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February 22, 2007

Product Names: Toys Go Retro

According to Mike Dobbs at Out of the Inkwell, this year marks the official return of eighties toy names we all know and love.

rubik-cube.gifThink My Little Pony, Rubik’s Cube, Transformers, and GI Joe with the Kung Fu Grip.

Hasbro is indeed expanding on licensed brand names like SpongeBob, Toy Story and Spiderman Three but has now decided to “build its core brands.” This often means taking an old brand name and putting it on a newer product: offering debit cards on the new Monopoly game, for example, and promoting old fashioned “Twister” as well as “Outdoor Twister” and “Dodgeball Twister.”

my_little_pony.gifMore than that, we’ll see new versions of “Operation” (Operation Rescue) and “Candyland” (Candyland Castle). Express versions of Scrabble and Life have been put out for people who want a “fulfilling robust game experience in 20 minutes.”

LEGO, for its part, is returning to “basics” and is moving away from the complex Bionicle line back to “what they know best: construction sets.” This means that they will sell mosaic sets for girls wanting to do art and a set called “Aqua Raiders,” the first LEGO set with an underwater theme.

There will also be an expanded offering of licensed toy names, with Star Wars being the big money spinner. This year, to celebrate the 80th release of A New Hope, George Lucas was inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame. I have to wonder what took them so long: that man is responsible for the creation of more toy lines than Santa.

johndeere-kids.jpgOf course, toy product naming can take some odd twists and turns, not least because your target market is kids. But there is no question that licensing and co-branding deals can have some very grown-up spin offs.

For example, John Deere’s toy strategy has all but ensured that every single American boy knows that John Deere makes tractors and farm equipment, even if the closest he’ll ever get to the farm is the produce aisle in Wegman’s.

NASCAR and Harley-Davidson all have interesting die cast products that are cool enough for dad to hijack once the kids are in bed. NASCAR has already co-branded with Monopoly. But, some parents find they have too many toys on their hands, and Carol Holst has some simple solutions regarding their kids' toys.

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Posted by William Lozito at February 22, 2007 9:22 AM
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