Mattel’s American Girl doll line will soon take the form of construction toys for the first time, as the toy maker looks to package the popular brand in a new format that has caught the attention of more girls in recent years.
American Girl dolls, known to many as pricy toys with close ties to historical stories, are one of Mattel’s (MAT) most popular properties. But sales have been sliding the past two years, including a 7% drop last year to $572 million.
It makes sense that a new initiative might help drive a rebound. This summer, Mattel said it will sell American Girl doll construction sets in the U.S. and Canada. It is a collaboration with Mega Bloks, a brand Mattel bought in 2014 for $460 million.
That acquisition was seen as a bid to take on Danish-based Lego, which has been a strong performer in recent years as Mattel’s brands have posted more lackluster results. And the American Girl doll construction line in some ways is similar to the girl-focused Lego Friends line, which has been a very strong seller for the construction toy maker in recent years.
The building sets category has been the industry’s strongest toy category the past few years. Sales jumped 9% to a little over $2 billion in the U.S., The NPD Group estimates, building on an 11% increase in 2014.
The line is also a way to make the American Girl doll set more accessible to more families. One criticism the brand has faced is that the price point – dolls generally cost about $120 – is too high. The priciest Mega Bloks for American Girl set is $70, though most of the toys range between $10 to $30.