Bad luck girls, hard times mean toys are for boys

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The Independent Online
BOYS, rather than girls, are being targeted by the declining UK toy market in an effort to boost sales. It means, in the short-term, that Sindy, arguably the world's most popular doll, has been sidelined by Hasbro, the UK's second largest toy manufacturer, as it concentrates on boys.

The decision comes as sales figures show there were no girls' toys in the 1997 top sellers list. The best-selling toy, according to NPD market research company, was the computerised learning aid, Talking Whizz Kid Power Mouse, made by VTech Electronics, which costs about pounds 100.

Runners-up were Hasbro's Action Man, Waddington's Moonraker Monopoly, Martin Yaffe's Teletubby Figures and Bandai's Tamagotchi, or cyber pets, all extremely popular with boys.

Facing stiff competition from designer fashion, sports kits, videos and even fast food, not to mention the so-called GOY (Getting Old Younger) phenomenon which means that over-10s hardly dare walk into a toy shop, the UK toy market is stagnating. In 1997 it was worth pounds 1.66bn, down slightly on 1996 and in terms of the number of toys sold down by 6 per cent.

Jon Salisbury, editor of World Toy News, said companies such as Hasbro were turning to the boys market because boys' toys were "a softer option". He went on: "Boys demand more choice and are more fickle than girls. They wear their hearts on their sleeves and it is easy to tap into their desire for action and excitement."

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