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"Hip, Hip, Hippo-hoo-ray!"

- W.J. Flywheel, Webporium Curator

HUNGRY HUNGRY HIPPOS

Hungry Hungry Hippos (or Hungry Hippos in some UK editions) is a tabletop game made for 2–4 players, produced by Hasbro, under the brand of its subsidiary, Milton Bradley. The idea for the game was published in 1967 by toy inventor Fred Kroll and it was introduced in 1978. As a boy, Kroll knew he wanted to be in the toy business. His father manufactured cardboard games that Kroll would peddle in and around New York City. After a stint in the U.S. Army during World War II, Kroll went to work as a salesman for the Pressman Toy Corporation. He later discovered Hungry Hungry Hippos in Japan. Kroll (who is also known for creating the game Trouble) licensed the international rights to the game from the Agatsuma company in Tokyo. After selling those rights to Hasbro, Kroll, who died in 2003, maintained that the game’s royalties were enough to live on.

The objective of the game is for each player to collect as many marbles as possible with their 'hippo' (a toy hippo model). The game is marketed under the "Elefun and Friends" banner, along with Elefun, Mouse Trap and Gator Golf. The game has been referenced in The Simpsons, Mystery Science Theater 3000, the 2010 Disney/Pixar movie Toy Story 3, the 2017 movie My Little Pony: The Movie, the 2001 cult film Donnie Darko, and the 2020 Netflix series Space Force. There is also a battle level based on the game in the 2016 Micro Machines game. The game board is surrounded by four mechanical, colorful, plastic hippopotamuses operated by levers on their backs.

When the lever is pressed, the hippo opens its mouth and extends its head forwards on a telescopic neck. When the lever is released, the head comes down and retracts. Colored plastic marbles are dispensed into the board by each player, and the players repeatedly press the lever on their hippo in order to have it "eat" the marbles, which travel down from under the hippo into a small scoring area for each player. Once all marbles have been captured, the player who has collected the most is the winner.

There were four hippopotamuses in the original version of the game: Lizzie Hippo (purple), Henry Hippo (orange), Homer Hippo (green), and Harry Hippo (yellow). A later edition of the game replaces the purple hippo, Lizzie, with a pink one named Happy. Although this passage states there was a purple Hippo named Lizzie, games that are stamped with a 1978 copyright have a Pink Hippo named Happy. In some versions of Hungry Hungry Hippos, Henry is replaced by a blue hippo of the same name. The fall 2009 North American edition of the game has a lighter blue base with pastel-colored versions of the Hippos: Sweetie Potamus (pink), Bottomless Potamus (yellow), Veggie Potamus (green), and Picky Potamus (orange). The 2012 re-release has a slightly darker blue base and goes back to regular-colored versions of the Hippos: Sweetie Potamus (blue), Bottomless Potamus (yellow), Veggie Potamus (green), and Hungry Hippo (orange).

In 1991, ICE (Innovative Concepts in Entertainment) created a redemption arcade version of the game, a supersized resemblance of the board game version. The amount of marbles consumed was displayed at the top of the dome for each player. The more marbles a hippo consumed, the more tickets that hippo's player received.

The previous year, Sinclair User published a game called "Piggy Punks", written by Hellenic Software for the ZX Spectrum, which was inspired by the board game. The game showed an overhead view of a board with four pigs, each controlled by a separate player, in place of the four hippos.

In 2012, film studio Emmett/Furla Films announced that they were working on an animated film adaptation of Hungry Hungry Hippos, along with Monopoly and Action Man. The movie's plot and other details were being kept secret (for obvious reasons). Production was originally scheduled to start in early 2016.

Rogue Judges, a volunteer judging group at Gen Con, ran a "1st Annual Hungry Hungry Hippos World Championship" in August of 2015 and have continued to hold one every year since at the Indiana Convention Center, with players aged 6 and over allowed to compete. In 2016, more than 100 players vied for the title of hungriest hippo. The winner received a hippo mounted on a plaque. A Hungry Hungry Hippos Tournament was also hosted at Smash the Record 2017.

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In 2018, Manchester United soccer player Axel Tuanzebe set the Guinness World Record for the fastest game of Hungry Hungry Hippos ever completed. Tuanzebe gobbled up all 20 marbles in an official time of 17.37 seconds.

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HASBRO

Hasbro is a syllabic abbreviation of its original name, Hassenfeld Brothers, an American multinational conglomerate with toy, board game, and media assets, headquartered in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Hasbro owns the trademarks and products of Kenner, Parker Brothers, and Milton Bradley, among others. Among its products are Transformers, G.I. Joe, Power Rangers, Rom, Micronauts, M.A.S.K., Monopoly, Furby, Nerf, Twister, and My Little Pony.

Three Polish-Jewish brothers, Herman, Hillel, and Henry Hassenfeld founded Hassenfeld Brothers in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1923, a company selling textile remnants. Over the next two decades, the company expanded to produce pencil cases and school supplies. In 1926, Hassenfeld Brothers was incorporated; Hillel left for another textile business while Henry took charge of the corporation. They began making their own pencils when their pencil supplier began making pencil cases as well.

Hassenfeld Brothers produced modeling clay and then doctor and nurse kits as their first toys, and they became primarily a toy company by 1942. Hillel died in 1943 and Henry Hassenfeld became CEO, while his son Merrill became president. The company entered the plastic fields during World War II to support its toy line. Hassenfeld Brothers' first toy hit was Mr. Potato Head, which the company purchased from George Lerner in 1952. The original Mr. Potato Head was merely a handful of plastic pieces that were meant to be stuck inside a real potato, but government regulations ended that. In 1954, the company became a Disney major licensee.

In 1960, Henry died and Merrill took over the parent company, and his older brother Harold ran the pencil-making business of Empire Pencil. Hassenfeld Brothers expanded to Canada with Hassenfeld Brothers (Canada) Ltd. in 1961. The company was approached in 1963 to license a toy based on The Lieutenant, which they turned down because they did not want to be tied to a possibly short-lived television series. Instead, Hassenfeld Brothers produced the G.I. Joe toy in 1964 which they termed an "action figure" in order to market it to boys who wouldn't want to play with dolls. In 1964 and 1965, G.I. Joe accounted for two-thirds of Hassenfeld's sales.

G.I. Joe, one of the most popular toys of all time, was often credited to two creators: Stanley Weston, an Army veteran and licensing agent who pitched the concept to Donald Levine, Hasbro’s chief of research and development who shepherded it to production by Christmas 1964. The original price was $4 a figure.

The company had previously sold toys under the Hasbro trade name, and it shortened its name to Hasbro Industries in 1968 and sold a minor stake in the corporation to the public. The unpopular Vietnam War was at its height in 1969, so Hasbro redesigned GI Joe to be less militaristic and more adventure oriented. Its promotional efforts included the catchphrase "Boy Oh Boy! It's A Hasbro Toy!" in television commercials and print ads. Also in 1969, Hasbro bought Burt Claster Enterprises which produced "Romper Room" and had just begun a Romper Room toy line. In 1970, Hasbro began a plan of diversification and opened the Romper Room Nursery School franchise chain to cash in on President Richard M. Nixon's Family Assistance Plan which subsidized day care for working mothers. By 1975, the company had ended the nursery chain. Hasbro also entered the cookware field with the Galloping Gourmet line based on a television cooking show.

Two new 1970s toys were public relations disasters. One of the toys was named Javelin Darts which were similar to the ancient Roman plumbata (what could possibly go wrong?). On December 19th, 1988, the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned lawn darts from sale in the United States due to their hazards as a flying projectile with a sharp metal point causing multiple deaths.

The other toy was named The Hypo-Squirt, a hypodermic needle-shaped water gun tagged by the press as a "junior junkie" kit. Both were recalled. Romper Room and its toy line had continued success, although Action for Children's Television citizens group considered the program to be an advertising channel for toys.

Merrill Hassenfeld took over as CEO in 1974, and his son Stephen D. Hassenfeld became president. The company became profitable once again but had mixed results due to cash flow problems from increasing the number of toys in the line to offset G.I. Joe's declining sales. Hasbro ended the G.I. Joe line in 1975 because of the rising prices of plastic and crude oil. In 1977, Hasbro's losses were $2.5 million, and the company held a large debt load. That same year, Hasbro acquired licensing rights to Peanuts cartoon characters. With the financial situation poor, Hasbro's bankers made the company temporarily stop dividend payments in early 1979. The toy division's losses increased Harold Hassenfeld's resentment regarding the company's treatment of the Empire Pencil subsidiary as Empire received lower levels of capital spending relative to profits than did the toy division.

With Merrill's death in 1979, Harold did not recognize Stephen's authority as the successor to the chairman and CEO position. As a solution, Hasbro spun off Empire Pencil in 1980, which was the nation's largest pencil maker, with Harold trading his Hasbro shares for those of Empire. Stephen then became both the CEO and chairman of the board. Between 1978 and 1981, Stephen reduced the Hasbro product line by one-third and its new products by one-half. Hasbro focused on simple, low cost, longer life-cycle toys like Mr. Potato Head. Hasbro thus stayed out of the electronic games field which went bust in the early 1980s.

In 1982, Hasbro revived its G.I. Joe line with the help of Marvel Comics, as an anti-terrorist commando based on current events. The company launched the successful Transformers toy line along with a children's animated TV series two years later. With the toys and TV series being popular, Stephen Hassenfeld posed with the toys for a People magazine cover photo.

In 1982, Hasbro produced the successful toy franchise My Little Pony. In 1983, they purchased GLENCO, a manufacturer of infant products and the world's largest bib producer, and Knickerbocker Toy Company, a struggling Warner Communications subsidiary. In 1984, Alan G. Hassenfeld took over as president from his brother Stephen, who continued as CEO and chairman. That same year, the company was the nation's sixth best-selling toymaker, and then acquired the Milton Bradley Company, which was the nation's fifth best-selling toymaker. This brought The Game of Life, Twister, Easy Money, and Playskool into the Hasbro fold and transformed Hasbro into Hasbro Bradley. Stephen Hassenfeld became the merged company's president and CEO, with Milton Bradley chief James Shea Jr. taking the chairman position. However, the executives clashed and Shea left after a few months, and Stephen and Alan returned to their previous positions.

In 1985, the company changed its name again to just Hasbro, Inc. The Jumpstarters toys were the subject of a lawsuit in 1985 when Hasbro sued a toy manufacturer for selling toys based on their Transformers design. Hasbro won the suit. By the mid-1980s, Hasbro moved past Mattel to become the world's largest toy company. Hasbro then moved to outsell Mattel's Barbie in the fashion doll market with the 1986 introduction of Jem, a record producer/rock musician dual identity fashion doll. Jem initially posted strong sales but plummeted and was withdrawn from the market in 1987. Hasbro followed up in 1988 with Maxie, a Barbie-sized blonde doll, so that Barbie clothing and accessories would fit. Maxie lasted until 1990.

Under Alan Hassenfeld's initiative in the late 1980s, Hasbro moved to increase international sales by taking toys overseas that had failed in the US market and selling them for as much as four times the original price. This increased international sales from $268 million in 1985 to $433 million in 1988.

In 1988, Hasbro purchased part of Coleco Industries' and in 1989, acquired bankrupt Coleco for $85 million. Stephen Hassenfeld died later that year with the company having gone from sales of $104 million in the year he took control to 1989 sales of over $1.4 billion.

Alan Hassenfeld succeeded Stephen as chairman and CEO, and continued to grow purchasing Tonka Corp. in 1991 for $486 million, along with its units Parker Brothers, the maker of Monopoly, and Kenner Products. Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers were merged into one division. Hasbro expand overseas with new units in Greece, Hungary, Mexico and Japan.

In the US, Hasbro's growth since 1980 were from acquisitions and the leveraging of the new assets. New product development was not as successful except for movie and TV tie-in product lines with Jurassic Park and Barney. Thus, US sales were stagnant in the early 1990s, falling from 1993 to 1995. To turn domestic performance around in 1994, Hasbro merged the Hasbro Toy, Playskool, Playskool Baby, Kenner, and Kid Dimension units into the Hasbro Toy Group. Meanwhile, Mattel purchased Fisher-Price and retook the top spot in the toy industry.

Hasbro Interactive was started in 1995 and released the Monopoly game on CD-ROM. Mattel also proposed a merger that year, but was turned down by the Hasbro board in 1996 due to antitrust issues and Justice Department investigation into exclusionary policies between toy manufacturers and toy retailers.

In 1998, Hasbro bought Avalon Hill for $6 million and Galoob for $220 million. In 1999 Wizards of the Coast was bought in a deal worth $325 million. In 2001 money-losing Hasbro Interactive was sold to Infogrames, a French software concern, for $100 million. Hasbro entered the building block toy market with its Built to Rule line in 2003, which did not hold together well or were too hard for the targeted age group. The line ended in 2005.

In 2008, Hasbro acquired game maker Cranium, Inc. for $77.5 million, and Brian Goldner was named CEO. Goldner became the first person not from the founding Hassenfeld family to hold the position. Goldner served as executive producer on the successful 2007 Transformers film adaptation, which was credited for broadening Hasbro into a character-based multimedia company. He continued this role on the 2009 films Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

In 2009, Hasbro Studios was formed for TV development, production and distribution. Hasbro collaborated with Discovery on The Hub, a cable network targeting young children and families, which launched on October 10th, 2010. The venture found unexpected success with the television revival of the My Little Pony franchise, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, which became the network's highest-rated program and attracted a significant cult following among teens and adults. The Hub Network was rebranded as Discovery Family on October 13th, 2014.

In 2011, Greenpeace accused Hasbro of purchasing paper for its packaging from ancient forests in Indonesia. Hasbro changed its paper purchasing policy, earning the company praise from Greenpeace executive director Phil Radford, who said: "The new Hasbro policy will also increase the recycled and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper in its toy packaging. Hasbro's new commitments are great news for Indonesian rainforests and the people and wildlife that depend on them."

Having been absent from the building block market since the failure of the Built to Rule line, Hasbro re-entered the market with the Kre-O line in late 2011, starting with some Transformers-based sets.

As a corporation Hasbro continued to grow. In 2014 they tried and failed to buy DreamWorks Animation. In September 2014, Disney announced that Hasbro would be the doll licensee for the Disney Princess line formally held by Mattel. In 2017, Hasbro made a takeover offer for rival Mattel. Mattel rejected the offer. In 2018, Hasbro came close to buying the Lionsgate film company. They were more successful with Saban Brands, purchasing the Power Rangers and other entertainment assets for US$522 million in cash and stock. The sale, which also included My Pet Monster, Popples, Julius Jr., Luna Petunia, Treehouse Detectives and additional properties.

2018 saw Hasbro sign a number of licensing agreements for hospitality deals based on Hasbro brands including a Monopoly themed hotel and NERF family entertainment centers.

THE BATTLE FOR THE DISNEY PRINCESSES

In 2012 Mattel's Barbie sales began to slip and they began paying more attention to Barbie and less on their Disney Princess line. In 2013 the Mattel Toy Company launched the fair and fantasy store-based Ever After High line. It was a line of princess dolls unrelated to the Disney Princess dolls they were also making at the time, and Disney wasn't happy with this move. Feeling negelected by Mattel, with these competing princess doll lines and an expiration of the brand license at the end of 2015, Disney gave Hasbro a chance to gain the license given their work on Star Wars, which led to a Descendants license. Disney Consumer Products also made an attempt to evolve the brand from "damsels" to "heroines." Their shared vision will have each Princess seem more like an individual character, with slightly different heights and waist sizes and features modelled on their animated versions, rather than identical Barbie-ish figurine with painted-on faces and different color dresses. In September 2014, Disney announced Hasbro would be the licensed doll maker for the Disney Princess line starting on January 1st, 2016.

IT'S NOT ALL FUN AND GAMES

Hasbro has also been criticized for focusing some of its products on specific demographic groups. Guess Who? had received complaints over gender and ethnic bias in its choice of 24 images. A petition was started calling on the company to create a "boy-friendly" version of the popular Easy-Bake Oven and to feature boys on their packaging and materials. Hasbro was criticized for "sexist" product design when its 2015 Star Wars Monopoly board game failed to feature Rey, the female protagonist in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, while including all of the supporting male characters. Hasbro explained that Rey was left out of the Monopoly game to avoid spoilers, because the game was released months before the movies. On January 5th, 2016, Hasbro announced that Rey would be included in future versions. Hasbro later stated that it struggled to distribute the updated Monopoly game that includes the Rey piece, because retailers (especially in the United States) showed "insufficient interest" after having already purchased stock of the first release.

This wasn't the only Rey related pop culture controversy, Rey's lack of representation in Force Awakens merchandise was the subject of an ever-growing hashtag campaign called #WheresRey. It first took hold a month before The Force Awakens opened, when the Star Wars fan site Legion of Leia noticed a box set of action figures on sale at Target that included just about everyone but Rey. Gwendoline Christie's super-Stormtrooper character, Captain Phasma, was also absent from the box set. This same kind exclusion also happened with Target's box set for Star Wars Rebels, an animated Lucasfilm show that stars two integral female characters; the box set omitted them in favor of a Stormtrooper and a clone trooper captain.

Hasbro has courted this kind of controversy before, with tie-in merchandise for the Avengers films as well as Guardians of the Galaxy. Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow and Zoe Saldana's Gamora were also not part of the movies' respective action figure box sets for Target, causing fan outrage. Hasbro made a toy set to let kids mimic an Avengers: Age of Ultron scene in which Black Widow dropped out of an aircraft while riding a motorcycle, but for some reason replaced her with Captain America.

Outside of Hasbro box sets, Marvel has often come under fire for excluding female characters. In 2014, Gamora was left off boys' T-shirts, as though she's not an integral Guardian of the Galaxy. A thorough and thoroughly depressing Tumblr called "But Not Black Widow" collects instances of merchandise that features Avengers heroes yet excludes its sole heroine.

It's a problem that only got worse with the 2015 release of Age of Ultron, when the outrage not only resurfaced but also expanded to include Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlett Witch, who was similarly absent. Clark Gregg, who played Agent Coulson in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and on the TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., tweeted support for a "Where's Natasha?" campaign. Even Mark Ruffalo, the Hulk himself, protested the absence of Black Widow on behalf of his daughters.

In early August 2020, Hasbro produced a DreamWorks Animation 12-inch Troll doll aimed at children 4 years and older that "giggled 3 different ways when tickled." It sings a version of the song "Trolls Just Want to Have Fun" from the movie "Trolls World Tour." The doll can also say "How about a hug?" and "Um, cupcake!" Unfortunately the dolls sound activator was placed near it's "naught bits" and the internet got upset. Especially one person on the internet who imagined the Troll "giggles" were sexual in nature and posted such on Facebook (because that's what we do now). The poster put on her foil hat and cried conspiracy, questioning whether the intent was to groom children for depravity. Needless to say Hasbro said the placement of the activator was not intentional and the company removed the device from the marketplace. Score one point for the internet mob. Of course all this fuss may make that doll very collectable in the future so, thanks internet mob.

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