Moving to take greater advantage of the ongoing baby boomlet, Walt Disney Co. on Monday handed Mattel Inc. the sole responsibility for making and marketing Disney-branded infant and preschool toys.
The new licensing agreement with Mattel effectively cancels earlier pacts Disney had with rival toy makers Hasbro Inc. of Pawtucket, R.I., Illco Toy Co. of New York and other manufacturers for its preschool line, and gives Mattel a plum assignment that could propel it to prominence in the competitive and growing market for infant and toddler toys.
Neither Disney nor Mattel would place a value on the licensing agreement, but analysts predicted that it would be "significant" and could give Mattel the push it needs to unseat Hasbro as the leading manufacturer of preschool toys.
The deal calls for Mattel to introduce a new coordinated line of Disney toys.
Rick Anguilla of Toy & Hobby World Magazine said the contract would allow Disney to work with a single company, rather than with several, in order to develop a unified strategy to promote all its preschool toys.
According to Anguilla, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and the rest of Disney's cartoon characters rank with Sesame Street figures as the most recognized by young children. The deal, he said, gives Mattel a chance to unseat Hasbro, which has the license for the Sesame Street toys, as the largest toy manufacturer for the preschool set.
Mattel said its first Disney toys would be introduced in January and would be in stores by mid-1988.