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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mattel's Sing-a-ma-jigs Find YouTube Fame as Toys Reach Shelves‏


Mattel Inc.’s newest singing toys are already rising stars on the Internet.

Sing-a-ma-jigs, plush animals that chatter and harmonize, have been popping up on Youtube.com as retailers add them to store shelves. In one homemade video, a man sings a duet of “When the Saints Go Marching In” with a blue Sing-a-ma-jig. In another, a stuffed toy puppy cuddles with a red Sing-a-ma-jig after a rendition of “Where Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone.”

Mattel is relying on that word-of-song to promote the toys instead of an advertising campaign, and said in June that it doubled production. Since then the El Segundo, California-based toymaker increased the number of Sing-a-ma-jigs “a little bit more” as sales show momentum, said Gina Sirard, vice president of marketing for Mattel.

“We’ve had to go to a few different vendors in Hong Kong to fill the demand that we currently have,” Sirard said in a telephone interview. “There seem to be signs that would point to the fact that this is going to do very well for the holiday season.”

Mattel, also the maker of the Barbie and Fisher-Price toys, is eyeing a bigger piece of holiday sales, which account for about 40 percent of the $21.5 billion annual U.S. toy market, according to researcher NPD Group Inc. in Port Washington, New York. Mattel had 2009 revenue of $5.43 billion and doesn’t break out sales for individual products.

Toys “R” Us

Sing-a-ma-jigs, which Mattel started selling in February at 25 Toys “R” Us locations for $12.99 each, will be a strong contender for the retailer’s Holiday Hot Toy List to be released later this year, said Bob Friedland, a spokesman for Toys “R” Us. The dolls are now also available at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp. and Kmart.

“They have the potential to be one of the hottest products of the year,” said Chris Byrne, a New York-based toy-industry analyst and director of content at TimetoPlayMag.com. “It’s got all of those components that give you a couple of minutes of laughter and fun.”

For the holiday season, Sing-a-ma-jigs may surpass the popularity of Zhu Zhu Pets, the Cepia LLC robotic toy hamsters that sold out last season, Byrne said.

Sing-a-ma-jigs are currently available in four colors and tunes, including a pink doll that sings “Skip to My Lou” and yellow one that belts out “Home on the Range.” The toys, whose terrycloth mouths open to reveal a set of teeth, say hello and start babbling when squeezed. They harmonize when pressed simultaneously, encouraging shoppers to buy more than one.

Mattel plans eight more Sing-a-ma-jigs leading up to the holiday season. The toys will sing songs such as “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow,” “This Little Light of Mine,” and “A- Tisket A-Tasket,” Mattel’s Sirard said.