China Toy Fair


Mattel’s First Quarter Results Include Gross Sales Decline for Top Brands

logo_Mattel logoMattel reported 2014 first quarter financial results, which included a decline in worldwide sales for Barbie, but strength in some of the company’s other girls brands.

For the first quarter, worldwide gross sales for Mattel girls and boys brands were $656.9 million, down 5 percent versus the previous year. This included a decline in worldwide gross sales for the Barbie brand of 14 percent. Worldwide gross sales for Mattel’s other girls brands increased 4 percent on the strength of Disney Princess and Ever After High, partially offset by Monster High. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Not a Barbie Girl!

Barbie just celebrated her 55th birthday, and to commemorate the occasion, made a splash on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Wearing a skimpy, and quite-controversial, neutral-toned swimsuit, Barbie caused quite a stir. Many argue that it may be time for Barbie to finally step down as the queen of the children’s doll world. Nickolay Lamm, creator of the new Lammily doll, would certainly agree that there is a new girl in town: the “average is beautiful”-promoting Lammily doll.

Lamm claims that Lammily is the world’s first normal-sized doll. Last year, Lamm designed images of what he dubbed, “normal Barbie,” in an attempt to make the doll reflect the proportions of real female bodies. He used the measurements of the average 19-year-old woman from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and molded them into a 3-D model of Barbie.

lammilyBarbie’s unrealistic proportions have long been criticized by feminist campaigns. Although her waist was expanded and her bust made smaller in 1998, her figure remains significantly out of proportion and unrealistic for the average teenager. Studies show that if transformed into a real woman, Barbie’s 16-inch waist would be four inches thinner than her head. She would be required to walk on her hands and feet, as her 6-inch ankles and vast, missing areas of body would not be able to hold her upright. Studies also show that body image issues in young girls may be related, in part, to Barbie and dolls of the like, and that more than 50 percent of girls ages 9 to 10 claim to be, “on a diet.” This is deeply unsettling, and it seems that while no one thing can be blamed for this warped sense of body image in young girls, Barbie’s unrealistic figure can’t be helping.

Lammily represents something new. [Read more...]

Barbie Is Back in Barbie The Pearl Princess

Barbie the Pearl PrincessBarbie The Pearl Princess, is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD. In her 28th movie to-date, Barbie stars as Lumina, a mermaid with magical powers who dreams of becoming a princess. With the help of her friends, she begins a quest of self-discovery, unlocking her destiny and realizing that anything is possible with the power of friendship. Along with the new film, a line of Barbie The Pearl Princess-themed dolls and toys is currently available at major retailers.

Barbie Has Entrepreneurship and More in Her Future

Entrepreneur BarbieDuring the recent American International Toy Fair in New York City, Mattel offered a preview of what’s to come for one of its most iconic and popular brands. “Anything is possible” was introduced as the new slogan for Barbie, accompanied by an official new Barbie theme performed by Fifth Harmony. It was also announced that this year, after more than 150 careers on her resume, the Barbie Career of the Year doll will celebrate female entrepreneurship.

Looking ahead to the coming months, new Barbie dolls will also focus on hair play, glitter, and supporting the Girl Scouts. [Read more...]

Warner Bros. Consumer Products Brings Godzilla-Sized List of Licensees to Toy Fair

WB Consumer ProductsWarner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) enters this year’s American International Toy Fair with an extensive lineup of global licensees in support of its entertainment properties, milestone anniversaries, and upcoming theatrical releases.

Bandai America Inc. and Jakks Pacific Inc. will each support Godzilla, from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, with new toy lines. Jakks’ line of Godzilla products will include an Ultimate Large Scale Godzilla Figure with 12 points of articulation and a length of over 43 inches, making it one of the largest toys in Godzilla history. Other worldwide partners include Rubie’s Costume Co., NECA, and Sideshow Collectibles.

WBCP’s toy partners will also release toys and collectibles based on The Hobbit Trilogy. The Bridge Direct and Vivid Group will support the film series with new figures. Additional partners include Eaglemoss, Funko, Kosmos, and Ravensburger.

The Wizard of Oz will celebrate its 75th anniversary with Mattel‘s new line of dolls for The Wizard of Oz Barbie collection. Enesco, Tonner Doll, and Madame Alexander will each offer collectible figures. Warner Bros. will also continue its There’s No Place Like Home campaign in partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Gone with the Wind will also mark its 75th anniversary with new collectible figures from Madame Alexander and Tonner Doll. Mattel will offer an anniversary Barbie collection and Enesco will introduce a stone resin figure. [Read more...]

Barbie Goes Mermaid in Upcoming Video Release

Barbie.ThePearlPrincessThe latest movie featuring Barbie is set for home video release next March. In Barbie: The Pearl Princess, from Universal Studios Home Entertainment, the famous fashion doll from Mattel stars as Lumina, a mermaid who dreams of being a princess.

As long as Lumina can remember, she’s had the magical power to make pearls dance and glow. Along with her best friend Kuda, a pink seahorse, she embarks on an adventure to a mer-kingdom, where Lumina uses her powers to help her friends prepare for the Royal Ball—and to unlock her true destiny.

Barbie: The Pearl Princess will be released on Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD on March 11.

Mattel’s Fourth Annual 12 Days of Play Program Impacts More Than 100,000 Children

MattelChildrenFoundationMattel has started its fourth annual global Mattel 12 Days of Play program, a series of holiday-themed philanthropic events that will give the gift of play to more than 100,000 children in more than 30 countries. Mattel 12 Days of Play brings Mattel employees together to impact the lives of children at underserved schools, hospitals, food banks, orphanages, and other community organizations around the world with a variety of play, toys, and fun activities.

In the Los Angeles area alone, more than 2,000 volunteers are joining children at inner-city elementary schools and the Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. Working with its signature partner Playworks, as well as LA’s Best and other local organizations, Mattel will create a total of eight Winter Wonderlands. The play areas have approximately 400 tons of snow combined, where an estimate of 5,000 kids ages 6 to 11 can play.

These events feature real falling snow and activities such as sledding, ice skating, racing Hot Wheels cars down a 40-foot track, photo opportunities with real-life Barbie, a chance to meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus, and plenty of toys. On December 5, Mattel’s global headquarters in El Segundo, Calif. was covered in more than 100 tons of snow and real flakes fell from the sky. Kids were also able to sled down three tracks and drive Power Wheels through an obstacle course. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Making a List and Checking It Twice

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s that time of year again. Time to deck the halls, brave the malls, trim the tree, visit family—and if you’re a kid, it’s time to get serious about that Christmas list.

As we get older, our wish lists shift to more practical items, or fewer (and often more expensive) indulgences. Sometimes it seems like just yesterday that my list included such fantasies as a horse like the one from the Billy and Blaze book series, an RV (a real one), a ride-on car, and other obnoxious requests.

Not everything was ridiculous or out of my parents’ price range, however. One Christmas I was delighted when Santa brought me a coveted doll that I’d had my eye on for months. Another year, Barbie’s shoe store made it down the chimney, to much jumping around and “YESSSS!!!”-ing. And the year that presents filled a shiny new Radio Flyer red wagon and overflowed all over the floor goes down as one of the most memorable of all.

Times have changed, and so have the requests of kids as they add, edit, erase, and perfect what may be the most important document of the year before carefully addressing it to the North Pole and sending it off to the big man himself. Here are a few gifts, old and new, that are sure to excite and delight the kids of today as they did us kids of yesteryear.

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The red wagon from my Christmas past was a simple, classic steel wagon that I thought was just the best ever. Now, Radio Flyer’s Build-a-Wagon offers customers the chance to design their wagon to their own unique specifications. Through the website, users can choose from the classic steel-and-wood design or modern plastic, quiet-ride or rugged rubber tires, and accessories including canopies, umbrellas, seat pads, and an MP3 player. [Read more...]

NPD: Fashion Dolls Still in Fashion for the Holidays

According to retail sales data from The NPD Group, year to date through October, the doll category is entering the holiday season with dollar sales up 1 percent compared to year ago. The Fashion Themed Dolls segment is the main driver of this growth with year-over-year sales growth of 6 percent through October.

This increase is due not only to several new brands such as My Little Pony Equestria Girls and Sofia The First, but also growth in some of last year’s more popular brands, including Monster High, Doc McStuffins, and Lalaloopsy.

Within dolls, other subclasses that have experienced strong growth are Fashion Styling & Dressup and Fashion Themed Clothes, which include items such as Monster High Fashion Sets and Barbie Ultimate Closet.

The following lists the Top 15 Fashion Doll items for the last 13 weeks ending November 9, ranked on dollar sales and in alphabetical order:

Survey Shows Children Want Game Systems, iPads for Holidays

Non-traditional items are finding their way onto children’s wish lists this year, according to a National Retail Federation (NRF) survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics. For the first time, iPads are among the most popular gifts for both girls and boys, with slightly higher demand among the former.

Among the other results from NRF’s 2013 Top Toys survey: 44.3 percent of holiday consumers plan to buy toys as gifts this holiday season; children are still asking for timeless items such as Barbie and dolls (No. 1 and 2 among girls, respectively) or Lego and toy cars (No. 1 and 3 among boys, respectively). And the younger generation is clearly technologically savvy, asking this year for tablets/iPads, smartphones (girls’ No. 11), and game consoles like Xbox One (boys’ No. 5) and PlayStation 4 (girls’ No. 10, boys’ No. 6).

Other popular toys for girls include Monster High Dolls, Disney Princess, and American Girl. The hot new item for boys this year is Skylanders, a hugely popular interactive video game that allows kids to play with a toy action figure at the same time. [Read more...]