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Has Barbie Lost Her Sparkle?

Stocks in this article: MAT

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- You may not have heard, but Barbie is kind of a big deal. She's confident, aspirational, she has a job (multiple!), and a steady, if slightly effeminate, boyfriend.

But shy of her 55th birthday, Mattel's (MAT) Barbie might have to consider refinancing her million-dollar mansion. And the convertible? A little too flashy in these economic times. Face it: Her shine is looking a little lackluster. She just doesn't pull a crowd the way she used to.

To be fair, Barbie still reigns supreme in the fashion doll market, according to NDP, but another doll is gaining fast. And she has claws. And fangs. And scales.

Monster High, the second-highest-ranked NDP fashion doll and another Mattel property, has seen explosive growth since its debut in 2010. Where Barbie is all modern chic, the Monster High range is modeled after the monsters of horror movie lore. From Frankie Stein, the granddaughter of Frankenstein, to Draculaura, the daughter of Count Dracula, the supernaturally themed dolls are pink, punk and glittery, and a must-have among tweenage girls.

The numbers show a tight race. Although Mattel does not parse its financials doll by doll, Reuters put Barbie's annual sales at around $1.3 billion. A Mattel spokesperson confirmed Monster High is a more than $1 billion brand at retail. That's one close popularity contest.

Although Barbie's sales are higher than they were at Monster High's launch, it has been a bumpy ride. In Mattel's recent third quarter, Barbie saw the first increase in sales in 12 months and even then only 3% growth. In Mattel's "Other Girls Brands," sales exploded 28%, primarily driven by the popularity of Monster High.

Looking back to the second quarter, the numbers are grimmer. Barbie sales were down a massive 12%, while "Other Girls Brands" were up 23% (again, thanks to Monster High).

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