A Retail Toy Story

Feb 23, 2004

By George Anderson

It’s enough to make a kid’s or adult’s head spin.

The cable company wants to buy the Magic Kingdom, KB Toys is closing stores, there’s a mini Toys “R” Us in the local supermarket and you may have a three-month wait to buy the
latest and greatest new toy at Wal-Mart’s everyday low prices if some manufacturers shift their focus to toy stores as promised.

The toy business is really changing and the challenge for retailer and manufacturer alike, says Tom Conely, president of the Toy Industry Association, “is to make it a year-long

Mattel, appears to be taking Mr. Conely’s sentiment to heart as it gets set for the national introduction of the Shield Blaster, a triple-barrel water pistol with an attached

The new item is Mattel’s first new water toy rollout in five years. The company hopes it will boost sales during the warmers months.

“The outdoor water toy market is a large market, and the category had not had any blockbuster innovations in years,” Brian Greczyn, senior brand manager at Mattel told the Miami
. “This is a very big opportunity for us.”

Moderator’s Comment: What do you think are the biggest challenges facing toy manufacturers
and retailers? Is optimism about a rebound in the category justified?

The toy business is a year-round business but companies are kidding themselves if they are looking for large increases outside the Christmas season. Kids
today have many other choices for entertainment and find that playing with “Barbie”, as we were recently told, “is boring.”
Anderson – Moderator

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