Between the two of them, Mattel and Hasbro pretty much own all your childhood nostalgia. Mattel has Hot Wheels, He-Man, WWE Toys, and, of course Barbie, while Hasbro has the Transformers, Pound Puppies, Nerf, Disney, and My Little Pony. And soon all of them could be under one roof, since the companies are reportedly looking into a merger.
It’s not a done deal, but Hasbro has supposedly approached Mattel about the idea. It would be a tricky deal not least because it would draw the attention of antitrust regulators about a potential monopoly. A deal might hinge on the companies selling a few toy lines to competitors. It might also make some of their licensees unhappy. For example, Hasbro has a deal with Disney that includes Marvel, while Mattel has an exclusive deal with DC that includes their DC Super Hero Girls line. It’s difficult to see Marvel’s notorious CEO, Isaac Perlmutter, a former toy executive himself, happy that DC might take time and money away from his toy lines.
That said, Mattel might need the merger. They’ve had a tough few holiday seasons, and they’ve had to reinvent Barbie to salvage their flagship brand. They’ve also been unable to follow Hasbro to Hollywood, which has put them behind their competitor.
Just to add to the problem, they’re both afraid of being crushed by Lego, which is outgrowing both of them. Hasbro might see itself as needing more major brands in theaters and on shelves to compete with the Dutch plastic brick concern, and Mattel might not see itself as having much choice. We’ll likely find out this year if the deal will go through.