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Rapunzel, Rapunzel…where are your toys?

16 Dec, 2002 By: Stephanie Prange

If you're shopping for gifts for little girls this holiday season, you'll notice one of the hottest selling toy franchises this year is the Barbie as Rapunzel series. I know I've been to numerous Web sites where the toys are no longer in stock (my daughter has requested many of the items in the series). In fact, respondents picked Mattel's Barbie as Rapunzel doll as the top toy for the season in marketing firm Playdate's survey of toy industry retailers.

What's striking about this is that the toy series is based on a direct-to-video title. That DTV production, distributed for Mattel by Artisan Home Entertainment's Family Home Entertainment label, is the second such program for the video marriage and it's shaping up to be a great franchise for both.

These sort of synergies don't always work. Many a store found itself with too many Star Wars toys to unload after overestimating their appeal during the release of Episode I. Even when these partnerships do work, it's usually a television series or feature film driving the toy franchise -- such as the Harry Potter phenomenon – not a direct-to-video series. So the success of the Barbie franchise is a great testament to the marketing acumen of the Mattel/Artisan marriage, as well as the quality of the product.

I wonder, however, if all video retailers have capitalized on this tie-in by offering the dolls and various accessories. I know it's hard for rentailers to compete with mass merchants in the licensing arena, but getting in on the hottest toy of the season should add excitement, if negligible profit, to a rental store. I know I'd buy the stuff wherever I could find it this holiday season. I'd be interested to hear from rentailers who've made a successful go of it selling licensed items.

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