Three relatively new doll lines are poised to lead the market this holiday season: Mattel's new Barbie line, the Fashionistas; Moxie Girlz and Liv Dolls.
Ann Zimmerman, toy reporter for The Wall Street Journal, tells NPR's Steve Inskeep that the doll war is shaping up to be one to watch.
She says former Bratz manufacturers MGA Entertainment "came out swinging" this summer with Moxie Girlz. Kids can dye the dolls' hair and wash it out. They can paint the dolls' boots.
"Their clothes are sort of fun and funky," Zimmerman says.
Liv Dolls, recently introduced by Toronto-based Spin Master Ltd., are four "regular teenagers" with back stories. For example, Zimmerman says, one is a wannabe rock star cutting her teeth doing gigs at a retirement home. The stories developed online, in an interactive manner.
"If you feel like you're losing your audience to the Internet, why not try to build in some features there to try to keep them in your toy or game longer," Zimmerman says.
It remains to be seen who will win this shopping season's doll wars. But Zimmerman says Liv and Moxie have an edge because they came out earlier.
"Those toys were on shelves as families were back-to-school shopping," she says. "But Barbie is a really big brand. It's got a lot of muscle behind it."