Mattel and Hasbro Considering a Merger—Again

matty-kid-1A recipe for disaster corporate success: Take 1 part struggling Mattel Toys, combine it with 1 part more of longtime rival, Hasbro Toys, then sprinkle with a dash of shrinking consumer interest and a smattering of unpalatable market effects (such as crumbling Toys ‘R Us (TRU) infrastructure), and what do you have? We don’t know, but the world’s two biggest toy companies appear to be contemplating a merger that (they hope) would cook up profitable “hot” products (to display on those vanishing TRU store shelves?), raise “Has/Mat” stock prices, and boost their newly combined mega-company’s bottom line. But WILL it?

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Will all of this corporate merger/restructuring simply result in a bland melange of bombast trumpeting, “Hey, look at us, we’re doing something BIG about our troubled toy industry.” Or is this all going to boil over into an even bigger, blander pot of  “kids-just-don’t-care-about-toys-anymore” reality stew? It will be interesting to toy fans and collectors to find out. Here’s the latest article we’ve found on this possible merger and its hoped-for final effects. Read it, watch the Mattel CEO video, and decide for yourself whether this merger is a good idea

Bottom Line: This move seems like too MUCH, and too LATE, to us. If the two companies combine, wouldn’t there be less urgency, less rivalry, less competitive spirit and less innovation? Monopoly the game, may be fun to play, but monopolies in real life rarely work out well for consumers. Company execs and stockholders may benefit in the short term, but toy fans in general will probably be quickly bored by all the new “tech toys” Mattel’s CEO seems to be so enamored of. All this hoopla looks like it’ll be one more nail in GIjOE’s coffin box. <ouch>

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“Veterans for Peace” Hope “Battlefield Casualties” Parody Video Will Convince UK Government to Raise Minimum Military Recruitment Age to 18

Playing with Action Man was never like this (thankfully!)

We recently came across a VERY powerful Action Man (AM) television commercial parody video. It was created by the advocacy group, Veterans for Peace UK, (VFPUK) and first aired (on the internet, natch’) back in 2015. But before you watch it(!), you should be aware that its content is somewhat startling, even bordering on adult-content. Yes, its creators clearly WANT children to see this video, but we think you should exercise due caution (see graphic freeze-frame image above) depending on your little ones’ ages and sensitivities.

The video contains three separate commercials. Each focuses on a different (and imaginary) Action Man figure play set. The three spots may feature fake products, but the heart-breaking scenarios depicted are all too possible, graphic and (regrettably)—realistic. The first introduces viewers to a psychologically damaged and emotionally traumatized “P.T.S.D. Action Man.” Rather than utilizing AM’s traditional “Eagle Eyes,” this sad fellow possesses instead, a “thousand yard stare,” and comes equipped with booze, drugs, and even a noose—to hang himself with.

The second spot features “Paralysed Action Man” in his wheel chair, wearing a hospital gown and carrying around his 1:6 scale colostomy bag (oh, what fun). The third spot, rather than “playing around” with any other physical or mental conditions, simply jumps straight to death, presenting viewers with a bombed-n-bloody corpse figure appropriately named, “Dead Action Man.” Don’t expect much “action” out of this (in)Action Man, as he is already completely, utterly and 100%—DEAD. The commercial gamely shows that you can zip him up in a body bag and bury him (with full honors, of course) out in your backyard. But after that…<well, sigh>

If you still didn’t get the message—War is Hell—and this Action Man parody drives that point home exceedingly well with its stories of these three tragic heroes. And, as AM television commercial parodies go, this is undeniably an excellent one in terms of its production. Each spot is superbly acted, staged, photographed, edited, narrated, scored and directed. Each perfectly recreates the elusive “vintage video look” of a 1970s original. Our sincerest congratulations to ALL of the master 1:6 scale customizers and diorama builders involved in its production. Simply AMAZING work!

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Superb 1:6 custom packaging—surrounds three tragic and depressing 1:6 scale custom Action Man figures. No, you can’t go out to a local toy store and buy these sets. But then again, why would you want to? Despite the quality of their execution, they’re just too sad to own (or ARE they?). (Custom figure sets and photo: Darren Cullen) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: The creators of this video clearly hope it will generate strong reactions among viewers, thereby aiding them in their cause. But will it? Military recruitment remains (sadly) a necessary endeavour for all free nations (freedom ISN’T free), but at what AGE should an individual be allowed to enter their country’s military? VFPUK’s website is urging UK citizens to write into their local MPs concerning this matter, and request that they raise the minimum enlistment age from 16 to 18. It will be interesting to see whether or not their Action Man parody video has any effect in making that change happen. Stay tuned, AM fans!

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After 80 Years, UK Community Designates Palitoy’s “Old Toy Factory” (The Birthplace of Action Man) As a Revered “Green Plaque” Commemorative Site

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Three Cheers for Palitoy! Former employees of the beloved UK toy company raise a rousing “Hip, hip, hooray!” at the site of their former business, whilst receiving the Leicestershire County Council’s honorific of “green plaque” commemorative status. (Photo: Leicestershire County Council) Click to enlarge.

Our good buddy, Bob Brechin, wrote in to us again today to share another tidbit of good news from that “old country across the pond.” Bob was clearly (and rightly so) bursting with pride, as he told us all about the recent Leicestershire County Council’s (LCC) decision to commemorate the site of the original Palitoy toy factory building, known to millions of fans around the world, as the “birthplace” and former home of —you guessed it—Action Man! According to the LCC website:

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“A former factory in Leicestershire which created popular children’s toys such as Action Man, Tiny Tears dolls and Star Wars figures was honoured with a green plaque. On Thursday, 2 November, the plaque was installed at the Coalville Business Park, in Jackson Street, Coalville, where the toy factory once stood. The company manufactured some of the most popular toys in Britain from 1937 to 1985 – before it ceased trading. Palitoy not only helped to stoke children’s imaginations with its classic toys and figures it also helped to put Coalville on the map.”

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“Two Bobs” for Action Man! These two talented gentlemen have every reason in the world to be proud of Palitoy’s newly acquired “green plaque” status, and of their own individual accomplishments as well! From left we have Bob Brechin, former chief toy designer, and on the right, Bob Simpson, the company’s former managing director. (Photo: LCC) Click to enlarge.

It’s obvious to fans living here in the U.S. (and elsewhere around the globe), that local UK community support (and thanks) for the men and women who helped bring Action Man and other great toys “to life” remains very strong. And while those lucky few in attendance at Palitoy’s recent green plaque ceremony may now largely be members of the “silver-haired set,” it’s good to know that their children and grandchildren will be able to look up at that plaque and remember all the wonderful toys created there (by their loved ones) for many generations to come.

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Pam Posnett, Leicestershire County Council (Photo: LCC)

womancomment“It is fantastic to see that 80 years on, there is still HUGE support from the people of Leicestershire.” —

It should be no surprise then too, that Bob Brechin, ever the promotor of all things Palitoy and Action Man, was the man originally behind all of the efforts required for gaining the beloved Palitoy company its esteemed honor of “green plaque” status. According to Brechin:

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“It is 80 years since Palitoy toys were first made in Coalville and I thought the famous toy company should be celebrated with a green plaque at this special time.” —Bob Brechin

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks and congratulations go out to Bob Brechin for his heads-up intel on this story, and to the wonderfully generous Leicestershire County Council for their excellent photos, and to all of the other past employees of Palitoy. You’ve all done so much—to bring so much joy—to so many people. Go, Action Man! And… Hip, hip, HOORAY for Palitoy!

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Ripple Effects of Chapter 11 Filing By Toys ‘R Us Begin to Spread to Manufacturers— Declining Profits Now Reported By Hasbro and Mattel

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Where are all of our customers? As the number of independent toy retailers and their “brick-n-mortar” stores continues to decline, toy manufacturer claims that their own lost profits could be made up with rising internet or “online” sales has now proven to be questionable—even unlikely. Should toy manufacturers such as Hasbro consider opening their own retail store outlets to compensate?

To most toy fans and collectors, this latest news will not come as much of a surprise. In fact, current developments regarding the world’s ongoing toy retailing saga may seem all too predictable, but here we go nonetheless: It turns out, having fewer retail stores for customers to visit and browse for products (like toys) can actually be bad for business. <Wow. Who’d a thunk it?> In fact, following closely on the heels of the recent story of Toys R Us’ (TRU) filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, we now also learn that Hasbro and Mattel (both) are beginning to feel their own negative economic ripple effects—and that they believe their troubles can be laid squarely at the doorstep of TRU’s earlier woes. According to the AP:

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“Mattel, the maker of Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels cars, reported disappointing third-quarter results late Thursday and said it was hurt by Toys R Us’ Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing last month. Earlier this week, Hasbro, the maker of My Little Pony and Monopoly, also blamed weak results on the Toys R Us bankruptcy filing.

Mattel, whose revenue in North America fell 22 percent in the three months ending Sept. 30, said that about half of that decline was due to the Toys R Us bankruptcy. Globally, most of its brands saw sales declines. Barbie sales fell 7 percent and Hot Wheels fell 6 percent. Sales of its American Girl brand, whose 18-inch dolls typically cost more than $100, fell 30 percent.” —AP

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Will Matty need a handout? Looks like this company mascot is extending his hand for…what? Will his business soon seek court protection, ala Toys R Us?

Whoa. 30 percent?  That’s quite a financial nosedive. And if ever a particular toy brand needed a store’s support (i.e. an actual, physical PLACE to go to) so as to be able to SEE and HANDLE their extensive and upscale line), it’s pricey American Girl. Anyway…

Bottom Line: If TRU’s Chapter 11 reorganization and debt payoff difficulties continue, it seems likely that additional store closings and employee layoffs industry-wide could also continue. That would result in even fewer “brick-n-mortar” toy stores, less actual shelf space for toys, and then ultimately, fewer toys overall for fans and collectors to buy and enjoy. Ouch! That’s where WE feel “the pinch.” We’re not too worried about the financial stability of either Hasbro or Mattel (they’re doing just fine, thank you), but this situation is fluid and developing. Stay tuned for further intel. Read the AP story HERE.

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Get Your Pepperoni Pizza Slice and a Cup of Coke Ready—1:6 Scale Arcade Games Are Coming Soon For Use In All Of G.I. Joe’s “Man Cave” Dioramas

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Get your roller disco skates on and head over to your local 1:6 arcade. 2018 will see the arrival of an entire line of GIjOE/Barbie-scale standup video games. (Photo; Replicade Amusements)

Bottom Line: If you collect GIjOEs and 1:6 scale props, grew up in the 1970s, and remember whiling away your teenage years in dark, video game arcades, then THIS story is definitely for you. Thankfully, it’s already been written for us by “Mighty” Mike Fahey, who lays out all the details on a new, exciting (and expensive) 1:6 scale product line—miniature standup arcade games. So… crack Joe’s tiny knuckles, line up some quarters, and prepare for all-night arcade game action HERE!!!

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G.I. Joe Club Announces Plans To Release “Really Limited” Set of 4 “Black and White TV Edition” 12-Inch Figures As Their New 2018 Club Exclusives

Remember watching all of those great color TV shows back in 1964? Probably not. While “test programs” had been broadcast in color as far back as 1953, few people living at that time (outside of those working for one of the “Big 3” networks) ever had an opportunity to view them that way. Why? The reason was primarily financial. There were countless hours of content being produced, and at the time, it was simply too cost-prohibitive to film and/or air all of that new programming (or commercials) in full color. As a result, cheaper black-n-white (B&W) television broadcasting (and B&W television sets) remained the industry standard until the mid-1960s, and the first images children ever saw of Hasbro’s new “Movable Fighting Man,” were aired solelyin black and white.

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As First Seen on TV!— The 4 new GijOEs coming from the GIJCC in 2018 will have NO colors (other than black, white and related gray tones) in their figures, uniforms, or coffin box packaging. This final “colorless” effect will either result in drab, dull and boring figures…or it will look absolutely STUNNING (we’re betting on the latter). Final judgement, as always, will rest “within the (color-blind) eyes of the beholder.” (Photo: GIJCC)

Indeed, while Hasbro’s initial run of GIjOE TV commercials in 1964 provided viewers with tantalizing glimpses of its new line of figures, uniforms, equipment and packaging, fans had to use their imaginations to envision all of the colors that were NOT being shown on their monochromatic B&W television screens. It wasn’t until all those children were able to visit their local toy stores in person, that they were finally able to SEE the panoply of COLORS comprising Hasbro’s wonderful new world—of GIjOE.

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WHOA. This is a COLOR photo?!— The GIJCC swears that this photo is in FULL COLOR. It’s the heads that are in B&W. What the..? AMAZING! (Photo: GIJCC)

To commemorate GIjOE’s first TV appearance, some 53+ years later, the GIjOE Collector’s Club (GIJCC) has announced that they will be releasing (4) new vintage-style 12″ GIjOE action figures—wholly devoid of color. Their skin tones, painted hair and eyes, uniforms and equipment, even all of their boxes, will be produced and “toned” in simple shades of black, gray and white. No other colors will be utilized at all. According to an official club post on the GIJCC website:

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“Just a couple of notes: Yes, everything will be in gray tones. This is a set of figures, not just a one-off, so they will display well together. In addition to the Action Soldier, there will be an Action Sailor, Action Pilot, and Action Marine as well in this series. You will get the 12″ gray-tone figure wearing shorts and the accessories and box are the add-ons that complete the set. These will be REALLY limited. Yes, it’s a novelty, but something that harkens back to the ORIGINAL days of Joe as he was first seen. The box images came off of the original commercials. The box is the width of the talker boxes to accommodate the accessories.” —GIJOE Collector’s Club

In the past, the GIJOE Collector’s Club has produced 12″ GIjOE exclusive figures with NO colors in (or on) them at all (i.e. clear, see-through plastic), with a green head (HERE) and even one that glows-in-the-dark (HERE), but this new idea for 2018 is something truly unique—a full line of 4 vintage-style figures completely devoid of color save for tones that were visible on an old black-n-white television in 1964. WOW.

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B&W Uniform Sneak Peak Pic—According to a quote from the club, “A ‘black and white’ G.I. Joe Action Soldier will need a ‘black and white’ field jacket!” Hey guys, you can throw away that Pantone book. You won’t need it for this job! (Photo: GIJCC)

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This teaser ad from the GIJCC newsletter provides a mock-up of what the final Action Soldier should look like. We look forward to seeing the real thing! (Photo: Paul Michel)

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks go out to taphatt2012 for the video clip shown above, and to the GIjOE Collector’s Club for their continued efforts to bring new and exciting 12″ GIjOE products to an ever-eager market of collectors. Some fans will quickly peg these upcoming figures as “must have” collectibles, while others may view them another way altogether. So far, WE like what we see VERY much. Stand by for more intel as it becomes available!

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No More Toy Stores? Toys ‘R Us Going Bankrupt

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Going, Going… GONE? Someday very soon, a simple trip to a neighborhood toy store may become a nostalgic memory from America’s past. In yet another startling measure of the growing number of consumers switching over to online purchasing, retailing giant, Toys ‘R Us, recently announced that it is seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Though safe for now, all of the company’s colorful stores may soon be shuttered—and completely empty. (Photo: gettyimages)

Bottom Line: Toys ‘R Us (TRU), has officially filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection (see complete details HERE). Sadly, we saw this event coming along YEARS ago. As more and more consumers have chosen to “shop” for bargains online and purchase their toys on the internet, web-retailing powerhouses such as Amazon and Walmart (and many, many others) have continued to drain away TRU’s financial stability and perilously erode its market share.

Indeed, TRU’s once-dominant, nation-wide chain of “brick-n-mortar” toy stores is now facing a dire and uncertain future. Faithful readers of The Joe Report will recall we first reported on TRU’s mounting fiscal woes waaaay back in 2014 (see that story HERE), and since that time, the company’s situation has only continued to weaken. It’s too soon to “call the game” on this sad story, and we’ll continue to monitor developments, but if current market trends are any indication, we don’t expect news to improve for America’s once mightiest—but now FAILING—toy chain.

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Blimey! New UK Royal Mail Stamps To Commemorate 1960s-70s Vintage Toys Including (Yes!) Action Man

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Geronimo! This new 2017 stamp from the UK Royal Mail commemorates vintage toys, specifically the 1960s Action Man “Red Devil” paratrooper figure. (Image: UK Royal Mail)

HOT OFF THE WIRES: According to an article posted today over on the Sun.co.uk:

“The series of ten toys – all made in the UK – will be released on August 22. They are available to buy from 7,000 post offices across the UK and on the Royal Mail website.

Royal Mail spokesman Philip Parker said ahead of the launch:

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“British toymakers enjoyed a reputation for quality and innovation. These nostalgic stamps celebrate 10 wonderful toys that have endured through the decades.”

Characters in the set feature the nation’s favourite toys from the past 100 years. These include Sindy dolls, which were launched in Britain in 1963, and Action Man, which first appeared on the market in 1966. The iconic Red Devil Action Man figure will feature in the stamps.

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Which of these vintage toys do YOU remember? (Photo: UK Royal Mail)

The Royal Mail website is offering a selection of products ranging from £4.50 to £29.99. Sets available include postcards, just the stamp set and and a framed version. Some enthusiasts can pick up a Classic Toys Edenbridge First Day Cover for £8.22 , which is personalised with the recipient’s name and address and cancelled with a Toys Hill, Edenbridge postmark. There’s also an Edinburgh First Day Cover – but both are only available until August 22.”

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Holy, Ephemera! Sometimes, the brochures and “press packs” that accompany the release of new postage stamps can be more exciting to own than the stamps themselves. (Photo: UK Royal Mail)

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Return to Sender? NO WAY! These “First Day of Issue” envelopes feature all 10 vintage toy stamps and will ROCK your ephemera and philatelic collections’ world. Crikey! (Photo: UK Royal Mail)

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Action Man’s Been Framed! Perhaps the most displayable and desirable collectible of this set would be the 10 FRAMED stamps. Yes, they’ll mail them to you already professionally matted and framed. All you have to do is hang them up—and ENJOY! (Photo: UK Royal Mail)

Bottom Line: These are tiny but VERY desirable collectibles for all fans of GIjOE and Action Man. Fans in the U.S. and elsewhere may have to order their stamps online, but that’s a no-brainer in this day and age. Simply go HERE now, mate. Go, ACTION MAN!

 

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Rudy Panucci’s Video Recap of 2017’s Kentuckiana GIjOE Toy Expo Held August 5th in Louisville, KY

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Toy Expert and Pop-Culture Blogger, Rudy Panucci (Photo: Rudy Panucci)

Bottom Line: Here’s another great video from the MASTER of pop-cult videos—Mr. Rudy Pannuci! Our sincerest thanks to Rudy for taking the time to cover this year’s EXPO and for his production of yet another superb video review. Be sure to leave any comments or compliments you may have for this famous “PoPCulteer” on his blog found HERE and keep up-to-date with future Rudy videos by subscribing to his YouTube channel HERE. Go, Rudy! Go, JOE!

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4th Annual Kentuckiana GIjOE Toy Expo to be Held This Saturday in Louisville, KY——Don’t Miss It!

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Bottom Line: Hosted by the Kentuckiana Division of the GIjOE Collector’s Club, this exciting “toy expo” will be held in the beautiful city of Louisville, KY on this coming Saturday from 10AM to 3PM. Admission is just $2 and “early birds” can get in at 9AM for $5. You can bet your favorite footlocker that this show will be chocked FULL of great GIjOEs and a whole mess’a great fans and collectors. So… if YOU love GIjOEs and other vintage toys, YOU need to be in Louisville this Saturday. Gas up your ol’ family wagon and… git ‘er done! Go HERE for complete info.