After a nasty cage match, it's official: In terms of popularity, Ray the guinea pig leaves Carl the rabbit wallowing in his wood shavings.
Stuffed versions of the mascots hit Blockbuster stores last fall in talking and nontalking varieties. Both characters are selling well, but more Rays are flying off the shelves than Carls, which client vp of advertising Scott Parks admits is a bit odd. Rabbits, he correctly points out, are usually pretty popular. "But Ray is the funnier of the two," he notes.
Doner, which created Carl and Ray, has seen its ad animals sewn into plush toys before: La-Z-Boy raccoons Wendell and Al, and the Serta sheep, to be precise. But Carl and Ray (voiced in the ads by James Woods and Jim Belushi) seem to be on a whole new level. Kevin Weinman, account management director at the Southfield, Mich., shop, says he recently saw a young woman dragging a companion up to an in-store display and exclaiming excitedly, "Look, it's Carl and Ray! It's Carl and Ray!"
Weinman made the rookie mistake of bringing home only one Carl and one Ray for his three kids. "There was a whole battle over where does Carl get to sleep and where does Ray get to sleep," he says. "It was just easier for everyone to have their own Carl and Ray."
Weinman says he has even seen the toys selling on eBay for twice their retail price of $7.99. (A search last Thursday showed "rufusrusty2" willing to shell out $19.99 for the "very soft cuddlely" pair - a 30 percent markup.)
A batch of Carl and Ray toys that might walk as well as talk is planned. So Blockbuster workers had best batten down the hatches.