Hot to Trot

As Hot Wheels gears up for the premiere of its first animated television series later this year, Barry Waldo of Mattel talks with License! Global about how he is leveraging content across Mattel brands. Barry Waldo, vi

April 6, 2018

3 Min Read

As Hot Wheels gears up for the premiere of its first animated television series later this year, Barry Waldo of Mattel talks with License! Global about how he is leveraging content across Mattel brands.

Barry Waldo, vice president of worldwide entertainment and consumer products for Mattel, heads up all licensed properties, other than Barbie, in the Mattel portfolio. As the business gears up for the premiere of animated television series "Hot Wheels: Battle Force," he also is looking at leveraging content from other Mattel properties. i1_543.jpg

Last year was tough for Mattel. In 2008, worldwide gross sales for Mattel girls' and boys' brands were $3.64 billion, down 2 percent on the previous year. But worldwide gross sales for girls' brands, excluding Barbie, were up 11 percent for the year. Worldwide gross sales for the Hot Wheels category were up 4 percent. Worldwide gross sales for the entertainment business, including Radica and games and puzzles, were down 4 percent.

But Waldo is positive about how to engage children during a difficult economic environment. "It's very important to keep exciting kids with our core brands through programs that have fun, hopeful and optimistic tones. Kids have an incredible ability to be much more optimistic in tough times, and we must keep them excited and dreaming about their future."

What's the latest on Hot Wheels?

We're working on the animation with Nelvana and Nerd Corps Entertainment. "Hot Wheels: Battle Force" will premiere in fall 2009 in Canada on Teletoon and on Cartoon Network in the U.S. It rolls into the U.K. and other territories in 2010. Hot Wheels continues to be a top boys' property year after year, and the new series will deliver everything boys have loved about the brand—speed, power, performance and attitude—along with adrenaline-fueled action and new vehicles and characters. It's an incredible milestone for the Hot Wheels brand.

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How would you describe your role across entertainment and consumer products?

I'm leveraging the content of our properties to drive licensing. The aim is to build a portfolio of brands across entertainment and consumer products, which support each other. We're driving the core brands first. I briefed groups of licensees at last month's Nuremberg Toy Fair on the Hot Wheels animation. We already have the initial style guide and will follow up with more detailed assets for the crash-and-bash action comedy. And we're already talking to Activision in the U.S. about gaming.

It's not just about Hot Wheels, though?

Absolutely not. We are working with Warner Premiere on a direct-to-video live-action movie for girls' brand Polly Pocket. We have a script and expect a release in 2010. And we've taken our game 20Q to television with a show from Endemol and 20th Century Fox. It's already in Spain, Greece and Argentina, and it will launch in Italy and the U.S. next. A key area of development for us is our strong game properties. We have movie ideas for Uno and Magic 8 Ball, as well as more game show concepts. It's part of driving our core brands.

And your archive?

We're looking at Masters of the Universe and He-Man. Masters of the Universe was a $1 billion franchise in the 1980s, while today it is in the market as a collector's brand. We're working with Warner Bros. on a new vision—a live-action movie that could be released in 2011.

Explain the strategy behind the content ideas.

The strategy is about taking initiatives with our existing intellectual property. But we have to make sure it makes sense. We ask ourselves, does the brand translate to content? Everything we do has to have a credible soul to it. With Masters of the Universe, there is a wonderful rich mythology to the brand that we can build on with a movie. On 20Q, there is a compelling translation into a game show. It is important to us that we are creating credible content that justifies the format.

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