- The Washington Times - Monday, February 18, 2008

NEW YORK — It’s been 12 years since Elmo prompted fights in shopping centers for the surprise hit ticklish doll. This year, the latest version of the doll has potential to prompt a repeat.

Fisher Price Inc., a subsidiary of Mattel Inc., is developing Elmo Live, the most life-like Elmo yet.

The doll practically looks as if he’s being controlled by puppeteers. His mouth moves as he tells stories and jokes, sings songs or asks for a hug. He sits, stands and crosses his legs.

Tickle Me Elmo was first released in 1996 and instantly became a holiday must-have. Ten years later, children met T.M.X. Elmo, which not only laughed but also rolled around the floor and smashed his fists. The second-generation doll never reached the same level of popularity as the original.

Fisher Price granted a sneak peek at the new Elmo Live at the American International Toy Fair in New York this week. One of the largest conventions of toy manufacturers and buyers, it’s typically where new toys and games are released.

“Initial reaction from industry insiders has been so strong and so decisive — even greater than the initial response to T.M.X. Elmo two years ago — that we just couldn’t keep this a secret and realized this story must be told now,” says Neil Friedman, president of Mattel Brands.

Elmo Live, which will sell for $59.99, is scheduled to be in stores in October.

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