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For the past few years, Mattel's American Girl subsidiary has been running into problems. Sales have been dropping by the double-digits as habits change (damn the devices!) and other companies' 18" dolls have started to catch up to them in terms of quality but at a lower price. Add in another unfortunate set of moves that were tied to the failing Toys "R" Us (TRU), and those problems have snowballed quickly. The launch of the lower-priced, 15" Wellie Wishers line never took off in the way that everyone hoped, and those dolls and their accessories were shipped heavily to TRU. Pair that with fact that about a year and a half ago (October 2016), American Girl opened store-within-a-store pop-up concepts in 97 Toys "R" Us locations, and that's an issue. Mattel is owed over $135M in the Toys "R" Us bankruptcy that they'll likely never see and the fallout has begun. They recently announced the closing of their New York City office (100 jobs lost), and today comes news that hits close to home - they're shutting down American Girl operations in Wilmot, Wisconsin, and The Mattel Toy Store is going along with it.

The details are light right now, but Mattel and Mills Entertainment have teamed-up to bring American Girl to life as an all-new traveling musical. AMERICAN GIRL LIVE! will feature all-original songs and "unforgettable experiences" based on some of American Girl's most loved characters. The show promises "fun-filled adventure, where exciting tales of bravery and friendship come to life, LIVE and in-person" as families join their "favorite American Girl characters, and some brand-new friends, as they follow their hearts and share their dreams, in a journey across time." Check out a short video teaser below, and look for more details coming soon, including tour dates and cities. I can reveal that tickets will go on-sale on May 18, 2018 for most markets...

As we roll into Toy Fair in New York, news is hitting hard... you could even say that we're slammin' over here. One tidbit of data comes from what's no doubt one of my favorite aisles - the action aisle, with news that The NPD Group reports that WWE had the #1 selling action figure in the U.S. in 2017, surpassing all action figure sales of other major entertainment brands and blockbuster films.* On one hand, that seems a bit surprising, but I have seen quite a few of my daughters' friends with WWE figures on a regular basis, and Mattel's new line of Superstar Dolls has also been a big hit here at home. Check out more from this morning's joint press release from WWE and Mattel...

Mattel163 will be a new home for developing mobile gaming experiences based on iconic Mattel Brands. The toymaker has announced a joint operation with China-based tech firm NetEase to launch the endeavor, which will leverage NetEase's "leading expertise in digital content and gaming." The first title is based on UNO, now available on Facebook Messenger and coming soon as a mobile app to iOS and Android devices. UNO  includes unique features and fresh modes of play, designed to appeal to a worldwide audience. Check out a trailer for the new UNO below...

Auto Show season is upon us, with the big ones about to start rolling out here in North America this month, with #NAIAS in Detroit, followed by the Chicago International Auto Show in February. Up North, the Canadian International AutoShow rolls into the downtown Metro Toronto Convention Centre from Feb. 16-25, and this year Mattel is bringing Hot Wheels into the action! The number one selling toy in the world races into Canada with an explosion of activities to commemorate its 50th anniversary. This includes appearances by some of the iconic full-sized rides from the Hot Wheels garage, including the famed Star Wars Darth Vader character car and the Special Edition 1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS!

Published in Rock Father Rides

This morning I woke up to an email from Mattel with news that I knew would be just around the corner - the reveal of American Girl's 2018 Girl of the Year. What I didn't expect was that 2018's GOTY, Luciana Vega, would be perhaps the most perfect doll ever... at least in our house. As our girls often look to and reach for the stars, Luciana becomes a new example for them - the latest in American Girl's long line of inspiring characters that encourage girls to think about who they want to be and how they want to make their mark in the world—no matter the challenges they may face. Vega is described as "a creative, confident 11-year-old girl and aspiring astronaut who dreams of being the first person to go to Mars. And, while she has the skills and smarts to achieve her goals, she also learns that being a good leader and team player right here on Earth is the best first step." This sounds very, very familiar...

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