Manufacturers tint this year's toys with a rosy glow

November 11, 2007|By Joan Verdon | Joan Verdon,McClatchy-Tribune

Toy makers and toy retailer Toys "R" Us Inc. are banking on pink as the new green this Christmas.

Manufacturers such as Hasbro Inc. and Fisher-Price have created all-pink, girl-oriented versions of classics such as Monopoly and the Lil' People School Bus, and Wayne, N.J.-based Toys "R" Us has made sure its shelves are stocked with those products.

"For the holiday season, Toys `R' Us owns the color pink," said Bob Giampietro, senior vice president of trends and innovation for the retailer.

Toy makers aren't the only retailers in love with pink. Clothing retailers have made it the hot fashion color, and Victoria's Secret has a line of casual wear named after the color.

Toys "R" Us buyers about a year ago began encouraging manufacturers to develop toys that would tap into a newly strong passion for pink on the part of young girls and their parents. Several manufacturers created exclusive, pink-themed products for Toys "R" Us. For example, Hasbro is selling its "Think Pink" collection: girlie versions of Monopoly, Jenga and Twister, only at Toys "R" Us.

The "pink" Monopoly set is packaged in a box designed to look like a jewelry box, and lets players go shopping or pay off their cell-phone bills with their Monopoly money. The Twister game comes with a plush pink carrying case. The Jenga wooden block stacking game has been reinvented as Jenga Girl Talk, with pink blocks printed with questions such as, "Who is your best friend?"

Toys "R" Us has also extended the pink theme to some of its private-label merchandise, such as its "Totally Me" makeup kit with pink packaging and lipsticks and eye shadows in various shades of - you guessed it - pink. Electronics manufacturers have also pounced on the pink bandwagon with digital cameras, computers and CD players with pink metallic cases.

Jim Silver, editor of Toy Wishes magazine, said Toys "R" Us and manufacturers are responding to a trend that surfaced a year ago, when a laptop computer by Hong Kong toy company VTech "did exceptionally well."

"When you think girls, you think purple and pink," Silver said. The pink Monopoly set appears to be "doing very well," Silver said. Toys "R" Us would not release sales results for any of the pink products, but Giampietro said consumers are buying the new items.

The pink Monopoly has received some knocks in the media for implying that girls want to shop and chat on their cell phones while boys run the railroads and utility companies found in the traditional Monopoly game.

But Silver said he doesn't expect any anti-pink backlash. "If a consumer doesn't want to buy it, they don't buy it," he said.

Stevanne Auerbach, a toy consultant who operates the "Dr. Toy" Web site and is the author of Smart Play, Smart Toys, said getting girls to play games is a good goal. "I'm not sure that girls need pink, per se, to make them play games more," she said via e-mail. "But if games are designed to encourage girls to play them, tweaked to make them user-friendly, I think it's a good idea."

Giampietro maintains that pink is not just for girls. "When you look at some of the electronic items, with brushed metal finishes of pink, anyone could carry that," he said. "When you look at it, it doesn't even smack of girls, it smacks of cool metallic colors."

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