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Hasbro wins deal to make Sesame Street toys, games

Toys featuring Big Bird and his Sesame Street friends will be made by Hasbro starting in 2011. Toys featuring Big Bird and his Sesame Street friends will be made by Hasbro starting in 2011. (File Photo)
By Betsy Vereckey
Associated Press / December 8, 2009

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NEW YORK - Elmo is getting a new home - or his toys are, at least.

Toy maker Hasbro Inc. said yesterday that it will make and market toys and games based on well-known Sesame Street characters, such as Elmo, Big Bird, and Cookie Monster.

The deal takes the license away from Hasbro’s rival Mattel Inc., which makes Sesame Street toys under its Fisher-Price brand under a deal lasting until 2010. Hasbro will start making the products in 2011.

The agreement covers all Sesame Street toys, but Julie Duffy, a representative for Hasbro, said it’s “too early to tell’’ which toys it will continue making, including the popular Tickle Me Elmo toy.

“We now have the rights to Elmo, so anything is possible,’’ she said.

Financial terms of the deal between Pawtucket, R.I.-based Hasbro and Sesame Workshop were not disclosed.

An NPD Group analyst, Anita Frazier, said it’s a significant win for Hasbro, because Sesame Workshop is a top toy brand for children under 5 - an age group representing nearly half of annual toy sales.

Frazier could not release specific sales figures for Sesame Workshop but said total toy revenue in this age range was about $10 billion in the year ended in October.

Brenda Andolina, a spokeswoman for Fisher-Price, said it was Sesame Workshop’s decision to end the 15-year arrangement in which Fisher-Price made toys like Tickle Me Elmo, Hokey Pokey Elmo, and Elmo Live.

Hasbro, the nation’s second-largest toy maker, is permitted to make the merchandise for 10 years.

“Sesame Workshop has an amazing portfolio of characters that children have enjoyed in a variety of forms for decades, and Sesame Street is a brand that parents trust,’’ said Brian Goldner, Hasbro’s president and CEO.