Bratz is a popular and controversial line of fashion dolls and related merchandise manufactured by MGA Entertainment.
Though Bratz dolls fared poorly at their May 2001 debut, their popularity increased the following Christmas. In their first five years, 125 million were sold worldwide, and, in 2005, global sales of Bratz and Bratz products reached two billion dollars. In 2006, a toy-industry analyst indicated Bratz had captured about forty percent of the fashion-doll market, compared with Barbie's sixty percent.
There are currently a total of 559 different Bratz dolls that have been made from 2001 to 2010 (including the 2010 dolls scheduled to be released).
Bratz have provoked controversy in several areas. Criticism has been leveled at the labor conditions under which the dolls are manufactured in China, and the American Pschological Assosiation has expressed concern about the sexualization of the dolls' clothing and its effect on children. Some of the Bratz characters dress in what is perceived by some as a provocative manner. The original dolls generated a number of spin-offs such as Lil' Bratz, Bratz Boyz, Bratz Kidz, Bratz Babyz, Itsy Bitsy Bratz, Bratz Lil' Angelz, Be-Bratz and Bratz Petz as well as films, music albums, and interactive DVDs.
The success of the original four dolls generated a quartet of similar dolls in 2002 and 2003. Sets of twins were also introduced. The dolls were sold separately and in themed environments. Accessories such as playsets, furniture, video games and cars are also released.
Two Bratz Boyz were released in 2002 with others debuting in 2003, 2007 and 2008. Bratz also includes Bratz Boyz & Twiinz. Lil' Bratz (2002) are miniature versions of the original four Bratz and eventually included Lil' Boyz based on the Bratz Boyz. In 2007, a clothing line was released called Lil' Bratz Couture.
Bratz Babyz debuted in 2004 with hair and infant accessories such as bottles and blankets. The line met with a lukewarm reception, but their popularity grew when saran hair was introduced. Other characters from the regular Bratz have been brought to the Babyz. Bratz Lil' Angelz (2007) are the newborn, collectible version of Bratz Babyz. Smaller than regular Bratz Babyz, they include their own newborn pets.
Bratz Petz debuted in 2004. They proved unpopular, and were discontinued in 2006. They were plush toys resembling foxes, cats, and dogs with their own bags, clothes, and accessories. Bratz Petz have been re-released in Australia and the UK with bobble heads and accessories.
Bratz Kidz, the "kid" equivalent of the teenaged Bratz dolls, were introduced in 2006. The dolls were 6" tall and thus, shorter than the regular Bratz. Bratz Boyz Kidz were introduced in 2007 starring four of the Bratz Boyz. Their first movie was released in July 2007 and a second movie was released in February, 2008. Soon after the release of the Bratz Boyz Kidz, the clothing was changed from fabric to plastic snap-ons.
Be-Bratz dolls (2007) were designed for owner customization. With a Be-Bratz USB Key, the doll owner can take a Be-Bratz doll online, name it, and create an online social homepage. Games can be played with the Be-Bratz account to acquire accessories for the doll.But now the Bratz 'r' back and even better than before.Bratz Party and Talking Bratz are in stores already "Target , Toysrus , and Walmart"
On December 21, 2006, the National Labour Conditions announced that the factory workers in China, who make Bratz dolls, labor for 94½ hours a week, while the factory pays only $0.515 an hour, $4.13 a day. The per doll amount is $0.17. The retail price for a single doll ranges between $9.99 to $22.99, depending the included items and specific retailer.
The allegations in the report describe practices found at many Chinese factories producing name-brand products for export. They include required overtime exceeding the legal maximum of 36 hours a month, forcing workers to stay on the job to meet stringent production quotes and the denial of paid sick leave and other benefits. The report shows copies of what it says are "cheat sheets" distributed to workers before auditors from Wal-Mart or other customers arrive to make sure the factory passes inspections intended to ensure the supplier meets labor standards. It said workers at the factory intended to go on strike in January 2007 to protest plans by factory managers to put all employees on temporary contracts, denying them legal protection required for long-term employees.
After the announcement, the CEO of MGA Entertainment, Isaac Larien sent a statement on December 24, 2006, via e-mail to a fan site of the doll line, Bratz World , and another two days later to Playthings Magazine stating that the information is false and the company is not familiar with the company named in the report and MGA uses first rate factories in "the orient" to make its goods, like Mattel and Hasbro do. Larian said that he never heard about the news or of 'the organization who is behind this negative and false campaign immediately prior to the last holiday shopping weekend.'"
New concerns over the body image and lifestyle the Bratz dolls allegedly promote were raised by the American Psychological Association when they established their "Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls" in February 2007. In their published report, they cited concern over sexuality the Bratz dolls allegedly portray. Bratz dolls come dressed in sexualized clothing such as miniskirts, fishnet stockings, and feather boas. Although these dolls may present no more sexualization of girls or women than is seen in MTV videos, it is worrisome when dolls designed specifically for 4- to 8-year-olds are associated with an objectified adult sexuality
– APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls
Bratz were not the only dolls to be criticized in this report, which highlighted not only toys but also other products and the wider media; including the Bratz animated series. In the United Kingdom a spokesman for Bratz defended the toy line by saying that Bratz are purchased by over-eights and are directed to the preteen and teen market. They are for 11-18 year old girls, and that the focus on the dolls while on looks was not on sexualization and that friendship was also a key focus of Bratz dolls. The Bratz brand, which has remained number one in the UK market for 23 consecutive months focuses core values on friendship, hair play and a 'passion for fashion'.
– Bratz spokesman, 'The Daily Telegraph
The spokesman quoted Dr. Bryan Young of Exeter University as saying "parents may feel awkward but I don't think children see the dolls as sexy. They just think they're pretty". Isaac Larian, in comments given to the BBC, voiced the opinion that the report was a "bunch of garbage" and that the people who wrote it were acting irresponsibly.
On Christmas Day 2006, Miami resident Kristina Acre received the Jade Singing Bratz doll as a gift. According to her father, Luis Acre, Kristina indicated the doll was saying "lots of bad words". According to Luis Acre, these included "the f- and b-words " and, "bahhumbug." Later, MGA Entertainment responded on their website stating that the story had no merit, and posted the profanity-free lyrics to the song in question on the Bratz.com website.
The Bratz range of dolls have affected the sale of Mattel's leading fashion doll, Barbie. In 2004, sales figures showed that Bratz dolls outsold Barbie dolls in the United Kingdom, although Mattel maintained that in terms of the number of dolls, clothes and accessories sold, Barbie remained the leading brand. In 2005, figures showed that sales of Barbie dolls had fallen by 30% in the United States, and by 18% worldwide, with much of the drop being attributed to the popularity of Bratz dolls. But now the Bratz are back and better than ever.Cloe,Jade,Sasha,and Yasmin now have a new illistrator.Kelli Martini
In April 2005, MGA Entertainment filed a lawsuit against Mattel, claiming that the "My Scene" line of Barbie dolls had copied the doe-eyed look of Bratz dolls. The lawsuit is currently pending in the court system of California.
Mattel sued MGA Entertainment for $500 million, alleging that Bratz creator Carter Bryant was working for Mattel when he developed the idea for Bratz. On July 17, 2008, a federal jury ruled that Bryant had created the Bratz while he was working for Mattel, despite MGA's claim that Bryant had not been employed by Mattel at the time and Bryant's assertion that he had designed the Bratz between two separate periods of employment at Mattel. The jury also ruled that MGA and its Chief Executive Officer Isaac Larian were liable for converting Mattel property for their own use and intentionally interfering with the contractual duties owed by Bryant to Mattel. On August 26, the jury decided that Mattel was to be paid just US $100 million in damages, citing that only the first generation of Bratz had infringed on Mattel property and that MGA had innovated and evolved the product significantly enough that subsequent generations of Bratz could not be conclusively found to be infringing.
On December 3, 2008, U.S. District Judge Stephen G. Larson granted a permanent injunction requested by Mattel against MGA. The injunction was to have been enforced on February 11, 2009, at the earliest, the same date that Mattel and MGA would once again be in court to present their cases for appeal, and mandated that MGA must remove, at its own cost, all Bratz product from store shelves, reimburse retailers for the product, turn over the recalled product to Mattel for disposal, and destroy all marketing materials and molds and materials used in the production of the dolls. Judge Larson made exceptions for a very limited number of products, under the condition that they be packaged separately from the allegedly infringing toys. MGA immediately filed an appeal, seeking appeal of the 2008 judgement, claiming numerous errors on Larson's part during the initial trial. MGA also sought a permanent stay of injunction and were granted a stay in the enforcement of the injunction through at least the end of the 2009 holiday season.
On December 10, 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted MGA an immediate stay of the injunction, thereby halting the impending recall of all Bratz products, ensuring that retailers would be allowed to continue to sell MGA-produced Bratz product through at least the Court's final ruling on the matter. In their initial statement, the Court suggested Larson's previous ruling was "draconian" and had gone too far in awarding ownership of the entire Bratz franchise to Mattel. The Court of Appeals also ordered MGA and Mattel to resolve their dispute out of court. In a statement from MGA, Isaac Larian states that “the Court’s stay is good news for all Bratz fans and for anyone who cares about fair competition.
On July 22, 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declared that ownership of the Bratz franchise belonged to MGA Entertainment. The Court Of Appeals rejected the District Court's original ruling for Mattel, where MGA Entertainment was ordered to forfeit the entire Bratz brand - including all registered copyrights and trademarks of the Bratz name - to Mattel. The panel from the Court of Appeals said Judge Larson had abused his discretion with his ruling for Mattel, concluding that Bryant's employment agreement could have, but did not necessarily, cover ideas as it did designs, processes, computer programs and formulae, which are all more concrete.
MGA and Mattel are due back in court on January 11, 2011 for a retrial, which this time includes Mattel's allegations of racketeering and theft of trade secrets against MGA.
In addition to the litigation for ownership and control of the Bratz property, on October 20, 2009, artist Bernard "Butch" Belair filed a new design infringement lawsuit against both Mattel and MGA in Manhattan federal court, seeking unspecified damages. Belair claimed that his copyright designs of young women with "large heads, oval eyes, small bodies and large feet," which he had created for shoe designer house Steve Madden, were "pilfered" when Carter Bryant, during his 2008 court testimony, testified that he had been inspired by Steve Madden shoe ads which he saw in Seventeen magazine. Belair says neither MGA nor Mattel "sought or obtained permission... to copy, reproduce, create derivative works from or distribute" his "copyrighted" work. To date, neither Mattel nor MGA have responded to Belair's claims.
Return to market
In August 2010, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the franchise, MGA plans to release their first Bratz in what will, by then, have been a year. The new dolls are reported to have "new bodies, new styles..." Larian asserts that the Bratz are primed for a permanent return to the market.
The return of the Bratz was announced on mgae.com in February 2010. MGA maintains the official Bratz Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace pages, and at all three sites, late July 2010/early August 2010 was announced as the expected release. Photos of the new Cloe, Yasmin, Jade, and Sasha dolls from two different collections were unveiled at Bratz.com, as well as the official Bratz pages on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. Photos of revamped Bratz Boyz Cameron and Dylan have also appeared at Bratz.com. In addition to the two "comeback" collections, MGA will also release 10 new female Bratz characters on 10/10/10, the same day that Target stores across the US will put up large end cap displays for the new Bratz dolls. MGA plans to unveil the 10 new girls in September, via their official MySpace, Twitter, and Facebook pages. On August 16, 2010, MGA confirmed via the Bratz Twitter account, that one of the new Bratz characters will be named Tyla, who is Yasmin's neighbor.
Bratz had a computer-animated television series, based on the line of dolls. It was produced by Mike Young Productions and MGA Entertainment, and premiered on the FOX 4Kids TV and on channel five, it became an instant hit, and, with ((citv channel)) ratings went higher.
Nickelodion announced the October 2008 launch of a Bratz-themed reality show, Bratz Design Academy in which 9 to 14 year olds will compete in Project Runway-type fashion challenges, with the winner designing clothing for a British line of Bratz dolls. The TV show was successful.
Bratz interactive DVDs include Livin it up with the Bratz (2006), Bratz Glitz n Glamour (2007), and LilParty Time (2008).