Lego plans most expensive product launch for Europe

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BILLUND -- Lego, Europe's biggest toy manufacturer, is to roll out across Europe its most expensive product launch yet - Lego Scala for girls.

The launch is part of a drive by the privately-owned Danish company (famous for its Lego construction kit toys that are traditionally more popular with boys than girls), to woo a new customer base and to fight back against more high tech products such as computer and video games that are denting sales of traditional toys.

The Lego Scala range of dolls' houses, which are easily built and dismantled and which include father, mother and baby dolls, will be presented to the trade at the Nuremberg Toy Fair next month in Germany, Lego's biggest market. The products, which cost between $11 and $140, will be heavily backed in Germany with TV ads and posters near schools and leisure parks, created by Hemisphere Trois Paris and adapted by D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles Hamburg.

The plan is also to launch Lego Scala on April 1 in Austria, Switzerland, Sweden and Denmark, followed by France on October 1.

In addition, Lego is setting up in Germany only a "Lego World Club" with which it hopes to strengthen its ties with children and families. An annual fee of $23 will entitle members to discounts on cinema tickets and leisure parks and a 24 page bi- monthly magazine. Lego has been producing a magazine, Lego Klick, for the Austrian market for over a year.

Lego's German manager Gerd Balke is aiming for between 80,000 and 100,000 club members by the end of this year.

Copyright January 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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