LJN Toys Ltd. was an American toy company and video game publisher based in New York City. Founded in 1970 by Jack Friedman, the company was acquired by MCA Inc. in 1985, sold to Acclaim Entertainment in 1990, and dissolved in 1994. The toy division of the company was closed by Acclaim and the company shifted towards video game publishing before being closed in 1994. The company's branding was last used for the release of Spirit of Speed 1937 in 2000.

LJN Toys Ltd.
TypeSubsidiary
IndustryVideo games
Founded1970; 52 years ago (1970)
FounderJack Friedman
Defunct1994; 28 years ago (1994)
FateDissolved
Headquarters,
US
Parent

HistoryEdit

Early history (1970–1985)Edit

Jack Friedman founded LJN in 1970 using funds from his employer Norman J. Lewis Associates (from which the company name "LJN" is derived, being a reversal of Lewis' initials)[1] after seeing the sale figures of Mattel and Milton Bradley Company increase.[2] Friedman later founded THQ and Jakks Pacific after leaving LJN.[3] LJN shifted money used for television advertising to instead purchase licenses to make toys based on television shows.[4] The first toyline by LJN based on a television show was for Emergency![5] The highest amount the company paid for a license by 1982 was $250,000.[6]

LJN purchased the license to make toys based on E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial for $25,000 due to other companies declining the option, including Kenner Products and Ideal Toy Company, and sold over $16–25 million worth of merchandise without the need of an advertising campaign. A doll based on Brooke Shields was released with a $2 million advertising budget and made over $12 million in 1982. LJN's revenue rose from $5 million in 1971, to $70 million in 1982 due to the E.T. and Brooke Shields toys.[7][6][8][9][10]

LJN competed with Mattel in the toy market.[7] The company produced the ThunderCats toyline in competition to Mattel's Masters of the Universe.[11]

MCA ownership (1985–1990)Edit

On March 26, 1985, MCA Inc. announced that it would purchase 63% of LJN's stocks for $39.8 million and proposed to buy the remainder of the stock for $14.26 for each share which would increase the total value of the deal to almost $65 million.[12] However, the company failed to make a net income from 1986 to 1989, and MCA had to take a $53 million after-tax charge due to the expenses of the company before selling it to Acclaim Entertainment for $30 million in April 1990.[13][14][15] LJN had a revenue of $110,510,000 and a net loss of $37.3 million in 1987.[16]

LJN entered the video game industry by publishing games based on movies and television shows developed by companies including Atlus, Beam Software, and Rare for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1987.[17] The company released the LJN Video Art in 1987.[18][19] The majority of the company's $70 million in sales in 1990 came from video game sales on the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy.[13]

The company released a paint gun line named Gotcha! with a license from the film Gotcha!, but were criticized by consumer protection groups due to the danger it posed to eyes.[20] However, the toyline was financially unsuccessful and MCA had to take a $35 million after-tax charge due to the failure of the toyline and the expenses of the Coleco.[21] The company was also criticized by police officers and Americans for Democratic Action for its Entertech line of toy water guns due to how realistic they looked. LJN changed the design of the toys after three people in the United States from ages 13 to 19 were killed as a result of police officers thinking they had actual guns and multiple cities and states banned the sale of realistic toy guns.[22][23][24]

Acclaim Entertainment ownership (1990–2000)Edit

Lawrence Kanga filed a lawsuit on the behalf of Clark Thiemann on January 31, 1990, against LJN, Nintendo, and Major League Baseball claiming that the game Major League Baseball was falsely advertised to Thiemann stating that it would allow him to simulate being a baseball team manager and Kanga stating that the game was advertised as having all of the players, but instead only had their uniform numbers.[25]

LJN's toy division was closed by Acclaim and shifted the company to a video game publisher.[26] The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled LJN's Sling 'Em- Fling 'Em wrestling ring toys based on the World Wrestling Federation in 1991, after the toyline had sold 1.4 million products from 1985 to 1989 due to multiple children between six and ten being injured by the toy.[27]

Acclaim closed LJN in 1994, but reused the company's name for the release of Spirit of Speed 1937 in 2000.[28][29]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "A Recap of Industry Headlines, Jack Friedman: July 9, 1939-May 3, 2010". Toys and Family Entertainment, Vol.5, No. 7, June 2010. aNb Media, Inc. June 2010. Retrieved March 30, 2022.
  2. ^ "BUSINESS PEOPLE; HEAD OF LNJ TOYS SEES SUCCESS THROUGH 'E.T.'". The New York Times. September 15, 1982. Archived from the original on March 20, 2022. Retrieved March 20, 2022.
  3. ^ "Jack Friedman dies at 70; toy maker". Los Angeles Times. May 6, 2010. Archived from the original on March 20, 2022. Retrieved March 20, 2022.
  4. ^ "Toy companies using TV shows as advertising". Corpus Christi Caller-Times. October 1, 1976. p. 32. Archived from the original on March 16, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ "Toy industry game: Licensing". The Boston Globe. February 19, 1985. p. 64. Archived from the original on March 19, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ a b "Millions to toymakers". Lansing State Journal. December 8, 1982. p. 41. Archived from the original on March 16, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ a b "Buyers are going bananas over licensed toys this year". Palladium-Item. December 7, 1982. p. 9. Archived from the original on March 16, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ "Are you ready for doll wars?". Press & Sun-Bulletin. December 7, 1981. p. 4. Archived from the original on March 16, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ "E.T., phone your broker". The Pantagraph. December 12, 1982. p. 433. Archived from the original on March 16, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ "Small business plays well in market". The Pantagraph. November 2, 2000. p. 24. Archived from the original on March 16, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  11. ^ "Rambo and robots top toy lists for 1986". Sioux City Journal. January 31, 1986. p. 6. Archived from the original on March 19, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ "MCA Agrees to Acquire L.J.N. Toys : Entertainment Firm to Exchange Up to $39.8 Million in Stock". Los Angeles Times. March 27, 1985. Archived from the original on March 16, 2022.
  13. ^ a b "MCA in Pact With Acclaim". The New York Times. March 13, 1990. Archived from the original on March 20, 2022. Retrieved March 20, 2022.
  14. ^ "Company News; MCA Taking Loss In Sale of Toy Unit". The New York Times. January 23, 1990. Archived from the original on March 20, 2022. Retrieved March 20, 2022.
  15. ^ "Acclaim says LJN suit is MCA's problem". Chicago Tribune. July 25, 1990. p. 31. Archived from the original on March 21, 2022. Retrieved March 21, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  16. ^ "MCA to Take $35-Million Charge in Quarter". Los Angeles Times. June 29, 1988. p. 12. Archived from the original on March 21, 2022. Retrieved March 21, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  17. ^ The Routledge Companion to Adaptation. Taylor & Francis. 2018.
  18. ^ "'Hands on' approach to kids' videos". Wisconsin State Journal. September 3, 1989. p. 132. Archived from the original on March 19, 2022. Retrieved March 19, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  19. ^ "Patents; Device Converts TV Set Into a Coloring Book". The New York Times. November 5, 1988. Archived from the original on March 19, 2022. Retrieved March 19, 2022.
  20. ^ "Group criticizes 'Gotcha!' gun". United Press International. November 17, 1987. Archived from the original on March 16, 2022.
  21. ^ "Company News". The New York Times. June 30, 1988. Archived from the original on March 20, 2022. Retrieved March 20, 2022.
  22. ^ "Realistic toy guns create worries for police". The Record. August 12, 1985. p. 9. Archived from the original on March 20, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  23. ^ "Realistic toy guns worry police". The Record. August 12, 1986. p. 8. Archived from the original on March 20, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  24. ^ "After 3 Deaths, Realistic Toys Are Under Fire". The New York Times. June 16, 1988. Archived from the original on March 20, 2022. Retrieved March 20, 2022.
  25. ^ "9-Year-Old Sues Over Video Baseball Game Boy Says Tape Strikes Out - Wants Nintendo, Major League to Return $40". Deseret News. February 1, 1990. Archived from the original on March 19, 2022.
  26. ^ "Acclaim and MCA Dispute Final Price In LJN Toys Deal". Newsday. July 6, 1990. p. 45. Archived from the original on March 21, 2022. Retrieved March 21, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  27. ^ "LJN "Sling 'Em-Fling 'Em" Wrestling Ring Toy Recalled". U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. November 4, 1991. Archived from the original on March 16, 2022.
  28. ^ Carlisle, Rodney (April 2, 2009). Encyclopedia of Play in Today′s Society. SAGE Publishing.
  29. ^ "Hands On: Spirit of Speed 1937". IGN. June 30, 2000. Archived from the original on March 21, 2022. Retrieved March 21, 2022.