Toys ‘R’ Us rolls into the grocery aisle
In a bid to win back shoppers lured away by discount superstores, Toys ‘R’ Us will launch a raft of in-store boutiques this year in more than 2,300 Albertsons food and drug stores across the U.S. Called Toy Boxes, the store-in-stores will be either TRU-branded or non-branded aisles from 200 to 500 square feet in size, featuring toys priced under US$25. The boutiques will be phased into half of Albertsons’ family of stores (including Jewel-Osco, Acme, Albertsons-Osco, Albertsons-Sav-on and Super Saver) this year, with the full rollout scheduled to be complete by mid-2004.
Hasbro and Mega Bloks duke it out in licensed construction toys
Hasbro is betting on boy brands to give it an edge in the construction toy aisle this fall. The toyco is moving into the category for the first time with BTR (‘Built To Rule!’), a line of brick construction sets tied to its toy lines, starting with G.I. Joe, Transformers and Tonka Search and Rescue.
The BTR Transformers line allows kids to build a robot that changes into a vehicle; the G.I. Joe line will include an action figure measuring just under four inches, projectile launchers and destructible bricks; and the Tonka line comes with a figure, rescue gear and vehicles. Hasbro will introduce at least 24 BTR sets in the line’s first year at retail, eight for each brand. The sets will be out at mass retailers in August for between US$7.99 and US$29.99, although on-line presales started in June.
Meanwhile, Montreal, Canada’s Mega Bloks has teamed up with Japanese powerhouse Bandai on a new line of licensed construction toys for the Asian market. Featuring Bandai characters like Power Rangers, Masked Rider and preschool property Anpanman, the SKUs will open new distribution channels for Mega Bloks in Japan, the world’s second-largest toy market.
The two toycos will co-operate on designing and manufacturing the toys, which are due out this August in Japan. Mega Bloks may expand the line into Europe, North America and other global markets later on.