Dressed in a red, white and blue leotard, with a gold medal draped from her neck, Barbie flips, cartwheels and somersaults like a champion. Despite her obvious anatomical disadvantage, the perennially popular doll has become a gymnast. And she's flying off store shelves as excitement builds for Friday's opening of the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Mattel's best girl wears the official 1996 Games logo on her leotard and that's a big part of her appeal. She's one of hundreds of items, including several dozen for children, licensed by the Olympic committees.
There are T-shirts, pins, caps, sheets, pens, pennants, cups, ties, jackets, sports equipment, playing cards, board games, mugs, jewelry, sunglasses, umbrellas, wallets, backpacks, paper plates, Christmas ornaments, stuffed animals--to name just a few others in what promoters say is the largest line ever of Olympic-licensed products.
Atlanta Centennial Olympic Properties, the licensing arm of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, selected about 125 manufacturers from among 20,000 applicants, said Bob Hollander, vice president of ACOP. Several dozen other manufacturers received licenses from the United States Olympic Committee. He expects sales of the items to reach $1 billion by the time the games end Aug. 4. About $100 million in royalties from ACOP-licensed merchandise is expected.