Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Mega Brands to Battle with Lego in Construction Toy Aisle with New Products

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Mega Brands to Battle with Lego in Construction Toy Aisle with New Products

Article excerpt

Mega Brands goes block for block with Lego

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MONTREAL - A battle could be shaping up in the construction toy aisles as Canadian toy maker Mega Brands takes a run at industry leader Lego by introducing a series of new products appealing to young girls, boys and adult collectors.

North American retailers are cautious about adding untested brands in the face of a weak Christmas buying season and continuing softness early in the year.

But Mega Brands CEO Marc Bertrand said Friday the company has the products customers are looking for to drive sales and further expand the construction category, the toy industry's fastest growing segment.

"We think the category's got a lot of room to grow," he said in an interview at the annual meeting in the sprawling building that houses its Montreal production facility.

"If we have the right content, whether they're interested in Lego or an action figure or a vehicle, we think they're going to choose Mega Bloks."

The Montreal-based company is counting on a series of new construction toys, along with a resurgence of its stationery and activities business to continue its turnaround.

Much of the hope is centred on courting girls with the introduction of building sets based on the iconic Barbie brand early next year.

"We think it's going to be one of our biggest launches ever," he said, pointing to Barbie's appeal around the world.

Hope for success of the Barbie building set rests in the idea that while boys are known to build and crash their creations, girls prefer to build and accessorize. The new Barbie offering includes miniature dolls, a whole suburb with a large pink dream house and beach house that can be assembled, along with a pink car.

Toy analyst Gerrick Johnson of BMO Capital Markets said licences are key in the toy business and Barbie is an iconic brand that nobody else has.

"There is a lot of buzz around the Barbie line," he said after the annual meeting.

Johnson said Mega Brands' fresh brands give it an opportunity to gain market share from Lego, which sells pricey box sets craved particularly by young boys. …

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