|Lightning McQueen toy by Mattel|
In fact, nearly every toy unit in Mattel's arsenal showed year-over-year improvement in the recent quarter, including Barbie sales growth of 12%, Fisher Price up 4% and American Girl sales higher by 13%. The only category to show a year-over-year decline was Mattel's Wheels business, which includes Hot Wheels, Matchbox and Tyco R/C brands. Sales in that category fell 2% in the latest quarter.
Mattel's Wheels unit "was cannibalized by Cars 2," said Richard Gottlieb, CEO of New York-based toy consultancy group Global Toy Experts. Mattel essentially took a toy product category -- cars -- that's been "evergreen for generations without depending on movies and promotions to boost sales and moved some of that business into a product category that's driven by the last great movie format." That means Mattel now runs the risk of increasing its own costs -- it sets a precedent that toy lines need a movie and promotions built around it -- and of "losing a generation of car enthusiasts" since the movie sequel itself was critically panned, Gottlieb said.