July 21, 2013

Is Barbie showing her age?

Perhaps. But the often controversial 54-year-old is still No. 1 in the doll world.

By MAE ANDERSON The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

A young girl poses with Monster High dolls, which have grown to an estimated $500 million in annual sales since debuting in 2010, one of many new dolls challenging the popularity of Barbie, displayed below.

Photos by The Associated Press

click image to enlarge

Now, she's more into playing outside or taking taekwondo martial arts classes and less into dolls in general. That's a switch from her mother, 35, who played with Barbie dolls until she was 13.

"Her girlfriends don't play with them any more either," said Blake, a store manager in Renton, Wash.

UPS AND DOWNS TO BE EXPECTED

The last time Barbie wasn't feeling the love was about 12 years ago when, after years of little competition, pouty-lipped Bratz dolls became wildly successful. They sent squeaky clean Barbie into a sales spiral.

Bratz dolls were edgy. They wore low-rise jeans, had heavy makeup and exposed navels. And they were sultrier than Barbies. But the Bratz fad faded in 2005, and Barbie slowly regained sales ground.

The same may happen with Monster High dolls. Industry experts say it will take a lot to dethrone the Barbie. "It's still one of the strongest brands in industry," said Needham & Co. toy analyst Sean McGowan.

In a call with investors on Wednesday, Mattel CEO Bryan Stockton admitted that the success of Monster High and its other doll brands might be causing some of Barbie's sales dip. But he points out that Barbie's sales are higher now than when Monster High dolls were launched in 2010. He said the competition is energizing the entire doll sector.

 

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