Marvel Toys

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Marvel Toys
Industry Toys
Predecessors Charan Industries Inc.
Successors Marvel Entertainment
Founded 1988
Defunct 2008
Products Games, Toys & Children's Vehicles; Dolls & Stuffed Toys
Owners Ike Permullter
Avi Arad
Website Marvel.com/News/Toys

Marvel Toys (formerly Toy Biz and Charan Toys) was a merged toy division of Marvel Entertainment. ToyBiz originated in Montreal, Quebec as Charan Industries's American brand. Reincorporated in 1988, ToyBiz became an American firm. Toy Biz became a major producer of Marvel character toys and partially owned by Ronald O. Perelman's Marvel Entertainment Group in 1993.[1] The toy division of Marvel was shut down during Marvel's bankruptcy in 2008. The division was shut because Marvel Entertianment could not afford to have any in-house manufacturers any longer. Both Hasbro and Jakks Pacific purchased the trademarks to some of the characters and brands when the company folded. [2]


History[edit]

Canadian company[edit]

ToyBiz's original forerunner was a Canadian company, Chantex, Inc., started in the late 1800s. Started by the Zuckerman family, the grandson, Sol Zuckerman, grew the business in 1961 from $.16 million in sales to sales of $4.5 million in 1980.[1]

Zuckerman became a merger and acquisition executive during the 1980s. In 1980, Chantex merged with Earl Takefman's Randim Marketing, Inc., a school supply manufacturer and wholesaler to become Charan Industries Inc. In 1984, Charan went public with annual revenues at $20 million. Its Charan Toy, Inc. subsidiary became a leading licensing toy company in 1985 with nine top ten toys Canadian rights including Cabbage Patch Kids.[1]

Charan used a very broad approach to implementing its brands across all lines. Charan acquired Cooper hockey equipment brand in the Mid-1980s. Charan took this brand and used in within Charan's children's wear division. This approach would move onto the operations of ToyBiz and a key to its success.[1]

American company[edit]

In the late 1980s, Charan Industries sold the toy subsidiary as Zuckerman did not see the value of the strategies. Becoming an American-owned company, Charan Toys was renamed Toy Biz. In 1990, the company was purchased by Isaac Perlmutter, who became chairman with Joseph Ahern brought in as chief executive officers. Ahern was focused on cost control and the bottom-line by leasing a headquarters in New York City and a warehouse in Arizona and outsourced China manufacturing.[1] In 1993, ToyBiz made an unusual move by getting an "exclusive, perpetual, royalty-free license" to Marvel Characters for 46 percent of ToyBiz equity.[3] Avi Arad joined ToyBiz that same year for salary and a 10% stake in the corporation. He also ended up heading Marvel's animated production.[1] Toy Biz, Inc. reorganized with Perlmutter continue owning the original Toy Biz, Inc., which is renamed Zib, Inc. Zib held its foreign sales affiliate, Toy Biz International Ltd., a Hong Kong corporation and Perlmutter's share of the new Toy Biz, Inc.[4]

With all the cost controls, special licensing agreement and good talent, ToyBiz in 1995 had 24 percent profit margins which was better than Mattel's margin. The deal with Marvel opened up other segments of the MacAndrews & Forbes conglomerate owned by Ronald O. Perelman. Perelman, himself, assumed ToyBiz's chairman of the board position in 1995. The company thus made Revlon fashion dolls and Coleman toy camping equipment for instance.[1] ToyBiz continued licensing outside brands, including Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess action figures based on the Action Pack television series shown on many New World television stations. Also, agreements with Gerber and NASCAR were acquired. These commanded greater sale prices than most other trademarks.[1]

In 1995, ToyBiz acquired Spectra Star, Inc. and Quest Aerospace Education, Inc., both toy companies. Spectra made kites and yo-yos. Small model rockets were made by Quest.[1]

ToyBiz started up its Classic Heroes candy division in early 1996. Classic Heroes would sell candy/toy combinations using mainly Marvel characters. The company also entered the electronic learning aids (ELA) segment of the toy industry in 1996 with a licensing agreement with Apple Computer.[1]

Perelman started to make a bid for full control of the corporation in 1996 following Marvel's financial difficulties.[1]

In August 1996, Marvel decided to create Marvel Studios, an incorporation of Marvel Films, due to the sale of New World Communications Group, Inc., Marvel's fellow Andrews Group subsidiary in film and television stations, to News Corporation/Fox. Filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to raise money to finance the new corporation, Marvel, Isaac Perlmutter's Zib, Inc. and Avi Arad sold Toy Biz stocks, which Marvel had started and took public in February 1995.[4][5]

Perelman attempted to save the company by offering to have the Andrews Group to purchasing additional shares issue for $350 million in November 1996 (Andrews Plan). Meanwhile, Carl Icahn started buy Marvel's bonds at 20% of their value and moved to block Perelman's plan. As a part of the Andrews plan, the Marvel companies filed for bankruptcy on December 27, 1996. The noteholders led by Icahn blocked this plan.[3]

Icahn fought to take control of the company from Perelman.[6] Icahn took control of Marvel as its chairman on June 20, 1997. Bankruptcy proceedings continued with multi-way arguments between Perelman, Icahn, Toy Biz and the banks.[3] Both men failed as Toy Biz owners Ike Perlmutter and Avi Arad snatched Marvel from Perelman and Icahn in order to protect their own financial interests as the banks sided with them.[6] Estimates of Perelman's profit on the deal vary widely. Chuck Rozanski estimates that Perelman made $200–400 million off Marvel;[7] Forbes thinks he made nothing;[8] and the judge in the Marvel bankruptcy trial estimated he made $280 million plus various tax advantages.[6] Icahn was ousted by the bankruptcy judge as Marvel's chairman in December 1997 naming a trustee to run Marvel while discussion continued between the various factions.[3] ToyBiz and Marvel were merged into Marvel Enterprises to bring it out of bankruptcy in June 1998 with ToyBiz becoming a division of the new company.[3]

Closure[edit]

In 2008, Marvel Entertainment shut Marvel Toys down. At the time of closure, Marvel only had three licences. TNA Wrestling were acquired by Jakks and Legendary Comic Heroes were acquired by Hasbro. Curious George was left without a manufacturer.

Product lines[edit]

Popular proprietary[edit]

  • Baby Tumbles Surprise
  • Baby So Real
  • Wild and Wacky Painter
  • Battle Builders[1]

Early DC action figures[edit]

This very short-lived toyline was notable for its unusually bad sculpts and unworkable action features. Lex Luthor with a "Kryptonite punch" amounted to little more than him punching his own forehead, a water spraying Green Lantern and a reused Mr. Freeze originally seen with Kenner's Super Powers Collection line. The sculpts for certain characters' action figures also seemed to be from the sculpts from the former Super Powers line as well, but as stated were poor sculpts in comparison to the Kenner versions from years before. They also produced the first Batman movie figures notably Batman, the Joker and Bob the Goon.

Early Marvel action figures[edit]

In 1990 Toy Biz began producing Marvel figures, the first was a series released that year called "Marvel Super Heroes" which included popular heroes and villains Captain America, Daredevil, Dr. Doom, Dr. Octopus, Silver Surfer, Hulk, Spider-Man, and The Punisher. There were also new versions of the same figures including The Captain/U.S. Agent, Armored Daredevil, and The Punisher (with brown trenchcoat).

Late that year they began plans to release a line entirely consisting of X-Men oriented figures. In early 1991 they released the first X-Men line (though three figures were X-Factor characters at that time) consisting of figures in the likeness the characters had at that time, the heroes in the line were Cyclops (then-current X-Factor uniform), Nightcrawler, Storm, Colossus, Wolverine (brown costume), and Archangel (like Cyclops, a member of X-Factor). The three villains in the line were X-Men's primary antagonist Magneto, Juggernaut, and X-Factor's primary antagonist Apocalypse. Following the first series' success a second series was released in 1992, and in the meantime some of the first series characters in the comics had since switched to different outfits; this led to a third series in 1993 which included a newer Wolverine who had switched back to his tiger stripe outfit, and a new Apocalypse, as he had since begun to be drawn bulkier, and a fourth series followed soon after, which featured a new Cyclops in his newer X-Men outfit.

The third and fourth series of X-Men figures helped to establish what direction Toy Biz would go, and later on, as Marvel's characters gained animated series and more popularity, Toy Biz produced lines and better detailed molds for Marvel Heroes, by way of the existing X-Men line, and expanding to animated lines focusing on Spider-Man, Hulk, Fantastic Four and Silver Surfer cartoon figures and out of these X-Men Evolution action figures turned out to be the most popular ones. Although a cartoon never existed for the property, Toy Biz produced a line for the Ghost Rider comic book. Eventually, Toy Biz would launch a Spider-Man Classic and Marvel Legends line which would greatly improve the sculpting and detail of the animated and comic book incarnations of Marvel's toy presence.

Video Game Super Stars[edit]

From 1997 to 2001, Toy Biz release the Video Game Super Stars series,[9] based on some popular games of the 90's, basically based on Nintendo and Capcom characters (with the exception of the Tomb Raider toys). Eight toylines were released:

Spider-Man Classics and Marvel Legends[edit]

Toy Biz launched a new line, Spider-Man Classics, which featured the famous wall crawler and one of his most well-known modern foes, Venom, in brand-new sculpts with nearly 30 points of articulation, providing for the most realistically poseable Spider-Man figures ever. Marvel followed up the 4 figure wave with a second series, including Spider-Man ally Daredevil and villain Rhino, who was in several episodes of the Fox cartoon, and made for a bigger scaled figure when standing next to Spider-Man.

The success of Spider-Man Classics lead to a spinoff, Marvel Legends, which debuted with Marvel icons Captain America, Hulk, and Iron Man, and also included a fourth figure, Toad, with far less articulation; the figure was originally to be in a comic/movie two pack for an X-Men movie comparison line, but the Toad 2-pack never came out.

Marvel movies[edit]

As Marvel's franchises flourished, Toy Biz would handle the action figures for the films, as well: Hulk (later adapted to focus on his comic book exploits), Fantastic Four (the live action film and second animated series), and the X-Men and its sequels and an X-Men Classics line have all had Toy Biz action figures. The final Marvel related film to receive Toy Biz action figures was Fantastic Four.

Due to the rushed production, Toy Biz wasn't able to produce a dedicated line of figures for the third X-Men film, X-Men: The Last Stand; instead they chose to revive the cancelled X-Men Classics line.

Playsets[edit]

Toy Biz also focused on superhero playsets and props for Marvel, such as the Spider-Man stunt system, Hulk Hands (arm encasings that when knocked against surfaces produce sounds associated with the Hulk's thrashings and later adapted into Thing hands, as well as Thing Feet), Wolverine claw play gloves, Spider-Man silly string shooting gloves, and much more. Toy Biz would also release twelve inch (305 mm) deluxe sized rotoscoped figures based on its X2, Hulk, and various Spider-Man lines. Toy Biz also released 12" figures aimed at collectors with real fabric costumes. The first figures released were for the Spider-Man movie: Spider-Man, Green Goblin and Mary Jane. The next figures released were made into an official line, Marvel Studios; figures in this line were based on the Marvel movies. Figures were made of Blade, Wolverine, Daredevil, Punisher and Doctor Doom. Each figure in this line has the likeness of the actor who played the character in the movie.

Lord of the Rings[edit]

Toy Biz also managed to acquire the license for The Lord of the Rings toys, based on the New Line Cinema trilogy of films.

World Championship Wrestling[edit]

Toy Biz added to its wide selection of Marvel toys by adding WCW wrestling figures, based on many of its famous wrestlers. Most famously was their "Smash'n'Slam" and "Grip'n'Flip" series. The latter was most known for its "magnetic" wrestling figures, which was new. The "Smash'n'Slam" series were traditional wrestling action figures with stars like Goldberg (w/Rey Mysterio), The Giant (w/another Rey Mysterio), Kevin Nash (w/referee), Scott Hall (w/breakable table and mask), Randy Savage (w/Chair), Sting (w/Baseball Bat and Coat), Lex Luger (w/Breakable Police Barricade), Diamond Dallas Page (w/Breakable guardrail) and of course, Hollywood Hulk Hogan (w/Spraycan, Vest, Belt and Stairs). Another, and newer, Smash'n'Slam series called "Ringmasters" was later released with Bret Hart, Chris Jericho, Lex Luger and Hogan. All these figures had features that resembled their name. Lex Luger had an executioners mask, axe and a torture rack (info: Lex Luger's finishing manoeuvre was called the "Torture Rack"), while Hollywood Hulk Hogan came with a director's chair and all (resembling his Hollywood gimmick).

These figures were discontinued in 2001 as World Championship Wrestling folded.

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling[edit]

In 2004, Toy Biz acquired the license to make action figures based on TNA Wrestling. The first wave of figures was released in the Summer of 2005. Shortly thereafter, the Six Sided Ring with exclusive A.J. Styles and Series 2 were released. A series of 2-packs has been released. 2006 has seen the release of Series 3, Masked Fury, (each figure came with a replica mask of the wrestler), an NWA World Championship playset that features a mini ring and mini figures, another Six Sided ring with a new exclusive A.J. Styles, a repaint set featuring Elix Skipper, A.J. Styles, Jeff Hardy, and Ron Killings, and Series 4. The second set of 2-packs has also been released, each of these sets was modeled after a specific Pay-Per-View and came with a special CD-ROM with highlights, quizzes and bios from their feud, match and entrance videos.

At the 2006 San Diego Comic-Con, Toy Biz revealed new prototypes of Alex Shelley, Kevin Nash, Brother Ray, Brother Devon, Sabu, James Storm, Chris Harris, Samoa Joe, Hernendez, Eric Young, Petey Williams, Bobby Roode, Christian Cage, Lance Hoyt, Kip James, B. G. James, Scott Steiner, Jeff Jarrett, Matt Bentley, Rhino, Raven, Chris Sabin, Sonjay Dutt, the line's first female figure, Traci, and the Six Sides of Steel set that was shown at TNA Lockdown 2006.

In late 2006, the sixth singles wave had been released which included Christian Cage, Jay Lethal, Sonjay Dutt and Alex Shelley. The next year, 2007, saw the seventh and eighth wave of single figures being released.

Legendary Comic Book Heroes[edit]

Marvel Toys has not totally stopped making comic book based toys. In August 2007, Toy Biz (now called Marvel Toys) released toys based on non-Marvel and non-DC comic book characters. This toy line, called Legendary Comic Book Heroes, had been slated to feature three series in addition to a two-pack line, which will use the same format as Marvel Legends. The first two series as well as the first two-pack series had a staggered release throughout the month of August 2007. At Toy Fair 2008, It was confirmed that Legendary Comic Book Heroes will not be continuing, and that the third series has been canceled.

Units[edit]

  • Spectra Star, Inc. (1995) kites and yo-yos subsidiary
  • Quest Aerospace Education, Inc. (1995) small model rockets subsidiary
  • Classic Heroes (1996) candy/toy division[1]
Co owned with Marvel Entertainment Group

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Toy Biz, Inc. -- Company History". fundinguniverse.com. Retrieved 12 April 2011. 
  2. ^ http://uk.eonline.com/news/33907/marvel-files-for-bankruptcy
  3. ^ a b c d e Raviv, Dan (April 2002). Comic Wars. Broadway Books. ISBN 0-7679-0830-9. 
  4. ^ a b c "Toy Biz, Inc. Prospectus". NYSE.com. New York Stock Exchange. Retrieved 10 May 2011. 
  5. ^ Hass, Nancy (1996-08-11). "Marvel sets up division to put its own characters into movies". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). 
  6. ^ a b c Raviv, Dan (2002). Comic Wars: Marvel's Battle For Survival. Sea Cliff: Heroes Books. pp. 38–39. ISBN 0-7679-0830-9. 
  7. ^ Chuck Rozanski is a very well known purveyor of comic books and had a walk-on role in the Marvel fiasco. Chuck Rozanski. "Perelman's Team Nearly Destroyed the Entire World of Comics". Mile High Comics. Retrieved 2007-01-27. 
  8. ^ Miller, Matthew (2005). "Don't Mess With Me". The Forbes 400. Forbes Publishing. Retrieved 2007-01-29. 
  9. ^ "Toy Biz' Video Game Super Stars". figure-archive.net. Retrieved December 3, 2013. 

External links[edit]