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Jakks Sees Pet Toys as Market With (4) Legs

November 19, 2005|Claire Hoffman | Times Staff Writer

Every dog has its day. Now, it also can have the Bark N' Bake oven.

An easy-bake toy available in the spring from Malibu-based Jakks Pacific Inc., it lets children prepare homemade treats for their pooches.

The not-to-be-ignored hermit crab also has its own toy by the company, an "Incredible Hulk" shell. And, under a licensing deal with Meow Mix cat food announced Friday, Jakks will develop "cat lifestyle products" aimed at driving felines wild.

"People take care of their pet like a member of their family and they are spending disposable income on them in the same way," said Stephen Berman, president and co-founder of Jakks. "For our company, having a pet is very similar to having a child. Many people see their pet in the same way."

Jakks, known for Cabbage Patch Kids dolls and Care Bears, has turned its creative attention to licensing pet products as the toy market languishes. The company, which in June acquired Pet Pal Corp., will offer an array of toys and treats for virtually any pet.

Pet experts see a potentially big market, with Americans expected to spend $36 billion on their pets this year, double what they spent a decade ago, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Assn.

"I think over the last five years, people do treat their pets more like part of their family," said Michelle Rivera, owner of a pet boutique Chateau Marmutt in West Hollywood. "Pets can't talk back, so sometimes they may love them more."

Jakks shares rose 35 cents to $21 on Friday.

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