Barbie bounces back

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AP

In this file photo, a display of dolls, clothes, sets and accessories tied to a "Barbie, A Fashion Fairytale" promotion, are seen in a break area at the Design Center at the corporate headquarters campus of Mattel.

London - Given that some own an iPhone before they have even left primary school, you would have thought today’s little girls would dismiss dolls as rather old-fashioned.

Not so. Doll sales have soared by 23 percent in the past year - way ahead of the general toy market - and are now worth £120-million.

Girls aged eight to 11 have fuelled the resurgence, with Barbie in particular enjoying something of a revival after several years of decline. Just five years ago Mattel’s classic doll, introduced in 1959, was being hugely outsold by rivals such as the controversial Bratz dolls.

But today Barbie’s various incarnations occupy six of the top ten slots in sales of fashion dolls - as opposed to baby dolls, such as Tiny Tears - while Bratz have fallen out altogether.

In 2009, Barbie’s makers prompted criticism when they tried to update her by giving her tattoos. But her latest incarnations have been rather more innocent, often with a puppy or fashion theme, and enormously successful.

Figures from analysts NPD put sales of fashion dolls at £120 million last year, up 23 percent on the year before. That’s the equivalent of 15 million dolls.

Their popularity was confirmed by Sainsbury’s, which reported a 36.6 percent increase in fashion doll sales last year.

Despite Barbie’s success, the biggest sellers are a range of dolls called Monster High, which are hugely popular in the US. They tap into the popularity of vampire books and films, such as the Twilight series, with characters called Draculaura, Clawdeen Wolf and Frankie Stein.

Frederique Tutt, of NPD, said: “The fashion-themed dolls category has always been an all-time favourite for little girls. Some 47 percent of sales are directly requested by the recipient.

“Growth came from all age groups in 2011, but even more so from the fickle eight to 11 [age range]. This age group is usually attracted by other categories such as fashion, accessories [and] video games and toys can be perceived as ‘babyish’.”

She added: “Barbie struggled to reinvent herself a few years ago, when Bratz became popular, however she is now seeing a resurgence across all age groups.” - Daily Mail


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