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For longtime doll queen Barbie, the sassy little upstart called Bratz is living up to her name.

The 9-inch knockout-with thigh-length hair, sultry eyes, puffy lips and removable feet for easy accessorizing-first strutted her way onto the fashion doll scene in 2001. This season, the doll earned her third straight spot on Toy Wishes magazine's list of the 12 most sought-after toys for the holidays, says Co-Publisher Jim Silver. "In the toy industry longevity is tough to achieve," he says.

Bratz is more than just a toy. Today, MGA Entertainment has some 200 worldwide licenses in place for the brand in everything from books, clothing and posters.

The man behind it all is Isaac Larian, 49, founder and CEO of MGA, and creator and owner of the Bratz brand.

Part of Bratz's success is that demographically, she doesn't try to compete head-to-head with Mattel's Barbie. Realizing that Barbie's strength is with 4-to-6-year-old girls, Mr. Larian decided to hit an older core market of 7-to-11-year-olds. Even teens and twentysomethings have been known to buy the dolls and fashions to decorate their rooms, he says.

So far, marketing has been handled internally with assistance from a variety of boutique ad shops and production companies. MGA created a spring 2003 promotion with McDonald's Corp.

All product and marketing development is done by a handful of executives in a conference room at MGA's offices in the North Hills, Calif. There they brainstorm product direction, packaging, advertising and ways to make the product stand out among the competition, he says. Concepts are tested by a kid focus group. These range from hired test groups to every-other-Friday dinners with Mr. Larian's 24 nieces, nephews and his three children-especially Jasmine, one doll's namesake who was 9 at the time of Bratz's initial design in 2000. "They're my kitchen-sink focus group," he says. "These kids have really incredible toy ideas. That's where a company gets in trouble-trying to invent for a 7-year-old and not asking for their ideas."

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