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‘Blue’s Clues’ Big Hit in US Stores

September 29, 1998

NEW YORK (AP) _ Could Blue be this year’s version of Tickle Me Elmo or the Cabbage Patch Kids?

The animated puppy star of Nickelodeon’s ``Blue’s Clues″ won kids over with her top-rated television show, and now little Blue also is making a big splash in toy stores around the nation.

With three months to go until Christmas, many retailers already report sellouts of the ``Blue’s Clues″ line and some have even put limits on how many items customers can buy, reminiscent of toy frenzies from past holiday seasons.

``We’ve had people asking for ``Blue’s Clues″ toys for over a year,″ said David Niggli, executive vice president of merchandising at FAO Schwarz. ``Now, we have them and they’re already best sellers.″

Kids can’t get enough of ``Blue’s Clues.″ The show revolves around the story of an animated puppy, Blue, and her friend Steve, the show’s live-action host.

In each episode, preschoolers are challenged to collect clues and figure out a puzzle. The same show is repeated every day for a week, allowing children to pick up new clues each time they watch.

The animated series is the No. 1 preschool program on television, topping ``Barney,″ ``Arthur″ and ``Sesame Street,″ according to Nielsen Media Research.

``Kids love the whole idea of the show, and really look forward to watching it,″ said Robyn Murphy, who runs a day-care center for preschoolers in Milford, Conn. ``It’s different from anything else on TV. It’s educational and an esteem builder. It makes them think.″

While the show first aired two years ago, ``Blue’s Clues″ merchandise just hit stores this summer.

Among the best-selling ``Blue’s Clues″ toys is Fisher Price’s $20 Sing-Along Blue, which sings when her hand is pinched, and Pose-A-Blue, a $13 toy that has movable paws and ears.

Demand also has been strong for a video series produced by Paramount, while the new ``Blue’s Clues″ CD-ROMs by Humongous Entertainment are among the best-selling software titles in the United States.

At FAO Schwarz, more than 7,000 people showed up on June 14 when the first ``Blue’s Clues″ merchandise was unveiled at its New York store. It was the most successful product launch in the toy store’s 136-year history.

Four-year-old Gina Rodriguez came with her family recently to check out the offerings.

``I love Blue so much that I already wrote to Santa that I want a Blue doll for Christmas,″ said the preschooler from New York.

At eToys, an online toy retailer, there’s huge interest for everything from ``Blue’s Clue’s″ placemats to plush dolls.

``This is the first time in my 10-year career in toys that every part of a license is doing well,″ said Jane Saltzman, vice president of merchandising at Santa Monica, Calif.-based eToys. ``I think ``Blue’s Clues″ is here to stay and is just in the infancy of its popularity.″

Her company has a one-item-per-household limit on the Fisher-Price products and a two-item limit on others.

``We are seeing Sing-Along Blue sell at six times what Tickle Me Elmo did when it was launched in 1996,″ said Neil Friedman, president of Tyco Preschool, a division of Mattel which oversees the Fisher Price line. ``Every retailer that we’ve talked to says it sells out within two weeks of when it gets in.″

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