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FTC not playing with Toys 'R' Us

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has charged toy industry retail giant Toys 'R' Us with exacting heavy-handed agreements from toy manufacturers that dictate how toys should be packaged for different accounts.

According to FTC charges, Toys 'R' Us allegedly requires toy manufactors to either refrain from selling individual toys to club stores or else separately package them as "club specials," consisting of combination packs of two or more items. Such multipacking inflates prices and reduces retail options for consumers, charges FTC. William Baer, director of FTC Bureau of Competition, cited "Hollywood Hair" Barbie, which could only be sold in club stores packaged with a dress, raising the price by 50% over the plain doll found in Toys 'R' Us. Also, club store shoppers could only get the Toy Story version of Mr. Potato Head if they bought the club store package containing Mrs. Potato Head as well. Toys 'R' Us denied the allegations and the case has been assigned to an administrative law judge. An FTC staff attorney said the case probably will be heard in six months.

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