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Fisher-Price to Produce New Barney Line
Associated Press
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EAST AURORA, N.Y. — Fisher-Price has struck a deal with HIT Entertainment for the exclusive rights to develop a new line of products featuring Barney, the purple dinosaur pal of infants and preschoolers.

Neil Friedman, president of Fisher-Price Brands, said Barney fits perfectly with the company's other preschool character brands, including Elmo, Little People and Rescue Heroes.

"We feel that with the magic we bring to toys and the magic that Barney brings to children, that combination is a very, very powerful force and we're really excited about it," Friedman said Thursday.

With his catch phrase "I love you," Barney has been a fixture on U.S. television since 1992, and has a contract to broadcast on the Public Broadcasting System until 2007. He has sold 55 million videos, 68 million books and 25 million plush toys.

In 1997, under the Hasbro label, Barney was the 18th best-selling character license in the world. Last year, the license was No. 43.

"Barney has, in some respects, been neglected," Friedman said. "One of the things we do really well here at Fisher-Price is to tend our portfolio of classic products. We're expecting big things."

East Aurora-based Fisher-Price cited its success with Tickle Me Elmo after taking control of Sesame Street toys in 1996.

"The company has a proven track record in developing the magical innovation that brings children's favorite characters to life," said HIT Entertainment chief executive Peter Orton.

Fisher-Price, a subsidiary of Mattel, is planning a line of plush Barney crib and infant toys, preschool toys, electronic learning aids, games and puzzles.

London-based HIT Entertainment earlier this month acquired the rights to Barney with the purchase of Lyrick Corp., the owner of Barney's video empire, for $275 million.

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