Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Bratz dolls — Joining the collectibles?


Hold on to your Bratz dolls.

A rival to the more demure Barbie, and one of the more fashionable dolls in the market, the Bratz may not be on store shelves from early next year.

A California judge ruled late Wednesday that Bratz owner MGA Entertainment should stop selling the dolls and banned it from using the toy’s name, handing rival and Barbie maker Mattel Inc its biggest victory yet in a years-long legal fight over the Bratz dolls, which pushed Barbie out of the limelight soon after their launch in 2001.

The court battle was marked by testimonies from both Mattel CEO Bob Eckert and MGA CEO Isaac Larian, and more recently, the dismissal of one of the jurors who a judge found to have made racial remarks during deliberations about Larian, an Iranian Jewish immigrant.

For Mattel, the latest ruling is good news. But for MGA, which plans to appeal the ruling immediately, the future look bleak if it has to abandon the toy line, which rakes in more than $1 billion in annual sales according to Larian.

Check Out Line: Hannah Montana rising


Check out the marketing power of Hannah Montana.
Watch out Barbie. Hannah is clawing her way up behind you. At least as far as girl’s toys are concerned.
According the National Retail Federation’s 2008 top toy survey, Hannah Montana has moved up four spots to the number two position for girls’ in the Top Toys survey, trailing on Mattel’s Barbie.
Toys based on the Disney character, who is played by Miley Cyrus, knocked those scrappy Bratz dolls out of the number two spot. Bratz fell all the way to number four behind just-plain-old, everyday, no-specific-name dolls.
As far as boys are concerned, the list is similar to last year, with video games in general topping the survey and the Nintendo Wii in the number two spot. Legos, cars and Transformers round out the top five.
While the weak economy is leading to expectations of a dismal holiday shopping season, parents could find some bargains in toys.
“The good news for parents is that many retailers are featuring toys as loss leaders this year, heavily discounting and promoting these items to bring shoppers into stores,” NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin said.
Also in the basket:
CPI drops at record pace in October
BJ’s Wholesale quarterly profit jumps
Why Doesn’t Costco accept food stamps? (N.Y. Times City Room)

(Reuters photo)

Bratz and Bakugan make latest hot toy list


bratzandbarbie.jpgIf the holiday season is around the corner (or even a little farther away), then it is that time of the year again — major toy retailers, childrens’ magazines and guides announce “hot” lists, predicting which toys and games will likely fly off store shelves during the holiday shopping period.

According to Toy Wishes magazine, girls who are 6 years old or older are likely to go after the Bratz “Girls Really Rock” line of dolls this time around.

Mattel launches My Meebas as Barbie stumbles


mymeebas.jpgWhat would Mattel wish for if it had one wish to make? The launch of the toy giant’s “My Meebas” points to one possibility — better fortunes for its girl’s toy business, as Barbie sales continue to face trouble.

Mattel launched “My Meebas” — a toy for girls aged 6 to 12 that houses a plush “Meeba” in a plastic tube, which serves as a gaming device with a movable LCD screen.

Check Out Line: Mattel Wins Round 1 in Doll Brawl


braatz1.jpgCheck out the fun and games at Mattel.
The maker of Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels toy cars posted better-than expected quarterly earnings Friday.
But the real boon for the company was its victory over Bratz doll maker MGA Entertainment in a copyright infringement lawsuit.
A federal jury found that Carter Bryant, who created the popular Bratz dolls had come up with the characters and name while he was still under contract as a designer for Barbie at Mattel.
Mattel is seeking huge damages and an injunction to stop MGA from selling Bratz, the multi-ethnic, big-headed dolls that have cut into Barbie sales. MGA has argued that the dolls themselves were different than Carter’s drawings and were made by MGA designers … an issue that will be a big part of the damages phase of the trial.
So the two companies will keep fighting over their dolls.
Also in the basket:
Talk of change atop Carrefour (WWD, subscription required)
U.S. regulators lift tomato Salmonella warning 
(Reuters photo)