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March 9th, 2009
08:00 AM ET

What's Old Is New Again

 Hasbro is launching new toys for this summer’s G.I. Joe movie.
Hasbro is launching new toys for this summer’s G.I. Joe movie.

Musicians have been known to re-make old songs. Hollywood loves to re-make classic movies. So it should be no surprise that toy company executives are joining the game by reviving toys that were hits one and two generations ago.

As the economy falters, profits are tumbling faster than "Little People.". Mattel Brands President Neil Friedman says in this tough economy consumers tend to go to what they feel good about, and that includes buying familiar toys for their kids. This helps the bottom line.

"It certainly saves having to advertise what the property is."


That's why Fisher Price, a division of Mattel, is bringing back the original versions of Little People's Barn and School. Now, though, packed in with the characters, is a DVD that children can play with on their computers.

And it's why Mattel has decided to bring back Barbie's original face as the company celebrates her 50th birthday. Also back are her accessories from the '70's including the Barbie Camper, the Dream Town House.

Staying with the tried and true avoids expensive failures like Mattel's Flava dolls. Introduced in 2003, the doll was the company's counter-attack to the extremly successful Bratz dolls. Sales were disappointing and pulled from the shelves a year later.

Hasbro is betting on movie tie-ins to help their earnings this year. The classic GI Joe dolls will look like their 1980's counterparts this summer to complement the release of a new GI Joe movie. The same goes for Transformers.

Board games are not immune to re-invention either. Candyland is celebrating its 60th birthday with an update. Now kids can create their own board.

Marketing expert Linda Kaplan Thaler, creator of the Aflac duck, says if they were hits once, there's no reason why they shouldn't be hits again.

"The toy companies are going back to classics because this is the most profitable way to run their business right now."

What's old is new again.

Filed under: Economy
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