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Mattel unveils online Barbie community

April 19, 2007|From Reuters

NEW YORK — Cyberspace has become the new front line in the battle between Mattel Inc.'s Barbie dolls and MGA Entertainment's Bratz collection.

Mattel on Tuesday launched a test run of BarbieGirls.com, an online community where girls can create their own Barbie dolls and interact with one another in a manner reminiscent of Second Life, a virtual world for adults that boasts more than 2 million users.

The website is the first glimpse into El Segundo-based Mattel's Barbie Girls initiative, its next-generation fashion doll line and latest attempt to gain ground in its heated competition with Bratz.

At BarbieGirls.com, users can customize their character's look and style. They can go to the virtual mall and shop for clothes, accessories and furniture for their online room. They can even adopt a pet.

"I think it'll definitely be a catalyst for winning girls back," said Reyne Rice, a toy trends expert at the Toy Industry Assn. "They can go on the site and chat with their friends, compare outfits, rooms. It's right on target with what girls are looking for."

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