Doll Fight! The Battle For Holiday Season Sales Three relatively new doll lines are poised to lead the market: Barbie Fashionistas, Moxie Girlz and Liv Dolls. Wall Street Journal toy reporter Ann Zimmerman says the battle is shaping up to be one to watch.

Doll Fight! The Battle For Holiday Season Sales

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As we approach the holiday shopping season, we're reporting on the doll business, which is a rough business. The toymaker Mattel vanquished a major competitor to its Barbie dolls in a copyright lawsuit. The popular Bratz dolls will soon disappear from store shelves.

But another version of those dolls is now on the shelf and is providing fresh competition for Mattel's new line of Fashionista Barbies.

To find out more, we called Ann Zimmerman. She covers the toy industry for the Wall Street Journal.

Ms. ANN ZIMMERMAN (Journalist, Wall Street Journal): The folks that built Bratz were reeling after this lawsuit. They say they spent a hundred million dollars on it. But they came out swinging this summer with a new series of dolls called Moxie. They're not as suggestive as Bratz. You can dye their hair and wash it out, put glitter in it. Their clothes are sort of fun and funky. You can paint other accessories, like their boots.

INSKEEP: Let's listen to a moment, if we can, for some of the advertising for Moxie Girlz, with a Z.

(Soundbite of Moxie Girls commercial)

Unidentified Actress: It's okay to be kind of different and stand out. I call it Moxie. When I'm true to myself, I can do anything. Hey, I'm a Moxie Girl.

INSKEEP: Oh, that's so classic. It's okay to be different. Be like everybody else and buy this doll that makes it okay to be different.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. ZIMMERMAN: Clever marketing, huh?

INSKEEP: But not the only clever competition to Barbie here.

Ms. ZIMMERMAN: That's correct. A company known mostly for hits in the boy world, a company called Spin Master came out this summer with something called Liv Dolls. They're four friends that are supposedly sort of regular teenagers. They have interchangeable wigs.

INSKEEP: The interchangeable wigs seems like a big deal, because that means your kid can cut the doll's hair and destroy it in any number of ways and it's not permanently ruined. You're just replacing it.

Ms. ZIMMERMAN: You have daughters, don't you?

INSKEEP: Yes, I have a daughter. Yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

INSKEEP: Yes. I know all�

Ms. ZIMMERMAN: Yes. You can destroy and get more.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. ZIMMERMAN: And girls love that. But the key to Liv Dolls is that they each have - they're sort of more like ordinary teenagers. Barbie's a little bit perfect and untouchable. These dolls, they have back stories. One is the wannabe rock star, but she's still cutting her teeth doing gigs at the retirement home.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. ZIMMERMAN: So it's kind of more like you know�

INSKEEP: I know some 40-somethings that would fit into one of those categories.

(Soundbite of laughter)

INSKEEP: But that's not important right now. Go ahead, please.

Ms. ZIMMERMAN: And these back stories are developed every day on the Internet, which is an important part of toy manufacturing today. As you can imagine, if you feel like you're losing your audience to the Internet, why not try to build in some features there to try to keep them in your toy or game longer?

INSKEEP: So who's winning here in this battle among Barbie and some other dolls?

Ms. ZIMMERMAN: Well, the analysts think that Liv and Moxie have an edge because they came out earlier. They were on the shelves this summer, before school started. And you know how a powerful a marketing tool your neighborhood school playground can be. But, you know, Barbie's a really big brand, beyond the Fashionista Dolls. I mean, it's got a lot of muscle behind it.

INSKEEP: Ann Zimmerman, one other question.


INSKEEP: This is a multibillion dollar business, right, among dolls?

Ms. ZIMMERMAN: That's correct.

INSKEEP: As you have covered this very serious business story, I'm just curious, are there occasions when you, you know, just kind of close the office door with all those dolls that you've had to collect for your job and you just play?

Ms. ZIMMERMAN: Between you and me?

INSKEEP: Yeah. No�


(Soundbite of laughter)

INSKEEP: Ann Zimmerman of the Wall Street Journal. Thanks very much.

Ms. ZIMMERMAN: Thank you.

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