Kenner Products was a Cincinnati-based toy company that was formed in 1947 and absorbed by its eventual owner, Hasbro, at the Turn of the Millennium. During its 50+ years of existence, Kenner became one of the leading toy manufacturers in the world.
Kenner first became famous for successful toy lines such as the Easy Bake Oven, Give-a-Show Projector and Spirograph. It was bought by General Mills in 1967. In The '70s, it got into licensed action figures with The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman; during this time it also added Play-Doh to its holdings (General Mills had owned that brand since 1965). All these lines did well, but they were mere preludes for the franchise that really made Kenner: Star Wars, an unexpected smash hit that propelled Kenner into the front ranks of the toy industry.
Star Wars' blockbuster success enabled Kenner to get more big licenses, such as DC Comics and Indiana Jones. The firm's later action figure successes included The Real Ghostbusters, Gargoyles and Jurassic Park, as well as its own creation M.A.S.K.. Other original lines that sold well included NERF Brand and Littlest Pet Shop, both of which continue today. By 1985, General Mills spun off Kenner and Parker Bros into their own company, Kenner-Parker Toys, which was then acquired by Tonka in 1987, forming Kenner Parker Tonka; this gestalt toy company was then acquired by Hasbro in 1991. Kenner continued as a semi-separate division until 2000, when Hasbro, facing financial issues, closed Kenner and their Cincinnati facility for good.
Hasbro occasionally revives the Kenner name for select Star Wars releases, such as the 40th anniversary figures from 2017 that use 70s-style packaging.
Franchises created by Kenner:
Series created as a subsidiary of Hasbro:
- G.I. Joe Extreme
- Transformers (from Beast Wars up to Beast Machines)
- Vor-Tech: Undercover Conversion Squad
Works that Kenner created toys for:
- The Baby-Sitters Club
- Bill & Ted
- Capitol Critters
- Care Bears
- Chuck Norris: Karate Kommandos
- Fluppy Dogs
- The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries
- Indiana Jones
- Jurassic Park
- Knight Rider
- Littlest Pet Shop (1995)
- The Magic School Bus
- Mummies Alive!
- Police Academy: The Animated Series
- Quintet (a board game, not released)
- The Real Ghostbusters
- Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- Robocop (the 1988 Animated Adaptation Robocop and The Ultra Police)
- Rose Petal Place
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch
- The Six Million Dollar Man
- Small Soldiers
- Star Wars
- Strawberry Shortcake
- Superman: The Animated Series
- The Super Powers Collection (DC Comics characters; included tie-ins with the last two seasons of Superfriends)
- Swamp Thing (the 1991 Animated Adaptation)
- VR Troopers
- Zoids (under the Market-Based Title Techno Zoids)