Pretty in Pink

Barbie Battles Sassy Rivals

This was supposed to be Barbie’s year. After celebrating her 50th birthday this spring, Mattel heavily marketed its new line of “Fashionista” Barbies, in a play to reestablish doll-aisle dominance. Though Barbie remains the bestselling doll in the world, her sales peaked in 2002, a year after the Bratz dolls first challenged her hegemony. The new Fashionista Barbies have 12 movable joints, meant for runway-esque posing in their high-fashion clothes, but the toy’s debut was beat by two sassier rivals. Spin Master Ltd. is offering Liv Dolls, which have bendable ankles and changeable wigs. And MGA Entertainment, which was pummeling Barbie with pouty Bratz until Mattel wrested the rights away, unveiled its huge-eyed Moxie Girlz, whose hairstyles can be changed by swapping out heads (an unsettling image for those who’ve seen Return to Oz). The stakes are high for Mattel, which sees one-fifth of its sales via Barbie, though competitors have little sympathy. "Barbie has been so many different things," a Spin Master co-founder says. "Liv is now."