Milton Bradley Co.
Milton Bradley Co.
headquarters: 443 shaker st.
east longmeadow, ma 01028 phone: (413)525-6411 fax: (413)525-1767 toll free: (888)836-7025 url: http://www.hasbro.com/
Milton Bradley, founded in 1860 and currently owned by Hasbro, Inc., develops and sells over 200 games and puzzles for both children and adults. Many of its best-known products are board, strategy, and word games that have endured over many decades: Battleship; The Game of Life; Scrabble; Twister; Yahtzee; Chutes and Ladders; Candy Land; and Hungry Hungry Hippos. Newer items that have been profitable for the company include games and 3D puzzles based on popular films such as Star Wars. Milton Bradley maintains an international presence through its huge parent company, Hasbro, Inc., the number-two toymaker in the United States.
Milton Bradley's annual sales are $540 million, a small percentage of parent Hasbro's $3.1 billion annual sales. In its 1996 annual report, Hasbro stated that its games divisions, Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers, continue to grow thanks to a strategy that leverages classic brands. In 1997, Hasbro noted that the games and puzzles category had remained flat during the year; but that classic brand names such as, Monopoly and Scrabble, continued to be strong sellers.
In 1998 CNN Financial News network reported that consumer interest in board games seemed to be waning. This was true despite the fact that combined sales of Milton Bradley's Scrabble, Parcheezi, and Yahtzee along with Parker Brothers' Monopoly board games had reached $1.3 billion a year, or about 40 percent of parent Hasbro's annual revenue. In response, Hasbro was planning a multi-million dollar advertising campaign to revive interest.
Milton Bradley, a lithographer living in Springfield, Massachusetts, opened his shop in 1860. He produced a very popular reproduction of a portrait of Abraham Lincoln during that year's presidential election. The portrait's popularity faded fast, however, when Lincoln grew the beard that he continued to wear for the rest of his life. Bradley was forced to create other items. One of those items was a board game called "The Checkered Game of Life." This game helped him stay afloat, as did a set of games he made for the Union Army during the Civil War. Throughout the rest of the century Milton Bradley produced a variety of traditional games, such as chess and checkers.
The 1900s found Milton Bradley expanding its business by inventing new games. The game Easy Money enjoyed a wide audience during the Great Depression. As television became a common household appliance, Milton Bradley began to market games, including the popular Concentration, that emerged from various television programs. It acquired Playskool Manufacturing, a preschool toy company, in 1968. The game Twister, in which players place their bodies onto the floor-sized playing board, with a result of increasingly odd positions, became the rage at both children's and college students' parties during the early 1970s.
In the 1980s Milton Bradley became the target of a hostile takeover attempt that proved to be unsuccessful. Following that, large amounts of its stock were bought by unknown parties. Milton Bradley agreed to sell to Hasbro, Inc. in 1984, so that they would avoid another takeover attempt. The new company, Hasbro Bradley Inc., became the largest toy company in the world and was strong enough to challenge Mattel, the leading toy-maker of the time.
The acquisition by Hasbro proved to be financially profitable for the two companies. However, it proved personally disastrous for the executives of Milton Bradley. Stephen Hassenfeld of Hasbro became president and CEO of the new company. James Shea, Jr. of Milton Bradley became chairman. Within only a few months, Shea resigned as chairman, and was replaced by Stephen Hassenfeld. His brother Alan, then replaced Stephen as president. The company was renamed Hasbro, Inc. in 1985, and Milton Bradley became a Hasbro division. Hasbro in turn was the target of an unsuccessful hostile takeover by its archrival Mattel in 1995.
In the mid-1990s Milton Bradley produced a line of more than 200 games for children and adults, including board and strategy games and puzzles. Some of its most famous traditional products continued to be profitable items: The Game of Life, the descendant of the game invented by Milton Bradley himself; Scrabble; Chutes and Ladders; and Yahtzee. New products were added such as 3D puzzles and toys based on Star Wars and Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Milton Bradley relied on its core products throughout its history. These were the games that endured the test of time. These traditional games, including The Game of Life (originally developed by Milton Bradley) and Scrabble (acquired from Coleco in 1989) have been complemented by lines of new products. These include a series of three dimensional jigsaw puzzles and games based on the popular films and television programs of the time. In the 1950s, the game of Concentration was based on the television show of the same name. The Star Wars Millennium Falcon, a 3D puzzle, was introduced to coincide with the 1996 re-release of the Star Wars Trilogy.
FAST FACTS: About Milton Bradley Co.
Ownership: Milton Bradley is a division of Hasbro, Inc., a publicly owned company listed on the American Stock Exchange.
Ticker symbol: HAS
Officers: E. David Wilson, Pres., 60; Gil Moreno, Controller
Principal Subsidiary Companies: Hasbro, Inc. acquired Milton Bradley and its subsidiary, Playskool, in 1984.
Chief Competitors: Best known for the classic board game Scrabble, Milton Bradley competes with: Mattel; Nintendo; Lego; and SEGA.
In 1984 Milton Bradley launched Axis & Allies, a two to five-player war game set in the spring of 1942. Players move British, U.S., Russian, Japanese, and German troops through battles of World War II. The game was part of the company's Gamemaster line, which included Fortress of America and Conquest of the Empire.
During the 1990s video games and the Internet began to gain predominance in the fight for the time and attention of young consumers. Milton Bradley's parent, Hasbro, responded with a new advertising campaign. Its theme was centered around the idea that board games could bring families together. In addition, Milton Bradley introduced updated versions of its classic board games. One of these was a vertical version of Scrabble.
The success of Milton Bradley had been based on its ability to adapt to the changing toy and game market. The company's founder, Milton Bradley, was the first to see the need to adapt. He had to find a product that replaced the beardless portrait of Abraham Lincoln, the sole item that brought his initial commercial success. The game he invented, "The Checkered Game of Life," evolved into one of the ongoing mainstays of the company—The Game of Life. Milton Bradley also capitalized on societal trends in developing new products. The game Easy Money hit the market during the Great Depression of the United States, which struck with the collapse of Wall Street in October of 1929, and continued until the late 1930s. It became a success because it allowed players to fantasize that they were wealthy. Concentration was one of the first games to be based on a program from that still new invention, the television, during the late 1950s.
Finally, Milton Bradley emerged from hostile takeover attempts in the 1980s because it allowed itself to be acquired by Hasbro, Inc. Milton Bradley was eventually demoted to the level of a Hasbro division, yet its tradition of marketing quality board games remained intact.
Milton Bradley continues to focus on marketing its ongoing line of games and toys for children and adults. The company also introduced new products, some of which were based on popular films. Milton Bradley's reputation for quality over its long existence drew customers to all of the company's products, old and new.
Parent company Hasbro, Inc. was the object of a hostile takeover attempt by Mattel in 1996. It fought off the attempt successfully. Milton Bradley was expected to retain its financial health as it relied on a long-standing reputation. Its products introduced in 1996 and 1997, including those based on the Star Wars Trilogy, were expected to provide additional profits. Milton Bradley also began to supplement its marketing efforts when it set up game sites on the World Wide Web. For instance, the Official Milton Bradley Scrabble web site gives a textual and graphic history of the game, along with tips for playing and ways to contact other players.
DID YOU KNOW THAT. . .
- Milton Bradley is the proud owner of the popular word game Scrabble?
- Scrabble was invented in 1938 by Alfred M. Butts?
- The first World Championship of Scrabble was won in 1991 by Peter Morris, a cab driver from Lansing, Michigan?
- In North America, there are 96 two-letter words, 972 three-letter words, and 3,903 four-letter words that may be used in a game?
- Scrabble is available in 31 different languages?
- The highest score in a game of Scrabble was 770 points by Mark Landsberg in 1993?
- The highest possible score you can achieve by playing a single word is 1,778 points for the word "oxyphenbutazone"?
In 1996 Milton Bradley introduced several new products, including Koo Koo Nauts, Check+up Charlie, Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame, and a 3D puzzle—the Star Wars Millennium Falcon. At the American International Toy Fair, held in New York City in February of 1997, Milton Bradley presented several new toys and games scheduled for release that year. These included Scrabble Up, a vertical version of Scrabble in which players stole tiles from opponents; new 3D puzzles including, King Tut, "The Eternal Woman," and Darth Vader; and Chicken Croquet, a version of croquet for very young children in which the players try to hit chickens that squawk and lay eggs. Parent Hasbro set up an official Hasbro Star Wars web site at http://www.starwars.hasbro.com, in conjunction with the release of its total Star Wars line. Visitors to the site can watch videos and see 360-degree views of action figures.
Milton Bradley sponsors Scrabble championships around the world. The National Championship is held in the United States every other year. The World Scrabble Championship travels between the United States and London during alternating years, and draws players from 25 countries. Las Vegas hosted the first $100,000 Scrabble Superstars Tournament in the summer of 1995. It was attended by the 50 top-ranked players. Over 125 tournaments in the United States and Canada, as well as over 200 official Scrabble clubs are sponsored by the National Scrabble Association.
Parent company Hasbro, Inc. has subsidiaries in more than 25 countries, selling both products available in the United States, and items developed solely for international sale. Foreign subsidiaries directly tied to Milton Bradley include MB France S.A., MB International B.V. in the Netherlands, MB Espana in Spain, and MB Ireland Limited.
SOURCES OF INFORMATION
"hasbro, inc." hoover's online, 15 april 1998. available at http://www.hoovers.com.
"hasbro, inc." international directory of company histories, vol. 16. detroit, mi: st. james press, 1997.
"hasbro, inc." moody's industrial manual. new york: moody's investors service, 1996.
hasbro's home page, 28 may 1998. available at http://www.hasbro.com/.
"hasbro launches star wars toy and game line into cyberspace." pr newswire, 21 january 1997.
hasbro 1996 annual report. pawtucket, ri: milton bradley co., 1997. available at http://www.hasbro.com/corporate/annual_96/.
liscovicz, susan. "board games boring kids: hasbro hopes new ad campaign will boost waning interest in traditional toys." cnn financial network, 10 february 1998. available at http://www.cnnfn.com/hotstories/companies.
the official scrabble homepage, 19 february 1998. available at http://www.scrabble.com/.
For an annual report:
on the internet at: http://www.hasbro.com/corporateor write: hasbro inc., investor relations, 1027 newport ave., po box 1059, pawtucket, ri, 02862-1059
For additional industry research:
investigate companies by their standard industrial classification codes, also known as sics. milton bradley's primary sics are:
3089 plastic products, nec
3699 electrical equipment & supplies, nec
3944 games, toys & children's vehicles