Spin Master grows gaming efforts with Rubik’s

The Canadian toymaker is jumping on the retro toy train, picking up the iconic '80s puzzle brand.

By Elizabeth Foster

Spin Master is going retro with an agreement to acquire London-based Rubik’s Brand, owner of the Rubik’s Cube. The deal is expected to close on Jan. 4, 2021.

A spokesperson for Spin Master confirmed deal was around $50 million USD. Rubik’s 10-person team will stay on on a consultancy basis through the transition period, at which point the brand will be incorporated under Spin Master’s games portfolio.

The product launched globally in 1980, and has gone on to sell hundreds of millions of units. Technically a STEM-focused toy designed to support brain development and cognitive skills, the puzzle became a pop-culture phenomenon and inspired “speedcubing” competitions around the world.

Moving forward, the Toronto toy and entertainment company plans to expand distribution for the Rubik’s Cube, as well as focus on innovation for upcoming offerings. The acquisition comes as Spin Master continues to grow its puzzle and games efforts. The category has seen significant growth as a result of global lockdowns in response to the pandemic and, according to market research firm The NPD Group, the puzzles and games supercategory increased by 37% in the first half of 2020.

The brand’s “Hedbanz” game was recently the focus of a meal deal partnership with Ontario QSR PizzavilleTor Sirset, Spin Master’s VP of omnichannel marketing and partnerships, told strategy at the time that these kinds of partnership opportunities will be a part of its marketing approach going forward – not just with QSR’s, but with any company that values family entertainment and bringing families together through games. For the Pizzaville partnership in particular, Spin Master was looking for ways to drive relevance during family dining occasions, which have once again begun to pick up during the pandemic’s second wave in Canada, using its games and puzzles to turn them into family game nights.

Spin Master’s agreement with Rubik’s Brand also builds on the trend of reviving retro toy properties. Just Play recently acquired the Slinky and Shrinky Dinks brands with plans to launch new items this year. Slinky first hit toy shelves in 1945, while Shrinky Dinks first bowed in the 1970s. Toymaker Wham-O, meanwhile, partnered with nonfiction prodco Critical Content earlier this year to develop TV content inspired by its brands, including Slip ‘N Slide and Hula Hoop.

With files from Daniel Calabretta. A version of this story previously appeared on Kidscreen.