September 15, 2006

Manipulate Me, Elmo! Mattel Press Release Reveals How Christmas Sausage Is Made

ninja-elmo.jpgAre you ready for your child to form a deep, emotional attachment to a plush doll that's currently known only to the President of Mattel Brands and its subsidiary, Fisher-Price? X-cellent. Because that's just what is being planned by said CEO, if this press release about the upcoming launch of the new TMX Elmo doll is to be believed. [The X is for Xtreme. Seriously.]

In a remarkably transparent attempt to replicate the Tickle Me, Elmo shopping frenzy of 1996--oh *I* get it; it was 10 years ago. The Tenth Anniversary. But doesn't that mean that all those original TME kids are now the teenagers behind those rampant oral sex parties we hear so much about these days? Best not to bring that up if I want any F-P ads EVER. And how do I tell them that, due to the freezing process, I have no internal monologue?--TMX Elmo has been sold sight unseen to retailers, and is being readied for on-shelf launch Sept. 19th.

Even if you didn't know the toy store business was being devastated by the likes of Wal*Mart, the unalloyed mania evident in quotes from industry hacks should tip you off that something desperate is afoot. I mean, really, Neil Friedman, president of Mattel Brands, has there really "Never been a toy like this -- one with such a renowned heritage..."?

Then again, I hear that "Online Elmo bloggers are already talking about setting up camp at stores to be among the first to take home the newest sensation," and as everyone alive in 1996 can tell you, the original Tickle Me frenzy was started by Elmo Bloggers.

Business school students can find the full text of Mattel's press release reproduced for posterity below.

T.M.X.™ Elmo Set For Global Debut On September 19th
Most Closely Guarded Secret in Plush Toys to be Revealed
[shareholder.com via an abc expo tipster]

T.M.X.™ Elmo Set For Global Debut On September 19th
Most Closely Guarded Secret in Plush Toys to be Revealed

(NEW YORK, NY) September 6, 2006 -- The kick-off to the holiday shopping season officially begins on September 19th, when the Fisher-Price® Friends division of Fisher-Price, Inc., a subsidiary of Mattel, Inc. (NYSE: MAT), reveals the most closely guarded secret in the history of plush toys. On the tenth anniversary of Tickle Me Elmo, the all new T.M.X.™ ELMO will make its global debut.

With presales already running strong at major retailers – sight unseen – the new T.M.X. Elmo hits store shelves for the first time at 9 a.m. on the morning of September 19th in the United States and globally on the 20th. Online Elmo bloggers are already talking about setting up camp at stores to be among the first to take home the newest sensation featuring Sesame Street's lovable red monster.

In an unprecedented step for the toy industry, Fisher-Price has kept the plush toy under wraps since its inception. Previews have been limited to only those directly involved in its creation including senior management, a select marketing team headed by Fisher-Price vice president Gina Sirard, as well as top level management in sales and retail. The Fisher-Price sales force did not even see the toy, but sold it in at retail to full demand.

Once retailers acknowledged they were ready to place orders based on the toy's heritage alone, Fisher-Price moved forward with a plan to make the tenth anniversary celebration extra special for consumers by keeping it all a secret. "The best part of a secret is the surprise," says Ms. Sirard. "It's part of the magic of T.M.X. ELMO-- it's just that incredible."

"There has never been a toy like this -- one with such a renowned heritage -- returning in such an exciting new way," says Neil Friedman, president of Mattel Brands. "This time around, Elmo will be performing in a way that no plush toy has ever done before. The world was mesmerized by the original Tickle Me Elmo. With today's technology, this one is even more incredible... you really have to see it to believe it."

The few toy industry insiders who did have the chance to see the toy are already abuzz about the excitement the toy will bring to the holiday shopping season.

The Toy Guy® Chris Byrne says, "You won't believe what this little guy does, and if you don't laugh till you cry, you must have no funny bone at all. T.M.X. Elmo will engage anyone who sees it and engulf them in gales of laughter. Get ready for another phenomenon!"

"This is something that the toy industry needs...excitement and total innovation. Elmo coming back like this on his 10th anniversary is going to be truly amazing!" says Jim Silver, publisher, Toy Wishes Magazine.

"As toy manufacturers, we're in the business of making smiles," says Fisher-Price general manager and senior vice president David Allmark. "It's so exciting to bring Elmo to life once again, in such an exciting way, that really delivers on the connection children have with this endearing character."

Ms. Sirard explains that with the toy's late shipping to retailers, if consumer demand greatly exceeds expectations, given the sophisticated engineering involved in T.M.X. ELMO, it may be particularly difficult to fill retailers' re-orders this year. "However, we do expect to be making deliveries right up until Christmas and into 2007," she says.

T.M.X. Elmo, (the X stands for "extreme" and celebrates the tenth anniversary of the original Tickle Me Elmo) will retail for approximately $39.99 and will be available at major retailers including Wal-Mart, Toys "R" Us, Target, Kmart and KB Toys nationwide.

Fisher-Price, Inc., a subsidiary of Mattel, Inc. (NYSE: MAT) and located in East Aurora, New York, is the leading brand of infant and preschool toys in the world. The Company has a 75-year legacy of high-quality toys that enhance early childhood development. Its often-emulated Play Laboratory was the first child research center of its kind in the toy industry, allowing researchers to observe the way children play and how play benefits their development. Some of the Company's best-known "classic" brands include Little People®, Power Wheels® and View-Master®. Fisher-Price is also a leading developer of baby gear products (nursery monitors, infant swings, high chairs) as well as a wide array of character-based toys inspired by high quality children's programming such as Sesame Street®, Dora the Explorer™ and Winnie the Pooh. The Company's web site, at www.fisher-price.com, provides valuable information and resources to parents.

6 Comments

I don't think that kind of excitement will ever happen again. Unless, of course, Elmo stars in his own Grand Theft Auto video game.

Black Coffee Elmo?

Elmo bloggers! Heh.

I am currently commenting via Blackberry, as I am now camped outside the Times Square Toys R Us with a small tent, a change of underwear and two days worth of Zone Bars and Cheetos. Funny though, I'm the only one here. Could I have gotten the dates mixed up?

[no, you're right. Only three days to go. Good luck! and report often! -ed.]

You can view a 4 minute video about this product here:

http://www.elmoextreme.com

I went to walmart, and it wasnt sold out.. the product packaging makes it hard for people to know what it is. Walmart just had a sign that said 'new product', and then a stack of the TMX boxes.

if anyone knows total production numbers, please post. Thanks

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