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No Kidding

It's not all fun and games in the toy industry.

Most people thought it wasn't a smart move--and that's putting it diplomatically. Few had faith in the product; some even predicted there would be a warehouse filled with unsold plush figures in the not-too-distant future. After all, it was just . . . a pig.

As it turns out, Babe was no ordinary swine. The movie in which he starred was a surprise hit in 1995, earning a Best Picture Oscar nomination. And the man who took a chance on the little talking pig that could--Alan Hassenfeld, CEO of Hasbro Inc.--took home the proverbial bacon.

That's just one of many tales told in G. Wayne Miller's Toy Wars: The Epic Struggle Between G.I. Joe, Barbie, and the Companies That Make Them (Times Books, $25 hardcover). Centering around the struggles of Hassenfeld, the book examines an industry that's anything but fun and games. Decisions are made--such as when and how to stage a comeback for G.I. Joe--that reverberate right down to the toy retailers themselves. At stake are pride, prestige and millions of dollars. These guys aren't kidding around.

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This article was originally published in the June 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: No Kidding.

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