The last logo utilized by Marvel Toys under the Toy Biz brand
|Founded||1988 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada|
|Products||Games, toys and children's vehicles; dolls and stuffed toys|
Toy Biz (formerly stylized as ToyBiz and later re-branded as Marvel Toys) was an American toy company, a subsidiary of Marvel Entertainment, best known for producing toys, mainly action figures of licensed brands and characters.
The company originated in Montreal, Quebec, as Charan Toys. In 1988, Charan Toys was renamed to ToyBiz and became an American firm. In 1990, it obtained the master toy licence for Marvel Entertainment Group, and by 1993 would partially be owned by Marvel. In 1998, ToyBiz merged with Marvel Entertainment Group to form Marvel Enterprises, with ToyBiz becoming its main toy subsidiary. In 2005, Marvel Enterprises was renamed to Marvel Entertainment, and Toy Biz began to replace "Toy Biz" with "Marvel Toys" on some of its figure lines to reflect the name change.
Due to Marvel Entertainment's bankruptcy, Hasbro purchased the rights to the master toy licence for Marvel owned characters, with the first products releasing in January 2007. Marvel Toys would attempt to survive with non-Marvel owned characters throughout 2007, though the website for Marvel Toys became inactive in late 2007, effectively marking the demise of the subsidiary.
Late 1800s to 1997
Charan Toys (Canadian company)
The 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. 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. 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 Toy Biz and a key to its success.
Toy Biz (American company)
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. In 1993, Toy Biz made an unusual move by getting an "exclusive, perpetual, royalty-free license" to Marvel Characters for 46 percent of Toy Biz equity. Avi Arad joined Toy Biz that same year for salary and a 10% stake in the corporation. He also ended up heading Marvel's animated production. 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.
With all the cost controls, special licensing agreement and good talent, Toy Biz 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 Toy Biz's chairman of the board position in 1995. The company thus made Revlon fashion dolls and Coleman toy camping equipment for instance. Toy Biz 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. In 1995, Toy Biz 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.
Toy Biz started up its Classic Heroes candy division in 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. Perelman started to make a bid for full control of the corporation in 1996 following Marvel's financial difficulties. 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 funds 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. 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.
Icahn fought to take control of the company from Perelman. 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. 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. Estimates of Perelman's profit on the deal vary widely. Chuck Rozanski estimates that Perelman made $200–400 million off Marvel; Forbes thinks he made nothing; and the judge in the Marvel bankruptcy trial estimated he made $280 million plus various tax advantages. 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.
1998 to 2007
Toy Biz as a subsidiary
Marvel Entertainment Group proposed a merger with Toy Biz in 1997, and in June 1998, Toy Biz and Marvel Entertainment Group were merged to create Marvel Enterprises, to bring Marvel out of bankruptcy. Toy Biz became a division of the new company.
In 1999, Toy Biz ventured into professional wrestling. The World Wrestling Federation (WWF) was quickly becoming one of the highest grossing licenses at toy retail, leading Toy Biz to acquire the master toy license of America's second largest wrestling promotion, World Championship Wrestling (WCW). After two years, the license deal was cut short, due to WCW being purchased by the WWF in 2001.
In 2001, Marvel Enterprises licensed the rights to the Toy Biz name to a Hong Kong-based toy manufacturer, Toy Biz Worldwide Ltd., with the two companies holding a manufacturing partnership. Toy Biz designed the toys, Toy Biz Worldwide manufactured most (but not all) of them, and Marvel Enterprises distributed. The concept being that Marvel Enterprises could instead focus less on manufacturing, and more on design, marketing and distribution.
In September 2005, Marvel Enterprises changed its name to Marvel Entertainment to reflect the corporation's expansion into creating the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As a result of this change, Toy Biz would replace some branding of its figure lines, and replace it with a 'Marvel Toys' logo instead. This only applied to non-Marvel Comics products, as Marvel Comics characters would still continue to use the Toy Biz branding.
It was announced company would hold the master toy license for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA). The company was co-founded by former WCW wrestler, Jeff Jarrett, aiming to become America's second biggest wrestling promotion, behind WWE. The first set of figures was released in 2005, and was one of the first lines to not use the Toy Biz branding.
Marvel Entertainment licensing agreement to Hasbro
In January 2006, Marvel Entertainment signed a five-year licensing agreement with Hasbro Inc. for $205 million, giving Hasbro the right to make toys and games based on Marvel Comic licenses, starting on the 1st of January 2007. As a result of this, Marvel Entertainment prematurely terminated its agreement with Toy Biz Worldwide Ltd, by a year. As a result of the early termination, Marvel Entertainment paid Toy Biz Worldwide a penalty of between $13-16 million USD. Marvel Entertainment officially stopped using the "Toy Biz" branding and name from the 1st of January 2007, and the division completely became Marvel Toys.
Throughout 2007, the division struggled to stay afloat without the Marvel Comic characters. The company introduced a series called the Legendary Comic Book Heroes - making action figures of non-Marvel Comic characters, though it suffered with poor sales. The company also furthered its TNA Wrestling, Code Lyoko and Curious George lines. Marvel Entertainment quietly began to close the division. In late 2007, the company's website went down, effectively ending Marvel Toys.[not in citation given]
- Avi Arad
- Marvel Legends
- Toy Biz v. United States, a court case that determined that Toy Biz action figures were toys, not dolls.
- "Toy Biz, Inc. -- Company History". fundinguniverse.com. Retrieved 12 April 2011.
- Raviv, Dan (April 2002). Comic Wars. Broadway Books. ISBN 0-7679-0830-9.
- "Toy Biz, Inc. Prospectus". NYSE.com. New York Stock Exchange. Archived from the original on 2 December 2013. Retrieved 10 May 2011.
- 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.
- Raviv, Dan (2002). Comic Wars: Marvel's Battle For Survival. Sea Cliff: Heroes Books. pp. 38–39. ISBN 0-7679-0830-9. Archived from the original on 2007-05-11.
- 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. Archived from the original on May 11, 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-27.
- Miller, Matthew (2005). "Don't Mess With Me". The Forbes 400. Forbes Publishing. Archived from the original on May 11, 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-29.
- Norris, Floyd (29 April 1997). "Marvel Proposes a Merger With Toy Biz". The New York Times.
- LLC, Figure Realm,. "WCW (Toy Biz) Action Figure Checklist". www.figurerealm.com. Retrieved 2018-03-26.
- "Marvel Reviews Synergies in Toy and Toy Licensing Operations". Retrieved 2018-03-30.
- "TNA Press Release On iMPACT! | Inside Pulse". insidepulse.com. Retrieved 2018-03-26.
- "Code Lyoko News". 30 July 2006. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
- "Marvel, Toy Biz Worldwide Part Ways". Animation Magazine. 2006-01-09. Retrieved 2018-03-26.
- "Marvel Toys - Home". October 31, 2007. Archived from the original on October 31, 2007. Retrieved 2018-03-26.