This toy story began in court. Bratz dolls, the tarted-up line of Barbie rivals that became a billion-dollar enterprise, are returning with a new line after its maker, MGA, won back the trademark rights in an appeals court.
New Bratz dolls are expected to hit stores in late August, according to Associated Press. They'll be trying to attract a new generation of girls, given that Bratz sales hit their high more than five years ago. The post-recession pricing will help: One new set of Bratz, "Passion for Fashion" dolls will retail for $9.99, and two Bratz Boyz will run $10.99 each. The latest set also includes $19.99 "Party" dolls, a set of twins ($24.99) and a spa ($49.99).
MGA is going for a more wholesome look this time, the company said. Even the catalog descriptions impart a certain innocence. Party Doll Cloe, the copy reads, "looks at life through a different lens, always snapping pictures and filming her friends. She's playful, flirty, and down to earth. A super soccer star, Cloe is naturally athletic and always full of energy." The dolls are also more flexible than previous incarnations, MGA said in the AP report.
KMart, Toys R Us, Target and Walmart will carry the dolls, according to the Bratz website, which was doing business as usual at the time of this writing. Nothing referred to the company's victory over Mattel, perhaps because the case might still return to court.
In a bloody, hair-pulling legal fight that only Chucky could love, MGA and Mattel wrestled the brand from each other in back-and-forth judicial wrangling. At one point in 2008, MGA pleaded for a dismissal of the case because a juror had made racist comments about MGA's Iranian-Jewish chief executive, saying it would negatively influence the entire jury. Mattel thought it had the Bratz for good when a lower court ruled that Bratz's designer was employed by Mattel when the Bratz were born. (Partly at issue was when the prototype drawings were actually sketched before Bratz launched 10 years ago.) But then a federal appeals court restored the trademark to MGA, which got the green light to distribute the comeback set of Bratz dolls that it began developing last year.
Mattel, of course, owns the iconic Barbie, creating a potential doll smackdown on shelves this fall. We can't wait. But let's hope that a possible resurgence won't lead to another "Bratz" movie. That 2007 live-action stinker arrived well after the Bratz were players in the industry and could not even break the $10 million barrier.
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