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In post 727, I promised that I would post which the board could co-edit which addresses some concerns of shareholders and potential shareholders of Hasbro, Inc. Although I put a few of my concerns in, I know the letter would be much improved if the board contributes its great ideas to the letter. The letter is attached to a response to this post, in case you want to skip it. >:

Kobalt
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Hasbro, Inc.
1027 Newport Ave.
Pawtucket, RI 02861


Dear Hasbro,

As a concerned shareholder and enthusiastic game player, I am writing to suggest that, while Hasbro has done a fine job of running a toy company, there are three initiatives into which Hasbro needs to invest more time, money and equity. If done properly, Hasbro can propel itself to the top spot in the toys and gaming world.

Hasbro Interactive Division

I was futilely searching for something on AskJeeves.com when, in the "what are people asking jeeves" box, I saw someone asking where to find Monopoly Leagues. Bowling leagues may have atrophied over the past two and a half decades, but the need for interaction, association, and competition hasn't disappeared. Hasbro recognizes the power of this need in its purchases of the largest company selling role playing games (RPG) and in its wise investment in the Games.com portal. I hope the Games.com portal is just the beginning of its online gaming initiatives. Online leagues and competitions, higher-level competitions of Hasbro games at large screen game facilities, and intensely Internet based games and cooperative puzzles are all initiatives from which Hasbro can potentially profit. I would love to play a Hasbro first person shooter on a 10 by 15 foot screen in a nearby facility. How about educational games in conjunction with Kaplan Education? In addition, the success of Everquest should spur efforts on your part to develop Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) and other RPG branded online and computer games. In addition, Blizzard Entertainment's Warcraft and Starcraft are great examples of how adding an online component to traditional computer gaming can be highly profitable.

Leveraging Role Playing Game Properties

Purchasing Wizards of the Coast was an excellent decision by Hasbro, Inc. It is now time for Hasbro to grow and extend those acquired brands as never before. I can't wait to see the prime time (or Saturday morning or Cable) D&D cartoon and play the online game. And the movies. Finally, movie technology advanced enough to make fantastical creatures look believable has been used by the company with the best medieval fantasy brand in existence to make a great D&D movie! You can make these a reality. In addition, the coming animated Tolkien films should energize your Wizards of the Coast division to develop additional game and merchandise offerings of tie-in or pseudo-tie-in products. That the short animated preview was downloaded 1.7 million times in the first hour it was posted is evidence that this alternate universe has widespread appeal. A useful merchandising model to learn from may be the comic book world's model, with images and stories reproduced across every imaginable product.

Adult toys

One of the great, untapped markets in toys and gaming is the adult toys market. As the baby boomers retire, there will be a growing market for toys and games to occupy their time. Few toy companies have appealed to the adult toy and game market as a significant and discrete market segment. Although many adult toys and games do exist, they are not marketed as such. Almost every ad I have ever seen for a toy or game has had a child or a family playing it, with the scenes being either MTV overload or Valium dull, respectively. Hasbro should experiment with more adult marketing. I think you may be surprised at the positive results.

In addition, I do find there could be more development time put into toys made for adults. Yes, there are plenty of interlocking metal loop puzzles, serious board games, and day trading software packages, but it seems to me there should be a larger variety of games and toys available to me. What happened to kite-flying innovations, recumbent bicycles, and pervasive lawn games? I do not necessarily suggest Hasbro pursue these items, but I have a sense we have lost physicality, collegiality and other positive traits from many of our leisure toys, activities, and games. If nothing else, shouldn't someone try to sell me a GameMan instead of GameBoy, getting rid of the abrasive brat as poster boy for the game?

Pursuit of these initiatives moves Hasbro into higher margin businesses, rounds out its high quality name brand offerings, and allows the Hasbro name a challenger to the throne held by Mattel. We have stood behind Hasbro in the past. Prove to us we should have the confidence to stand behind you in the future. Thank you listening to our concerns and we hope to hear from you soon.



Yours Truly,


Hasbro Board Members of the Motley Fool




Some specific questions that I need help addressing before the letter goes wide.

CONTENT AND CHARACTER QUESTIONS
What should I add, subtract, modify?
Can someone take Hasbro to task on financial?
Tone, phrasing, continuity, unity, organization?
Should I say “You should” or “Hasbro should”?
Need letter conclusion help?

PROCESS AND POSTAL QUESTIONS
Who do I address it to? Do I CC?
Will they respond to us?
Do you all want to be credited (“Gaming Members of the Motley Fool”) or just blame it on me?

Kob
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Uhhh...

Adult Toys?

;)

I think you're on the right track, but if you ask me, you've missed the biggie.

The NUMBER ONE problem with Hasbro Interactive is that they're on the fast track to an image problem. Axis & Allies. Frogger. Pong. HI seems to have the attitude that people will buy any schlock videogame with a big label on it. That may work once or even twice. But it is NOT a viable long-term business plan. I have been disappointed (as have some of the vociferous newbies on this board ;) with the quality of these and other Hasbro games.

They are REALLY shooting themselves in the foot on that one. Yes, it's true that maybe Dad will buy Pong for little Johnny because he remembers it from his teen years. But when he gets home and plays it with his son, and it crashes on him, and it's just NOT FUN, we'll see if he buys the next Hasbro license-based game. We'll see if he doesn't return it lickety-split for the next Tomb Raider or some other product.

And, in fact, he'll probably be turned off of the whole videogame industry, figuring that Hasbro's products are representative.

I'd like to see what comes of this letter. Good show with the iniative to start this. I'd recommend sending it to the IR department, in addition to wherever else you decide.

Peace, and Smooth Waters.
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Ahoy there! I just signed onto Hasbro, but I've been watching these boards for a few months...thanks to all of you! Now, onto what I had to say...


As far as a specific suggestion for expansion in the RPG sector for Hasbro, well, Star Wars games have been out of print since West End Games went under a few years back. If Hasbro/TSR/Wizards were to somehow snatch up the license, well, I for one would buy. Of course, one of the reasons I mention this (besides that I want to see the game on the market) is that Hasbro already has a good deal of Star Wars stuff licensed so it might be easy to acquire this. Oh yeah, and West End put a lot of money into the Men in Black RPG (which bombed) among other things before it went under...it wasn't a lack of sales of Star Wars games.
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Game Maker, good point about serious image, content and
quality problems at Hasbro Interactive (HI). Besides
Roller Coaster Tycoon, a cool take off on simulation
gaming, I can't think of truly great games coming out
of HI.

I will edit the HI section of the letter
adding your comments. It may be a few days, I'm going
on vacation to beautiful, fossil-filled Colorado. I
will post new sections when I get back.

Kob

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No. of Recommendations: 1
My Last Revision, I think.....

President,
Investor Relations
Hasbro, Inc.
1027 Newport Ave.
Pawtucket, RI 02861


Dear Hasbro,

As a concerned shareholder and enthusiastic game player, I am writing to suggest that, while Hasbro has done an acceptable job of running a toy company, there are three areas into which Hasbro needs to invest more time, money or equity. If done properly, Hasbro can propel itself to the top spot in the toys and gaming world.

Hasbro Interactive Division

I was futilely searching for something on AskJeeves.com when, in the "what are people asking Jeeves" box, I saw that someone was asking where to find Monopoly Leagues. Bowling leagues may have atrophied over the past two and a half decades, but the need for interaction, association, and competition hasn't disappeared. Hasbro recognizes the power of this need in its purchase of the largest company selling role playing games (RPG) and its wise investment in the Games.com portal. I hope the Games.com portal is just the beginning of Hasbro's online gaming initiatives.

Online leagues and competitions, higher-level competitions of Hasbro games at large screen game facilities, and intensely Internet based games and cooperative puzzles are all initiatives from which Hasbro can potentially profit. I would love to play a Hasbro first person shooter on a 10 by 15 foot screen in a nearby facility. High-end LAN'ed games at Wizards of the Coast Stores are a start, but making someone else, like Dave & Buster's, carry the overhead might be another idea to explore. Another idea is for Hasbro to develop net-based, interactive educational games in conjunction with Kaplan Education or another online education company.

In addition, the success of Everquest should spur efforts on your part to develop Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) and other RPG branded online and computer games. Blizzard Entertainment's Warcraft and Starcraft are great examples of how adding an online component to traditional computer gaming can be highly profitable.

More elemental, and troubling, are Hasbro Interactive's troubles with its existing stable of products. A number of friends and investment message board posters have complained, often vociferously, about the poor quality and lack of imagination of games coming out of Hasbro. As one of them told me,

“Yes, it's true that maybe Dad will buy Pong for little Johnny because he remembers it from his teen years. But when he gets home and plays it with his son, and it crashes on him, and it's just NOT FUN, we'll see if he buys the next Hasbro license-based game. We'll see if he doesn't return it lickety-split for the next Tomb Raider or some other product.”

With a few recent exceptions, Hasbro Interactive, and many other traditional CD-ROM game makers, have had a hard time selling games. Writing poor rehashes of an aging stable of games compounds your problems, diluting the name brand not only of each game, but of Hasbro Interactive and Hasbro as a whole. Hasbro Interactive needs to take do something with its current products besides maintain the status quo of mediocrity.

Leveraging Role Playing Game Properties

Purchasing Wizards of the Coast was an excellent decision by Hasbro, Inc. It is now time for Hasbro to grow and extend those acquired brands as never before. I can't wait to see the prime time (or Saturday morning or Cable) D&D cartoon and play the online game. And the movies. Finally, movie technology advanced enough to make fantastical creatures look believable has been used by the company with the best medieval fantasy brand in existence to make a great D&D movie! You can make these a reality. In addition, the coming animated Tolkien films should energize your Wizards of the Coast division to develop additional game and merchandise offerings of tie-in or pseudo-tie-in products. That the short animated preview was downloaded 1.7 million times in the first hour it was posted is evidence that this alternate universe has widespread appeal.

Additionally, the Star Wars franchise offers a way for your WOTC division to make money. Buy the defunct West End Games, get the Star Wars RPG license, and sell a renewed game. Developing and buying RPGs and selling them is old hat for WOTC.

One opportunity of which WOTC has not yet taken advantage, and one which Hasbro as a whole has also not taken advantage of for years as well, is character specific branding. Although WOTC has to be careful not to alienate its thousands of gamers, creating a few named dragons, elves, and paladins and putting them into good stories, comics, and television shows can be a way to draw new audiences and revenue streams to WOTC products. A useful product development and merchandising model to learn from may be the comic book world's model, with images and stories reproduced across every imaginable product and service (affinity credit cards, t-shirts, new comic book titles)

Grown-up Fun & Gadgetry

One of the great, untapped markets in toys and gaming is the adult toys market. As the baby boomers retire, there will be a growing market for toys and games to occupy their time. Few toy companies have appealed to the adult toy and game market as a significant and discrete market segment. Although many adult toys and games do exist, they are not marketed as such. Almost every time I see an ad for a toy or game today, it has a child or a family playing, with the ad scenes being either MTV overload or Valium dull, respectively. Why focus on a market with the attention span of a gnat, tastes as fickle a squirrel in traffic, and as disloyal as a Praying Mantis after mating when, you can have access to a more lucrative and loyal market of older buyers.

Making special focus on this market is also more important for Hasbro than its larger rival because Hasbro does not own powerful, cross-generational brands like Hot Wheels, Barbie, and American Girl. Just think how many purchases of these products are by adults, and how many purchases by or for children were influenced by adult collectors or nostalgic feelings on the part of adults.

In addition, I do find there could be more development time put into toys made for adults. Yes, there are plenty of interlocking metal loop puzzles, serious board games, and day trading software packages, but it seems to me there should be a larger variety of games and toys available to me. What happened to kite-flying innovations, recumbent bicycles, and pervasive lawn games? I do not necessarily suggest Hasbro pursue large, expensive toys, but I have a sense we have lost physicality, collegiality, maturity and other positive traits from many of our leisure toys, activities, and games. How about a hide-and-seek game based on new locational technologies like global positioning systems (GPS)? What about porting Hasbro's arcade game library onto the Palm-OS? What about creating new Nerf games and pitching them to older kids and adults for beach and picnic fun? What about branding a Playdoh digital camera and claymation hardware-software package to make mini-Chicken Run movies? How about developing or buying a Cybiko-like email toy, possibly based on the Linux operating system and costing $100 or less? If nothing else, why hasn't a toy company tried to sell me a GameMan instead of GameBoy, getting rid of the abrasive brat as poster boy for the game?

Overall Toy Leadership

Hasbro has opportunities of which it has not taken full advantage. Mattel's troubles, especially with its potentially lucrative interactive division, comes to mind first as an opportunity for Hasbro to attack Mattel on its turf instead of defending yours. However, Hasbro has also yet to take full advantage of the powerful branding and money making opportunities afforded by the online medium, entertainment oriented electronic devices, and new interactive capabilities in games and toys (Furby excepted).

Furthermore, Hasbro undermines its ability to take advantage of opportunities when it fails to be honest in company assessment. Blaming your troubles on “lower demand for our products”, referring to “softening” of various market segments, and citing shortages as the reason for poor business execution is stupid and dangerous for a company truly interested creating sustained shareholder value. Why haven't you mentioned your failure to analyze demographics and toy market trends sufficiently and your failure to design new products which would smooth out falling trends in other product lines? I usually could care less about analysts, but 16 stock downgrades and a stock price at less than a third of what it was at its 52 week high is what happens when you fail to be honest with your investors and fail to articulate a clear, shareholder enhancing strategy.

Careful examination of existing business strategies, management, and creative methods are in order for Hasbro. Pursuit of the initiatives above can move Hasbro into higher margin businesses, round out its high quality name brand offerings, and allow the Hasbro name to challenge the throne held by Mattel. We have stood behind Hasbro in the past. Prove to us we should have the confidence to stand behind you in the future. Thank you listening to our concerns and we hope to hear from you soon.



Yours Truly,


Hasbro Board Members of the Motley Fool @ Fool.com




Some specific questions that I need help addressing before the letter goes wide.

CONTENT AND CHARACTER QUESTIONS
What should I add, subtract, modify?
Anyone want to add a paragraph on failing Hasbro financials?
Tone, phrasing, continuity, unity, organization?
Should I say “You should” or “Hasbro should”?
Does the letter need intro or conclusion help?

PROCESS AND POSTAL QUESTIONS
Who do I address it to besides Invest Relations and President/CEO?
Will they respond to us?
Do you all want to be credited (“Gaming Members of the Motley Fool”) or just blame it on me?

Kob
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No. of Recommendations: 0
Kob -

One more feedback bit: I'd change
But when he gets home and plays it with his son, and it crashes on him, and it's just NOT FUN, we'll see if he buys the next Hasbro license-based game

to

But when he gets home and plays it with his son and it crashes on him, we'll see if he buys the next Hasbro license-based game

Take out the "NOT FUN" bit. That's too subjective. I'd hate for them to argue the "we can only try our best to provide fun products" line, without addressing the real issue: LACK OF QUALITY.

Should I say “You should” or “Hasbro should”?

Hasbro should.

Will they respond to us?

Probably not.

Do you all want to be credited (“Gaming Members of the Motley Fool”) or just blame it on me?

I like what you had there.

Peace, and Smooth Waters.

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