Optimus Prime attends the opening of a Transformers ride at Universal Orlando. 
Optimus Prime attends the opening of a Transformers ride at Universal Orlando.  - 
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The second-largest toy maker in the U.S. is stepping up its animation game. Hasbro recently acquired an Irish animation studio called Boulder Media, which has produced series for Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Disney.

The business deal will help boost the company’s animation quality, said Steph Wissink, a senior analyst at Piper Jaffray.

“Hasbro’s animation has phenomenal storytelling…but the actual animation itself is still a bit behind," she said.

The acquisition, she said, “will bolster their studio capabilities overall.”  

An in-house animation studio is also “going to make Hasbro more cost-effective in making cartoons — more nimble, quick,” added Richard Gottlieb with Global Toy Experts. “It’s a smart move.”

Hasbro will have more flexibility and freedom to expand some of their most popular brands, like "Transformers," "Star Wars" or "My Little Pony."

The deal reflects how the toy and children’s entertainment industries continue to meld, noted Chris Byrne, content director for TTPM.

“It’s a way to deepen the relationship with the characters that kids have, and then to allow them a richer play experience,” Byrne explained.  

Especially at a time, he added, when more than 50 percent of children’s media is consumed on mobile devices. 

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