Feb 14- Toy giants Mattel and Hasbro preview their toys for the upcoming year- hoping to win back buyers after a weak holiday season. Bobbi Rebell reports.
The game has changed for toy makers- and after a bruising holiday season, they are gearing up to fight back- starting with the 2014 Toy Fair. Toy industry expert Jim Silver of TTPM says industry tie-ins with Hollywood will help: SOUNDBITE: JIM SILVER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, TTPM (ENGLISH) SAYING: "For this year you have a lot more movies than last year. You have Transformers, you have Spider-Man, you have a new Disney Planes movie so you have a lot more movies coming out. You also have new TV shows you hope for better weather and you are going to have a longer holiday shopping season." The biggest players- Mattel and Hasbro- are coming to Toy Fair 2014 armed with what they say is a fresh approach- that will get kids - and their parents excited again. Hasbro's Chief Marketing Officer John Frascotti is proud of their focus on customization. SOUNDBITE: JOHN FRASCOTTI, CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER, HASBRO (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We are giving girls for the first time ever the opportunity to customize and create their own ponies and this is called My Little Pony Pop." Also customizable: My Monopoly, complete with an app. Put any image you want into the program, and make your own properties, tokens and some of the cards. And with games like this - the apps are driving sales of more traditional games. SOUNDBITE: JIM SILVER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, TTPM (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Having apps that work with toys and also promoting online. They realize now that people are going online and getting their content that way and that is how you have to reach kids." Mattel and Hasbro are doubling down on their established brands- but if you look closely pretty much all of them- from Thomas the Train to Star Wars Angry Birds have a nod to technology. REPORTER BRIDGE: BOBBI REBELL, REUTERS REPORTER (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Barbie sales may be under pressure but Mattel has big plans for its iconic top doll including the new career doll for this year, that's an entrepreneur complete with an iPad and an iPhone of course and also she'll be making a special appearance in Sports Illustrated." Toy Industry Association trend watcher Adrienne Appell: SOUNDBITE: ADRIENNE APPELL, TREND WATCHER, TOY INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION (ENGLISH) SAYING: "As technology becomes more affordable toy makers are able to do more things within their play things at a more affordable price." Seamless integration must be a priority if the toy business wants to get back on its feet, according to Hasbro's Frascotti: SOUNDBITE: JOHN FRASCOTTI, CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER, HASBRO (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Consumers want to experience our brands in multiple formats; especially today's kids. They move very fastly between analog and digital worlds so with a classic board game like Monopoly we are able to deliver that digitally as well as in analog format and we find that kids don't want to be restricted to one media and that is why with a lot of our games we've been able to bring them into digital expressions that kids love." And it will be the kids who ultimately decide the winners when the new toys hit the stores later this year.