Hasbro’s Action Man and Mattel’s Barbie will muscle in on Lara Croft next Christmas, as the toy giants turn their flagship brands into computer game heroes in an attempt to offset flat toy sales.
An Action Man game will be launched on a Sony PlayStation format in the autumn, backed by a TV advertising campaign. Barbie will make her debut on Nintendo’s Game Boy at the same time.
The Action Man game will feature car and snowboard chases as well as helicopter and hanglider games and will retail at 39.99. “Action Man is such a valuable property and it is something we’d like to exploit,” says Mary Miller, marketing director for Hasbro Interactive.
Barbie is established on a PC format which allows girls to design and make clothes for their dolls.
According to figures from retail tracking company NPD, the doll category was flat at 79.5m for January to September 1998 compared with 79.4m for the same period in 1997. The action figure toys market was down 8.4m at 52.3m for the same period year on year.