Written by Dr Spengler
"I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End."
The Transformers, whether they be Autobots, Decepticons, Maximals or Predacons, are a race of living, thinking, intelligent creatures. And all sociologists and philosophy majors agree that every intelligent race of beings must have a religion of some sort. Cybertronians are no different. Though the Transformers were constructed by tangible hands, that does not exclude them from creating their own religion historically documenting the birth of their world and their people. But being machines, their religion borders more on the mathematical than the supernatural.
As the Transformer universe expanded and grew so did the aspects of their religion. But letâ€™s start with Generation 1. There isnâ€™t much that can be said when the show began. All we were told was that they were mechanical creatures from another planet. As the series progressed the viewers became educated on the roots of their culture, much of which was still a mystery even to the Transformers themselves. In "A Prime Problem" Megatron wonders if Optimus Primeâ€™s "Laser Core" has been extinguished. While most viewers shirked that statement off as the usual techno-babble the show was famous for, it would play a key part in the future of the Transformers. Apparently the Laser Core is the central life function of the Cybertronian. This idea was imported later in Beast Wars where the Laser Core became known as the "Spark", or soul of the Transformer.
Later on in the series we were introduced to Vector Sigma, the supercomputer which gave every Transformer life. In its first appearance during the "Key to Vector Sigma" two-parter, it was looked at as almost a legend or a myth. That was proved wrong when it was encountered by Megatron and spoke the famous words "I am Vector Sigma. Before Cybertron was, I was." Megatron then used Vector Sigma to give intelligent life to the Stunticons. So it was revealed there that Vector Sigma gave birth to the entire Transformer race. But that leaves the viewer to wonder exactly where Vector Sigma came from and how it could exist before the entire planet Cybertron ever did?
The answer to those inquiries not even the Cybertronians knew at the time, thus leaving their religion with the essence of mystery that every culture needs. However, these questions were answered when season 3 of the series came around. It was revealed that a race of interplanetary merchants called the Quintessons came to a small planet, exterminated all organic life on it and built it into a factory. A factory to produce robot warriors (Decepticons) and robot slaves (Autobots). The source of all the robots being built was Vector Sigma, the supercomputer which produced them. Vector Sigma eventually gave them all intelligence and freewill which allowed them to break free from the Quintessons. But how exactly did Vector Sigma create life and where did the Sparks or Laser Cores come from?
The answer to that wouldnâ€™t come until Beast Machines, the finale of the original Transformer universe. In Beast Machines Vector Sigma was also called the Oracle and contacted Optimus Primal frequently. It was revealed that Vector Sigma was nothing more than a gateway. A gateway to the Matrix Zone. The Matrix Zone is the place where all Transformer sparks originate and eventually return to when they die. This is what the phrase "â€™Til all are one" refers to. In Beast Wars Rhinox travels to the Matrix Zone via a transwarp rift in order to retrieve the spark of Optimus Primal. Upon his return in "Coming of the Fuzors part 2" he says that he has gone to "a place where all are one". So basically the Matrix Zone is very similar to the idea of Nirvana in Hindu religions; place where all souls eventually unite to form a single being. Now did the Quintessons create the Matrix Zone or just find some way to tap into it? This is a question that has so far gone unanswered.
So this leaves us asking the question "If the Matrix Zone is where all Transformer Sparks come from then what is the Matrix of Leadership?" Thatâ€™s an easy one. The Matrix of Leadership is a device that connects the Supreme Commander with Vector Sigma and ultimately the Matrix Zone. This allows the Supreme Commander to safely journey into the Matrix Zone and seek wisdom from long-dead Transformers. It also allows him to use Vector Sigma to create new warriors if they are so needed. Thatâ€™s where the idea of the Creation Matrix comes from. In "SOS Dinobots" Optimus Prime had the Dinobots built on Earth and then used the power of the Matrix to give them sentient life through Vector Sigma. In "The Key to Vector Sigma" Megatron did not have a Matrix of Leadership and therefor could not create new warriors on Earth (this would also explain why there are so many more Autobots than there are Decepticons). So in order to increase his army and give life to new warriors he actually had to travel to Vector Sigma itself.
The Matrix of Leadership is also a powerful weapon. When opened it can do a number of things. In Transformers the Movie it has the power to destroy the planet-sized being known as Unicron. However, it is not always a weapon of destruction. In the season 3 finale "The Return of Optimus Prime" a hate plague has crossed over the galaxy and infected nearly every living creature. Optimus Prime opens the Matrix but rather than using its destructive capabilities he unleashes the wisdom within it. This destroys the plague, curing the galaxy. However, in the process it seemed to the have damaged the Matrix. In Transformers: Headmasters the Matrix is shown being repaired and "recharged" (though in all likelihood it "recharged" itself once the repairs to its structure were made).
In the much later shows, Beast Wars II and Beast Wars Neo, times have changed. There is more than one Matrix of Leadership. Having found "peace", the Maximals (formerly Autobots) shared the technology of the Matrix of Leadership with the Predacons (formerly Decepticons). This allowed for the Predacons to construct a Matrix of Leadership and give it to Galvatron (not to be confused with the original Galvatron). In fact, at one point three Matrixes of Leadership existed at once. One for Optimus Primal, one for Lio Convoy and one for Galvatron. In Beast Wars II: the Movie we are shown what happens when the power of two Matrixes is used in unison. It creates a "Double Matrix Blast" that has enough force to destroy a mountain (or maybe just Majin Zarak). The Maximal Elders (Convoy Council in Japan) distribute the Matrixes of Leadership to selected Supreme Commanders. The Tripredacus Council (Trypticon Council in Japan) does this as well, distributing Matrixes of Leadership to selected Emperors of Destruction. The Matrix of Leadership allows the user to speak with Vector Sigma or, as seen in Beast Wars Neo, allows Vector Sigma to speak through the user. Repeatedly Vector Sigma gave words of hope and wisdom to the Maximal warriors using Big Convoy.
In fact, in Beast Wars Neo we discover that Vector Sigma is viewed as a God to the Cybertronian race, both Predacons and Maximals. A monument displaying Vector Sigma was constructed on the planet allowing it to shine brightly and spread hope to all who see it. Unfortunately, this made it an easier target for Unicron, who used his astral form to possess Vector Sigma and the planet Cybertron as well. However, this did not give him power over the Matrix Zone. So using his Matrix of Leadership to power his Big Cannon (turning it into the Matrix Buster), Big Convoy was able to destroy Unicron and free Vector Sigma. While Vector Sigma may be effected by physical acts, the Matrix Zone cannot be harmed. In Transformers: Headmasters the Decepticons plant explosives all around Vector Sigma and destroy it. The act also causes Cybertron to fall apart (not to be rebuilt until the 300 year peace-time before Beast Wars). While Vector Sigma may have been briefly destroyed, the Matrix Zone remained unharmed. What was never explained, though, was how the Transformers built another Vector Sigma when they rebuilt Cybertron.
The religion of the Transformers is even documented in their own "bible" called the Book of Primus. In the Beast Wars episode "the Nemesis" Megatron reads allowed scripture from the Book of Primus foretelling not only the past of their race, but its future as well (Revelations, perhaps?). The character of Primus also plays a rather large part in the Marvel Comics version of the Transformers origin and religion. However, the character is not fleshed out in the tv series.
So as you can see, for a "kidâ€™s show" the Transformers have a rich history, culture and yes, religion. I donâ€™t think the Go-bots came anywhere near all of this.
Article written by KingMob
Ultra Magnus is one of the most popular characters from Generation 1, and while he survived the run of the American cartoon series, his fate in the other main Transformer media of the time is somewhat less than cheerful. While his demise at the hands of Sixshot in the Japanese cartoon is well-known and may even be considered as a dignified end for the character, the comic continuity dealt with him in a considerably less-than-heroic way.
For a start, Ultra Magnus never appeared in the conventional US comic run at all. His last on-page appearance in the UK comics was in #205, more than 100 issues before the title was cancelled, but this was the Ultra Magnus of 2009; the last narrative appearance of the present version of Ultra Magnus was in issue 171. Then he simply vanished, never to be seen again.
It was an incongruous decision to â€˜disappearâ€™ Magnus, because the character had been such a huge part of the storylines of the preceding 90-odd issues. After the death of Optimus Prime (UK#106), Magnusâ€™s role was elevated to that of leading man, the heroic â€˜role modelâ€™ character. Simon Furman would no doubt have preferred to use Grimlock in this role, but unfortunately for him his favourite character was off-limits for this purpose, thanks to the US portrayal of him at the time as the semi-tyrannical â€˜badâ€™ Autobot leader. Ultra Magnus was the next logical choice, and provided the readers with some of the best storylines of the year, including the fantastic â€˜City of Fearâ€™. However, Optimus Primeâ€™s scheduled return meant the Magnus needed to be sidelined. Instead of writing a conclusion for the character, Furman just left him on Cybertron (in the company of the Sparkler Mini-Bots) presumably with the intention of returning to the character, as Magnus was important not just to the fan community; he was important for the validity of the â€˜future universeâ€™ stories that Furman enjoyed writing, where he was a major player. But this never happened.
What is more worrying is that Magnus was never seen or mentioned again at all in the present narrative. His absence during the Unicron Saga is especially jarring, particularly during the sequence where the Heralds of Unicron attack Autobase. The combat abilities of Ultra Magnus are practically revered by Emirate Xaaron and colleagues; Operation Volcano and the Wreckersâ€™ first attempted termination of Galvatron both initially depend on his presence. It is markedly odd not to at least see Magnus during the Autobase defence (UK#315); but Furman resorts to having the Z-list character Quickmix act as Emirate Xaaronâ€™s military advisor (a post normally held by capable fan-favourites like Impactor, Magnus and Springer). Then, Magnus is specifically excluded from the character roll-call after Primus transports all the Transformers from Earth to Cybertron (UK #317). Again, Furman goes one step further and has the Cybertronian Autobots personalised by a minor character, namely Backstreet. Finally, it is inconceivable that Ultra Magnus would not seek out his friend and mentor Optimus Prime, after Prime was publicly named leader of the Transformer race by Primus. Therefore, it is pretty safe to assume that Magnus wasnâ€™t just being sidelined or ignored; he wasnâ€™t even there at all. It is also important to note that no-one even mentions him during this crisis, or in any of the 100+ previous issues. To step into the real world, it is also worth noting that Furman was ignoring the US editorial decision to exclude many of the Movie/3rd season only characters at this point; Galvatron being the obvious example of this. So, there was no â€˜officialâ€™ reason for Magnus to be ignored.
So, just what happened to Ultra Magnus? The possibilities are thus:
A) He was present on Cybertron the entire time, we just didnâ€™t see him during the Unicron War, the aftermath, or the events on Klo and Hydrus 4. He would need to have spent the entirety of Generation 2 on Cybertron.
B) He left Cybertron at some point before the Unicron War and never returned until after the events of Generation 2.
C) He was wiped from reality/existence during the Time War.
D) Simon Furman forgot all about him.
A is highly unlikely due to the reasons outlined above. Magnus should have been defending Autobase, he should have been chosen as the visual representative of the Cybertronian Autobots; his stature would demand at least one panel of him fighting in the Unicron War, like Jazz and Hot Rod. Similarly, if he were to die, we would have to see it. Basically, it is beyond belief to claim that he was present but always off-panel.
B is a possibility, but there is absolutely no evidence for it other than the similar absence of the Sparkler Mini-Bots, Ultra Magnusâ€™s seeming cheerleader squad who followed him around for the last 20 issues of his present narrative appearance. They were used as a kind of â€˜special missionâ€™ unit by Xaaron (rescue Magnus, locate Chameleon) and their disappearance is synonymous with that of Ultra Magnus. It is therefore conceivable that the Sparklers and Magnus were sent away on a special mission by Emirate Xaaron himself. This would explain why Xaaron was not accompanied by Magnus; presumably Prime would also know of this mission. The rest, though hard to believe, then falls into place. As entertaining as this theory is, it is far from satisfying, mainly because it is bizarre that Magnus would be gone for so long and that no-one mentions him. Worse, such an event would surely have made excellent material for a potential story; Furman would have at least set up some plot markers pointing to it.
C is my personal favourite, a theory absolutely water-tight apart from one panel of primary evidence in UK 205. In this theory, I put forth the notion that the body of the Ultra Magnus of 2009 â€“ lying shattered on the ground after being gutted by the Horrorcons â€“ is one of the bodies that is sucked up by the Time Rift when it finally manifests. The Rift erases everything that is sucked into it from reality, from existence itself, changing the timelines to compensate for this as it happens. This is the perfect explanation for the disappearance of the present narrative Ultra Magnus. It explains where he goes (he literally does vanish), it explains why no-one else ever mentions him (they donâ€™t remember him because he never existed and the timeline-alteration has changed the past to compensate) and it explains why we donâ€™t see him ever again (yep, still non-existent). With a stretch, one can even explain away the absence of the Sparklers; they are such low-grade characters they could actually be on Cybertron etc and we just werenâ€™t shown them. Or they could even have been caught up in the reality-effect that removed present-day Ultra Magnus. However, this theory is torpedoed by one panel on the last page of UK 205, in which one can just barely make out the figures of Kup, Blurr, Arcee and Red Alert gathering up the inert body of Ultra Magnus after the Rift has been sealed. This panel therefore negates the entire theory, although it should be noted that without it the theory is perfect. Magnus is never seen again in the future storylines either, despite the fact that his body is presumably taken back to the future by his comrades, and that Rodimus Prime can revive him using the power of the Matrix. All I can offer to validate this theory is to either consider the offending panel an art error, or that the re-organisation of the timelines which follow the Time War and create the â€˜dark futureâ€™ seen in the UK stories (different to the â€˜dark futureâ€™ shown in the US issue 67) also erase Ultra Magnus from existence. This is merely conjecture, however.
D is therefore the most likely, Iâ€™m afraid. Ultra Magnus was no longer a popular toy by 1991, the cartoon had long been cancelled, and no-one was clamouring for his return. Furman was under pressure, writing both US and UK stories and facing the potential cancellation of his title. What with juggling heavyweights such as Prime, Galvatron, Grimlock, and Scorponok, not to mention the whole Unicron thing, there was just no time or room for Ultra Magnus, a relatively forgotten about character at the time.
For my part, I think it was a great shame that Ultra Magnus was forgotten about, especially as his lack of appearances in the comic helped decrease his popularity with the readers. Ultra Magnus is a truly heroic character with a complex personality worthy of respect, and his disappearance took away one of the few strongly humanist characters in the book; the person with the most similar character traits left was probably Scorponok! I also think the Transformers story as a whole lost something when Magnus vanished; the drift towards very action-orientated characters and plots started around the same time as he was removed. While this is not to be considered a bad thing, it would have been enjoyable to have had a cerebral action hero of Ultra Magnus's calibre involved.
Written by DrSpengler
"Is Convoy the same as Convoy?"
All those who have seen the Japanese dub of Beast Wars have at one point wondered if Beast Wars Convoy (Optimus Primal) is the same character as the original Convoy (Optimus Prime). Now we all know that in America they are two distinctly different characters. It is even specifically noted in Beast Machines that Optimus Primal is a descendant of Optimus Primeâ€™s. But what about the Japanese interpretation of the character?
Well, thatâ€™s a tough one. When the cartoon was imported to Japan future key plot elements were not sent with it. Mainframe neglected to mention certain things which would ultimately have a HUGE effect on the storyline. For one thing, they didnâ€™t mention that Airrazor and Tigatron would become romantically intertwined. Thus the Japanese writers didnâ€™t think twice about making Airrazor a dude for toy sale reasons. The result wasâ€¦disturbing. And then they also neglected to mention that the planet the Beast Senshi (Beast Warriors) crashed on was prehistoric Earth. So the planet got named "Enerogia" and the writerâ€™s had to jump through some hoops to work out the plotholes when they discovered the truth. And of course, the biggest problem: the Ark. The original Convoy and Megatron showing up with the Beast Wars Convoy and Megatron caused some noticeable problems. Why?
Because originally they WERE the same character. If youâ€™ve seen Beast Wars II: the Movie youâ€™ve no doubt wondered why the Beast Senshi on Gaea are so awestruck at the presence of Convoy. They refer to him as "The Legendary Warrior". Thatâ€™s because in Japanese continuity, following the events from the Japanese Generation 2 manga, Convoy and Megatron never died. That was the last time either of them were ever seen. So the writers decided to make the Beast Wars Convoy and Megatron the same as the genuine article. However, they were very ambiguous on the subject. They never actually SAID that Beast Wars Convoy is the same character as Generation 1 Convoy, only subtly implied it. That ambiguity, in the end, saved them. By never actually flat out saying they were the same characters they were able to keep things straight when they received season 2 and 3(Beast Wars Metals).
So in the end they were revealed to be only descendants of the original Megatron and Convoy. That made sense, actually, and helped give a good background to their rivalry. It also helped viewers understand why their voices sounded completely different (Beast Wars Megatron screamed like a girl and Beast Wars Convoy did an awful Tessho Genda impretion).
The biggest foe of Beast Wars in Japan was a total lack of communication. Mainframe simply didnâ€™t provide them with adequate information. Knowing this, one can understand why Beast Machines never got imported out of the United States.
Written by DrSpengler
"So Megatron was Galvatron in Japan?"
Yeah, itâ€™s true. From an American perspective the Japanese continuity is all sorts of crazy. And the internet hasnâ€™t done much to help. With all kinds of whacky rumors or just completely fabricated BS, newcomers to the Japanese universe of the Transformers are more confused than anything else. Me? I have seen every episode of the Transformers (US or Japanese) and read every issue of the manga. Thereâ€™s a lot of wild rumors and crap out there that needs to be set straight, so Iâ€™ll start with one of the biggest misconceptions American Transfans have about the Japanese continuity.
So Megatron and Galvatron are two completely different characters, right? Wrong.
Yeah, the Japanese continuity on this subject is REALLY confusing becauseâ€¦well, they WERE two completely different characters at first. Letâ€™s start with Scramble City Toys (called Scramble City 2 by some). This was a stop-motion OVA released by Takara. It was a remake of the original animated Scramble City OVA and featured voice-overs from the original Japanese cast. Basically it was just a half-hour commercial promoting the toys. So what made it different from its animated counterpart? This one featured Galvatron. Actually, it featured Megatron ordering Galvatron around as if he were a subordinate. This is where the misconception begins. When Scramble City Toys was made the backgrounds of the newer characters had yet to be fully developed. Takara wasnâ€™t sure how the Galvatron character was going to turn out but they wanted to market him as early as possible. While the original Scramble City takes place in Japanese continuity Scramble City Toys DOES NOT. It is merely a commercial. A really long commercial, but a commercial none-the-less.
And now you ask "But Iâ€™ve seen scans from the manga that shows Galvatron and Megatron side by side!". Calm down, Francine. Yeah, Comics Bon Bon did a lot of promo art for the toys. One shows Ultra Magnus and Galvatron duking it out on the shoulder of Metroflex (Metroplex in America) while Megatron watches in the back. Well, thereâ€™s an explanation for that too. Comics Bon Bon wasnâ€™t given info on the characters when they did the art. They were just given the toys and told to make them look cool. How were they supposed to know? Even worse, when they began work on the 2010 manga for Terebi Magazine (TV Magazine) they were not told that Megatron and Galvatron were separate. As a result Megatron and Galvatron show up together. The artists and writers were quickly set straight afterward and, for lack of a better term, "pretended" that error never happened.
Yeah, itâ€™s confusing. But if the Japanese can get over it so can we Americans
Now for the Movie. Yes, it takes place in exactly the same time as it does in the American continuity. Then why was it released in 1989 in Japan, you ask? Well, thatâ€™s a tough one. There is no definite answer as to why. Some say it was the fact that it financially BOMBED in the US, others say that the killing off of major characters would have negatively effected Japanese toy sales. But donâ€™t think for a second that Japanese Transfans back in 1986 were left in the dark. Recaps of the movieâ€™s events were in just about every shoujo magazine including Terebi Magazine (the official magazine for Transformers over in Japan). And donâ€™t think that bootlegs never showed up there either. On top of that in the first episode of Transformers 2010 (season 3) there is a narrated recap explaining the events from the movie for the audienceâ€™s benefit.
And now comes the kicker, that stupid rumor that in the Transformers: the Battlestars manga Super Megatron is sent to kill Galvatron. I donâ€™t know who dreamed that up but IT NEVER HAPPENED! Dark Nova resurrected Galvatron from the North Pole (where he got buried in Headmasters) and upgraded him into Super Megatron on the spot.
So there you have it. In Japanese continuity Megatron IS Galvatron. This is about as simplified as it gets. If youâ€™re still confused ... well, Iâ€™m sorry.
SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--
Hasbro Comes to Comic-Con with Exciting Toy Line, Comic Books, Cine-Manga(TM) and All-New Video Game
TRANSFORMERS is one of the most popular brands in the toy and entertainment industry and Hasbro Consumer Products Worldwide, the licensing arm of Hasbro, Inc. (NYSE:HAS), is working with leading publishing companies to bring fans innovative ways to experience the saga of the AUTOBOTS versus the DECEPTICONS. Many published works, including a best-selling comic book series from Dreamwave, Cine-Manga(TM) from TOKYOPOP, a new video game from Atari and trading cards from Fleer, are among the items being showcased along with Hasbro's action figure line at Comic-Con International, the world's largest comic book convention, happening here from July 17-20 at the San Diego Convention Center.
"We have an incredibly devoted fan base for TRANSFORMERS and are fortunate to be working with some of the world's leading companies in expanding the ways that fans can experience the TRANSFORMERS saga," said Tom Klusaritz, Vice President of Publishing for Hasbro Consumer Products Worldwide. "The depth of the property has enabled us to develop compelling characters and storylines that lend themselves to a variety of publishing platforms, from comic books and other illustrated works to video games."
Since Dreamwave Productions' TRANSFORMERS comic book series was introduced last year, it has consistently been a best seller. Next month, Dreamwave will release a special six-issue TRANSFORMERS/G.I. JOE "crossover" comic book series that teams up the evil DECEPTICON forces and COBRA COMMANDER to battle the AUTOBOT warriors and G.I. JOE team. This series complements Dreamwave's continuing collections based on TRANSFORMERS ARMADA, TRANSFORMERS: Generation 1, TRANSFORMERS: MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE and TRANSFORMER: THE WAR WITHIN.
Manga is one of the hottest trends in publishing and Hasbro Consumer Products has reached an agreement in principle with TOKYOPOP Inc., the leading U.S. manga publisher, to release a Cine-Manga(TM) series, based on the TRANSFORMERS ARMADA saga, which is expected to be available beginning in October.
Atari, Inc. announced plans to develop a game exclusively for the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system. TRANSFORMERS ARMADA: PRELUDE TO ENERGON, which is slated for a spring 2004 release, is a revolutionary third-person 3-D action/adventure game.
Hasbro Consumer Products has also signed on Fleer Trading Cards to design and manufacture a line of traditional and 3-Dimensional trading cards, which are expected to be available at retail beginning this fall. The initial line will focus on the the TRANSFORMERS ARMADA television show currently airing on Cartoon Network, with subsequent lines to feature the rich, 20-year history of the TRANSFORMERS brand, as well as future programs and comic book offerings.
Hasbro will also display its best-selling 2003 action figure line at booth #3515, which will feature UNICRON, the newest TRANSFORMERS figure to reach retail. The highly anticipated figure marks the return of the most evil TRANSFORMERS characters ever. UNICRON will also be featured in new episodes of the animated program on Cartoon Network, "TRANSFORMERS ARMADA: THE UNICRON BATTLES."
Hasbro Consumer Products Worldwide is the licensing and promotions arm of the Hasbro Properties Group, which develops and expands Hasbro, Inc.'s core brands, such as G.I. JOE, TRANSFORMERS, MY LITTLE PONY, MONOPOLY and CANDY LAND, into a wide variety of entertainment and consumer categories.
Hasbro is a worldwide leader in children's and family leisure time entertainment products and services, including the design, manufacture and marketing of games and toys ranging from traditional to high-tech. Both internationally and in the U.S., its PLAYSKOOL, TONKA, MILTON BRADLEY, PARKER BROTHERS, TIGER, and WIZARDS OF THE COAST brands and products provide the highest quality and most recognizable play experiences in the world.
The Hasbro Properties Group comes to Licensing 2003 International in New York City on June 10-12 with powerhouse brands, including TRANSFORMERS, G.I. JOE, TONKA, MY LITTLE PONY and MAGIC: THE GATHERING.
Hasbro Properties Group (HPG) takes Hasbro, Inc.'s (NYSE:HAS) brands beyond the toy and game aisle into "lifestyle play" experiences for kids of all ages. From publishing and video to apparel and accessories, HPG has built the toys and games that have defined childhood for millions into world-class properties.
A key strategy for HPG has been to co-develop visual entertainment based Hasbro's core brands. Many of Hasbro's toy products, including MY LITTLE PONY, G.I. JOE and TONKA will feature in-pack videos. In addition, TRANSFORMERS will continue its successful run on Cartoon Network in 2004, where the program is enjoyed by more than 12 million viewers, and a new G.I. JOE animated movie will air on the network this fall.
"By building upon the very essence that made a toy and game a classic, we at Hasbro have created 'worlds' for properties that can be integrated into many areas of a child's life," said Jane Ritson-Parsons, President of the Hasbro Properties Group. "This year, many of our signature brands have become content for children's entertainment, which can truly bring a property to life and open the door for many merchandise categories. This is a trend that will be highlighted at this year's Licensing 2003 International and one we expect to continue in the future."
The following are some of the company's core brands that will be highlighted at the Hasbro gallery (booth #3417) in the Javits Center at this year's Licensing Show:
If it doesn't say TRANSFORMERS, then it's not ROBOTS IN DISGUISE! TRANSFORMERS is one of the hottest boys brands around the world and in 2004, Hasbro celebrates the brand's 20th anniversary with TRANSFORMERS ENERGON, the next installment of the legendary storyline of OPTIMUS PRIME and the AUTOBOTS versus MEGATRON and the DECEPTICONS. Hasbro will support TRANSFORMERS ENERGON with an integrated marketing program that will include an action figure line, television programming, publishing, and looks to sign licensees in a wide variety of categories. Hasbro will introduce TRANSFORMERS ENERGON to fans in early 2004 with 26 new episodes that will air on Cartoon Network and through Dreamwave's highly successful comic book line.
A European licensing program will be launched in the spring; products include storybooks, coloring and activity books, sticker collection, comic books, greeting cards and calendars, posters, bicycles/outdoor toys, apparel/footwear and melamine items.
The G.I. JOE brand launched the action figure category nearly forty years ago and has become an icon that signifies patriotism, honor and courage for kids and adults. The G.I. JOE brand is coming off another year of double-digit growth and HPG continues to build momentum for the brand with a wide variety of new products slated for 2003. While the classic animated television program is captivating a new generation of fans in late-night broadcast on Cartoon Network and through in-packed CD-ROMs, an all-new CGI movie is scheduled to be released on DVD this fall. "SPY TROOPS: THE MOVIE," the first G.I. JOE vs. COBRA animation in over a decade, will be sold exclusively in a special 2-pack of 12-inch figures called NINJA SHOWDOWN beginning in October, following a special televised premier on Cartoon Network.
The Hasbro Consumer Products group continues to sign numerous licenses with key companies such as Scholastic, Reader's Digest and Haddad, that build upon the brand's success in various categories, including publishing, food and beverage, apparel, footwear, accessories and home goods and sporting goods.
MY LITTLE PONY
This year, Hasbro will introduce the MY LITTLE PONY line to a new generation of girls. Hasbro's MY LITTLE PONY product line, featuring the "Celebration" theme, will debut in July. The line, which includes new ponies, playsets and an assortment of puzzles, will be followed by a wide variety of licensed merchandise from leading companies such as Harper Collins, Atari and Springs Industries. Select MY LITTLE PONY toy products will include a special video that will really bring the world of MY LITTLE PONY to life for girls. The brand's interactive Web site, www.mylittlepony.com, will also offer little girls more information and activities that promote the MY LITTLE PONY world.
Hasbro's TONKA brand remains one of the strongest-selling toy vehicle brands in the United States. In its 56-year history, the TONKA brand has become synonymous with "rough and tough" vehicle play and HPG brings the "TONKA TOUGH" spirit of the timeless toy line into a wide range of consumer products including books, video games, apparel, back-to-school products, home goods, gifts & collectibles, party goods, juvenile products and promotions that little boys love.
Buckle up and join the TONKA brand's CHUCK THE DUMP TRUCK vehicle and his 4-wheel drive buddies, BOOMER THE TOW TRUCK, PATROL TRUCK PAT and HOOK 'N LADDER, in TONKA TOWN, an expandable truck-filled world loaded with activities, imaginative workstations and friendly and hard-working characters that allow little guys to play TONKA TOUGH. Complimenting Hasbro's TONKA TOWN toy line will be a new video in select TONKA TOWN toy packages and Scholastic books. Publications International and Reader's Digest Children's Books, as well as an interactive game from Atari, will also support TONKA TOWN.
Hasbro's unmatched portfolio of classic board games includes favorites such as MONOPOLY, SCRABBLE, CANDY LAND, THE GAME OF LIFE, BATTLESHIP, CHUTES AND LADDERS, SORRY! and CLUE. Hasbro Consumer Products, the licensing and promotions arm of the Hasbro Properties Group, has had numerous successes in expanding these properties into a wide range of lifestyle categories. In 2003, the Hasbro Consumer Products group looks to build upon these successes by leveraging even more of its portfolio in new and existing categories.
The MAGIC: THE GATHERING trading card game (TCG) made its debut in August 1993. Available in nine languages, the MAGIC: THE GATHERING TCG is sold in more than 52 countries worldwide. Today, more than six million players enjoy the challenge, strategy and dynamic play of the MAGIC: THE GATHERING game.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of MAGIC: THE GATHERING, HCP has a very active licensing program for the MAGIC: THE GATHERING brand that include high end sporting goods such as K2, digital games from Atari, as well as stationary.
The Hasbro Properties Group develops and expands Hasbro's core brands, such as G.I. JOE, TRANSFORMERS, MY LITTLE PONY, MONOPOLY and CANDY LAND, into a wide variety of entertainment and consumer categories. Hasbro Consumer Products Worldwide is the licensing and promotions arm of the Hasbro Properties Group.
A New Fantasy and Powerful Foe are Introduced in 2003
With soaring sales in the last two years, including an double-digit increase in sales in 2002, it is clear the re-introduction of the TRANSFORMERS ROBOTS IN DISGUISE, the authentic vehicle-to-robot action figure brand, and new TRANSFORMERS ARMADA themes have again clearly captured kids' imaginations, as the TRANSFORMERS brand has for nearly 20 years.
This year the battle rages on with OPTIMUS PRIME and the AUTOBOTS against MEGATRON and the DECEPTICONS for control of the universe and the power source provided by the MINI-CON TRANSFORMERS vehicles. But there's a new twist -- kids and adult fans alike will be thrilled with the fall 2003 return of UNICRON, the most evil TRANSFORMERS characters ever, in Hasbro's toy line and in new episodes of the animated program on Cartoon Network, "TRANSFORMERS ARMADA: THE UNICRON BATTLES."
Another new highlight in fall 2003 is the TRANSFORMERS UNIVERSE. UNICRON has devised an evil plot to harness all the "energon" in the universe in order to increase his own power. Knowing that when TRANSFORMERS battle they emit energon, he summons DECEPTICONS from all parts of TRANSFORMERS history. PRIMUS responds by building his own army of AUTOBOTS. This is building into the biggest battle the universe has ever seen.
Kids and fans will want to bookmark www.transformers.com, where new facts, figures, photos and inside scoop about the latest TRANSFORMERS releases will be posted throughout the year. Here's a complete look at the 2003 TRANSFORMERS line. All figures are recommended for ages five and up.
In 2003, the hot TRANSFORMERS ARMADA segment grows with seven assortments, new trademarked characters introduced every few months and new MINI-CON figures in every package to unlock more features and activate new ways to play with TRANSFORMERS figures. The MINI-CONS, a lost race of TRANSFORMERS, are powerful robots whose energy source is sought after by the AUTOBOT and DECEPTICON robots. A universal connector system allows for any MINI-CON figure to attach to larger TRANSFORMERS ARMADA figures, to create new play patterns by unlocking new features such as lights, sounds or projectiles. MINI-CONS come packaged with every larger TRANSFORMERS ARMADA figure, and are also sold as 3-packs in a separate assortment. Kids will also get a special ARMADA surprise with each figure, either an in-pack bonus decal or a comic book. MINI-CON figures will include the comic book and all other figures will also include decals.
MINI-CON ASSORTMENT (Approximate retail price: $6.99) Collect and discover what can be unleashed! Each trademarked figure in a themed 3-pack team of MINI-CON figures changes into a robot and back again, and either combines to form a larger accessory, or has a feature, such as projectile play. The highly collectible MINI-CON figures attach to all larger TRANSFORMERS ARMADA figures. New themes and characters throughout the year include: January: STREET SPEED MINI-CON TEAM with BACKTRACK/SPIRAL/OVAL, ADVENTURE MINI-CON TEAM with DUNE RUNNER/RANSACK/ICEBERG, and SPACE MINI-CON TEAM with ASTROSCOPE/SKYBLAST/PAYLOAD. April: SEA MINI-CON TEAM with STORMCLOUD/WATERLOG/OCEANGLIDE, NIGHT ATTACK MINI-CON TEAM with FETCH/BROADSIDE/SCATTOR, and AIR ASSAULT MINI-CON TEAM with JETSTORM/RUNWAY/SONAR. August: EMERGENCY MINI-CON TEAM with MAKESHIFT/ PROWL/FIREBOT, AIR MILITARY MINI-CON TEAM with THUNDERWING/ GUNBARREL/ TERRADIVE. October: new RACE and DESTRUCTION teams.
DELUXE FIGURE ASSORTMENT(Approximate retail price: $9.99) Each deluxe figure comes with a MINI-CON figure that unlocks new action features in both the heroic and evil character figures. For example, OPTIMUS PRIME is a heroic semi-truck that changes into a fully articulated robot. He comes with MINI-CON jet OVER-RUN, which activates a punching action when attached to the OPTIMUS PRIME robot.
The evil guys also use MINI-CON FIGURES to activate a new play feature, like WHEELJACK, a DECEPTICON sports car with wheels that pop open to reveal projectiles when WIND SHEER, the stealth fighter MINI-CON figure is attached. Thirteen new trademarked deluxe figures will hit stores throughout 2003, including: January: BLURR with INCINERATOR and OPTIMUS PRIME with OVER-RUN. April: THRUST with INFERNO and SIDESWIPE with NIGHTBEAT. July: RHINOX with ARMORHIDE and TERRORSAUR with IRONHIDE. August: WHEELJACK with WINDSHEER, HOIST with REFUTE, AIRAZOR with MINI-CON. October: POWERLINX HOT SHOT with JOLT, POWERLINX THRUST with INFERNO, POWERLINX CYCLONUS with CRUMPLEZONE and CHEETOR with MINI-CON.
MEGA FIGURE ASSORTMENT(Approximate retail price: $19.99) Attach MINI-CON figures to unlock sounds in the Mega assortment, which features six new trademarked figures in 2003, including SCAVENGER (available in January), a bulldozer with ROLLBAR, an off-road custom car. In robot mode, the SCAVENGER figure's feet will stamp, making a stomping sound. ROLLBAR can sit in the cockpit of the bulldozer to create the sound of a starting engine. In August, the assortment features OVERLOAD, a weapon base, complete with electronics and MINI-CON ROLLOUT figure, that can be pulled by the OPTIMUS PRIME truck cab or carry the JETFIRE shuttle. Also, combine the OVERLOAD weapons base with SUPER OPTIMUS PRIME to create new armor for OPTIMUS. The other new MAXCON figures include: April: THUNDERCRACKER with ZAPMASTER. August: SKYWARP, a jet, with MINI-CON October: POWERLINX RED ALERT with LONGARM, Dinosaur with SPIRAL and BACKTRACK.
ULTRA FIGURE ASSORTMENT(Approximate retail price: $24.99) One of the largest and most action-packed of the TRANSFORMERS ARMADA figure assortments, ultra figures are super-enhanced with electronic lights and sounds and MINI-CON storage areas. Kids will love combining future shuttle JETFIRE (available in January) with the SUPER OPTIMUS PRIME figure (sold separately) to create an awesome new OPTIMUS PRIME flight mode. The villains are in on the action too, with the DARK FLEET (available in August) a three-vehicle set that combines to form TIDAL WAVE a massive warship. Each trademarked vehicle in the DARK FLEET can combine with the MEGATRON or GALVATRON figures to become added armor for the DECEPTICON leader. Also available in the ultra assortment: In April, GALVATRON with CLENCH and in October, POWERLINX JETFIRE with COMETTOR.
DELUXE ARMADA ROLE PLAY(Approximate retail price: $14.99) Boys can act out the TRANSFORMERS ARMADA fantasy with two kid-sized role play swords featuring changing colors and sound effects available in August. The AUTOBOT STAR SABER SWORD and the DECEPTICON DARK SABER SWORD play an important role in the program as both the AUTOBOTS and DECEPTICONS battle for control of this powerful weapon.
SUPER BASE ASSORTMENT (Approximate retail price: $39.99) A new design for the OPTIMUS PRIME truck, this stupendous base has two parts -- a truck cab that changes into a robot, and a trailer that opens by itself to become a MINI-CON base station. Combine the two parts to form the super robot, POWERLINX OPTIMUS PRIME. Complete with a new MINI-CON figure, it is available in August.
TRANSFORMERS ARMADA UNICRON(Approximate retail price: $49.99) The evil UNICRON, who first appeared in the TRANSFORMERS movie, is a huge 16-inch robot -- one of the biggest TRANSFORMERS character ever created! ARMADA UNICRON is one of the major highlights of TRANSFORMERS ARMADA -- THE UNICRON BATTLES line in 2003. UNICRON is a planet that changes into a robot, trying to take over control of all TRANSFORMERS. Available in August, this most evil character can hold up to 24 MINI-CON figures, and has projectiles, light-up hands and eyes, traps and hiding places for MINI-CON figures and much more.
TRANSFORMERS UNIVERSE DELUXE ASSORTMENT(Approximate retail price: $9.99) Includes the following trademarked figures: SNARL, IGUANUS, SILVERBOLT (available in August), and BLACKARACHNIA and STRIKER (available in October).
TRANSFORMERS UNIVERSE ULTRA ASSORTMENT (Approximate retail price: $24.99) Includes the following trademarked figures: RAZORCLAW and OPTIMUS PRIMAL (available in August), and a 2-pack of TANKOR and OBSIDIAN (available in October).
GO-BOTS: COMING TO EARTH, FROM A PLACE FAR AWAY, ON A MISSION TO SAVE THE DAY!
Preschoolers are on a mission to protect the planet with their GO-BOTS hero-friends! In a race to save-the-day, preschoolers can make quick conversions as they prepare the GO-BOTS figures for action -- changing them from robots to vehicles and back again, all by themselves!
These colorful, chunky figures were specifically designed for preschoolers little hands to be easy-to-grasp, stand and convert. In 2003, preschoolers will be ready when they hear the GO-BOTS call-to-action, "GO-GO-GO-BOTS!"
THE GO-BOTS MISSION
Flashing through the Galaxy trailing a spectrum of colored energy is a city built on a comet, BOTROPOLIS -- home to the great race of planetary protectors, the GO-BOTS! Every year since the dawn of time, the GO-BOTS Council selects a new planet to protect. Earth is this year's candidate to receive its very own GO-BOTS team, whose bot-duty is to protect, serve, help, and guide the young planet into the future. When trouble calls the GO-BOTS team moves into action, adapting, changing, and modifying themselves to become the perfect solution for the problem at hand. You know help is on the way when you hear their call to action, "GO-GO- GO-BOTS!"
How do the GO-BOTS push, challenge, and change themselves into bigger, better, stronger, and more capable forms? GO-BRILLIUM. The GO-BOTS are made from GO-BRILLIUM, a flexible metallic element. Under the right circumstances, GO-BRILLIUM can instantly convert from gas, to liquid, to solid, making them the most adaptable creatures our galaxy has ever known.
Throughout history the planet Earth has been visited by a variety of intergalactic creatures. These creatures have been responsible for what earthlings have referred to as "natural disasters." These creatures have been the cause of earthquakes, floods, tidal waves, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, and typhoons. Most of these visitors don't even realize how they're affecting Earth -- others do and just don't care. It is our GO-BOTS duty to protect Earth from the havoc these visitors cause. In some cases this means making the visitors aware of the results of their actions and finding a more appropriate home for them. In other cases more aggressive action is called for. This is not to say that the GO-BOTS only protect Earth from these intruders, but it does take up most of their time between averting train wrecks, forest fires, and the other more human problems they overcome.
With GO-BOTS, anything is possible, because they have the ability to change -- to become something new. GO-GO-GO-BOTS!
GO-BOTS 2003 PRODUCT LINE
GO-BOTS REINFORCEMENT HAULER
It's the ultimate GO-BOTS truck -- a massive tractor-trailer capable of hauling 2 GO-BOTS vehicles! The truck itself converts into 3 separate robots, each with its own transformation! With multiple conversions, this is six toys in one! It features cool sound effects and lights, the ultimate GO-BOTS robot! Batteries included.
Approximate Retail Price: $39.99 Ages: 3 & Up Available: Fall
GO-BOTS SPEEDBOT DRAGSTER
An awesome 2-in-1 toy! Changes from a robot into an incredible 16" dragster, complete with parachute! Easy 1-2-3 conversion makes it easy for preschoolers to change from robot to vehicle and back again -- all by themselves!
Approximate Retail Price: $19.99 Ages: 3 & Up Available: Fall
GO-BOTS AERO-BOT AND SILVERBOT ULTRA JETS
Easy conversion lets kids change figures from robot to jet and back again, all by themselves! In jet mode, AERO-BOT and SILVERBOT figures "soar" through the air, doing flips and dips as the sound of their jet engines fill the sky! In robot mode AERO-BOT and SILVERBOT figures talk and their eyes light up, giving them "extra sight" at night! Chunky styling makes it easy for preschoolers to hold and stand up! Batteries included. Approximate Retail Price: $14.99 Ages: 3 & Up Available: Spring/Fall
GO-BOTS AERO-BOT AND SPEED-BOT II RACER-BOTS
Quick-and-easy conversion allows preschoolers to change figures from robot to racecar and back again -- all by themselves! Chunky, colorful figures are specially designed for preschoolers -- little hands! Assortment includes AERO-BOT and SPEED-BOT II figures. Both have great racecar sound effects and GO-BOTS phrases. Batteries included.
Approximate Retail Price: $12.99 Ages: 3 & Up Available: Fall
GO-BOTS MISSION EARTH
GO-BOTS toys offer preschoolers the fun and "magic" of conversion in 3 simple steps! New assortment features both vehicles and animals! Quick-and-easy steps let preschoolers change figures from robot to animal or vehicle and back again -- all by themselves! Colorful figures feature chunky styling, so it's easy for kids to hold and stand them up!
Approximate Retail Price: $7.99 Ages: 3 & Up Available: Fall
Easy conversion lets kids change figures from robot to vehicle and back again -- all by themselves! Colorful, durable figures for hours of exciting play! Chunky styling makes it easy for preschoolers to hold and stand up!
Approximate Retail Price: $7.99 Ages: 3 & Up Available: Fall
GO-BOTS SPEEDBOT WITH VIDEO
Special package includes SPEEDBOT action figure and a limited edition video with 2 episodes of the GO-BOTS animated series! Easy 1-2-3 conversion lets kids change figure from robot to vehicle and back again, all by themselves!
Approximate Retail Price: $7.99 Ages: 3 & Up Available: Fall
As a leader in the infant and preschool toy category, PLAYSKOOL celebrates an incredible milestone in 2003 -- its 75th anniversary! Over the company's long history, PLAYSKOOL has had the unique opportunity to bring fun and learning to literally generations of children. Products such as MR. POTATO HEAD, SIT 'N SPIN and GLOWORM are toys parents and grandparents remember fondly from their childhood and are still available today for children to enjoy. As seen in the 2003 product line, PLAYSKOOL also continues to innovate, offering new, developmentally sound and entertaining toys for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. For more information on PLAYSKOOL, please visit us as www.playskool.com.
Hasbro Arrives at 2003 Toy Fair with Some of the Hottest Toys and Games in Family Entertainment; A Combination of Classic Brands, New Innovation and Technology Highlight 2003 Offerings
PAWTUCKET, R.I.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--
Revenue was up in the fourth quarter;
Earnings per share for the year, excluding certain non-recurring items, of $0.62 vs. prior year of $0.42;
GAAP net loss per share, including accounting change, for the year of $0.98 vs. net earnings of $0.35 for the prior year;
Inventories and Receivables were down and Cash increased to $495.4 million;
Total debt, net of cash, decreased $384.1 million;
Trivial Pursuit 20th Anniversary was the top selling game in the industry.
Hasbro, Inc. (NYSE: HAS) today reported 2002 full year and fourth quarter financial results. For the year, excluding certain non-recurring items detailed below, the Company had net earnings of $106.8 million or $0.62 per diluted share, compared to earnings excluding certain non-recurring items announced last year of $72.1 million or $0.42 per diluted share. The Company reported a GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) net loss of $170.7 million or $0.98 per diluted share, including cumulative effect of an accounting change of $1.42 per diluted share, compared to net earnings last year of $59.7 million or $0.35 per diluted share. Eliminating the impact of amortization of goodwill and intangible assets with indefinite lives from 2001 would have resulted in GAAP net earnings for 2001 of $104.7 million or $0.61 per diluted share.
"We are very pleased with our accomplishments in 2002. Excluding certain non-recurring items, we delivered strong earnings and exceeded consensus estimates for both the fourth quarter and the full year in a very challenging economic and retail environment," said Alan G. Hassenfeld, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
"Our strategy of driving core brands is working as a number of brands --including G.I. JOE, TRANSFORMERS, PLAY-DOH, LITE BRITE and MAGIC THE GATHERING trading card games were all up significantly for the fourth quarter," Hassenfeld continued.
For the fourth quarter, excluding non-recurring items detailed below, the Company had net earnings of $72.9 million or $0.42 per diluted share, compared to $63.8 million or $0.37 per diluted share last year before non-recurring items. The Company reported GAAP net earnings of $62.2 million or $0.36 per diluted share, compared to net earnings of $52.5 million or $0.30 per diluted share. Adjusting 2001 GAAP net earnings for the impact of amortization noted above would result in 2001 net earnings for the quarter of $68.7 million or $0.39 per diluted share.
In the fourth quarter, non-recurring items included a before and after-tax charge of 4.8 million pounds sterling or approximately U.S. $7.6 million or $0.04 per diluted share, announced yesterday by the Company with respect to decisions by the Office of Fair Trading in its investigation of pricing practices of the Company's U.K. subsidiary. Also in the fourth quarter, there is a non-cash, after-tax charge of $3.2 million or $0.02 per diluted share related to a further decline in the value of the Company's investment in Infogrames Entertainment SA. The 2001 fourth quarter non-recurring items included an after-tax loss of $11.3 million, or $0.06 per diluted share related to the deteriorating business environment in Argentina.
For the full-year 2002 results, non-recurring items included a $245.7 million or $1.42 per diluted share, net of tax, non-cash charge as a cumulative effect of a change in accounting principle related to the adoption of FASB 142 "Goodwill and Other Intangibles." In addition to the OFT charge discussed above, non-recurring items also included a total non-cash, after-tax charge of $31.7 million or $0.18 per diluted share related to the decline in the value of the Company's investment in Infogrames Entertainment SA and $7.6 million or $0.04 per diluted share after tax income from interest received from a U.S. tax settlement. In addition to the Argentina charge discussed above, non-recurring items in 2001 also included a $1.1 million, net of tax, full year cumulative effect of an accounting change that resulted from the implementation of FASB 133.
Total fourth quarter net revenues were $997.4 million, compared to $988.7 million a year ago. For the year, net revenues worldwide were $2.8 billion, a decrease of 1% compared to the prior year of $2.9 billion.
Revenues in the U.S. Toys segment were $996.5 million for the year and $288.8 million for the quarter, an increase of 7% and 2%, respectively. Full year operating profit increased significantly year over year to $75.7 million, compared with $15.8 million last year. The segment experienced strength in sales of certain core product lines including G.I. JOE, TRANSFORMERS, PLAY-DOH and PLAYSKOOL. The Company also had a number of successful new product introductions, including BEYBLADES and FURREAL FRIENDS, two of the industry's hottest products.
Revenues in the Games segment were $739.8 million for the year and $269 million for the quarter, a decline of 8% and an increase of 6%, respectively. Revenue for the year was impacted by the decline in licensed trading card games and electronic games. However, retail sales of board games in our top five U.S. accounts continued to do well, with double-digit increases for both the year and the quarter. In addition, the adult category was up significantly at retail, led by the success of TRIVIAL PURSUIT 20th ANNIVERSARY EDITION. The Games segment continued to be profitable, with full year operating profit of $124.5 million compared to $156.1 million last year.
International segment revenues were $970.8 million for the year and $392 million for the quarter, a decline of 3% and 2%, respectively. For the full year and quarter, this represents a decline of 6% and 8% in local currency, respectively. Revenue for the year was impacted by the decline in licensed trading card games and electronic toys. However, the segment experienced strength in sales of certain core product lines including TRANSFORMERS, PLAY-DOH, MICRO-MACHINES and MAGIC THE GATHERING trading card games. The segment continued to be profitable, with operating profit of $12.7 million, prior to the OFT charge, compared with operating profit of $28.7 million in the prior year.
"We are pleased with the progress we have made in 2002," said Alfred J. Verrecchia, President and Chief Operating Officer. "We maintained our focus on managing the balance sheet as we reduced inventory levels and increased cash. Inventories decreased by $27.3 million or 13% and total debt, net of cash, decreased $384 million as compared to the fourth quarter last year and was down $684 million compared to two years ago."
"Going forward, we believe over time we can grow revenue between three to five percent per annum and we expect to deliver operating margins of 10% or better this year," Verrecchia concluded.
Full Year Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) was $403 million, compared to $435 million last year.
The Company will webcast its fourth quarter earnings conference call at 9:00 a.m. Eastern time today. Investors and the media are invited to listen at http://www.hasbro.com (select "Corporate Info" from the home page, then click on "Investor Information", and then click on the webcast icon).
Hasbro is a worldwide leader in children's and family leisure time entertainment products and services, including the design, manufacture and marketing of games and toys ranging from traditional to high-tech. Both internationally and in the U.S., its PLAYSKOOL, TONKA, MILTON BRADLEY, PARKER BROTHERS, TIGER and WIZARDS OF THE COAST brands and products provide the highest quality and most recognizable play experiences in the world.
Certain statements contained in this release contain "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements may be identified by the use of forward-looking words or phrases such as "anticipate", "believe", "could", "expect", "intend", "look forward", "may", "planned", "potential", "should", "will" and "would". Such forward-looking statements are inherently subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties. The Company's actual actions or results may differ materially from those expected or anticipated in the forward-looking statements. Specific factors that might cause such a difference include, but are not limited to: the Company's ability to manufacture, source and ship new and continuing products on a timely basis and the acceptance of those products by customers and consumers at prices that will be sufficient to profitably recover development, manufacturing, marketing, royalty and other costs of products; economic conditions, including the retail market, higher fuel prices, currency fluctuations and government regulation and other actions in the various markets in which the Company operates throughout the world; the inventory policies of retailers, including the concentration of the Company's revenues in the second half and fourth quarter of the year, together with increased reliance by retailers on quick response inventory management techniques, which increases the risk of underproduction of popular items, overproduction of less popular items and failure to achieve tight and compressed shipping schedules; work stoppages, slowdowns or strikes, which may impact the Company's ability to manufacture or deliver product, the bankruptcy or other lack of success of one of the Company's significant retailers which could negatively impact the Company's revenues or bad debt exposure; the impact of competition on revenues, margins and other aspects of the Company's business, including the ability to secure, maintain and renew popular licenses and the ability to attract and retain talented employees in a competitive environment; market conditions, third party actions or approvals and the impact of competition that could delay or increase the cost of implementation of the Company's consolidation programs or alter the Company's actions and reduce actual results; the risk that anticipated benefits of acquisitions may not occur or be delayed or reduced in their realization; and other risks and uncertainties as may be detailed from time to time in the Company's public announcements and SEC filings. The Company undertakes no obligation to make any revisions to the forward-looking statements contained in this release or to update them to reflect events or circumstances occurring after the date of this release.
EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) represents operating profit (loss) excluding, restructuring, depreciation and all amortization. EBITDA is not adjusted for all noncash expenses or for working capital, capital expenditures or other investment requirements and, accordingly, is not necessarily indicative of amounts that may be available for discretionary uses. Thus, EBITDA should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for net earnings or cash provided by operating activities, each prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, when measuring Hasbro's profitability or liquidity as more fully discussed in the Company's financial statements and filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
CONSOLIDATED CONDENSED BALANCE SHEETS
(Thousands of Dollars) December 29, December 30,
Cash and Cash Equivalents $495,372 $233,095
Accounts Receivable, Net 555,144 572,499
Inventories 190,144 217,479
Other Current Assets 190,964 345,545
Total Current Assets 1,431,624 1,368,618
Property, Plant and Equipment, Net 213,499 235,360
Other Assets 1,497,758 1,765,001
Total Assets $3,142,881 $3,368,979
LIABILITIES AND SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY
Short-term Borrowings $21,051 $34,024
Current Installments of Long-term Debt 201,841 2,304
Payables and Accrued Liabilities 743,958 722,263
Total Current Liabilities 966,850 758,591
Long-term Debt 857,274 1,165,649
Deferred Liabilities 127,391 91,875
Total Liabilities 1,951,515 2,016,115
Total Shareholders' Equity 1,191,366 1,352,864
Total Liabilities and Shareholders' Equity $3,142,881 $3,368,979
CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS
Quarter Ended Year Ended
(Thousands of Dollars Dec. 29, Dec. 30, Dec. 29, Dec. 30,
and Shares Except Per 2002 2001 2002 2001
Net Revenues $997,441 $988,729 $2,816,230 $2,856,339
Cost of Sales 393,665 427,515 1,099,162 1,223,483
Gross Profit 603,776 561,214 1,717,068 1,632,856
Amortization 28,093 33,608 94,576 121,652
Royalties 93,774 78,221 296,152 209,725
Research and Product
Development 47,105 33,352 153,775 125,633
Advertising 108,242 101,496 296,549 290,829
and Administration 211,644 194,628 656,725 675,482
Restructuring Charge - (1,795) - (1,795)
Operating Profit 114,918 121,704 219,291 211,330
Interest Expense 21,743 26,361 77,499 103,688
Other (Income) Expense,
Net 6,522 11,369 37,704 11,443
Earnings Before Income
Taxes and Cumulative
Effect of Accounting
Change 86,653 83,974 104,088 96,199
Income Taxes 24,497 31,489 29,030 35,401
Cumulative Effect of
Accounting Change 62,156 52,485 75,058 60,798
Cumulative Effect of
Accounting Change, Net
of Tax - - (245,732) (1,066)
Net Earnings (Loss) $62,156 $52,485 $(170,674) $59,732
Per Common Share
Cumulative Effect of
Basic $0.36 $0.30 $0.43 $0.35
Diluted $0.36 $0.30 $0.43 $0.35
Net Earnings (Loss)
Basic $0.36 $0.30 ($0.99) $0.35
Diluted $0.36 $0.30 ($0.98) $0.35
Declared $0.03 $0.03 $0.12 $0.12
Weighted Average Number
Basic 172,802 172,428 172,720 172,131
Diluted 173,240 174,123 173,488 173,018
Earnings Per Share Table
Quarter Ended Year Ended
(Thousands of Dollars and Dec. 29, Dec. 30, Dec. 29, Dec. 30,
Shares Except Per Share Data) 2002 2001 2002 2001
Diluted Shares 173,240 174,123 173,488 173,018
Net Earnings, Excluding
Certain Non-recurring Items $72,881 $63,775 $106,815 $72,088
Diluted Earnings Per Share,
Non-recurring Items $0.42 $0.37 $0.62 $0.42
After Tax Impact of:
OFT Charge $(7,566) - $(7,566) -
Infogrames Write-down (3,159) - (31,747) -
Interest on Tax Refund - - 7,556 -
Argentina Losses - (11,290) - (11,290)
Accounting Changes - - (245,732) (1,066)
Net Earnings (Loss), GAAP $62,156 $52,485 $(170,674) $59,732
Diluted Earnings (Loss) Per
Share, GAAP $0.36 $0.30 $(0.98) $0.35
Amortization Impact - $16,219 - $45,013
Net Earnings (Loss), Adjusted
for Amortization Impact $62,156 $68,704 $(170,674) $104,745
Diluted Earnings (Loss) Per
Share, Adjusted for
Amortization Impact $0.36 $0.39 $(0.98) $0.61
Major Segment Results
(Thousands of Dollars) Dec. 29, Dec. 30,
2002 2001 % Change
External Revenues $288,837 $283,232 2%
Operating Profit 9,379 12,434 (25)%
External Revenues 269,023 252,777 6%
Operating Profit 56,202 53,918 4%
External Revenues 391,966 401,250 (2)%
Operating Profit (excluding OFT
charge) 49,194 48,135 2%
Dec. 29, Dec. 30,
2002 2001 % Change
External Revenues $996,496 $935,530 7%
Operating Profit 75,664 15,808 379%
External Revenues 739,782 801,467 (8)%
Operating Profit 124,523 156,089 (20)%
External Revenues 970,825 996,266 (3)%
Operating Profit (excluding OFT
charge) 12,743 28,658 (56)%
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