In what’s likely to be one of the biggest announcements to come out of this year’s New York Toy Fair, Hasbro has been named as the master toy licensee for Saban’s Power Rangers. Hasbro will design, produce and bring to market a wide variety of toys and role-play items inspired by the long-running TV and movie series.
Beginning in spring 2019, Hasbro — which became the leading toy seller worldwide last year — will release toys based on the popular brand, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2018. The toy manufacturer will control the master toy license for Power Rangers worldwide, with the exception of Japan and a small number of other Asian markets, where the franchise will remain with longtime partner Bandai.
“We’re particularly excited to partner together to help reignite and drive this brand for the next 25 years and more,” Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner tells Heat Vision about the deal. “It’s a partnership that is very collaborative and feels very good to us to be in business with Saban and to help power Power Rangers.”
The partnership is also, in part, the result of a long friendship between Goldner and Haim Saban, the creator of Power Rangers and founder of Saban Brands, which stretches all the way back to the earliest day of the Power Rangers franchise.
“Our friendship started, as a matter of fact, when Brian left the advertising agency he worked at and moved to Bandai, which had the license at the time,” Saban explains. (Goldner went on to become the president of Bandai Namco Entertainment America in 1997, a role he stayed in for three years; the company controlled the toy license for Power Rangers during that period.) “Since then, we’ve been in touch on and off, on different subject matters. From time to time, Brian would say to me, ‘So when are you coming to Hasbro?’ (Laughs.) This is just the culmination of events that have been happening for some time. We’re just beyond thrilled.”
As part of the new partnership, Hasbro will add teams of workers dedicated to the brand to its West Coast offices, allowing for “hourly and daily” collaboration with the crew at Saban in developing new product. Both Goldner and Saban praise the ease of collaboration between the companies already, with the latter joking that “both teams seem to get along so well that they don’t need Brian or me. The two of us have other things that we do other than Power Rangers, even though it might not seem like it. Brian is running a multimillion-dollar toy company!”
The two also agree on the potential for the partnership to grow the Power Rangers brand in multiple areas as the Power Rangers show heads into its 26th season on Nickelodeon. (The network this week renewed the series through 2021.) “We’re particularly excited to introduce the brand to the youngest Power Rangers fans, but we’ve also talked for many years about the growth and development of the fan economy,” Goldner says, referring to the growth market of the older fan base. “We do believe that fans today have more interest in, and more access to, fan-oriented products. The online retailing world allows us to retail products at higher price points, along with conventions, to move product that are aimed at older fans. You can only imagine with the amazing creativity of the Power Rangers show, as well as Haim’s own creativity, that this allows for some very exciting things as we move forward.”
Although Goldner is careful not to spill any secrets about future releases from Hasbro, he does say that the company will work with legacy material from the franchise’s history and also keep up to date with the show’s latest incarnations as they happen. “I think there’s a lot of love for the classic characters,” he admits. “I was around in the first years when Haim and Saban decided to renew the concept every year, and we could see how it renewed interest every year. It allowed the creative to change and the brand to evolve. We want to continue to evolve and reinvent. We’re very dedicated to continuing to evolve and rededicate the brand every year.”
Saban, meanwhile, expresses his excitement about the future of Power Rangers — which he describes as a “three-way partnership between Saban, Nickelodeon and Hasbro” — by underscoring the importance of his latest partners. “Toys are absolutely essential to Power Rangers,” he says. “Toys are basically the leading merchandising and licensing partner that we have. It’s very important.”