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Livin' a "Bratz-y" lifestyle
MGA is moving on from its anti-Barbie dolls and spreading the Bratz attitude to pillows and gadgets.
February 24, 2005: 5:20 PM EST
By Parija Bhatnagar, CNN/Money Staff Writer
The TV/DVD player is part of the Bratz Electric Funk collection and will hit stores this fall. (Price:$169.99)
The TV/DVD player is part of the Bratz Electric Funk collection and will hit stores this fall. (Price:$169.99)
The Livin' Bratz beauty bed canopy is currently available. (Price: $19.99)
The Livin' Bratz beauty bed canopy is currently available. (Price: $19.99)
The lipstick-shaped MP3 player, priced at $79.99, will debut this fall.
The lipstick-shaped MP3 player, priced at $79.99, will debut this fall.

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Toymaker MGA Entertainment is getting very "Bratz"-y lately.

The closely held, Calif.-based company is already the proud owner of the hugely popular best-selling dolls called "Bratz."

Now the company is taking their fashionista attitude and incorporating it into a new line of Bratz home decor, consumer electronics and sporting goods.

"Our goal is to grow both horizontally and vertically," MGA chief executive Isaac Larian told CNN/Money, who predicts that by the end of 2007, the company's non-toy business will surpass its toy business in terms of total product offerings.

To that end, MGA this year is delving deeper into non-toy related categories while it still nurtures and expands its flagship five-year old Bratz brand.

Bratz fans this year can look forward to everything from a lipstick-shaped MP3 player to a Bratz-inspired video camera and a TV with a built-in DVD player, all of which were displayed at the American International Toy Fair this weekend in New York.

And as part of its Livin' Bratz home decor collection are stylish pillows, a pink bed canopy, folding chairs and funky desk clocks. For the outdoor type, there's even a Bratz 20-inch fashion bike and a scooter.

Larian wouldn't disclose MGA's annual sales in 2004. However, the company said the Bratz product line alone accounts for between 60 to 65 percent of the company's worldwide value of all its brands estimated at about $2 billion.

In addition to Bratz, MGA also has a line of action figures and remote-controlled toy vehicles called "Alien Racers" and other doll sets such as "4-Ever Best Friends" and "5Sies."

"Our philosophy is that we don't think of ourselves as just a toy company but as a consumer entertainment products company. It even says that on our business cards and that's the direction that we're heading in," said Larian.

Chris Byrne, an independent toy analyst, said MGA's strategy makes sense.

"If it's a way of expanding toys into a year-long business, then electronics and furnishings make sense," said Byrne.

"It's also a way for companies to stay connected to their key consumers who may have outgrown the Bratz doll but they still have affinity for the brand," he said.

Other industry observers chime in with Byrne's opinion but also see a few caveats to toymakers branching out into areas that may fall outside of their business' "comfort zone."

"The way I see it, the toy industry is no longer just about toys per se. I call it the family entertainment business," said Jim Silver, an industry analyst and publisher of the Toy Book and Toy Wishes magazines.

"Room decor is a hot trend right now and several toymakers are expanding into it," said Silver. "But I don't think toymakers should try to become experts in every area. That's going to be very difficult. Maybe with consumer electronics, it could make sense to have a licensing relationship with another manufacturer instead of keeping it in-house."

MGA spokesman Dave Malacrida said the company has a few licensing arrangements. In the meantime, however, the majority of the non-toy related merchandise will continue to be company manufactured.  Top of page

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