Toy company Mattel has lost the rights to many of their DC Comics-inspired toy lines, it has been announced. A key part of any major movie franchise release is the tie-in merchandise and with both grown-up collectors recoiling in horror at the thought of removing an action figure from its packaging and kids bugging their parents to buy them a movie’s entire toy range for Christmas, there’s plenty of money to be made by both studios and manufacturers. Advances in technology have also meant that today’s products are more lifelike than ever before and come with bundles of exciting features.
Like many traditional forms of business however, the toy industry has also been negatively impacted by developments in technology. The ever-increasing amount of digital products available to children of a young age has hurt the sales of action figures and the like and the closure of retailers such as Toys R Us, due to a growing preference for shopping online, means that there are less outlets dedicated to selling the merchandise. These factors have affected virtually all manufacturing companies in the industry, however Mattel has experienced a particularly poor year with declining sales and falling stocks.
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Mattel’s misfortune has now been compounded by the announcement that they have lost the rights to much of their DC Comics output. As reported in the LA Times, Mattel will no longer produce boys’ action toys, remote control vehicles, water toys, games or puzzles for DC, with those rights transferring over to Spin Master Corp. as of spring 2020. Mattel will, however, retain the rights in both the pre-school and girls’ toy categories. This news comes after it was revealed back in October that Mattel had suffered a 15% drop this year in sales of its partner brands, a loss it partly attributed to lower sales of DC products in the boys’ and girls’ categories.
As sales are faring poorly, it’s perhaps not surprising that DC is looking for a new partner when it comes to their merchandise. And with the status of the DCEU film franchise also looking to be in limbo, and movies planned both within and outside of the series, the switch is another sign of the transition period DC is currently going through at Warner Bros.
However, it perhaps shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that DC toy sales have been on the slide in recent years. Many would blame Mattel’s woes at least partly on today’s youth being more interested in modern, digital toys than traditional ones but while you might expect Mattel and DC to be evolving their business model to try and keep up with the modern market, this report demonstrates that the DC line is actually still split into “boy” and “girl” products. In a franchise with Wonder Woman as its most successful movie (although Aquaman may soon have something to say about that), it seems strange to market any DC toys to a specific gender and such a backwards approach surely risks pushing 50% of customers away from buying the toys. The situation will no doubt become clearer in 2020 when DC Comics‘ partnership with a new company begins.
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Source: LA Times
Key Release Dates
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
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