Listen To The Story


BOB MOON: After months of build-up, Fisher Price has released its new Tickle Me Extreme Elmo doll. Parent company Mattel has high hopes for the little red fur-ball, but some are skeptical. Here's Stacey Vanek-Smith:

[ Ha-ha-ha that tickles! ]

STACEY VANEK-SMITH: Forget that adorable giggle. If you tickle the new Extreme Elmo, he'll roll on the ground and pound his fist on the floor.

Mattel is counting on him to pound up holiday revenue.

Sales of Mattel stalwarts like Barbie and Hot Wheels have been slipping for years and the company posted major losses in 2005.

So will changing Elmo's giggle to a guffaw help fuel Mattel's turnaround?

Some industry analysts say no, kids are turning away from traditional toys and toward video game consoles.

Many think the world's largest toymaker should focus its attention on the high-tech game market.

Over the summer, Mattel did dip its toe in that sector, acquiring Japanese techno-toy firm Radica and unveiling its own hybrid video-game device.

I'm Stacey Vanek-Smith for Marketplace.

Follow Stacey Vanek Smith at @svaneksmith