of these titles corresponded with a toy line. In many ways it’s a clever strategy. Children would get the toys and then realize there was a show attached to them, or watch the show and then want to play with the characters themselves at home. Over the next several decades Hasbro continued this streak, rebooting major franchises and trying new ones. Another big step came, though, in the fall of 2010.
On October 12, 2010, Discovery Kids was relaunched as The Hub, a new joint venture between Discovery, Inc. and Hasbro. Within the next couple months a number of animated reboots hit the network, such as Transformers: Prime, Pound Puppies, and G.I. Joe: Renegades. There was also a new show, The Adventures of Chuck and Friends, which also carried its own toy line. The most notable phenomenon to come out of this time, though, was the rebooted My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. While I won’t dwell on how it erupted into a major pop culture fandom in this post, it’s worth noting that the series is the longest running cartoon that Hasbro has yet made, lasting nearly nine years later to the present day. The important point is that Hasbro has demonstrated the ability to create something with lasting staying power in the pop culture sphere.
The Hub eventually rebranded to Discovery Family in 2014, with Hasbro still retaining a 40% stake in the channel. And while it’s still making animated shows (such as more Transformers series), the story doesn’t end there. It’s about this time that a studio called Boulder Media Limited enters the picture. Boulder Media was founded in 2000 in Ireland, and has helped produce a number of famous animated series. Cartoon Network’s Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Nickelodeon’s El Tigre, and Disney’s Wander Over Yonder were all worked on by this studio. In 2016 though, Hasbro purchased the studio, where it has since been making series for Discovery Family.
That brings us to this week, when news broke that Hasbro and Boulder Media expressed interest in expanding into a facility outside of Dublin. While the local authorities have initially turned down the proposal for not having specific funding details, that’s not to say that the pair can’t try again. The same story also details that Hasbro intends for Boulder Media to start producing theatrical feature-length films. Combined with Hasbro’s in-house Allspark studio, this could be a powerful combination that can bolster their role in the animation market even more.
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