Hasbro Scrabble - Scrabble by Hasbro Games

The story of how Scrabble became a part of Hasbro Games, J.W. Spears & Sons and Mattel.

Hasbro Scrabble is marketed in the United States and Canada. Though Scrabble is manufactured by Mattel in other parts of the world, Hasbro Scrabble is considered the official and standardized authority on Scrabble in the world. Scrabble passed through many different hands before becoming a part of the Hasbro gaming empire.

The Creation of Scrabble

Scrabble was a product of the thirties, though other word game influenced Scrabble's creator. Alfred Mosher Butts is the man given credit for Scrabble. He was heavily influenced by a popular word game of the early 20th century, Lexico. Butts, who was a professional architect at the time, wrote the full rules in 1938.

When Alfred Mosher Butts invented the game, he first called it Criss-Crosswords. Because this would have led to confusion with crossword puzzles, the name was changed by its second owner in 1948. Alfred Mosher Butts had not been able to market the game, and sold his rights to James Brunot in that year. Butts continued to be paid royalties on the game.

Scrabble Named by James Brunot

James Brunot began to market the game with more success. Part of that success was the name change. Scrabble at the time meant to "grope frantically". Around the same time, James Brunot sold copies of the game to Macy's. When Macy's Department Store began to sell Scrabble, demand for the game increased and it has been a part of the American gaming industry ever since.

Interestingly, both Alfred Mosher Butts and James Brunot had failed to attract a major manufacturer in the first 15 years of Scrabble's existence. Both Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley declined to purchase manufacturing rights on Scrabble.

Selchow and Righter Scrabble

This all changed in 1953, when Selchow and Righter began to manufacture Scrabble in North America. Two years later, the U.K.-based company, J.W. Spears & Sons, began to sell Scrabble in the United Kingdom and Australia. Scrabble would remain a part of the Selchow and Righter game empire until 1986, while Scrabble was a part of J.W. Spears & Sons until 1994.

From Coleco to Hasbro

Hasbro came to the Scrabble game somewhat late. Selchow and Righter sold Scrabble rights to Coleco in 1986. In the eighties, Coleco was a large American toy and game manufacturer. Its major success was the Cabbage Patch Dolls. Its attempts to unseat Atari console games with Colecovision met with mixed success, though the attempt to market a Coleco Adam home computer were disastrous.

Coleco was out of electronics by 1985, and eventually declared bankruptcy in 1988. Though it briefly held the license to Scrabble, these rights were sold rather quickly to Hasbro.

Hasbro Scrabble

From the late 1980's on, Hasbro has been the manufacturers of Scrabble in North America. Hasbro is the largest board game company in the world. Besides Selchow and Righter, Hasbro owns such major board game manufacturers as Parker Brothers, Milton Bradley and Wizards of the Coast. Hasbro also owns toy manufacturers like Tonka and Kenner.

Hasbro Scrabble is therefore marketed in North America by a huge board game corporation. Scrabble is one of the most consistent products of the Hasbro Corporation, due to the game's devoted following of wordsmiths.

Mattel Scrabble

Mattel markets Scrabble in other parts of the world outside North America. International Scrabble rights were held by J.W. Spears & Sons. Spears and Sons was bought out by Mattel Incorporated in 1994. Mattel won a bidding war with Hasbro to gain controls of J.W. Spears & Sons.

Mattel is best known for the marketing of Barbie dolls, Hotwheels and Matchbox toy cars and dozens of licensed action figures. About 80% of Mattel's profits come from the Barbie line of toys. Though not as big of a player as Hasbro in the board game industry, Mattel Scrabble is a major factor in Scrabble sells worldwide.

J.W. Spears & Sons remains a property of Mattel to this day. J.W. Spears markets Scrabble in the U.K. and Australia, due to the rights the company held since 1955.

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