P Is For Play-Doh, Princess, Power Rangers and Pokémon – A To Z Of The Toy Business
Not many people know that Play-Doh started life in the 1930s being marketed as a wallpaper cleaner. Today millions of children play with Play-Doh products, with a mix of the dough as a stimulator of the touch sense, combined with entertaining plastics addons by which the child can extrude dough and create interesting things. Over time there have been various ‘brand icons’ for the brand, with the Play-Doh Pixie featuring in the early days, followed by Play-Doh Pete a beret wearing chirpy cherub of a character through to more recent times when the Doh-Doh’s have come to the fore. Play-Doh’s timeless play pattern and the fact that the brand is so strong in a marketplace with strong ‘me too’ presence makes Play-Doh one of the most effective brands in the toy business.
Whether Disney or otherwise, Princesses have had a huge impact on the toy business. The topic of gender and toys is very contentious these days, but what is indisputable is that hundreds of millions of girls have played with Princess dolls over time. So many movies, classic books and other media forms have been very successful by being all about Princesses. Over time, the character, temperament and behaviours of Princesses have adapted to the changing times in terms of gender equality. For many little girls, playing with Princesses allows them to develop their identity.
Power Rangers has been a top selling brand since the 1990s. According to Wikipedia the brand had generated more than $6billion in toy sales by 2001. The basic premise of Power Rangers is a group of ‘goodies’ constantly battling with characterised monsters and baddies. The Power Rangers are all martial arts experts who can fight with great skill and courage. The TV series output is already up to 27 series, and there has also been several movies released, with more potentially in the offing. While some parents and commentators question the violence featured, multiple generations of children have loved this franchise. Major toy company Hasbro acquired the Power Rangers brand in 2018 for a purchase price in the region of $500m USD.
Pokémon has some similarities with Power Rangers – Pokémon also came out of Japan and has largely been driven by TV content over time. Pokémon trading card games have been a massive and consistent seller for more than 20 years. Pokémon Go gave the brand a massive boost and brought the brand to a whole new generation of kids. Pokémon toys have also been very successful over time, with more than 34 billion cards sold over time (!).
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