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Barbie, Cinderella, and Elsa Back Together Again With Mattel

Mattel Beats Rival Toymaker Hasbro to Win Back Mickey Mouse License

Shares of Mattel (MAT) stock were up during early trading yesterday after word broke that the toymaker had won back the rights to the Disney (DIS) license. The company so well known for Barbie dolls now returns Cinderella and Frozen’s Elsa to its lineup. It was back in 2016 when rival Hasbro (HAS) had secured the rights to make Disney toys.

That loss was a bitter pill for Mattel to swallow, and the company has since endured multiple changes of chief executive. Market observers also say it was a hit to the company’s image and finances at the time, as Mattel lost $440 million in revenue. New leadership revived the Barbie brand and focused on mending partnerships with movie studios, all while remaining committed to winning back Disney.

What’s Next for Both Toymakers After the Disney Shift?

The team that oversaw Barbie’s makeover will manage the Disney account. Mattel is set to begin selling Disney toys again in 2023, and it’s not clear how much the company paid to secure the license.

Meanwhile, Hasbro is going through a number of changes after longtime CEO Brian Goldner passed away last year. The company beat Mattel in annual sales under his watch and tried unsuccessfully to buy out its rival. While Hasbro hasn’t said anything about the Disney license or its Frozen toy line, the company maintains strong licenses for Star Wars and Indiana Jones toys, which are technically Disney properties by way of Lucasfilm.

Mattel’s Moves Freeze Hasbro Out From Disney

People in the toy industry argue the Frozen license and Disney princess line struggled to gain traction under Hasbro ownership. Some analysts say the company had hoped the license would help to grow its catalog of toys marketed to girls. Others note Hasbro’s upcoming My Little Pony line will help lessen the sting following a recent Netflix (NFLX) movie.

Market observers give credit to Mattel’s restructuring process that occurred before it won back the Disney license — also noting Barbie’s rebound from lagging sales numbers in the early 2010s. Generally speaking, the company began focusing more on action figures, vehicles, and dolls, drawing Disney’s attention and meaning Barbie can throw on some Mickey ears for the time being.

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ABOUT Meg Richardson Meg Richardson is a writer specializing in markets, technology, and personal finance. She loves breaking down seemingly complex ideas and making them readable and interesting for everyone. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia University. When she is not writing about finance, she enjoys running in Central Park and drawing cartoons.

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