December 26, 2000, 9:55 AM

March of the Virtual Soldiers

(Page 3 of 3)

Toys “R” Us: Toys “R” Us has a lot to overcome, such as bad feelings from customers who couldn’t get on the site last Christmas and the abrupt departure of the new president the company had hired to run the online subsidiary. But even competitors concede it has a great brand. The company is trying to leverage it with an $80 million investment that will include a Toysrus.com marketing campaign and site improvements. In August, Toysrus.com named John Barbour, a former Hasbro Inc. executive, as president and CEO. Barbour replaces Bob Moog.

Toysmart.com: Toysmart.com wants to be the “good toy” retailer online. The company ranked as one of the top players last year as Holt Educational Outlet. On Aug. 25, Walt Disney’s Buena Vista Internet Group, creator of Family.com and Disney.com, bought an undisclosed majority stake in Toysmart. This year, with an improved site, Disney capital and a snappy new name, it hopes to do even better. It will launch an aggressive, $20 million campaign to market the brand. The company plans an IPO early next year.

Wal-Mart: Wal-Mart took the lead in overall toy sales in 1998, chasing Toys “R” Us out of the top spot. Online, the company is an unknown quantity, analysts say. Wal-Mart won’t comment on its online toy plans, but is expected to launch a new e-commerce site this fall.

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