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Hasbro Seeks More Action in Marvel Deal

January 10, 2006|Leslie Earnest | Times Staff Writer

Will Spidey Sense be a match for the Force?

That's certainly the hope of toy maker Hasbro Inc., which Monday announced a licensing deal with Marvel Entertainment Inc. -- home to Spider-Man, the X-Men and Captain America -- to make toys, games and other products based on its more than 5,000 characters.

The deal could help Hasbro fill a void created by the end of the "Star Wars" movies and the slowing of its lucrative toy tie-in with that franchise, said analyst Margaret Whitfield of Ryan Beck & Co.

Hasbro would pay a minimum of $205 million in royalty and service fees, including $100 million to be paid upfront. Payments of $70 million and $35 million would follow upon the anticipated release of two more "Spider-Man" movies.

The five-year licensing agreement, which is subject to its clearing antitrust hurdles, would enable Pawtucket, R.I.-based Hasbro to develop action figures and other products like those it has cranked out for the "Star Wars" films.

Hasbro's first Marvel-themed products would arrive next January. Its licensing pact with "Star Wars" continues until 2018 but it won't be fueled by further movie releases.

Mattel Inc. of El Segundo appears to have the action figure edge this year with products tied to the forthcoming "Superman" remake and Pixar Animation Studios' "Cars," Whitfield said. "Hopefully, in 2007, Hasbro will be back in business with 'Spider-Man.' "

To ink the deal with Hasbro, New York-based Marvel said, it ended a licensing agreement with Toy Biz Worldwide a year earlier than expected. As a result, Marvel will take a one-time cash charge of $13 million to $16 million in the fiscal fourth quarter of 2005.

As for the price of the new deal? Well, as Hasbro itself might say, citing one of its most popular current products: a Monopoly can be a valuable thing.

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